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......

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Due to unforeseen technical difficulties (i.e., my computer) my postings will be placed on hold until said difficulties can be resolved.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Grandmother's Life, Pt 2.

I continue today with the story -- only the roughest of edges, for how can I ever hope to fully tell the story of a woman who saw over 100 years? -- of what I know of the life of my grandmother, Beulah Ethel (Garrard) Browning.

I was thinking about this all day at work and began to remember things that I'd forgotten, small vignettes my grandma shared over the course of our closest years. She loved that I asked about her life and she loved sharing those memories; her eyes would light up and her normally soft voice would grow stronger. I think it was because she had lived so long. She told me once, in response to a question I had about how long she'd lived, that she sometimes disliked it because she'd had to watch everyone she knew and loved as a girl, a young woman, a friend, a mother and a wife -- die. She had strong faith in God, though, and would tell me she believed that God had His purpose for giving her years and she was not one to question His wisdom. As I said in my last entry, I am so very glad those years were hers and mine.

But back to her story and some of the things I remembered.

I own her cedar chest. The chest was given to her in 1932 by her then-beau and later husband, my grandfather Virgil Joseph Browning. In it she kept mementos of her life and I scurried back to open it and look through some of those while telling her story. I believe the things in that chest all meant enough to her to keep them and I will try to tell the stories of as many of those items as I can. Here are some of them.

This picture is of a tea set that Mrs. Mary Hoke presented to my grandmother as a Christmas present in 1909. This tea set is so delicate and tiny! Each little cup is the size of my thumb. I remember grandma saying she adored that set and played with it often, being very mindful to wrap each item carefully when she was finished playing with it. Until today, when I went to take this picture, I had never seen it unwrapped myself. The entire set has always been stored in a wooden matchbox holder and wrapped in tissue. Accompanying the set is a small handwritten note detailing when she received it and by whom. When I unwrapped if for this picture I found, however, that one little saucer is missing. That's too bad! Otherwise it's a beautiful little set and I can see my grandma playing with it and valuing it for its delicacy.

So grandma's school years came and went. When she was 16, in 1917, her older brother Raymond Orlond Garrard went off to France to serve in World War I. The picture here was taken that year and shows her in a gorgeous white dress. I think she looks young and fresh and splendid, don't you? She wrote Raymond letters and wrote other servicemen as well. I used those letters to trace one of the serviceman she wrote and I managed to get those letters back to his descendants! I've told grandma's story about those times before here on my blog and if you're interested (including seeing a picture of her wearing her brother's uniform!) you can go here and also here.

Another interesting item is a tiny Methodist Episcopal Hymnal. Copyrighted 1850 Cincinnati and published by Swormstedt & Power, Corner of Main and Eighth-Sts, R.P. Thompson, Printer," the front page of this book (in my grandmother's handwriting) says "Presented to Beulah Garrard by Auntie Allison, aged about 89 years this Sept 29, 1920, been in her possession for at least 65 years." This book also has, in another person's handwriting, the name "Mary Jane Willson." I found a Mary Allison, aged 90 in the 1920 census, living in Crawford County. I'm pretty sure she's the "Auntie Allison" that my grandmother received the hymnal from. More research necessary!

By the time she was 22 in 1923 she and her best girlfriend Gwendolyn Norton (who later married a Hackett) decided they needed to go to Olney in Richland County, Illinois, and work at a shoe factory. They boarded with the parents of a Mr. Eska Russell while working there because, grandma said, it wasn't proper for two young women to be on their own! In the picture here she is holding her hat and looks for all the world like a girl home to visit from making her own way. She worked there for a year or so, boarding with two separate families -- the Russells, parents of Eska Russell, and the Routsons -- before coming home sometime in the fall of 1925. I know this because another item in the chest was a unique cup that my grandmother called a moustache cup. She gave it to her father Robert as a christmas present in 1925. She couldn't find one to buy so she obtained it from Mrs. Routson, according to the notes I took.

Between 1924-1926 my grandmother was seeing a boy named Cecil Buchanan. I have quite a few letters from him to her and whenever she mentioned his name she said it in a way that told me that he was a special boy to her at the time. (Update:  Cecil ended up to be Cecile, one of her best GIRL friends!  Go read the funny story about how I learned that little fact.) But somewhere in there they broke up and my grandmother met another boy, one named Virgil.

Next time....her life after meeting my grandfather.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Grandmother's Life, Pt. 1

Today is a celebration of a life.

My grandmother, Beulah Ethel (Garrard) Browning, died 8 years ago yesterday. If she were living she would be almost 110 years old.

My thoughts today have been all about her and I wanted to spend this day with her, in thought and spirit if not in body, so I've spent the day scanning in photos of her from the vast collection of old photos she bequeathed me upon her death. During the scanning I was struck by the thought that she was literally growing up in front of my eyes even though she did that growing up 100 years ago.

