The most solid of all my brick walls (it feels like the Great Wall sometimes!) is the question: Is John Browning the father of Samuel Browning? And if so, how do I prove that he is?
Circumstantial evidence suggests that Samuel (b. c1796 MD) may possibly be the son of John Browning, who is found in the 1820 and 1830 censuses of Harrison County. In the 1820 census John, who is listed as living in Cadiz Township and as aged 45 and over, is living with a female (probably his wife) who is also 45 and over. They are living within a six household radius of Samuel and his wife Margaret. This John is shown with three males -- one under the age of 10, one aged 16 to 18, and one aged 16 to 25; and six females – two under the age of 10, three aged 10 to 15, and one aged 16 to 25.
In 1830 John Browning is shown living in Freeport Township aged 50 to 59, with a wife also aged 50 to 59. They are shown with three children: a boy aged 15 to 19 and two girls, one aged 10 to 14 and the other aged 15 to 20.
Taken as a whole, these two censuses show that both John and his unnamed wife were born between the years 1771-1775. As Samuel was born around the year 1796, the possibility exists that he is their son.
A search for possible siblings of Samuel's unearthed a number of prospects. Early Harrison County marriage records provide evidence of the marriages of at least five Browning women. A Polly Browning married James Graham and Margaret Browning married Richard Medley, both in 1826. A Wilsey Browning intended to marry John Thomas in 1830 but although a license was issued, no marriage took place. A Hannah Browning married Thomas Drake in 1837. Lastly, a Cassa Browning married Alfred Calvert in 1841. It is uncertain, however, whether any of these women were siblings or other relatives of Samuel's.
In the 1820 census, another Browning is also within the same six household radius and on the same page as Samuel and John in Cadiz Township; William, aged 16 to 26. William is shown with another male aged 16 to 26 and a female, most probably his wife, aged 26 to 45. Harrison County marriage records contain the entry of a marriage of a William Browning to a Hannah Barr on 1 December 1818, and it is possible that this William may be a brother to Samuel and another younger son of John.
By 1840, neither John nor his wife are found on the census records of Harrison County nor have they been located in any neighboring counties. It could be assumed that both died between the years 1830-1840, but this assumption has never been proven. Efforts to further locate John Browning have so far proved fruitless.
There is also slight evidence to suggest that Samuel may have had relatives in Licking County, Ohio. Two of Samuel's sons, Asbury Taylor and John Wesley Francis, married Corderman women in Crawford County. The David Corderman family had come from Pennsylvania and had settled in Jacksontown Township in Licking County in the late 1830's. They had then moved on to Crawford County, where two of David's daughters, Matilda and Minerva, married into the Browning family. Minerva Corderman Browning, Asbury's widow, stated in her Civil War soldier's widow's pension application that she had known Asbury from an early age. She stated that she had "always knew him since he was a small boy."
If her statement is accepted as true and Asbury and Minerva had known each other as children, then Samuel Browning and his family may have made trips to Licking County to visit relatives. The Browning families in and around Licking County in the early 1840's – specifically those of Asa and Jeremiah Browning of Union Township -- may have been relatives of Samuel's. Samuel's supposed father, John Browning, might have been a brother or cousin to one of these men. While this is unproven, the presence of Van Browning in Crawford County (a known son of Jeremiah of Licking County) during the same time period as Samuel also lends some support to the connection between the Brownings of Licking County and the family of Samuel Browning.
Pat and I searched for years. I wish I could figure out what it was.
I've looked in early Harrison County records….I've had a researcher I hired do it and I did it myself back in August. No John. No will for any John Browning exists in Harrison County or Tuscarawas County for the right time period. There IS a John Browning in Tuscarawas in 1899 but I have a copy of that will and that is another family entirely. I have looked at Carol Bell's "Wills To 1850" and there is no John recorded there either. I found a Jeremiah Browning in Jefferson County and I ordered and received his estate papers. What there is does not plainly refer to any names that would connect with mine, though I keep it filed away because of the Jeremiah in Licking County that I mentioned earlier. I plan to travel to Jefferson County myself in a few weeks and do another round of research. I prefer to see these sorts of things with my own eyes, if you know what I mean?
