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 1, 2010

How To Reconstruct a Family pt. 1 -- Playing Detective!

I'm super excited today to have located another branch of my Browning family. This wasn't due to a cousin's random contact but was instead something I painstakingly reconstructed by using all the resources available to me and knowing the family you're working on intimately. All I can say is thank goodness for the Internet!

First, some short background. Samuel J. Browning and his wife, Sarah Ann, have been featured on my blog already. Sam and Sarah had three children -- Effie Emmaline, George and Samuel -- before Sarah died. Samuel then remarried and when he did he married a woman named Julia Ann Dickinson. Was this woman Sarah's cousin? I didn't know. Sarah Ann was a bit of a mystery to me because I could never definitively prove her surname. Dickerson? Dickinson? There were cases for both but eventually the preponderance of evidence placed her as a Dickinson. Go here to read the whys and hows and then come on back!

Back? Now on with the show.

In my earlier post I mentioned a man named George W. Dickinson. I'd theorized that G.W. was perhaps a brother or cousin to the children's mother, Sarah, which was only one of the many reasons I'd initially pegged her as a Dickinson. G.W. became Effie Emmaline (b. 1851) and George (b. c1854) Browning's guardian after the death of their father Samuel in 1862. Their little brother Sam had died a month after his father.

I found Effie Emmaline Browning easily. She'd married John T. Fulling in Crawford County and lived there until her death. George, however....well, I had George in the 1870 census but lost him in the 1880. He was missing until just the other day.

I'd looked at the will of G.W. Dickinson before and it had given me no clues. My ah-ha moment on this came not with G.W. (who d. 1908) but with HIS father, George Dickinson (d. 1876)! The senior George's probate records mentioned two things of significance:

1) heirs were George W. Dickinson, James Dickinson, David Dickinson, Samantha Stiles, Elizabeth Storms, Emaline Browning & minor children of George Browning, Dec'd.

2) one of the signed Receipts is from Manda Short, guardian, who signed for John W. Browning and Ella May Browning, children of George W. Browning (dec'd), Mount Vernon, Jefferson Co, IL.

This told me that as of March 1876, George Browning, the son of Samuel and Sarah, had married a woman named Manda, had two children (John W. and Ella May) and had died. Manda had gone on to marry a man with the last name of Short and the family were living in Mount Vernon! YAY!

I went to the IL Marriage database, where I located the following marriages:
SHORT, ALFRED m. BROWNING, AMANDA 1878-01-24 006/0113 JEFFERSON Manda was Amanda S. Raney!

Next stop, the 1880 census. I'd tried it before, of course but then I'd been looking for George Browning. I didn't realize he'd died and his widow had remarried by then. Oh, he'd had children but I didn't know that or their names either! But now, armed with the knowledge of the surname Short, I found them in Mount Vernon very easily. Amanda was listed as Ann. She was 22, Alfred was 52. They were living with his three youngest from his first marriage, their 10 month old daughter Tampy, and John W. (age 5) and Ella May (age 4) are listed as his stepchildren.

There was no 1890 census so I moved on to the 1900. By then I knew that if both her Browning children had lived it was likely they were both married so I figured first things first, I'd try to follow Amanda for as long as I could and perhaps one or both her children had stuck close by. I found Amanda and Alfred in 1900 still living in Mount Vernon with their children (I made notes of the names of her Short children as well.) I moved on to the 1910 with no luck and thought that Alfred had likely died, leaving Amanda a widow. Perhaps she moved in with one of her children? I looked for all the Shorts with no luck. On to the 1920. I found her in Boone in Boone Co., IA, living with her son Alfred Short. I looked in the 1930 and couldn't find her then either. I did notice, however, that there was no sign of John or Ella. Rats.

So what next? Ah yes, the Jefferson Co., IL USGenweb page! I wanted to see when Alfred had died. I started pouring through the cemetery pages and found that Alfred Short had died in 1904 in the county and was buried in the Atkinson Cemetery. I got really lucky because attached to the notation of his stone was his obituary too! Alfred's obituary said the couple had seven children but the 1900 census said that Amanda had been the mother of 11. So since she'd two with George Browning, that meant she'd had not seven but nine with Alfred Short -- Alfred, Ernest, Homer, Eugene, Ada (could she be the Tampy listed in the 1880 census or are they two separate girls?) Minnie, and two or possibly three others who died before 1904.

It might seem silly to research a family (in this case, the Shorts) that didn't really have anything to do with my Brownings. But it's not silly at all! They were intimately entwined in life and the good researcher doesn't overlook these sorts of things. Besides, in my forays into the census I'd learned quite a bit about Amanda.

She was Amanda Ann (not S. -- likely a mistranscription) Raney, born in IL in Sept 1858. I went back to the 1870 census and found her (Ann, aged 12) living with her parents George Warren Raney and Mary Holaway in Montgomery Twn. in Crawford County. She'd married George three years later in Dec 1873 in Jefferson County. Goodness, she was barely 15, can you imagine? I can't. Anyway, she gave birth to eleven children, had married a man 30 years her senior when she was 20 years old, and by the age of 46 she'd buried two husbands. She didn't marry again after her second husband Alfred died. She lived until at least 1910 and was in Iowa at that time. You know, Amanda sure strikes me as a tough lady!

But what about her Browning kids? I poked around again in the IL Marriage database to look for John or Ella but to no avail. Hmm.....what to do next...

That comes in the second installment!

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