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. My plan has been 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 is about Samuel J. Browning, the fourth child of Samuel Browning and Margaret Markee. Samuel was born around the year 1821 in Harrison County, Ohio. I first find Samuel, aged 15, involved in a court case in Harrison County. The case is filed in the Harrison County Common Pleas Journal Bk. D. pp. 14-15, in the June Term 1836. Apparently Samuel had performed some sort of Trespass against a man named William Creagh. This is an actual bodily trespass and not the Trespass on the Case that Samuel's father had filed against the man accused of "debauching" his daughter Julia, Samuel's older sister. This case had a number of jurors (Robert Givins, John McKinney, Thomas Day, Joseph D. Smith, John Blair, John Green, Jacob Barger, Joseph Thompson, George Foster, Benjamin Hudson, Joseph Bernhardt, and John H. Beatty) and the panel found for the Plaintiff (Creagh) in the amount of six cents.
After this, Samuel's life gets even more interesting. I sometimes wonder if he didn't do all of what follows just so I could pull my hair out!
Samuel was first married to a woman named Sarah Ann on 4 October 1849 in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Sarah Ann was born c1831 in Ohio. I say just "Sarah Ann" because ascertaining her actual surname has been an interesting pursuit.
For years I'd referred (and believed) in a typed reference to Samuel and Sarah’s marriage license, which refers to her as a Dickerson. However, a few years ago I received the original marriage license and found it so faded that the writing was virtually invisible. It could have been Dickerson, or it could have been Dickinson. I was sure I'd solve the mystery when I got the chance to go to Tuscarawas County last summer but my visit only deepened the mystery and frustration because the courthouse had the same record that they'd sent me, the horrible copy. The lady there said I could go hunt the original down at the Historical Society but though I tried, it was closed the day I was there. The next time I was in Ohio I visited again on a day it was open only to learn that the man with the key to the vault wasn't in. Grrr! Well, I'll be going again this summer and you can bet I'll be better prepared!
Anyway, though the copy of the license is atrocious -- as you can see by looking at the document here -- what I think I can make out says; “State of Ohio, Tuscarawas County – I certify that I have this day solemnized the marriage of Samuel Browning and Sarah Ann Dick—on Witness my hand this day the –(rest illegible)"
So I turned my hand to researching the options. Both Dickerson and Dickinson families were living in Tuscarawas County where Samuel and Sarah married. Some members of both families had daughters old enough to be Sarah and as names were not included in the 1840 census it cannot be determined where Sarah should be placed. Furthermore, it is quite possible that the two surnames were used interchangeably on old records, or misspelled, and this creates a further problem when attempting to discern relation. Therefore, without positive proof, I had to turn to circumstantial evidence.
It should be noted that the first confirmed connection between either of the families and the Browning family was during the War of 1812. Samuel Browning, Samuel J.’s father, served in the war with a man named Baruch Dickerson. However, this was a full thirty years before the marriage of Samuel and Sarah and does not prove anything other than the fact that a member of each family was acquainted with the other. But there are a few more coincidences. The Dickerson surname is also mentioned in connection with a typed copy of a Tuscarawas County marriage between a woman named Julia Dickerson and a John Christy in 1842. This marriage becomes significant when it is established that Samuel J. Browning and Sarah Ann raised a little boy named John W. Christy. John was born around 1843 and lived with Samuel and Sarah from at least 1850 until the time of Samuel’s death in Crawford County, Illinois in 1862. It is apparent that although no official adoption or guardianship papers have been located, John was adopted by Samuel and Sarah and was raised alongside their own children. The existence of John in Samuel and Sarah’s household, coupled with the marriage between Julia Ann Dickerson and John Christy, certainly suggests that the surname Dickerson was common to both women and that Sarah's raising of John Christy might have been because Julia Ann was her sister.
However, it is equally possible that the two Dickerson marriages were misread, or mistyped, and were actually Dickinson marriages. There is also strong circumstantial evidence – perhaps stronger than that of the Dickerson surname -- to suggest that Sarah was a daughter of George Dickinson and his wife Effa Emmaline. George and Effa lived in Perry Township in Tuscarawas County, Ohio in 1840. They had a number of daughters, a few old enough to fit Sarah’s birthdate of around the year 1831. They were also the parents of a man named George W. Dickinson who later moved to Crawford County, Illinois and who eventually became guardian of Samuel and Sarah Ann’s children. Furthermore, Samuel and Sarah Ann named their firstborn child Effie Emmaline, which was the name of George Dickinson’s wife and who may have also been Sarah Ann’s mother. Their second child, George Browning, was also seemingly named after a Dickinson. Lastly, when Fred Fulling, grandson of Samuel and Sarah Ann, registered the funeral of his mother Effie (Browning) Fulling, he stated that his grandmother’s maiden name had been Dickinson.
Looking at all the above evidence, it seems reasonable to assume that most likely Saran Ann’s surname was Dickinson. The children that Samuel and Sarah Ann had were their adopted son John W. Christy and their known children Effie Emmaline, George, and Samuel III.
