Contributed by: William Brackett

A family history, Briney Families 1713-1976, by Maurice E. Briney, Walter L. Briney and Esther Briney Chu, contains some of the following information. “The Brineys were Germanic peoples from the Upper Rhine River areas of modern day Alsace and West Germany.” They also say that some of the Briney immigrants came to Pennsylvania and Maryland in the early to mid 1700s. This name is also seen spelled as Braeunig, Breunig, Brinigh and Brining as well as other variations.

These researchers indicate that Johann and Marx Breinig who took oaths in Pennsylvania in 1751 and 1753 assumed the family name of Briney. They were from provinces, which today would be in Germany. In Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in 1783 there was a Peter and John Briney who appear on the tax lists. In 1790 John Briney has nine children in his household and he “may perhaps be the father of Daniel who names his son John D.” This would be the Daniel C. Briney of Darke County, Ohio.

In Darke County, Ohio John Briney signed a mortgage for land for John Symmes he signed “both John Briney and Johann Brinig”. This record is located in Deed Book one.

On page 26 of their work they talk about Adam J. Briney. Adam was the son of Daniel C. and Catherine Briney. Adam migrated to “Michigan from Darke County, Ohio by wagon in 1835, he was accompanied by his brother-in-law Eli Shearer and his wife”. “Eli had come to Michigan a year earlier. Adam J. and Sarah (Shearer) Briney lived with Eli while they built their log cabin in Berrien County, Michigan.” They indicate Adam J. Briney “traveled to Michigan on horseback in 1834 with his father-in-law, David Shearer, and his brother-in-law, Eli Shearer, to locate suitable lands”. “Adam J. Briney purchased 160 acres, but delayed his migration until Eli returned to Ohio the next year.” They go on to mention that Adam J. and Sarah (Shearer) “Briney’s large family established the Briney families of southwestern Michigan”.

On page 39 the address “The Daniel C. Briney Family”:

Daniel C. Briney married a lady named Catherine. Daniel’s will was filed in Warren County, Ohio 13 Sep 1831. The 1840 census shows Catherine as head of the household so Daniel probably was dead by that time. The list of children were taken from those listed in his will:

Mary Briney married 02 Nov 1820 Jack McOwen

John D. Briney was born 08 Oct 1798 and died 05 Jan 1882 and married Jane Schenck

Frederick W. Briney was married to a lady named Mary.

Henry Briney

Elizabeth Briney married 25 May 1828 Edward Givens

Rebecca Briney was born 23 Aug 1812 and died 14 Oct 1887 and married Henry Harless

Adam J. Briney was born 19 Dec 1803 and married 25 Mar 1830 Sarah Shearer

Daniel J. Briney married 01 Jan 1835 Polly Adkins and on 07 Feb 1843 Susannah Armstrong

Other internet files were consulted at: and as well as Some of the internet sources say that Daniel C. Briney married Anna Catherine Weitzel about 1795. She was born on 01 Apr 1776 in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Daniel’s parents have not been found but a couple of sources suggest his father may have been John or Johann Briney of Pennsylvania.

On page 52 of this work is “Generation II”:

Adam J. Briney the son of Daniel and Catherine Briney was born on 19 Dec 1803. He married Sarah Shearer on 25 Mar 1830 in Darke County, Ohio. He died 08 Jan 1895 and is buried in the Royalton Section of Riverview Cemetery near St. Joseph, Michigan as is his wife Sarah. “In October, 1835 Adam J. Briney took his wife and four children to the land he had located the year before in Royalton Township. They hurried to put up a cabin and stayed on the 160 acres for about 10 years and then moved to a place in section 19, north of his first location, where he lived until his death. Hi widow, Sarah Shearer Briney remained on the property.” Their children were:

Daniel Briney born 1831 married Nancy Schear or Schearer.

Nancy Briney born 1833 married Martin Sherman

Esther Briney born 1834 died 1896 married John Surch

Catherine Briney born 1838 married John Hankins

Eli Briney born 1844 died 12 May 1906 married Martha Willa and served in the Civil War

Henry Briney born 1846 died 1898 married Hattie Weed

Sarah Briney born 1849 married Ed Sauerbier

Edward Briney born 1854 married Rosa Schaeffer

Elvira Briney born 1856 died 1913 married Charlie Brunke

Sarah Shearer was born on 08 Feb 1810 in Kentucky the daughter of David and Mary (Larose) Shearer of North Carolina. David Shearer was the son of Christian and Hannah (Hoover) Shearer, who was the son of Christian Shearer Sr. of Wilkes County, North Carolina, according to Vivian Markley. Christian Shearer Sr. served in the 16th North Carolina Company during the Revolutionary War. It is indicated that Christian Shearer Sr. married Sarah Bargett or Burkett.

