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, October 29, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - "The Mystery Photo" Updates

I took a magnet to the back of the mystery photo (see previous post) and it stuck so there's no further doubt -- it's a ferrotype. I feel very satisfied dating it to c1892.

Brett Payne of Photo Sleuth commented on my previous post about the photo. He says, "If you examine the photograph's surface with a lens or microscope you may be able to detect differences in the behavior of the painted and photographic media, such as the degree of cracking/crazing, which could help you decide one way or another."

I don't have a microscope to place the picture under for study but I do have a magnifying glass. I wasn't able to see all that much with it but I didn't see any differences in the degree of cracking from the background to the foreground. It's pretty uniform until you get to an area just above the "steeple." From there, and stretching to the top of the photo, there is a much tighter crackling pattern. I believe that is simply wear -- that area has some of the top coating worn off and it shows its age there more than anywhere else on the plate.

Brett also mentions that full-plate tintypes are much rarer than their smaller counterparts. I was very interested in that since I have two of these full plate tintypes -- the 6.5 x 9 one I featured yesterday and another that measures 6.5 x 8.5 and is a picture of my 4th-g-grandfather Joseph Nichols. I've spotlighted that picture on this blog before and you can find it right here if you're curious (and make sure to click on the picture and you'll get a closer view!) Joseph's picture is eerie in its "realness" -- it is sharp and clear and the detailing is fantastic. It's like he's standing in the room beside me.

Neither of these tintypes have cases, unfortunately. I've placed both in archival sleeves and handle them as little as possible, always with gloves!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not So Wordless Wednesday - A Mystery Photo

This photograph in my collection is one of the few that doesn't have a positive identification attached to it. Most of my old photos do -- thanks to my wonderful grandmother Beulah (Garrard) Browning! -- so this one has always been a curiosity to me.

It is a 6.5 x 9 sheet and is either an ambrotype or a tintype -- I'm ashamed to say I'm not sure which. You can't see it in the reproduction to the right but when you hold it to the light the people nearly disappear. That makes me think ambrotype. However, in the bottom right corner you can clearly see a bit of metal where the image is peeling away. It also sounds like a tin sheet, if you know what I mean? So perhaps tintype is more accurate. Anyway, it's also been enhanced by the photographer. Some color has been added (most notably on kerchiefs and ties) and there are brush strokes accentuating the lines of the jackets worn by the boys and the older man. And as for the background? The house behind the fence looks like some sort of clapboard structure; one can see each thin board atop the other. However, the other side of the background is stranger. It appears to be the chimney of a house or perhaps a squared off church steeple in the distance but it seems almost completely drawn and colored up. I'm not sure the photographer didn't just sketch that in!

It's important that I date this photo because it would help me eliminate a few suggestions my grandma made when she and I were looking at it. Grandma told me she thought this photo might be the family of one of the sons of her grandfather William Garrard (1822-1864.) She thought this could be the family of her uncle James A. Garrard (1851-1910) or the family of her uncle William Bauer Garrard aka William Garrett (1859 - ?). She wasn't sure and I can understand why. My grandmother wasn't born until 1900 and she had only dim recollections of her uncle Jim since she was only 10 when he died. She never met her uncle Bill at all, who'd changed his name and split for Oklahoma before she was born.

I could try to date the photo by analyzing the hairstyles shown. If I did that I would look at the girls with their tight curls bunched up on top of their heads, their mother with a stricter and older sort of style, and date it roughly mid- to late 1880's.

I could look at the clothing, too. The girl behind her mother has a dress on with vertical puffs at her shoulder seams, a brooch, a neck collar and tight sleeves on her arms. That also puts me in the late 1880's. The mother again seems to be wearing an earlier style since her dress has a long row of buttons down the bodice. The oldest boy has on a longer coat over a vest and a striped necktie. The middle boy has on short trousers, a short coat and high stockings. His youngest brother wears the "dress" typical of a young one. And the father? His longer sack coat suggests a decade or so out of fashion just like his wife.

I felt comfortable with my analyzation but it helped that there was also something else I could use to help me independently assess the time period. Apparently this photo had been stored in an album or attached to some sort of keepsake holder with glue. When it was attached and/or removed, it had been laid down upon a newspaper. When it was removed the newspaper ripped and portions of it were left attached to the back!

