More newspaper accounts of the activities
of Ferdinand A. Brader
Click to enlarge

August 3, 1880
The Reading Eagle
Reading, Pennsylvania

January 19, 1880
The Reading Eagle
Reading, Pennsylvania
And here is a picture of the Bechtel drawing which you will see at the exhibit, 
The Legacy of Ferdinand A. Brader,  at the Canton (OH) Museum of Art
December 4, 2014 - March 15, 2015.
The Property of Fred R. & Esther Bechtel
image courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County


February 29, 1896  
The Repository  
Canton Ohio

March 18, 1896  
The Repository  
Canton Ohio 


Use of these books  by courtesy
 of the State Archives
in Saint Gallen, Switzerland
13 June 2013

Recent research in Switzerland at the State Archives offices in Saint Gallen using these old ledgers and journals  enable us to answer some questions frequently asked.

What happened to Ferdinand Brader?
If you have read "The Rest of the Story", as described in the 1896 newspaper articles at the bottom of this page,  you know that Brader inherited a fortune from his brother in Switzerland.  Then sometime in February 1896 he mysteriously disappeared.  

Eventually in 1901, by a Swiss protocol Ferdinand Brader is declared
 "Lost and missing without a trace".

But what happened to the fortune Ferdinand  Brader inherited from his brother?
The fortune would have passed to his son Karl Ferdinand Brader who was born 1864.
However, in 1911, the son Karl is also declared "Lost and missing without a trace".

What did finally happen to the money?
The documents in the State Archive indicate that the remaining funds of the inheritance from Alois Brader to his brother Ferdinand were sent to the Orphanage Office in Kaltbrunn in 1919.

We are grateful for the generosity of Dr. Wolf Seelentag
in providing his expertise to find answers about questions
the life of Ferdinand Brader and his family.

What might have influenced Brader to make these drawings?
One of the most interesting discoveries from Switzerland has been the realization of the tradition of the painters from Appenzell,  the regions adjacent to  Brader's home canton of St Gallen.  The work of Johann-Jakob Heuscher ( Swiss, 1843-1901) and other Appenzell artists  brings to mind intriguing questions about Swiss influences on Ferdinand Brader’s drawings in America.  (Thank you, Trudi and Eric,  for this insight.)These three links  provide more information about the Appenzell painters. Bauernmalerie A Primer on Naive Swiss Art from Appenzell,  Swiss Institute for Art Research.

Where was Ferdinand Brader born?
Ferdinand Arnold Brader was born the 7th of December 1833 in Kaltbrunn, Canton St. Gallen, Switzerland.   Read more about Kaltbrunn and the Canton of St. Gallen.    Careful detailed research  led by Wolf Seelentag has revealed the precise location of the home of Brader's birth in Kaltbrunn.
Kaltbrunn 1860
This image courtesy of Peter Brunner, director of the Regional Museum in Kaltbrunn
Kaltbrunn today

What about his family?  
Swiss genealogist Wolf Seelentag has found records of the  Brader family in Kaltbrunn.  You can read the names of his parents and other family members on the Swiss Genealogy Forum.

Was Ferdinand Brader related to  Blessed Mother Charitas Brader?
Yes, she was Ferdinand Brader's niece, the daughter of Ferdinand's brother Josef Sebastian Brader.  You can read here about the amazing life of his niece, Maria Josepha Karolina "Charitas" Brader.

Where did  he live in America?
Brader was in Berks County Pennsylvania before 1879 and had migrated to northeastern Ohio by 1884.  He traveled around the countryside drawing farms and homes,  and traded his drawings for  room and board.  Families have passed down stories that he  slept in the barn or other outbuildings. 

But where did he live in the winter when he wasn't traveling practicing his art?
Of the twenty-some winters that Ferdinand Brader passed in America, we only know  about the last five winters.   One winter was spent at the Portage County Infirmary in Ravenna, Ohio and four winters at the Stark County Infirmary.

How do you know this is true?
This knowledge comes to us from the careful records kept by the staffs of the two Infirmaries.  

Here are copies of the actual entries documenting the presence of Ferdinand Brader.
Below is a copy of the Register of the Portage County Infirmary showing that Ferdinand A. Brader was received on December 12, 1891 and dismissed on April 19, 1892.   
12 December 1891 through 19 April 1892
Below are copies of listings from 1892 through 1895 for Ferdinand Brader's time at the Stark County Infirmary, which was later called the County Home.  
14 November 1892 through 25 May 1893
25 November 1893 through 5 June 1894
11 August 1894 registration,  no date for departure until December 1895

"absconded" 31 December 1895

Here is an old photo showing  the Stark County Infirmary much as it would have looked while Brader was there.
STARK COUNTY INFIRMARY as pictured in the 1896 Stark County Atlas.

The Rest of the Story
Recently discovered  articles shed new light on Brader's mysterious disappearance in February1896.  These articles, published  November 6, 1895, the first   in The Repository, Canton, Ohio page 3, and the second in the Salem Daily News on the same day, inform us of the fortune Brader has inherited from his brother.   Later articles published in February 1896 tell us that Brader went to collect a small advance on the fortune, and suddenly disappeared.    Several Ohio newspapers reported  his disappearance, and assumptions were made that he had returned to his home in St. Gallen, Switzerland.  But apparently he did not collect his inheritance, and eventually in 1901  Swiss officials declare that Brader is "lost, missing without a trace."
November 6, 1895 The Repository Canton Ohio (courtesy of the Stark County Library Genealogy Department, and thanks to the helpful staff!) 
  • November 6, 1895 The Salem Daily News (retrieved from Ancestry.com)

    February 21, 1896 Louisville Herald (courtesy of the Louisville Public Library, and thanks to Mark for finding this clipping for us last November!)
    February 16, 1896 The Repository, pg 2 (courtesy of the Stark County Library Genealogy Department, and thanks to the helpful staff!) 

Below article is  from the The Salem Daily News, page one, February 13, 1896  
(retrieved from Ancestry.com  and transcribed here for easier reading) 
Arrives But Its Recipient Is Now Missing
About four weeks ago Ferdinand Brader who at that time was an inmate of the Stark County Infirmary, received word form Switzerland  that he had fallen heir to $4,000.  About the same time, he got a check on a New York bank for $150 and a post office money order for S40.  He was informed that this $200 was the interest due hom on the $4,000, but that it would be some time before he got the fortune.  

A few days before receiving the money, he learned of the death of William Tanner who resided in Alliance and who for many years had been his most intimate friend.  He had a strong desire to  attend the funeral of his friend Tanner, and went to Mr. Anton  Turajski who was going to attend the funeral, and told him he would like to go with him but he had no money.  Mt. Turajski gave him money to  pay his transportation to Alliance and return  When he went home from Alliance he got the check and the money order.  He then went to the home of a Mr. Lenke, near the old fair grounds and engaged a room and boarding instead of going to the infirmary.  After getting his check and money order cashed, he told several persons that he going up town to pay Mt. Turajski some money he owed him.  This was the last time he was seen by anyone in or about Canton.

Mr. Turajski was seen by a reporter in regard to whether the man had called to pay him.  He said he had not, but that he had been told by several parties that Brader told them he was going to pay him the first thing when he got to town.  Brader’s sudden disappearance is quite a mystery and it is thought that he was murdered and robbed or has wandered away.  Mr. Turajski said that Brader was afflicted with asthma and might be possible that in his wanderings he may have been overcome and died in some out of the way place.  Mr. Turajski says he is certain that some misfortune has overcome Brader or he would have called and paid him.

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