The three items featured in this picture belong to my cousin Linda and are from three men -- all from Crawford County, Illinois -- that served together in the same company in the Civil War: Company H in the 11th Regt of Missouri Infantry. These three men were boyhood friends and brothers and their lives would become entangled in many other ways other than their shared service.
The first item -- a Civil War era bible -- belonged to Elias Browning, a Corporal in Company H. Elias was my cousin Linda's great-great-grandfather. According to her family tradition, Elias carried this bible with him during his service. The bible was most likely given to him by his sweetheart, Sarah Ellen Kent. Sarah and Elias married in 1866 soon after the war was over.
The second item is a bowtie worn by a man named Jacob Cyrus Johnson, who also served as a Private in Company H. Jacob and Elias had been best friends since boyhood.
The third and last item is the handkerchief that the bible and the bowtie are sitting on. It was worn around the neck of Joseph Browning, Elias Browning's younger brother by two years. Joseph was a Sergeant in Company H.
The three men fought together in the siege of Vicksburg. According to Jacob Johnson's testimony in his pension records and information in his obituary, Elias and Joseph were on the field when Jacob fell, seriously wounded through the neck which caused paralysis in his left arm. Elias and Joseph carried Jacob off the field and as they did so Joseph pulled off his handkerchief and held it to Jacob’s neck to staunch the bleeding. This quick thinking helped save Jacob’s life. Jacob was treated at Overton Hospital in Memphis, TN from 28 May 1862 to 17 Aug 1863.
Family lore says the handkerchief shown in the picture is the one Joseph used to save Jacob. You can't really see it in the picture but it is stained in places, a bit to the right under the bowtie and around the bible but elsewhere as well.
But this battle wasn't the end to the connection between the Browning boys and Jacob Johnson. In 1869 Elias died from complications from the dysentery he'd contracted during his service. He left his wife Sarah with two young children, Thomas Marion and Eliza Jane, to raise on her own. Jacob, meanwhile, had married Harriet Norton in 1869 but their marriage was a short one for Harriet died in 1871. Jacob was then also left with two young children to raise on his own. Jacob went and asked for Sarah's hand and -- best friends with Elias 'til the end -- he married Sarah in 1872 and raised Elias' children as his own. Jacob and Sarah never had any children of their own but they raised their four combined children together -- Thomas M. and Eliza Jane Browning, and Orren and Ida Johnson. They had a long marriage. Jacob died in 1916 and Sarah followed in 1931.
Joseph married Almarena Mathewson in 1866 and they were married until her death in 1886. Joseph married twice more -- to Harriet Berlin and then to Frances Daugherty -- and died in a bicycle accident in 1916. He was run over by a car. Yes, you heard right. 1916.
Joseph was my great-great-grandfather on my paternal side. I find it quite ironic that he was killed by an automobile, as my paternal great-grandfather Robert Elbert Garrard was also struck and killed by a vehicle in 1938. To make matters worse I seem to have "inherited" this quality, though unlike both my ancestors, it didn't result in my death. I was hit by a car on my bicycle when I was a young teen and broke my wrist and my leg. I was lucky, they said. I'd say so!
Joseph and Elias Browning were the sons of James Browning and Jane Nevitt. I'll be blogging about them soon!
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