Click on the picture above if you'd like to see the snippets of words that were left when the newspaper ripped but I can summarize it here. It looked to me like a review of "noteworthy features" in something called "....ort Stories" that was issued monthly. You can see a word here and there and it's obvious that some story titles are being listed. I could see the following:

"...'The Spirits'..."
"...ale from the Spanish..."
"...ecquer; "Qauarantine Is.."
" island, by Walter..."
"..ghbors," an amusing..."
"John Habberton"
"Randolph Churchill"

So I started out by looking up the only name that was clear -- John Habberton. I could have used Randolph Churchill but his more-famous name would have been difficult to narrow down to a specific time frame. I did a Google search and four pages in, Bingo!

Google Books lists this compilation (for photo credit follow the link) entitled "Short stories: a magazine of select fiction, Volume 10" By Alfred Ludlow White. Published in May of 1892, it included stories such as "Next-Door Neighbors" by John Habberton, "Quarantine Island" by Walter Besant and "The Spirit's Mountain" by Gustavo Adolpho Becquer, among others like Bret Harte and George Eliot.

What a great way to find out about a picture. My dating system wasn't off by too much!

This helps eliminate one of the families I listed above, though. According to the information I currently have available, James A. Garrard married Nora Belle Tohill in 1891. They had eight children between the years 1892-1907, six sons and two daughters. One daughter was born in 1892 and the other 1907. James died in 1910 when his youngest was only 3. Therefore I don't believe the picture I have is of this family because the girls in the photo are too old to have a living father.

And what of my grandma's Uncle Bill? Now that's harder. Bill got into some trouble with the law and ran off to Oklahoma, changing his name from Garrard to Garrett. I met some of his descendants about a decade ago but I stupidly didn't gather all the information I should have from them when I had them there (or if I did it's buried in some box/file/etc and I have no idea where it is.) I could kick myself for that. I hadn't thought of Bill in years and I got up just a moment ago to look in my files and lo and behold, there is a picture! It must've been given to me all those years ago, goodness me!

Bill and his wife Sarah Box had a total of nine children, five girls and four boys. I don't have dates for any of them. I don't know when Bill died (he was born in 1859) or when his wife Sarah did. All I have are two grainy photographs. But you know, compare them yourself. The triangular nose, the half circle squint of the eyebrows from the forehead. This might be the right guy after all....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Martha Browning (1868)

This little tombstone belongs to Martha M. Browning. She was the first child of Edward Alfred Browning and his second wife Mary Elizabeth Gibbons. She lived her short little life in Spring Point Township in Cumberland County, Illinois. She was born sometime in early 1868 and died on 1 July 1868, exactly 99 years before I was born. Her parents Edward Alfred Browning and Mary Elizabeth Gibbons aren't even buried next to her -- both are buried in the nearby Faunce Cemetary in Cumberland County.

Martha is buried in the Needham Cemetery in Spring Point Twn., near Montrose in Cumberland Co., IL. As you can see, her tombstone is now partially absorbed by a tree that took root in the area of her stone. I took the picture from above but the tree was so hopelessly enmeshed around her stone that it was very difficult to read anything at all. I was able to see a few words, like her name, and I tried to take the picture so that they would be seen. For the most part, though, the inscription was pulled from old cemetary records.

The cemetery she's buried in is also the final resting place of her father's first wife and their child, as well as Martha's brother and sister. The Needham Cemetery is in a state of disrepair -- at least it was when I was there in 2001 -- and it was sad to see all the stones leaning or toppled or otherwise defaced. Martha's was one of the few that would have been fairly readable.....if it weren't for the tree. If I lived there this cemetery would be the first one I'd work on.

Every time I look at this I feel sad. Someday Martha's stone will be engulfed by the tree and no one will know this little girl existed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - William Browning vs. The State of Ohio (1821)

Is the William Browning at the center of this Harrison County, Ohio 1821 larceny case a relative (a younger brother, perhaps?) of my ancestor Samuel Browning?

Stay tuned as I delve into this case.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "Bleh Effect"

Ask any genealogist about some of their great discoveries and eyes light up, smiles widen, and voices pitch higher and faster and are tinged with excitement. Whether you call them genea-gasms or serendipity or just plain old luck, everyone has those Ah HA! moments. It's what we live for.

