Consanguinity: (kŏn'săng-gwĭn'ĭtē) , relationship by blood, whether linear or collateral.

Primarily concentrating on my Browning family from Harrison County, Ohio (and their subsequent move to Crawford County, Illinois) but I've got Plymell, Crago, Eagleton, Garrard, McConnell, Nichols, Swan, Nevitt, Huls, Markee, Depperman, Papstein/Popstein and Hamilton in there too. And that's just the beginning......

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Browning v. Beck Pt 6 - Witnesses For The Defense

Other than learning a number of things about citizens living in the same township that my Brownings were living in -- and learning that one of Samuel's lawyers was Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War in the Lincoln administration -- Samuel and Julia Ann's list of witnesses has so far been a fairly fruitless pursuit. The list hasn't done what I most hoped it would do, which was to yield information about Samuel's relations or parentage. As far as I've been able to tell, Samuel just up and hatched!

I turned my attention, therefore, to the witnesses for the defense.

One witness for the defense was named Jonathan Peoples. This name jumped out at me, but not initially…this one leaped out after I came home and was looking over all the old Browning deeds.

19 Aug 1837: Jonathan PEOPLES to Jones & Browning -- 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.

Jonathan Peoples married Mahala Norris in Harrison County on 19 Oct 1826. I don't know if Jonathan was connected to my Brownings or not, but he did purchase land from one, and during the time of the trial! I'll make sure to note his name in case I run across it in further research.

As I mentioned, though, one set of names in that list jumped out at me immediately and when I first saw them I got super excited. I recognized them immediately from prior research. Thomas and Hannah Drake are listed as witnesses for the defense in Julia Ann's bastardy case, and Hannah is called separately as a witness for James Beck in Samuel's Trespass On The Case suit. What makes this pertinent is that Hannah's maiden name was Browning.

I've written a book about Samuel and Margaret and during the research phase of the writing I'd come across a number of Browning marriages in Harrison County that I couldn't connect with my Samuel. Hannah's to Thomas Drake is one of these. She and Thomas were married in January of 1837, only two months prior to the beginning of the case in March. Knowing what I know now, the man who married them also becomes relevant -- they were married by Samuel Skinner! Samuel was a Justice of the Peace as well as the man who went to interview Julia Ann in her bed four days after Washington's birth and who signed many of the opening documents in this case. By October, however, he's no longer listed on any documentation other than as a witness. I don't know whether this is because he'd completed his term as an officer of the court between March and October 1837 or whether being called as a witness at trial rendered him unable to continue due to conflict of interest.

But back to Thomas and Hannah.

Hannah Browning was born c1814, probably in Ohio but perhaps in Maryland (the 1850 census says Maryland but the 1860 and the 1870 says Ohio.) Thomas Drake was born in 1810 in Maryland and was the son of William Drake, Jr. and his wife Mary, maiden name unknown. William and Mary Drake moved to Harrison County from Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1819. Once they arrived they bought property in Nottingham Township from Neal and Susannah Peacock. In April of 1835 William and Mary sold half of their property to their son Thomas (they sold the other half to Reuben Allen) and moved to Guernsey County, Ohio.

William Drake Jr.'s parents were William Drake, Sr. and Elizabeth Hinkle. They were married on 17 Oct 1780 in Frederick County, Maryland. William Sr. was born c1760 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the 1800 census, William Sr. and Elizabeth lived in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and as a widow, Elizabeth Hinkle Drake moved to Allegany County, Maryland (which shares a border with Bedford County) to join her brother, George Hinkle.

Thomas and Hannah were called to testify in the trial in 1837 but by 1840 they'd moved to Washington Township in Monroe County, Ohio, where they stayed until 1869. At that time they picked up stakes with most of their kids -- seven out of their ten -- and moved to Washington Township in Wapello County, Iowa. They're found there in the 1870 census but can't be found in the 1880. Barring any evidence to the contrary, it's presumed they both died in Iowa.

Seeing Thomas and Hannah on the witness list was exciting for me and my heart leapt, thinking that would add to the circumstantial evidence that might link Hannah Browning to my Samuel Browning. I was a bit befuddled to discover that instead of testifying for the prosecution, they were asked to testify for the defense. None of the subpoenas specify whether witnesses were called under duress -- the point of a subpoena is to call witnesses to testify whether they'd prefer to do so or not. I'm curious whether Beck called Thomas and Hannah under duress or if they were indeed willing witnesses for his claim. I hope to answer this question soon; I've contacted the HCGS again to see if they'll look up files for James Beck and Thomas and Hannah Drake. I'm hoping some sort of trial testimony survived. Wouldn't that be grand!

Hannah was born around 1814. My ancestor, James Browning, the first son of Samuel and Margaret, was born in 1815. Could Hannah be one of Samuel's youngest siblings? Could she be a niece? Might she even be related at all? It's so frustrating…

I've been in touch with a descendent of Thomas and Hannah's for years now, Pam Drake. She and I have wondered whether we're related so many times I can't begin to count them all. (Oh and by the way, should anyone reading this be interested in the Drake family I mentioned above, please contact Pam at My father's DNA tests came back yesterday and unfortunately we can't test between Pam and I because I only did the patrilineal marker and her Browning was a female. Rats. Anyway, I'll be posting more about my dad's DNA in a later post. For right now, I continue to wonder why Hannah testified in the trial. I sure hope I can find out.

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