An Adam Briney and a David Shear (Shearer) settled in Twin Township of Darke County, Ohio as early as 1818 and are credited as being some of its “first settlers”.

A Twentieth Century History of Berrien County, Michigan by Orville W. Collidge, was published in 1906 by the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago and it contains a history of Royalton Township in Chapter XXI. On page 260 and 261 you can read the following: “In 1834, David Shearer, a native of North Carolina, emigrated from Ohio, where he had lived form some years, with his family consisting of a wife and thirteen children, and located one hundred and sixty acres in section nineteen. His son Eli and A.J. Briney, who had accompanied the family from Ohio, located lands adjoining. There were no settlers nearer than five miles distant. They journeyed from Ohio in four two-horse wagons. They went to mill to Prairie Ronde in Kalamazoo County, thirty-five miles distant.” “In 1835, A.J. Briney, William Miltenberger and William Baumgartner, all from Ohio, settled in the township.”

The History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan, was published in 1880 in Philadelphia by the D. W. Ensign & Company. In this book on page 304 and 306 under the Chapter heading “Royalton Township” you can read:

“In the spring of 1834, David Shearer and Eli, his son, with Adam J. Briney, of Darke Co., Ohio, journeyed in company on horseback to Michigan for the purpose of locating land. They visited with William Lemon, of Berrien township (whom they knew well), and upon asking his advice as to where they had better settle, were informed that he knew where there was land that would suit them. Thereupon he accompanied them to what is now section 19, Royalton township, and the land proving acceptable they subsequently entered upon that section, David Shearer 150, Eli Shearer 80, and Briney 160 acres. Briney and the Shearers returned to Ohio, and in the fall of 1834 David Shearer started with his family for the Michigan farms. David Shearer, a widower with seven children, had married a widow with six children, so that when he started for Michigan he had a family of thirteen children to bear him company, besides Abner Shearer, a nephew, who remained in Michigan only about a year. David Shearer was originally from North Carolina and removed thence to Kentucky, and from there to Ohio.

The journey from Ohio to Michigan was made with four two-horse wagons, and after cutting a road from St. Joseph road to section 19, they landed safely upon their new lands in the almost trackless forest. While sturdy members of the family engaged in the hurried construction of a log cabin, all hands were rudely sheltered by the side of a prostrate tree, where they had their abiding-place and ‘kept house’ until the more convenient cabin was prepared for them. Eli and his wife lived with the old folks until Eli completed a cabin for himself, and then they turned their attention to clearing their land and preparing for crops.

In that portion of Royalton no settlers had preceded the Shearers, and they were as much apart from communion with their own race as if they had been cast adrift upon the ocean. They had no time, however, to think of the loneliness of their situation, for they had that to engage their attention which gave them no leisure for idle thought, and so they worked bravely amid the wolves and Indians, and grew contented with their lot. ‘Going to mill’ was one of the unpleasant features of existence, but it was one of necessity and importance. Although there was a mill at Niles, the Shearers chose to go to Prairie Ronde, thirty-eight miles distant, and to that point the journey was often made. In those days of unbroken roads a trip of seventy-six miles was no slight affair, and that it was going to mill under difficulties may easily be understood.

David Shearer lived upon his farm until his death, in 1865. Of the thirteen children who came to Royalton with him, those now living are Eli Shearer, Andrew Shearer, Sarah Briney, Catherine Boughton, and Lizzie Edwards.

In October, 1835, Adam J. Briney, who had, with the Shearers, located land in Royalton the year before, concluded to move, with his wife and four children, to his new farm, although he had for a twelvemonth been hesitating to make the change. With him also came William Miltenberger, with wife and child, and William Baumgartner, a young man fired with ambition to explore the western wilds,-these being all residents of Darke Co., Ohio. They had also in their company Eli Shearer and wife, who had returned to Ohio from Michigan for a hurried visit.