One more thing. Early Harrison County deed records show at least three other Browning men that, as far as I can now determine, do not connect with me. (That's not to say they don't….I just haven't proven anything yet!)
25 Dec 1817: Joseph FRY to Lewis Browning -- This deed was between Joseph Fry and Amelia (Permilia) his wife of Harrison County on the one part, and Lewis Browning of Brooke Co., VA (now WV)on the other.
31 Mar 1834: William TINGLEY to Lewis Browning -- bill in chancery court against Frederick SALMON, for the right to sell his lands to pay Browning back for debts owed now that Salmon is considered a lunatic.
13 May 1835: Lewis BROWNING to Isaac Weldon, Sr. -- This deed was between Lewis Browning of Brooke County, VA (now WV) on the one part, and Isaac Weldon Sr. of Harrison County on the other. Witness: Joseph FRY, Justice of the Peace.
4 Jan 1836: Rees JONES, Daniel SPRINGER and others to Lewis Browning for the use of Emelia Salmon -- This deed was between Rees Jones and Jane his wife, Daniel Springer and Jane his wife of Harrison County on the one part, and Lemuel Browning of Lewis Browning of Brooke Co VA (now WV) on the other, for the use of Emelia Salmon of Harrison County.
25 Oct 1836: Isaac WELDON to Lemuel Browning -- This deed was between Isaac Weldon and Elizabeth his wife of Harrison County on the one part, and Lemuel Browning of Harrison County on the other. Joseph FRY was Justice of the Peace.
20 Jun 1837: William BUKEY to Ellis & Jones -- This deed was between William Bukey and Susannah his wife of Ohio County, VA on the one part, and Ellis D. Jones and Lemuel Browning of Harrison County on the other.
19 Aug 1837: Jonathan PEOPLES to Jones & Browning -- This deed was between Jonathan Peoples and Mahala his wife of Harrison County on the one part, and Ellis D. Jones and Lemuel Browning of Harrison County on the other.
1 Sep 1837: John STRADLING to Jeremiah Browning -- This deed was between John Stradling and Sarah his wife of Short Creek, Harrison County OH on the one part, and Jeremiah Browning of Jefferson County OH on the other.
21 Mar 1838: Lewis BROWNING to Amelia Salmon: This deed was between Lewis Browning of Brooke Co, VA (now WV) on the one part, and Amelia Salmon of Harrison County on the other.
2 Apr 1838: Jeremiah BROWNING to James Roberts -- This deed was between Jeremiah Browning and Catherine his wife of Steubenville, Jefferson County, OH on the one part, and James Roberts of Harrison County on the other.
18 Aug 1838: Lemuel BROWNING, et al. to John NEBLICK -- This deed was between Ellis D. Jones and Mary his wife and Lemuel Browning and Caroline his wife of Harrison County, OH on the one part, and John Neblick of Harrison County on the other.
15 Oct 1838: Lemuel BROWNING to Lewis Browning -- This deed was between Lemuel Browning of Harrison County on the one part and Lewis Browning of Brooke Co, VA (now WV) on the other part.
15 Aug 1840: Lewis BROWNING to Samuel Wilson: This deed was between Lewis Browning and Margaret his wife of Brooke County, VA (now WV) on the one part, and Samuel Wilson of Freeport, Harrison County on the other.
These deed records show that throughout the period of 1818-1838, a few Browning men were buying and selling land in Harrison County. Lewis was living in WV, and the Jeremiah I mentioned earlier in Jefferson County. He was there as early as 1815 and died around 1843 -- his wife's name was Catherine Mansfield. Lemuel Browning was the son of Lewis and Margaret (Phillips) Browning (the other buyer of land) of Frederick Co., MD/Brooke Co WV. He was born about 1805 in Frederick Co., MD and married Caroline Beck on 15 Feb 1825 in Brooke Co., WV. Caroline was born about 1815. They lived in Harrison Co. OH c1837, but moved to Warren Twn., Jefferson Co., OH by 1850.
My Samuel was born in Maryland. I just HAVE to fit in here somewhere; that's my 'gut' instinct talking of course. I still haven't figured it out after all these years.
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