It's Tombstone Tuesday so this Tuesday I'll feature the stone of my 3rd-g-grandmother, Jane (Nevitt) Browning Jennings, who is buried in the Kirk Cemetery in Crawford County, Illinois. I'll explain why later on in this post.
I'm preparing to embark this week on another long road trip/vacation with my parents and my daughter. We did one of these in 2008 and we're doing it again now although we've added in another destination. First we'll drive up to Coshocton Co., OH to visit my brother and sister-in-law for a few days. The last time we went straight from there to Crawford Co., IL for another few days of R&R with some cousins but this time we'll detour towards Chicago and the little town of Peotone in Will Co., IL before going on to Crawford County. My daughter is excited about this because she's wanted to see Chicago for a while now. She was there once but doesn't remember it -- she was two.
I'm looking forward to it for many reasons, not the least of which is because I'll get the chance to drive from Coshocton County to neighboring Tuscarawas County and stop by the Genealogical Society there. I was there on my last trip but I didn't get the chance to do what I will be able to do this time around. Even though I'm pretty sure now that Samuel J. Browning married Sarah Ann DICKINSON and not Dickerson (having Sarah's father's will name Samuel Browning's children sort of makes the case) I'm having the Society open up their vault of original records so I can make a copy of their original license. The photocopy that I do have from the Tuscarawas County courthouse is horrid, I want a better one, and I'm in the area. It's a no-brainer!
I went poking about in my grandmother's cedar chest the night before last and ended up not getting to bed until after midnight. I opened it up because I'd found some notes I'd thought I'd lost that I'd made about items in the chest years ago. I remember that afternoon. I think it was about 2000. I sat down with grandma and had her tell me where she'd acquired some of her treasures and whether she could tell me any stories about them. Unfortunately I didn't get as many as I should have but I'm grateful for those I have. While in there I found something fantastic! It's a travel diary of sorts written by my grandmother in 1928 on a few sheets of looseleaf paper. It's something she wrote when she traveled to Oklahoma from Illinois in a Model T. I can't wait to transcribe it and get it scanned!
I'm also nearly vibrating with excitement about finding a possible picture of Jane (Nevitt) Browning Jennings, my third great-grandmother! Jane was born in 1819 and married her step-cousin James Browning (Jane's mother Rhoda's second husband was James Browning's mother Margaret Markee's brother -- got that?) in 1839. After James died in 1852 she married William Jennings, an older man from England. They had one son, Richard, born in 1861.
Here's where it gets interesting. I located a Find-A-Grave memorial for Richard and his wife, Mary 'May' (Lackey) Jennings. I read through Richard's memorial and it mentioned an entirely different set of parents for him -- Cyrenus Jennings and an unknown woman.
I contacted the holder of the memorial. She and I have been corresponding the last couple of days, comparing notes, trading stories, looking at proofs. She's known descendants of May's family members and has stories passed down as well as owning this picture I mentioned, and Richard's violin. I'm pretty sure that Richard is William and Jane's son -- for starters I have he and Mary's marriage license and it states his parents were William and Jane. As Cyrenus Jennings was born around 1845 and Richard in 1861 that would mean Cy would only be about 15 or 16 years old at Richard's birth! Possible but unlikely, especially given that his mother would likely be even younger. However, more speculation is useless without proof. I'm hoping we'll get more of it when I get to Robinson and spend the day in the courthouse and pouring over old obituaries in the Robinson Public Library.
If the picture she has (take a look at it here) is indeed Richard's parents, perhaps it's a picture of William Jennings and Jane (Nevitt) Browning instead of Cyrenus Jennings and his wife! So my next question is, of course, what year was this picture taken? It appears the man might be in his late 70s or early 80's and the woman might be in her late 60's or early 70's. I don't know when William died but he was born around 1803. Jane was born in 1819 and died in 1894. The handwriting is May's and says it's "Dick's parents." However, when was that written? Did May know William at all? And what about Jane? Jane died a year before May and Richard were married.
So okay, the photographer then. The photographer is Isaac W. Mitchell. I looked him up in the census and found that he was a house carpenter in 1880, living next door to a Bussard (who, while not a photographer, was likely a relative of the Bussards that were.) However by 1900 Isaac is in Oblong and is listed as a "Cooper and Photographer." By 1910, however, Isaac is listed again as only a house carpenter. Hm. Is it safe to infer that this picture was definitely taken after 1880 but before 1910? Argh! So many questions. More research is needed!
I've been thinking a lot about my great-great-grandfather Joseph Browning lately (Jane's son and possibly Richard's half-brother.) I was curious about what happened to the boy that accidentally killed him.
Miles Hughes, the son of James Hughes, was 18 in June of 1916 when he accidentally struck Joseph on his bike in downtown Palestine, Illinois. Joseph turned to avoid a puddle and caught the front bumper of Miles' car. All the witnesses said it was an accident and noted that Miles was going quite slow and that he couldn't have avoided it. There's a line in the paper about the accident that says, "It was one of those deplorable accidents which often occur and in which neither party is to blame." Living in today's world, that's remarkable isn't it? These days that boy would be charged with vehicular manslaughter or something like that and probably served with a civil lawuit as well. Honestly, it was just an accident. Sometimes that is all it is. In this regard, times really were simpler then.
Miles Fife Hughes, son of James Hughes and Mattie Fife, was born c1898. James and Mattie were married on 5 Aug 1891 in Crawford County. I know that Miles was living on Main Street in LaMotte Township in Crawford County in 1920 with his mother, who was widowed by that time. In 1930 he was still living with his mother on 410 Main St. in Palestine. I don't find any record that Miles ever married. I believe Mattie died in Dec 1935 (the online death record says 1925 but I think that's in error) and Miles himself died in Danville Twn. in Vermillion County, Illinois, on 31 Aug 1940. He was only 42 years old.
I wonder what Miles felt like going through life knowing he'd accidentally killed an old man? I know that it would haunt me even if there hadn't been any way for me to prevent it from happening. Well, if it helps, Miles, wherever you are.....it wasn't your fault.
38 minutes ago