Tombstone Tuesday tonight is partially a post about a tombstone and partially a re-introduction to the case that is upfront in my mind since my return from Ohio yesterday.
If you'll recall, I've mentioned the Browning vs. Beck case once before (and if you don't recall, click on the case name and go read the post!) Quickly summarized, it was the case that helped me determine who Washington Browning (see left) was and where he fit into Samuel and Margaret's Browning family. Washington was their grandson, the illegitimate son of their eldest daughter Julia Ann. Julia was sixteen when she gave birth. The man she accused of being Washington's father was a next-door neighbor named James Beck.
The case ended with a guilty verdict rendered upon James, and he was required to pay child support for a term of five years. I ended my first post by wondering whether or not James followed through on his stated intention to take the case up on appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. During my research this last week I thoroughly perused the surviving Supreme Court records of the time for Harrison County (I looked from 1834-1854) and I think I can safely say that he didn't appear to have done so. I'm satisfied. My years-long wondering can be placed aside permanently.
What interests me now is not that, but the rest of the case. You see, I spent most of Friday in the courthouse in Cadiz, the county seat of Harrison County. I found a few interesting tidbits but nothing that really jumped out and shouted at me. By 4 pm it had been a long day and I was contemplating going out to visit the cemetery where Washington's aunt was buried, but thought to grab a bite to eat at a tiny cafe near the square before doing so. While eating, I happened to overhear some older ladies chatting and asked one of them how to pronounce the name of the town....was it Cah-deez, or Caddis? I discovered it was Caddis. One of the ladies asked me where I was from, since my accent was obviously Texan. I mentioned I was there to do some genealogical research and another of the ladies swiveled in her seat and pointed across the cafe to the only other people there. She said, "Then you'll want to see her. She's the president of the Harrison County Genealogical Society!"
Long story short, Sue (the president) told me she'd meet me at the Society building and let me in. She ended up staying there for 4 hours, going down to the basement to pull the old records and making copies and doing research right alongside me. Both of us got goosebumps when we found some names that made me do my Happy Dance. As we worked she told me stories of how some old records were lost. The courthouse dumped many of them in a dumpster because of space constraints and the Society rescued what they could. She also told me that in the 80's some old marriage permission slips had been photocopied (one of those being the license of Samuel and Margaret, thank goodness!) but the originals went missing soon thereafter. One of those photocopied and now missing ones is so faint as to be illegible, though the name John Browning can be seen!!!!!
Anyway, I joined the Society that night and I can only hope that if and when I can help someone else out, I'll be able to pay it forward like Sue did for me. She was a true gem.
When she brought the files on the Browning vs. Beck case up from the Society basement for me, I got so excited. I ended up copying the entire file though it cost me a small fortune! These are the papers I intend to analyze in the coming week (or so.) Talk about fascinating......
'Til next time, then!
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