I don't know if I've ever shared how I got started in genealogy. In 1988/early 1989 my grandfather Virgil Joseph Browning was diagnosed with leukemia and my father quit his job and moved to the small town my grandparents were living in (the same town, it so happens, that I was also living in.) At that time I was in my early 20's and had just begun to date the man who was to become my (now ex-) husband. I was in college and had a social life and a job and things to do and the last thing in the world I wanted was to spend time with my grandparents, who were both in their late 80's. In my youthful naivety that sixty year difference was a vast chasm.

My grandpa passed away in December 1989. My dad stayed on for a few months to make sure his mother was all right and went back home (a city an hour away.) His mother -- my grandma Beulah -- had just turned 89 and would now live alone in a little apartment. My parents made it clear that I was responsible for checking on her daily because I only lived a short drive away. I balked at this but I had always been a dutiful daughter so I did as I was told, though I admit I scheduled our visits early in the morning so I could spend as little time as possible there before I could claim I had things to do. Thinking upon this selfishness from my current perspective, I am ashamed. I never once thought how my grandmother felt, being alone in that small apartment she'd shared without the man who had been with her for nearly 60 years. The loneliness she must have endured I can only imagine, but she never shared any of it with me when I visited. Instead she would fix me breakfast -- one fried egg, a piece of toast, a cup of coffee with cream. We would sit at the small two-seat dinette in her tiny kitchen.

I'd watch her putter around making the meal and I would be casting my eyes around the room into the small closet in the corner. I would always see an interesting metal cooler with a Coca-Cola emblem and my natural curiosity would kick in. She'd serve the meal and we'd stare at each other and search for things to talk about. I think that search (and my questions about the contents of the metal cooler -- family pictures) was what spurred my grandmother into telling me stories of her parents, her grandparents, the people she'd known, the places she'd seen. Her life. And because she told those stories and shared her life, she showed me that she wasn't just some old lady on the periphery of my life. She was real, and interesting, and she had lived. We were family. It didn't take long before I didn't come to visit her and sit there thinking about how fast I could politely leave. I came because I enjoyed her and my time with her.

She was 89 then. She lived until she was 101 and only the last six months of her life were not quality ones. At her 100th birthday party she was laughing and enjoying herself. A stroke soon thereafter took her away from us and it was downhill from there. She died today, eight years ago.

I cannot express how lucky I feel that I was able to have my grandmother for those years. If those years were given to her in part so that she and I could have the chance to become as close as we did then I can only be humbled in gratitude for them. I wouldn't be the genealogist I am today without her. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without her.

I have regrets concerning her. Of course I do. I regret that I didn't ask her to write her life story for me when she was living with my parents and had the time to do it. She told me many stories but I didn't write all of them down and my memory is good but not nearly as sharp as hers was. I don't think I can celebrate her life and what she meant and means to me still if I don't get those stories down. Her stories -- all the stories I know -- are coming up.

We begin at the beginning. My grandmother, Beulah Ethel Garrard, was born on 9 December 1900 in Robinson Twn. in Crawford County, Illinois, the 6th and youngest child born to Robert Elbert Garrard (1853-1938) and Louisa Adaline Eagleton (1860-1944.) When grandma was born her dad put her in a shoebox in the bottom drawer of a bureau and moved it closer to the fire so the reflection of the heat would keep her warm. She was only two and a half pounds at birth and he could cradle her in the palm of his hand. They didn't expect she'd even live.

Grandma was the youngest and according to her stories, she was rather spoiled and unruly, always wanting her way. All her older siblings said she was that way, anyway, she'd say with a crackling laugh. She was a special favorite of her oldest brother Ralph, who was nine years older than she was. The picture above left -- the one where she's looking mighty unhappy -- was taken one day after school around 1910 (I suspect soon after the picture that follows of she and her schoolmates was taken, since her dresses look very similar and she looks about the same age.) Her older brother Ralph had informed her that she was to come over and get her picture taken and she was distinctly unwilling to do what she'd been told. She said she remembered standing there and pouting while Ralph held her tight around her waist.

Grandma's rememberences of her family were many. She said her sister Julia -- the oldest, born in 1887 - told her once that their mother Louisa had given birth to a stillborn baby of unknown sex about the year 1895. This baby had been as tiny as grandma had but had not lived and Grandpa Robert had went outside and fashioned a box of wood to bury the poor body. It was buried in the backyard or out in the woods and that was that. Julia also told grandma about their little brother Eldridge Garrison Garrard. Eldridge had been born in 1888 with a cleft palate. At the age of two he hit his head on the fireplace and died about two days later in January of 1890. Grandma said her mother Louisa said the family buried him in the Haskins Cemetery but there is no stone for him. Grandma took me out there one day in 1995 and led me to where he was buried. I could find it if I was standing there but I can't describe it to you here.

