With this post I continue what I call "The Browning Series." Samuel and Margaret Browning had thirteen children between them and after Margaret's death, Samuel chose to take a widow named Sarah Ann (Bell) Gaddis as his second wife. The two of them had two more children together. I plan to feature each one of the fifteen children in a separate post and finally tie the family together with a discussion of their parents.
This post features Elias Browning, Samuel Browning and Margaret Markee's second child, and his wife Elizabeth Crago, the daughter of James Crago and Sarah Jennings Fordyce. Elias was born in June of 1818 in Cadiz Township, Harrison County, Ohio. Elias married Elizabeth on 2 September 1847. The document you see to the left is a marriage license issued to the couple in Harrison County on 23 August 1847. Elias and Elizabeth got married in neighboring Tuscarawas County and the minister who married them, G. McBride, returned the license and addressed it to the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas in Harrison County.
Elizabeth was born on 29 November 1822 in Pennsylvania. Her father James was the son of Thomas Crago and Priscilla Thurman and was born on 25 December 1798 in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Sarah Jennings Fordyce, was born on 19 March 1799 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth’s parents had moved to Harrison County by 1835 and to Defiance County, Ohio by 1850. Elizabeth was a sister of Susannah Crago (the wife of Absalom Browning) and Isaac Fordyce Crago (the husband of Susannah Browning.)
(For more information on the family and ancestors/descendants of James Crago, refer to the Crago Connections website maintained by Brian Smith. The Crago family is of interest to me because three of James' children -- Isaac F., Elizabeth and Susannah -- married into the Browning family.)
Elias and Elizabeth’s children (Samuel Franklin, James M., Wesley Asbury, and Isaac Crago, born between 1848-1853) give the state of Ohio as their place of birth throughout their lives. This evidence indicates that although Elias and Elizabeth can't be found on the census of Ohio in 1850 they were indeed living somewhere in the state. As most of Elizabeth’s family, as well as Elias’s brother Absalom (who had also married into the Crago family) had moved to Defiance County, Ohio around the time that Elias and Elizabeth were married, Elias and Elizabeth may also have chosen to move to the county as well and may have been en route when the census was taken.
Elias and Elizabeth came to Crawford County, Illinois sometime after the birth of their twins, Wesley and Isaac, in the last part of the year 1853. Their presence in the county is not documented by land sale records or by any court records excepting the presence of Elias Browning’s tombstone in the Browning family plot in Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Crawford County. Elias died on 16 June of either 1855 or 1856. His tombstone is cracked across the last digit of his year of death (see right) and only the first three digits, “185,” are clearly visible. The years 1855 or 1856 are the most likely dates, given the shape of the numerals upon the stone.
There's some amount of evidence to support the earlier date of 1855. Elias and his family aren't enumerated in the 1855 Illinois state census of Crawford County that was taken in October of that year, nor are they enumerated in any of the surrounding counties. A widowed Elizabeth is also not found on the state census in October of 1855 in Crawford County or any surrounding counties. But on 7 October 1856 Elizabeth is found in Defiance County, Ohio, when she marries William Pollock. If Elias had died in June of 1856, Elizabeth's remarriage so far away leaves her a span of only four months in which to travel from Illinois to Ohio, meet another man, and marry. If Elias had died in 1855 instead, that short span increases to a more reasonable frame of time. So what evidence I have available to me suggests that Elias died in June of 1855 at the age of 37 years. As an epidemic of yellow fever was spreading throughout the country in 1855 it may also be probable that Elias was one of its victims.
When I first began my research into this family I met a man named Brian Hoffer. Brian was looking for his ancestor, Elias Browning, but Brian was living in northern Indiana and his Browning ancestors had for generations. I just couldn't see why any of my Illinois Brownings would have ended up there. I am shamed to admit that I didn't consider his case in any reasonable fashion for some time, to my naive, newly-minted genealogist's chagrin! Eventually things began to come together, puzzle pieces fit -- names, dates, etc -- and once Brian and I really began comparing notes I was able to put a few more pieces together and figure out why the sons of Elias Browning ended up in northern Indiana from southern Illinois.