It's what I expected to indulge in when I went to the Family History Center to pick up a film that had naturalization records for my 2nd g-grandfather, August Papstein. I'd ordered the index weeks ago because I'd found him listed in the Kankakee County IL court records in 1892 even though he lived his entire life in the this country in Peotone in Will County, IL. It wasn't a complete surprise, though, since Peotone is in the southern part of Will County and the trip to Kankakee was probably easier than the trip to Joliet.

I was so excited when I got there. Got the film, plopped it in the machine, started scrolling. I realized it was at the back of the roll so it took me five minutes of constant scrooooooolling to get there. I got to the index of Vol. E and started looking for his name, and Ah HA! There he was!

And then the roll stopped.

Yes, indeed. Whoever filmed the roll filmed half the index of Vol E on one roll and the rest of it on the next one.

So I sat there, experiencing the evil opposite twin of the genea-gasm that I call the Bleh Effect, or the blehs for short. It's when you just know you're about to see something great and then you have to either a) wait for it or b) admit that you thought wrong. I certainly got a case of the blehs last night.

The FHC ladies felt sympathy for me and ordered the next roll for me without charging me for it. But still. Two more weeks! Argggggh! It's at times like this that I remember how great it was to be a kid and if you threw yourself down on the floor in a tantrum you didn't look like you'd gone utterly mad. You know, I think if more of us adults just tossed ourselves down and kicked and screamed and yelled we might be a lot less stressed. Hah!

In the scheme of things this isn't a big deal. I'll see it in a few weeks. I'm a big girl and I have learned the virtue of patience (I long will that take?) But I'd had my mouth all set for an Ah HA! and got a bleh instead.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Madness Monday, and The Browning Series -- Part Eleven, or John Wesley Francis Browning and Matilda Corderman

This post is a three-for-the-price-of-one post. Why? Well, it manages to blend one of my Monday Madness problems with my continuing series on my Browning family as well as directly relating to my previous post about a photo comparison. It concerns John Wesley Browning, the eleventh child of Samuel Browning and Margaret Markee.

John Wes is a Monday Madness problem for me because after 1864, he just.....vanishes. Did he leave Illinois? Go serve in the War? Did he die? I'd love to know but even if I did manage it somehow it would be a bittersweet victory because my cousin Pat -- who's descended from him -- is no longer here to enjoy the knowledge.

Here's what I do know.

John was born around the year 1835 in Moorefield Township in Harrison County, Ohio. He came to Crawford County, Illinois with his parents and siblings when he was about 12 years old. John almost always used his middle name (Wesley) with one exception; upon his marriage to Matilda Corderman in 1856 he placed the name Francis on his marriage certificate. Matilda was born around 1834 in Ohio and was the daughter of David Corderman and Sarah Viola Barron. She was also the older sister of Minerva Corderman, who had married John Wesley’s brother Asbury Taylor Browning in 1852.

Evidence shows that the Corderman family and the Browning family knew each other for some years (and in two states) prior to the intermarriages between them. Matilda’s sister Minerva claimed in her widow's pension papers in May 1863 that she had known her husband Asbury Taylor Browning "from a young boy." (As Taylor was a young boy in Harrison County, Ohio and Matilda and Minerva grew up in Licking County, Ohio this little clue is important -- other Brownings lived in Licking County and I'm very interested in where that leads me research-wise.) Anyway, it seems evident that Matilda got to know Taylor’s younger brother better as a result of her sister’s marriage. Matilda was likely already engaged to John Wes when she was listed as the assistant midwife at the birth of Charles Otho Browning, Taylor and Minerva’s son, on 6 April 1856 because she and John married the next month on 23 May 1856 in Crawford County.

After their marriage the couple may have lived briefly in Crawford County before they moved to Pleasantville in present-day Woodbury Township in Cumberland County, Illinois. The couple is found with their daughter Alice on the census there in July of 1860. Pleasantville was a small community annexed to the west of the town of Jewett and today no longer exists in the county. (The road that presently goes south out of Jewett was the dividing line between Jewett and Pleasantville.) John Wesley and Matilda lived next door to Matilda’s parents and very near to John’s brother Asbury Taylor. At that time, John listed himself as a laborer. By September the couple had moved to Pleasant Grove Township in Coles County, Illinois and are found enumerated on the census in that township. Wesley’s occupation at that time was listed as engineer. It's possible that the family moved to Coles County because John had found a job as an engineer in either Charleston or Mattoon, both well-populated cities at the time.