Samuel J., Sarah Ann and their family moved to Crawford County, Illinois some time after September of 1850 but before August of 1851. Despite the fact that the deed record of Crawford County doesn't place Samuel J. and Sarah Ann in the county until Samuel purchased land from Augustus French on 15 January 1856, other documentary evidence places them there years before then. One of the bills in Samuel’s probate records that was paid out of his estate at his death is a medical bill totaling $6.55. This bill lists visits and medicine the doctor provided to Samuel, his wife, and his child over a period spanning two years from 12 August 1851 to 30 March 1852. These visits were from a Crawford County doctor. This evidence reveals that the couple came to the county along with the rest of Samuel J.’s brothers and sisters, and not at some period thereafter.
Land records in Crawford County are sparse for Samuel J. Browning. The first, dated 15 January 1856, was the E ½ of Section 20, Twn 6N, Range 11W, totaling 70 acres, purchased from Augustus French. The second, dated 6 March 1857 for a parcel of land totaling 40 acres, being the SW ¼ of the SE ¼ of Section 20, Twn. 6N, Range 11W, was purchased from William Stuart. The same probate inventory records mentioned above, however, prove that Samuel owned more land than these deeds disclose. According to his real estate inventory, Samuel (at the time of his death in September of 1862) also owned the S ¼ of the SE ¼ of Section 20, Twn 6N, Range 11W, totaling 40 acres, purchased from Samuel Stuart. The inventory states that Samuel held this land by warranty deed.
In the 1855 state census in Crawford County, taken in October, Samuel J. and Sarah Ann are shown with John W. Christy and their two children Effie Emmaline and George. By July of 1860, however, Samuel is enumerated without Sarah Ann, with his three children -- Emmaline, George, and 3-yr old Sam -- and John W. Christy. Sarah Ann had therefore most likely died in Crawford County some time between the birth of her last child in 1857 but before July of 1860. A more exact date or the location of her burial remains unknown.
After Sarah Ann’s death Samuel J. married again....and the plot thickens. He married a woman named Julia Ann Dickinson on 15 November 1860 in Crawford County, Illinois. Julia’s parentage remains unknown but it seems most likely that she was a sister or cousin of Sarah Ann, Samuel J. Browning’s first wife. The couple had no known children.
Sometime in the summer of 1862, Samuel and one of his children – all indications suggest his youngest son Sam -- became ill. According to Samuel’s probate records, a bill made out to Dr. Nathaniel Steele indicates that the doctor saw Samuel J. three times in late July 1862, and in the last week of September 1862 made a total of eight trips to Samuel’s house to administer medicine. Samuel did not recover from this illness and died in Crawford County on 27 September 1862. His burial location is unknown but as his estate shows a charge of $6 dated 3 October 1862 from Thomas Corbin for making Samuel’s coffin, it seems certain he was buried in Crawford County.
Guardianship of Samuel’s children (Julia’s stepchildren) was given temporarily to Ethelbert Callahan from the time of their father’s death in late 1862 until the March 1863 term of the Crawford County court. Then guardianship was granted permanently to George W. Dickinson. George, referred to previously, was most likely Sarah Ann’s brother and some relation to Julia Ann Dickinson. He would therefore have been one of the primary choices to take in Sarah’s children.
Samuel’s estate records reveal a great deal of information. Isaac D. Mail was appointed administrator of Samuel J.’s estate and the estate sale was conducted on 23 October 1862. Claims against the estate were taken by Mr. Mail in Robinson outside the Crawford County courthouse on 19 January and 21 January 1863. Some of these claims were promissory notes and it was plain that Samuel could not write; he made his mark on the notes in lieu of a signature. One of these claims shines a light of mystery on a neighbor; the John Wilson family.
In 1860, a Julia Wilson, aged 35 and born in Ohio, was living next door to Samuel. With her were two daughters, Maria L. and Ellen. One of Samuel’s promissory notes reveals his promise, in six years’ time, to pay one hundred dollars in money, one bed, and one cow each to Maria L. and to Minerva Ellen Wilson. The promise was made in March of 1861 for value received. Samuel died before this promise could be fulfilled and his estate settled with the estate of John Wilson, the girls’ father. The question of what relation, if any, Samuel shared with the Wilson family is currently unknown. I have a few wonderings, though. Was the Julia who married Samuel in Nov 1860 actually Julia Wilson, wife of John? If so, why would she revert to her (possible) maiden name to marry Samuel? I know, it doesn't seem likely. It's more likely that the two families were neighbors and Samuel owned John's estate for some work. But still...in writing this post my memory has been jogged and I think I have more information about this family now. I just can't remember where I put it......gah! If I find it I'll certainly post an update.
On 8 March 1864, nearly two years after Samuel’s death, his widow Julia Ann filed a quitclaim deed in Crawford County between herself and Alexander MacHatton. The deed involved two separate parcels of land, one of which – the east half of the southeast quarter of Section Twenty, Township Six North, Range Eleven West – was part of the listed property in Samuel’s estate papers. Nothing further about Julia Ann Browning has been found excepting two marriages for a “Julia Browning” in Crawford County – one to George Jones in 1866 and another to John Shanks in 1872. Whether either of these women is Julia Ann, the widow of Samuel J. Browning, is as yet unknown.
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