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......

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Browning v. Beck Pt 7 - The Witnesses Wilson - Are They Connected?

As I mentioned earlier, I received an intriguing letter today. A gentleman emailed me to say he was curious about whether I had any additional information on two of the witnesses mentioned in Julia's bastardy/Samuel's Trespass cases -- James Wilson and James Wilson, Jr.

I sat down to email him a quick "no" and then thought better about it as something went "ding" in the recesses of my brain. I sent him the following reply, which I'll post with only minor editing before making more comments to amend it:

When I sat down a moment ago to respond to your email I was planning to let you know that there wasn't any further information I could offer on the two men named James Wilson that testified in the case...however, I may have been a bit hasty. Something that may or may not be connected just popped into my head this very moment that's made me excited and intrigued and definitely makes me wish I was home right now instead of at work!

Take these as the grains of salt that they are, but here are my thoughts:

My Samuel Browning had a son named Samuel J., younger brother of the Julia Ann featured in the bastardy case. Samuel J. married twice during his lifetime, first to a woman named Sarah Ann Dickinson/Dickerson in Harrison Co OH and second to Julia Ann Dickinson in Crawford Co IL (my instincts are that the two women are related, sisters or possibly cousins.) Anyway, the second wife Julia Ann had also been married before. Here's where it gets interesting. Julia's first husband's name had been James Wilson!

In Samuel J.'s estate papers (1862, Crawford Co., IL) he left money and a bed to each of the two girls Julia had with James Wilson. Now my memory is vague -- I'd have to pull the estate papers to be sure -- but I think it was a goodly sum for both. I found this will years ago before I knew much about Sam J.'s family and relations and had always wondered if there was any connection to the Wilson family and if so, what that was. It didn't make much sense to me that Sam J. would leave so much to two girls that weren't even his family. However, if the two girls were his first wife's nieces and his own children's cousins as well as his stepchildren, that might be a different thing.

...All this now makes me wonder -- is the Wilson family referenced in the trial the SAME Wilson family that the Dickinson girls married into? I haven't any idea. It just seems like a coincidence worth some consideration.

Now for my comments.

I consulted my copy of Samuel J. Browning's estate papers and discovered -- much to my dismay -- that my memory was faulty at the most fundamental level. The first husband of Samuel J. Browning's second wife Julia Ann Dickinson was not JAMES Wilson, but JOHN Wilson. Given that the surname Wilson is quite common it's prudent for me to assume no relation unless more information to the contrary is obtained.

Still, there are aspects of the estate papers that are intriguing. I don't believe I'm wrong to assume that Samuel J.'s relationship to his second wife's girls may be more than simply that of a concerned stepfather. The wording of his promissory notes to the girls is interesting. He states,

"Six years and six months after date I promise to pay Maria L Wilson (and in the other, Minerva E. Wilson) one hundred dollars in money and one cow, and one bed, for value received this 30th day of March 1861."

Samuel J. died in October of 1862. The following note was included in his estate papers:

"Received of I. D. Mail, Administrator of Samuel J Browning Dec two hundred and seventy four dollars in full of the claims of Maria L. Wilson and Minerva E. Wilson, minors heirs of John U. Wilson Aug 20th 1863. (signed) G. W. Dickinson, guardian."

I find no other references to the girls in Samuel's estate papers. Mariah Louisa went on to marry James M. Gullett in Crawford County on 14 Sept 1866. Her sister Minerva Ellen may have been the "Manerva E." who married H. A. Garrard on 12 Feb 1871. That's interesting to me because my grandmother's maiden name was Garrard.

All this to say that so far, the Wilson family mentioned in the bastardy case still isn't positively connected to my Brownings. It sure was an interesting search though!


  1. I don't know whether you are taking bets or not, but I'll place a bet on these Wilsons being connected. There are so many coincidences all along the way in this story. Definitely has the makings of a book....

  2. Thanks, Greta! My first instincts are to say they're connected and I've often found my instincts to be pretty accurate. However, after many goose chases I've also become a bit hesitant.

    A book, eh? Hm, I wonder if I could fictionalize this story and write my epic novel..... :)