The next documented evidence found for John Wes and Matilda is October 1864, when Wes filed a patent application in Mattoon, Coles County, Illinois stating that he was a resident of Mattoon. The patent was numbered #44594, was dated 11 October 1864, and was for a “new and improved device for transmitting motion." An engineer I know took a look at the patent drawings and said that John was technically adept and his ideas were good ones (though of course perpetual motion machines have folly written all over them!)

This patent is the last record that John Wesley Francis Browning leaves behind. By July of 1865 his wife Matilda and the couple’s two daughters were living alone in Sumpter Township in Cumberland County. They were enumerated beside Matilda’s sister Minerva, who'd become a widow a few years before. It's uncertain whether John Wesley left his family for reasons unknown, joined the war effort, or simply died. If he did die, I've never been able to locate where he was buried.

Pat told me that stories passed down through her family expressed the belief that he may have served “in the Grey.” This is interesting for it suggests that John Wesley may have been a southern sympathizer and might have fallen in with the Copperhead movement that was prevalent in Mattoon during the Civil War years. He might have joined the Confederate cause -- it's certainly possible -- but despite my research into southern war records I haven't uncovered anything to substantiate Pat's family tale. Lacking hard evidence to the contrary, it's tempting to assume that John Wes died sometime between October of 1864 and July of 1865. This assumption, however, is by no means proven.

In March of 1867 Matilda went before the county clerk of Cumberland County as a witness to help her sister Minerva gain a minor’s pension for the children of her marriage to Taylor Browning. Matilda testified to her attendance at the birth of her nephew Charles Otho Browning and claimed that she was a resident of Prairie City. Three years later, in July of 1870, Matilda was still living in Prairie City with her daughters Alice J. (b. 1857) and Sarah Viola 'Kate' Browning (b. Mar 1863) a few doors down from her parents. She was listed as a seamstress.

After July of 1870 there is no further record of Matilda either. She isn't found on the 1880 census but this might be because she was remarried before that date. Sadly, a courthouse fire in 1885 caused the loss of all Cumberland County records filed before that date so I may never know if Matilda remarried. I can't even hunt her down through her daughters -- if Alice married in Cumberland County her marriage, too, is lost, and then of course there's no 1890 census.....

And what of Kate? By 1880 Kate -- Pat's g-grandmother -- had become pregnant out of wedlock and stories in Pat's family relate that Kate and Matilda never got along again after that. The pregnancy drove a wedge between Kate and her mother and before she gave birth Kate took her father's picture and his patent papers and ran away to Terre Haute in Vigo Co., IN. I wonder, though -- if Kate took his papers that mean John didn't take them. Surely if he left the family for some reason other than death, he'd have taken his papers?

I just don't know what happened to John Wes. I don't know whether Matilda remarried or died. I don't know what happened to their daughter Alice. John Wes and his family drives me mad. I do have the patent papers and I do have the one photo that Pat gave me (the positively identified photo from the previous post) though it is not a good copy. Pat was given the other unidentified photo (the black and white one, not the sepia toned one) from another cousin who believed that it was John and I think she was right. The collar that he is wearing reminds me of a war uniform, perhaps? If so, maybe the story about John Wes going into the service isn't just a family rumor. Anyway, I'm working on obtaining good, high-resolution scans of both photos and when I do I'll unashamedly take Brett up on his offer of digital overlay.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not So Wordless Wednesday - Is This The Same Man?

For the past few years I've made a judgment call on some photographs in my collection. I believe that they are of the same man but with a few years difference between them. Here is the photo:

The man on the right is known to be John Wesley Francis Browning. The picture is c1864.

The man on the left? I believe that he, too, is John Wesley Francis Browning but a few years earlier, perhaps as early as 1860-1861? Take a look at the eyes....the left eye of both men is slightly larger than the right. Same widow's peak. Same deep inset under the center of the bottom lip. Same distance between the eyes and between the eyebrows. The tip of the nose dips down a bit more on the man in the right photo. Ears appear to look about the same.

I would welcome anyone else's opinion!

