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Stories Told Through Scrapbooking

Bradt Family Hair Album

The Bradt family hair album is a unique example of scrapbooking in the mid 19th century.  The album was started by Elizabeth (Hansler) Bradt in 1843, then continued by her daughter Mercy J. Dunn in 1899. The album is made up entirely of locks of hair of Bradt family members from 1843 to 1976.   

Bradt family hair album authors page

Elizabeth Hansler was married to Thomas Bradt, son of Peter Bradt and Mercy Burtch.  Peter was the son of Arent and Eva Bradt who brought their family from Scenectady, New York to Niagara-on-the-Lake around 1784 as United Empire Loyalists.  The Bradt family had been granted land from the Crown for their loyalty.  Peter married Mercy Burtch in 1792 and settled on a farm near St. Catharines.  They had twelve children between 1793 and 1818 including Thomas.  Elizabeth and Thomas married and had five children of their own, including Mercy J. Bradt (Dunn).

Each lock of hair contains the person’s name, year the lock was taken, and in some cases, other details such as date of birth and death, place of birth, or other biographical information. The hair is adorned with ribbons and flowers, and many samples are braided. There are a total of 255 locks of hair in the album.  

The contents of each page are hair clippings and family history dates and names, except for one page that has included a newspaper clipping.  The contents read:

"A Relic of 1812. The following beautiful lines were among the relics left by Susan Dunn, (wife of William Dunn, J.P., late of the township of Wainfleet, and county of Welland, Ont.,) and second eldest daughter of the late David Price, who for many years held the position of secretary of the government stores at Fort George, Niagara:

Resignation to the Approaching Period of Decline and Decay.
Days of my youth, ye have glided away;
Hairs of my youth, ye are frosted and gray;
Eyes of my youth, your keen sight is no more;
Cheeks of my youth, ye are furrowed all o'er;
Strength of my youth, all your vigor is gone
Thoughts of my youth, your gay visions are flown.
Days of my youth, I wish not your recall'
Hairs of my youth, I'm content ye should fall;
Eyes of my youth, ye much evil have seen;
Cheeks of my youth, bathed in tears have ye been;
Thoughts of my youth, ye have led me astray;
Stregth of my youth, why lament your decay;
Days of my age, ye will shortly be past;
Pains of my age, yet a while can yo last;
Joys of my age, in true wisdowm delight;
Eyes of my age, be religion your light;
Thoughts of my age, dread ye not the cold sod;
Hopes of my age, be ye fixed on your God.

James Melloy,

Conductor of King's stores, &c., &c., &c.

This is for the amiable the Misses Prie to learn by heart, which will give great pleasure and joy to their devoted and very humble servant, 

James Melloy.

Fort George, at Head Quarters, Oct. 29th, 1812. 

December 8, 1893."

As the end of the album approaches, the clippings reveal less detail and attention placed on preserving the hair.  The final page of the album shows clippings with just single ribbons around a clump of hair.  It becomes clear that the devotion to conserving the family hair album has run out and the intricate braiding and decorating will remain with the previous Bradt generations.

View the entire Bradt Family Hair Album