The journey was made with wagons, and upon reaching Royalton Briney and his wife located at Eli Shearer’s house, where they remained two weeks, by which time Briney had put up a cabin on a place adjoining Shearer. He had there 160 acres, upon which he resided about ten years, when he removed to a place on section 19, north of his first location, and there lived until his death, in 1875, leaving a widow, who still lives on the place.

William Miltenberger, whose mother had married David Shearer, resided at her house upon his arrival in Royalton with his wife and child, and for a year or so labored upon his own and farms of neighbors. At the expiration of that period, having entered 80 acres upon section 30, he moved upon his farm, and still resides in the log house into which he first moved.”

Note: In the 1850 census of Berrien County, Michigan David Shearer is recorded as being 63 years of age and born in North Carolina and his wife is recorded as Margaret who was 58 years of age and also born in North Carolina. This must have been the “widow” Margaret Miltenberger. This record would place David Shearer’s birth date as about 1787. He was the father of Sarah Shearer who married Adam J. Briney.

The 1840 census for Royalton Township of Berrien County, Michigan includes:

Adam J. Briney. This census only contains the numbers of males/females in the household. There was one male 30 to 40 years of age, one male 20 to 30 years of age and one male between 5 to 10 years of age. There was one female 20 to 30 years of age, two females between 5 and 10 years of age and one female who was less than five years old. Note: This record is in conflict with the 1870 census record.

The 1850 census of Berrien County includes:

Adam J. Briney 48 years of age born in Ohio

Sarah 40 years of age born in Kentucky

Daniel 18 years of age born in Ohio

Nancy 17 years of age born in Ohio

Catherine 12 years of age born in Michigan

Esther 16 years of age born in Michigan

Eli 6 years of age born in Michigan

Henry 3 years of age born in Michigan

Sarah 1 year old born in Michigan

Note: In this same census are Eli, Andrew and David Shearer. In this census there are no township designations and the whole county was called “District 10”.

The 1860 census for Royalton Township of Berrien County, Michigan includes:

Briena, A.J. 59years of age born in Ohio

Sarah 50 years of age born in Kentucky

Esther 19 years

Eli 16 years of age

Henry 14 years of age

Sarah 11 years of age

Edmond 7 years of age

A.O. 4 years of age


Breiner, Daniel 28 years of age born in Ohio

Nancy 18 years of age born in Indiana

M.J. 4 years of age

B.F. 2 years of age

J.D. 1 year old

Note: Even though these names are misspelled this is Adam J. Briney and his son Daniel Briney.

John Surch married Esther J. Briney on 21 Jan 1866 in Berrien County, Michigan. The records indicate he was born in 1834 in England. Esther was born in 1841 in Michigan. Esther Briney was the daughter of Adam and Sarah Briney.

The 1870 census of Royalton Township of Berrien County, Michigan includes the John Surch family:

John Search 32 years of age born in England, a laborer

Esther 25 years of age born in Michigan

Adam 4 years of age born in Michigan

William 2 years of age born in Michigan

John 1 year old born in Michigan

Note: This name is indexed as Learch in some indexes. The cursive “S” looks much like a cursive “L” in this record.

The 1880 census of Royalton Township of Berrien County, Michigan includes the John Surch family:

John Surch 47 years of age born in England, a farmer

Esther J. 39 years of age born in Michigan

William J. 13 years of age born in Michigan

Adam J. 12 years of age born in Michigan

Alfred V. 11 years of age born in Michigan

It appears that the Adam who was four in 1870 had died by 1880.

Adam J. Surch married Paulina Rashke on 14 Jan 1893 in St. Joseph. Adam J. and Pauline (Raschke) Surch had a son: Harry Surch b. 06 Jun 1903 d. 01 Jan 1996

Harry Raymond Surch married Flossie Mae Conrad on 17 Apr 1927 in Buchanan. Harry R. and Flossie M. (Conrad) Surch had a son: Robert Surch b. 1929

Robert Dean Surch married Joyce Lavone Eckelbarger Robert D. and Joyce L (Eckelbarger) Surch had a daughter: Karen Marie Surch

Karen Marie Surch married Jerry Vern Cuthbert Jerry V and Karen M. (Surch) Cuthbert had a daughter: Jennifer Sue Cuthbert

Jennifer S. Cuthbert married Phillip R. Brackett on 19 May 2001. Phillip R. and Jennifer S. (Cuthbert) Brackett had a son: Garrett Ryan Brackett