A Genealogical Truism

Paraphrased from The Slovak Yankee's post, "The Great Genealogical Divide," found HERE. He is making a comparison between those genealogists who take pride in performing their own research from those who fill in the blanks and/or merely copy what is already out there:

"....I'm struck by how this fits into Charles P. Pierce's construct from his new book: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. The Three Great Premises are (1) Any theory is valid if it moves units; (2) Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough; and (3) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is measured by how fervently they believe it. You can adapt this to genealogy easily enough. The Three Great Genealogical Premises: (1) any theory is valid if it appears in print (no matter where or when); (2) anything can be true if it's on enough web sites or on; and (3) fact is that which enough people believe (and doesn't remove some good ancestry they want or covet.)"

Can I get an Amen!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pt 4 - James and Margaret Plymell

We continue my series of posts about the families whose names are in my Hair Book with the Plymell family.

The two women who "authored" the entries in the Hair Book (Eliza Ursula (Nichols) Swan and her daughter Estella Jane (Swan) Browning) were both descendants of the Plymell family. Eliza's mother Delinda was a Plymell and many of the main players in the Hair Book (Mary Plymell, Adaline Plymell, James Fuller Plymell and Wallace W. Plymell) were Delinda's siblings and Eliza Ursula's uncles and aunts. It's therefore fitting to continue this series with a discussion of their parents, James Plymell and his wife Margaret.

In the early 19th century many missionaries established missions in the Upper Sandusky area of Ohio. In 1810 that area was part of Delaware County, Ohio but now comprises modern-day Wyandot, Delaware and Marion counties. My Plymell family lived in this part of the country at the time. James Plymell was born in 1793 in Botetourt County, Virginia and was the son of John Plimell and Jane Twiley. James moved to OH with his parents and eventually settled in the Madison Co/Delaware Co region of the state.

Around 1815 or so he married Margaret, maiden name unknown. Margaret was born c 1795. In my family the story always went that Margaret was "half-Iroquois." Discussions with other descendants of James and Margaret's son James Fuller Plymell have made connections to the Wyandot nation, a tribe that belongs within the Iroquoian Family of North American Indians. They are the descendants of the Tionnontates or Tobacco Nation of the Huron Confederacy. James Fuller's family always contended that they were Wyandot. More research is needed to find out if Margaret, wife of James Plymell, was a Wyandot but unfortunately many of the records that would be helpful (like a marriage license) don't appear to exist any longer. A search in Marion, Madison and Wyandot counties came up negative and if they were married in Delaware County (as is suspected) we are truly out of luck. A fire destroyed all records of marriages prior to 1835 in Delaware Co OH.

Before I go any further I want to thank a few people for their valuable research on the Plymell family. I would feel remiss if I didn't thank Ken Groves ( He's compiled an enormous amount of information on the Plymell family with the assistance of the following: Mae Berting (, Rick Cansler (, Diane Kasparek (, Tracy Towry (, Marilynn Wood ( Charles Plymell ( and his four surviving sisters Norma, Mary, Dorothy, and Genoa. I owe them all a great debt.

James and Margaret had the following known children:

1) Mary Plymell (b. 13 May 1817, m. Thomas Emery 17 October 1838, see HERE)
2) Wallace William Plymell (b. 14 Feb 1819)
3) Delinda Jane Plymell (b. 21 Jul 1822, m. Joseph Nichols 24 Dec 1844, see HERE)
4) Adeline Plymell (b. 1827, m. John Vane 2 Nov 1848, see HERE)
5) James Fuller Plymell (b. 1832)
6) Anna Castle Plymell (b. c1833)
7) Olive Ann Plymell (b. 11 Jul 1834, d. 2 Feb 1858)

Margaret died in Marion Co., OH on 10 Apr 1837 and James followed shortly thereafter on 29 Oct 1837. Their deaths left their children orphans.

As much as I've been able to piece together, at least one of the Plymell children left for Crawford Co., IL, between 1838 and 1840. Wallace W. was found living in Crawford County in 1840 and in 1850 he is found with his two daughters from his first marriage and his sister Anna. The other children had likely followed by 1844 as Delinda was married to Joseph Nichols in the county in December of that year. By the 1850 census Mary Plymell, her husband Thomas Emery, and Mary's sister Olive Ann had also settled there. Delinda's brother James Fuller Plymell was living with Delinda and her husband Joseph Nichols.

Next time, the families of the Plymell boys, Wallace William and James Fuller. Oh, and there are letters too....!