Her father, Robert, was never a milk drinking man. Grandma said the why of it was never explained to her until she was a young woman. Apparently in November of 1864 the cows that he and his family raised got into milkweed and the entire family unknowingly drank of the poisoned milk. Everyone became ill but Robert's father, William Garrard, was the only one to die. Robert remembered how it felt to be so sick and the idea of milk never set well with him again. Grandma said as long as he lived he never had another glass of milk.

Grandma's mother, Louisa, was raised up in a Christian faith (one that for the life of me I cannot remember) but when a young woman of 18 Louisa took up housekeeping work in the house of a local Quaker family (another whose name I cannot recall) and soon began to practice the faith. Grandma was fond of telling me that her mother was a Quaker.

The earliest couple of pictures I have of my grandmother Beulah are either her school pictures or pictures that were taken after school. She told me what school she went to but it is one of those names that I didn't write down and it has escaped my memory. The pictures I have don't list the school's name either. When she began school, she would walk in good weather and ride a horse in bad weather. I remember her telling me that she was only able to attend school until the 8th grade, which was about 1915 or so. The picture to the right (click to expand) was taken around 1910 and is likely one of the earliest pictures I have of her.

Grandma told me once that she remembers seeing and hearing her first plane when she was a teenager. She said she saw it go overhead when she was out watching some boys play a rough and tumble field baseball game.

I have another picture of her that is associated with her school years and it was this picture that I've featured at the head of my blog entry. That one was taken the last year she was attending school by a friend of hers as she walked down the road home, her round metal lunchpail swinging in her hand. It was fall 1915 and she was 14, almost 15. That picture -- the look in her eyes, the angularity but softness to her face, her small lips -- reminds me so much of my own daughter. Genetics are amazing. I can picture it in my head now, her friend stopping and calling her name...."Beulah!"....and when she stopped, she got her picture taken against the slowly setting Illinois sun. Isn't my grandma beautiful?

My grandmother's stories are many and this week will be hers. Tomorrow, her years after school.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

At Long Last!

I'm back from a lovely vacation with a few good genealogical finds in hand. I'd have had more if I hadn't come down sick with a migrane on the day I was scheduled to go courthousing/cemetery hunting in IL with my cousins. I did manage to drag my butt over to the courthouse but I could barely concentrate and only got the bare minimum of what I wanted. Hm, I guess this means that I have to go back again. Oh, darn. Hah!

Of those I managed to get, the best by far was a copy of the original marriage license of Samuel J. Browning and Sarah Anne from the Tuscarawas County OH Genealogical Society for a grand total of $.60. I'd been theorizing for years whether she was a Dickinson or a Dickerson. When the Genealogical Society handed it over to me I read it and just started laughing with that laugh of frustration that I am sure all good genealogists know. It was pretty clearly "Dickerson" to me. I didn't see a dot over that "i" no matter how I looked or wanted it to magically appear. Even with this evidence, though, I am still comfortable with the idea that Dickinson was Sarah's surname. After I learned of the fact that George Dickinson included George W. Browning and Effie May Browning, the children of Samuel and Sarah, as heirs of his estate in 1876 in Crawford County I began to feel strongly that this was the most solid of evidence for their relationship. Dickerson and Dickinson sound very alike and a mistake could have been made in the license by the clerk being that both surnames were present in the county at the time. At any rate, take a look at the difference between the original copy I had of the license here and the new one to the left. The difference is pretty substantial. I'd love comments on whether or not any of you all also think I'm right in basing my opinion about Sarah's surname on the will more than the marriage license.

When we finally arrived in Crawford County and I managed to get to the courthouse there (no more hands-on looks at the death and birth records in Crawford County, much to my chagrin -- more on that later though!) I only got two documents -- the death certificate of Richard Jennings (proving that he was indeed the son of William Jennings and Jane Nevitt and making my day! -- more on that great find later too!) and a bit of a dig through the will of George W. Dickinson. I should have copied the entire thing but I was feeling so horrid that it was all I could do to stand there and copy the four pages I did get. The four pages were the guardianship records of John W. and Ella May Browning, children of George W. Browning, deceased.

These four pages, dated 1892, contain an affidavit from Amanda (Raney) Browning Short, who lived in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson Co., IL. Included in the pages was a guardianship paper from Jefferson County showing Amanda was the children's guardian and that she claimed $48 from the estate as the guardian of John and Ella, two of the minor heirs. These papers, more than anything else, tell me the following: John and Ella were George's children, and as George was Samuel and Sarah Anne's son, they were also Sarah Anne's grandchildren. This also tells me -- most importantly -- that Sarah was George Dickinson's daughter and a Dickinson instead of a Dickerson. It also helps that she named two of her children (George and Effie) after her parents.

I love when things come together. More to follow!