My opening salvo is the family of my direct ancestor James Browning, Samuel and Margaret's first born child. James was born on 31 Oct 1815 in Harrison County, OH. I've always suspected that Margaret was pregnant with James before she and Samuel married on 9 Feb 1815 but if not, the poor girl only had a week or so of grace before conceiving!
When James was 14, in 1829, a young girl of 9 named Jane Nevitt became his mother's step-niece. Margaret's brother James Markee had just married Rhoda (Johnson) Nevitt, a widow with two young girls, Mary and Jane. No doubt the two families spent time together and over the years a closeness developed between James and Jane for the couple decided to marry. They were wed on 23 Jun 1839 in neighboring Tuscarawas County, OH by William C. Kennedy, JP. James was 23 and Jane was 19. James had been training to be a cooper before he and Jane married and no doubt his training gave him confidence that he could support a wife and a child. A recording of their marriage license is shown to the left.
Did the couple "have" to get married? Perhaps. Their first born son, Elias, was either born on 18 Apr 1839 or 18 Apr 1840. Lacking a birth certificate, the evidence swings both ways. The date on his tombstone says 1839. The 1850 census, taken in December of that year, lists him as 10 years of age. I can't ever prove it of course, but my own intuition about it all tells me that he was born in 1839 and that's why James and Jane went over to Tuscarawas County to get married. Their families weren't known as well and they could leave the baby behind!
James and Jane lived for a decade in Washington Township near Tippecanoe in Harrison County. The couple had five children there (Elias, Joseph, Thomas N., Sarah Ann and Mary Jane) before becoming the first of the Brownings to move to Crawford County, Illinois. They packed their belongings and arrived there sometime in late 1849 before the birth of their last child, Margaret Ann. They didn't blindly move to a random part of the country -- no, most probably they moved to join Jane’s mother Rhoda and her husband James M. Markee. The elder Markees had made the trip to IL around 1846 to join James’s cousins Samuel, William and John Minard Markee.
James and Jane settled in Montgomery Township in Crawford County and probably wrote home about the land and and its bounty, for they were soon joined by James' parents Samuel and Margaret and nine of their remaining twelve children. Their bliss didn't last long, however; as I mentioned in the last post, an outbreak of yellow fever swept through the country and many people died in those years. It's entirely probable James Browning was one of its victims. He died on 8 August 1852 and was buried in the Browning family plot in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Montgomery Township.
After James’s death Jane and her children were left to fend for themselves. Accounts of their life vary. According to their son Thomas Browning’s biographical sketch in Paul Selby’s Crawford County – Biographical, Thomas was “put out among strangers” after his father’s death. It's indicated by their son (and my direct ancestor) Joseph Browning’s obituary, printed in the Palestine Register in 1916, that the family moved to Bristol Landing around the year 1854. Bristol Landing is almost two miles southeast of Palestine IL and is a stretch of land very close to where the Sugar Creek flows into the Wabash River.
The two sons of James and Jane mentioned above, Elias and Joseph, have been featured in my blog before. Remember the civil war mementos my cousin had, here? Elias and Joseph were two parts of that triumvirate that included Jacob Johnson who served together in the Civil War out of a volunteer regiment from Missouri. If you're interested in how their lives meshed in a different way other than that war you should go read that post.
On 21 Jan 1860 Jane married a native of England many years her senior named William Jennings. William and Jane had one son, Richard, in 1861. I found the family in the 1865 IL state census but that's the last time I find Jane anywhere. I can't seem to find her in the 1870 or the 1880 census, which frustrates me to no end! I found her son Richard as a servant in the 1880 census but Jane's nowhere to be found.
The next time I find her is in the Kirk Cemetery in Robinson Township! She died on 3 Feb 1894. I've made a note (one of sooo many in my task list!) to research the local papers to see if I can find her obituary. Perhaps that'll help me add some more color to the last 30 years of her life. Who knows -- maybe I can't find her because she'd married again and moved to Timbuktu? Ahhhhh, supposition! Isn't it lovely?
You can see a list of James and Jane's Browning children on the footer to my blog. I'm sure I'll tell stories about them in future posts, but for now I will supply a small rundown of their marriages. Elias Browning married Sarah Ellen Kent. Joseph Browning -- my direct ancestor -- married Almarena Mathewson. Thomas Newton Browning married Sarah Ann Huls. Sarah Elizabeth married Samuel Selwyn Plummer. Mary Jane married Amos K. Huls, and Margaret Ann married Charles Francis Huls. Five of the six children that James and Jane had took a family photo around 1911 and I have placed a copy of that photo here to the left.
I'll take a moment, though, to list what I know about Richard, Jane's only child with William Jennings. Richard was born 26 Mar 1861 and married Mary Lackey, the daughter of Thomas Lackey and Ann Eliza Boatright, on 26 Nov 1895 in Hardinsville in Crawford County. The couple had no known living children. Richard died on 17 Jun 1938 and Mary died on 3 Jul 1948. They're buried in the Palestine Cemetery in Crawford County.
Other posts featuring this family:
- (Not At All) Wordless Wednesday -- Civil War Mementos (feat. Joseph Browning)
- ...Why I Should Stay Away From Cars (feat. Joseph Browning)
- Thomas Newton Browning, Jack of All Trades (feat. T.N. Browning)