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 A Soul on Trial

A Soul on Trial: A Marine Corps Mystery at the Turn of the Twentieth Century is the true story of an unprecedented conflict between democratic values and military justice in the age when the modern mass media was born. It is also a remarkable tale of friendship, friction and ultimately tragedy among newly-minted Marine Corps officers at their training school in Annapolis a century ago.

After her son died under mysterious circumstances in 1907, Rosa Brant Sutton came 3000 miles from Portland, Oregon to challenge the Navy's suicide finding. Inspired by her Catholic faith and several alleged postmortem visits from "Jimmie," she embarked on a crusade to save his soul from the stigma of a mortal sin. Her spiritual battle soon became a political one that captivated the nation…

Historian Robin R. Cutler became intrigued by this story when she found documents and photographs about it in family papers more than 10 years ago. Thanks to help from the CCGS she soon discovered that Rosa, who was her great-grandmother, had roots in Clark County. Rosa was the seventh of 13 children of pioneer Joseph Adolphus Brant who came to the United States from Bavaria in 1830 at the age of six. On September 14, 1846 he became a United States citizen "in the court of common pleas in Montgomery County, Ohio." Two years later he married a twenty-year-old Ohioan, Louisa Frances Burgett. In 1850, with a toddler, Louis, and another baby (George) on the way, the young family set out from Dayton for land that would soon be part of Washington Territory (formed on March 2,1853). Joseph took out a Donation Land claim on the Lewis River for 320 acres that was settled on November 27, 1851. See Clark County Pioneers: A Centennial Salute (Vancouver, WA: Clark County Genealogical Society, 1989). Joseph Brant, 132. Joseph Adolphus C. Brant, (one of Rosa's brothers),133.

Also Joseph Brant's naturalization record can be found in: Montgomery County, Ohio, Clerk of Courts, Common Pleas Minutes, volume R-1, page 666. Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. In 1846 court was held in the City Hall. Reverend A. W. Drury, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County Ohio, volume 1 (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909) Joseph and Louisa Brant, their daughter Rosanna who died at two, and their son Albert Brant are all buried in Mother Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Vancouver, Plot 116. Clark County Washington Marriages, unpublished list compiled by CCGS , also lists several Brant marriages.

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Last modified on Friday, February 29, 2008