Braggs, Lowndes County, Alabama, as it appeared in
The New 11 x14 Atlas of the World, Rand McNally, 1895

. . . and the difference one little apostrophe can make. What does an apostrophe have to do with shopping, you ask? I’ll explain.

Shopping Saturday is another daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers in which bloggers write about stores or shops that played important roles in their lives or the lives of their ancestors. I believe my paternal grandfather, Stewart Farley Leslie, came from a community that was named for a local store.

My grandfather was born in a tiny rural community (I don’t know if t it was even formally incorporated as a town) in Lowndes County in south central Alabama called Braggs. In an old U. S. Atlas, circa 1895, it appears approximately halfway between Fort Deposit and Letohatchee. My father, who spent at least one boyhood summer there with my grandfather’s relatives, used to laugh and say that it was the kind of place “you had to want to get to.” Meaning, I suppose, that it was so small and out of the way that one didn’t just blunder across it by accident. In some sources I’ve seen, the name of the place is written as Braggs, and in others it’s written as Bragg’s.

Why quibble over one little apostrophe? Because it can give you a clue to the origin of the place. I was searching one night in June, looking for information about my grandfather, when I found a 1900 census record listing his residence as “Precincts 5-6 Farmersville, Bragg’s Store, Lowndes, Alabama.” The apostrophe was there, perhaps, because the name of the place was originally Bragg’s  Store. I’m just theorizing here, but possibly it could have been a trading post or a way station along the route to somewhere else. A cluster of houses grew up around it. A community was born. Over time, for the sake of convenience, (or perhaps the store went out of business), the name was shortened to Braggs and the apostrophe was dropped.

Interestingly, in that same census record, there is no mention of my great-grandfather (my grandfather’s father) and my great-grandmother (my grandfather’s mother) is listed as head of household. I believe my great-grandfather (whose name, I believe, was William Wright Leslie) must have died before 1900. Perhaps my great-grandmother, Janie Cora Peake (She appears on the record as Janie C. Leslie), wanted to be near the store in hopes of making a living and supporting her young children. I estimate that my grandfather would have been about 13 in 1900. His older sister Mabel would have been about 14, and his three younger brothers, William W., James B., and Henry E. would have been about 10, 6, and 4 years old respectively. If anyone can help me verify this, I’d be most grateful.

THAT’S the difference one little apostrophe can make, and THAT’S the connection between a little apostrophe and shopping.