It began after Elias died. Elizabeth packed up shop and moved to Defiance County, Ohio. When did she do this? Why? How? These were questions that didn't make much sense to me until I began to look at the Illinois state censuses and pay more attention to the family Elizabeth had left behind in Ohio. Elizabeth and her sons aren't found on the 1855 state census of Crawford County and that seems to indicate she took her four boys and moved back to Defiance County almost immediately following Elias’s death. But why? I think Elizabeth chose to accompany her younger brother Isaac F. Crago back east to Ohio. I don't know if Isaac ever actually lived in Crawford County or if he came to Illinois solely to visit Elizabeth and/or claim a bride, but in November of 1854 Isaac married Susannah Browning, Elizabeth's sister in law. Isaac F. and Susannah aren't enumerated on the Illinois 1855 state census either so it appears the couple made the trip back east between the date of their marriage and the taking of the state census to join Isaac and Elizabeth’s Crago relatives in Defiance County. As this time frame is the same in which Elizabeth experienced the death of her husband and perhaps felt lonely in Illinois so far removed from her family, it's very probable she and her boys joined Isaac and Susannah on their way back to Ohio.
According to a story passed down through the family of Wesley Asbury Browning (one of Elias and Elizabeth’s four sons and Brian's ancestor) Elizabeth and her boys were on a ship when Elizabeth passed out. The captain of the boat believed at first that she was dead, but she soon came around. This ship could have been a ferry traveling the Wabash River, which delineates some of the southern boundary between the states of Illinois and Indiana, and winds its way up into northern Indiana. This story is difficult to place chronologically and may have been a memory of part of the journey back to Ohio from Illinois.
Whenever the exact time of the move, Elizabeth’s presence in Defiance County, Ohio by the middle of 1856 is unquestionable. She and William Pollock were married in the county on 7 October 1856. According to Samuel E. Alvord’s History of Noble County, Indiana, William Pollock was born around the year 1804 in Pennsylvania and had first been married to Mary Barker around the year 1828 in Ohio. The couple had lived in Richland County, Ohio for some time before coming to Cromwell in Noble County, Indiana around the year 1848. William and Mary were the parents of nine children (Thomas, Elsie, Elizabeth, Simon, John, Eli, Margaret, Lousetta, and Louisa) before Mary’s death on 1 November 1855.
After Elizabeth and William married they settled in Cromwell, a community in Sparta Township in Noble County. Their choice may have been influenced by many factors; some of William’s children by his first marriage were living in Noble County and in neighboring Steuben and Elkhart Counties. Members of Elizabeth’s family had also chosen to settle in Steuben County. Two of Elizabeth’s sisters, Sarah Ann and her husband Andrew Sewell, and Susannah and her husband Absalom Browning, had also moved to Steuben County by 1860.
William and Elizabeth were still living in Sparta Township in 1863 when Elizabeth's second son, James M. Browning, died on 10 December of that year. The boy was buried in the Valley Cemetery in the township. By 1870 the couple had had moved to Jefferson Township in Elkhart County and had four children of their own, William N., Lincoln Richmond, Nancy Jane, and Morton Pollock.
The family lived in Elkhart County the rest of their lives. The picture on the left was supposedly taken around 1899 and is supposed to show Elizabeth with Elizabeth's son Samuel F. and his wife, Minnie Brumbaugh, along with another unidentified man (perhaps another of Elizabeth's sons.) I have my doubts about whether this photo is actually c1899, though....something about the clothes and background seem to suggest a later date.
William died on 1 December 1891 and Elizabeth died on 12 January 1900. They are both buried in the Sugar Grove Cemetery near Dunlap in Concord Township, Elkhart County, Indiana.
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