I'm a little late in getting around to the Genealogy Happy Dance post I've been reading about in a number of genealogy blogs, but I figure it's better late than never. I've had so many occasions to jig and rhumba (or do my very best disco!) during my 16 years at this hobby, but the most intensely happy moment by far was when I located the gravestone of my Browning matriarch -- my 4th g-grandmother -- Margaret (Markee) Browning. It's been years since this happened, but just doing the writing to tell the tale makes the grin start creeping onto my face and my toe start tapping.
Get comfortable, people. This is a long story.
My 4th g-grandparents, Samuel Browning and Margaret Markee, married in 1815 in Harrison County, Ohio. They were both little more than children -- Samuel was about 18 and had just returned from serving six months in the War of 1812 with Captain Baruch Dickerson's Company, a part of Lieutenant-Colonel William Cotgreve/Colgrove's Second Regiment of Ohio Militia out of Jefferson County. Margaret, the daughter of James Markee (who was the son of James Markey and Amey Trigg of Taynton, Gloucester, England) was barely 15. They were married for 40 years and had 13 children during their marriage, all of whom lived to adulthood. They also took care of their daughter Julia's illegitimate son, Washington, throughout the term of his life. (Washington's story is an interesting one, which I'll blog about at another time.)
They lived 35 years together in Harrison County (moving from Cadiz Twn to Athens Twn to Moorefield Twn) before deciding around 1851 to move on to Crawford County, Illinois. Ten of their thirteen children and their grandson went with them. Samuel and Margaret's eldest son James and his wife Jane Nevitt had moved to Crawford County a few years before that, along with a few of Margaret's Markee nephews. At this point in my research, though, I wasn't aware that Samuel and Margaret had moved to Crawford County and I certainly didn't know that any of the Markees had! I only knew that MY ancestor James had. Not knowing that they'd went to Illinois turned out to be pretty important.
When I first began my genealogical research, I located Samuel and Margaret mentioned on page 535 of J.H. Beer's book, A Commemorative Biographical Record of the counties of Harrison and Carroll. The sketch was of John C. McConnell, who'd married Samuel and Margaret's daughter Rachel. (Rachel was the only one of the Brownings to remain in Harrison County her entire life -- the others moved to Indiana and Kansas -- but as I said before, I didn't realize that at the time. I thought only James had moved to Illinois!) Anyway, the biography spoke briefly of the Browning family and mentioned, as follows: "In 1864 he [Samuel] died, and his remains were laid beside those of his wife, who died in 1855." This small phrase and its implications sent me on a wild goose chase that lasted years and painfully highlighted my fledgling genealogical talents.
I looked all over Harrison County for the location of Samuel and Margaret's gravesite. I spent a very frustrating 6-9 months on the search and when I kept coming up empty I got sidetracked onto other research tasks with other families and decided to lay the burial mystery aside for a while. You must understand -- this was in the years before I learned to concentrate on one family instead of hopping about from family to family. Like I said, fledgling.
A few years later I came back to the Brownings -- to stay, it turns out -- armed with the then-new information that Samuel and Margaret had emigrated to Crawford County, Illinois not long after their son James. I looked at the phrase with new eyes. I finally realized that the phrase had only implied they'd been buried in Harrison County! Since all the other information in the passage about Samuel and Margaret had been true (their children, Samuel's 1812 service, their religious orientation, etc) I wondered if Beers could have been in error about their burial. But in looking at it, Beers never mentioned that they'd been buried in Harrison County. He simply said they were buried together. I thought perhaps they'd been buried in Crawford County instead. But I wondered anew.....where?
I started looking and after some amount of diligence, finally found a hit! Margaret! Buried in the Wilkin Cemetery in Licking Twn. Although I held off on the full-press disco because there wasn't a Samuel listed, I did stand up and allow myself a jig or three. I was pretty happy because next to Margaret there was another Browning listed, one I'd never heard of. A child named Olen B., a son of Asbury Taylor Browning (Samuel and Margaret's ninth child) and his wife Minerva Corderman.
My happiness was tempered by the fact that -- being in Texas -- I couldn't just run out the door and visit the cemetery like every bone in my body was dying to do. I did the next best thing and called a cousin that lived in the county -- one I'd located between my first search and the one that found Margaret -- and dispatched her posthaste to the cemetery to find the stone. She came back emptyhanded. We were crushed.
But my cousin Linda wasn't easily daunted. She started asking around, conferring with the most prominent historian/genealogists in the county. What she found was hugely exciting. Apparently an old cemetery plat existed for the Wilkin, and Margaret and Olen (though not Samuel) were on it! She got a copy made after some finagling and she and her husband Cliff -- who is a treasure, believe me! -- went back to the Wilkin and used the plat to find the position of Margaret's plot. They went armed with a camera.
Look over to the left for what they found. No name there at all, and merely the hint of a death date -- 1856. Hm, I thought, Beers was a little off after all. According to the plat, Olen was supposed to be buried to her right when you faced her stone but there wasn't a stone in sight.
There was little surprise that at their first run of the cemetery, Cliff and Linda had missed her. Without the plat, they'd surely have continued to do so.
As Paul Harvey likes to say, stay tuned, for "in a minute, you're going to hear...the Rest Of The Story."
(If you'd like to read further, go to Part II of this story here, then come back and read Part III of this story!)
7 hours ago