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......

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday -- Random Thoughts

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 wasn't your fault.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More On Asbury Taylor and Minerva (Corderman) Browning

I've been contacted by/have contacted a few new cousins this past week. Coincidentally, all of them are connected to the same Browning and even more coincidentally, it was the Browning I wrote about most recently -- Asbury Taylor Browning, the ninth child of Samuel and Margaret! Taylor died of smallpox in the Civil War but he had three children (Charles Otho, Sarah Viola, and Emma Ellsworth) who lived to have descendents. I'm currently corresponding with a descendant of Taylor's son, Charles. I've been contacted by a descendant of Emma Ellsworth but I've sent two emails so far and I haven't heard back from her. I sent yet another email to a man who I believe is descended from Sarah Viola. If I'm lucky I'll hear back from everyone soon.

Speaking of Asbury Taylor, I've also been thrilled to discover that a historian named Rhonda M. Kohl has been researching the Regiment that Taylor belonged to in the war, the 5th Illinois Cavalry. She's written the following scholarly articles about the regiment:

Kohl, Rhonda M. "'This Godforsaken Town': Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63." Civil War History, 50, no. 2 (June 2004): 109-144.

Kohl, Rhonda M. "The Hard Lessons of War: The Fifth Illinois Cavalry at Helena, Arkansas." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 99, no. 3-4 (fall-winter, 2006-07): 185-210.

Unfortunately I don't belong to the IL State Historical Society so I haven't been able to read either of these. I sent an email to Ms.Kohl inquiring about Taylor and where he might possibly have been buried if he'd died in a hospital in Helena. Ms. Kohl kindly and quickly sent a response and gave me a few suggestions. She said many soldiers were buried on hills overlooking Helena, each was given their own grave and honored with crosses listing their name and unit. She said there was embalming at the time and Taylor's body may have been shipped back to IL (though if it was, I haven't found a gravesite for him.) She also suggested that I may want to contact the Phillips County Historical Society. I hope to follow up on some of her leads. Ms. Kohl is also in the final stages of submitting a book about the Regiment to her publisher. I'll be sure to obtain a copy when it's released.

Since this post is all about Asbury Taylor's family I thought I'd post a few photos of his children's tombstones as well as speak about another interesting document that Taylor's widow filed after his death. First things first, though!

The picture to the left is the tombstone of Sarah Viola Browning, Taylor and Minerva's fourth child. Sarah is buried at the Seaney Cemetery in Montgomery Township in Crawford County, Illinois. She sure was an interesting lady. She married four times and might have buried all four of them! She was born on 2 Aug 1859 in Prairie city (now Toledo) in Cumberland County, Illinois. She married Alfred Newton Criss around 1877, probably in Sullivan Co., IN. I don't know what happened to Alfred but Sarah married Daniel H. Ripple on 11 Jul 1886 in Crawford County, Illinois. She and Daniel settled in Crawford County and something happened to Daniel as well for Sarah married William J. Purcell on 2 Apr 1896, also in Crawford County. William and Sarah lived in Honey Creek Township. William died in Feb 1905 and Sarah married Abraham Walters on 24 Nov 1910. Sarah and Abraham lived in Oblong township for many years before Abraham died in 1924.

Sarah was living in Robinson on North Madison St in 1930 with her grandson Harold/Herald Reynolds and she remained in Crawford County until her death on 18 Nov 1942. Now I don't know who Harold's mother is. He says that both his parents were born in Indiana. As I'm quite sure I don't know exactly how many children Sarah had, much less their names (since I'm missing that precious 1890 census!) then Harold's most likely my best link to another daughter of Sarah's who married a Reynolds. I'll be looking Harold up on my upcoming trip to Robinson. Hopefully his marriage to Laura c1929 is in the Crawford County courthouse and he'll give his parent's names!

The next picture is the tombstone of John Abram Pirtle and his wife, Emma Ellsworth Browning. I won't post that one here because the picture was posted by Nynaeve on Find-A-Grave and I would much rather just link straight to her picture. Emma was born on 29 Sept 1862 in Prairie City in Cumberland County. She was only six months old when her father died and likely grew up feeling that Matthew Starbuck (her mother's second husband) was her father. Her mother died in 1873 when she was only 11 years old. I don't know what became of her from that time until 1880 but that year she was in Fox Township in Jasper County, Illinois as a 17-yr old hired domestic in the household of George Barnett. George was Emma's brother Charles and his wife Laura Belle Tritt's next door neighbor. I feel Emma was likely living with Charles and Laura but the census caught her at work.

Living two households down from Emma was a family headed by a man named John Kellar, aged 28, who was married with a 7-month old daughter. John was born in Illinois but both his parents were born in France. John Kellar becomes interesting because Emma had a daughter, Elsie May, in Sullivan County, Indiana on 1 March 1882. When Elsie married James Skidmore in Sullivan County in 1899 she listed her father's last name as Keller and his first initial as either an "L", a "J" or an "S." As Emma didn't marry John Abram Pirtle until 29 May 1884, she was unmarried at the time of Elsie's birth. Could this John Keller have been Elsie's father? Did Emma get pregnant and move to Sullivan County to give birth? Her older sister Sarah was in Sullivan county at the time. It's certainly a possibility. At any rate, John and Emma lived in and around the Oaktown, Knox Co. IN and Carlisle, Sullivan Co., IN area all their lives. They were buried in the Carlisle Odd Fellows Cemetery in Carlisle in Sullivan County.

Rewind a bit again with me as we come back to Asbury and Minerva, Sarah and Emma's parents. After Taylor's death in 1863 Minerva married Matthew James Starbuck and the couple and their children moved to Greenup Township in Cumberland County. You can see Matthew and Minerva's marriage license to the right. What's nice about this document was that it's a copy of the original document that Minerva had provided to prove her marriage to Matthew in her pursuit of guardianship of her children with Taylor. I'm thrilled to have it because Cumberland County's courthouse burned in 1885 and the original document is now lost. But yay, I have a copy of it right here!

Speaking of the pursuit of guardianship -- I'd always found it a bit odd that Minerva needed to pursue a guardianship for her OWN children! All the pension documents she filed in 1863-1867 never mention that she had given guardianship of her children to anyone else; as a matter of fact that state unequivocably that she had not. So why did she file? I turned once again to Bouvier's Law Dictionary and found my answer.

Minerva, as the children's mother, could be considered a 'Guardian By Nuture' but by the late 1850's that distinction was rapidly becoming obsolete. She of course had care of her children, but upon her marriage to Matthew she needed to have the rights to maintain and manage her children's estates as well as their persons; i.e., become their Testamentary Guardian. Now I'm only making an inference here, but it seems that if she'd allowed Matthew to become her children's legal guardian instead of herself, she would've been unable to continue to draw her children's minor's pensions from Asbury's estate. So Minerva filed for guardianship of her children with Asbury on 25 February 1868 under her married name, Minerva Starbuck, and her petition was granted on 29 June 1868.

I also initially found how they worded the guardianship papers odd as well. Take a look at the document over there on the left. Each of the children (Charles, Sarah and Emma) were listed as being "__ years on the __ day of ___", that day being one day before their birthday. For example, Charles was born the 6th of April -- he is listed as being seven years old on the 5th. It was strange to begin with but it's not as odd to me now with a second and third read-through. It makes sense, really. The day mentioned is the last full day each child was legally considered a minor and therefore also the last full day Minerva would hold guardianship over them.

Minerva died in May of 1873. If Matthew filed for any guardianship papers over Emma and Sarah -- who were still minors and still eligible for Asbury's pension payments -- after Minerva's death, those papers were lost in the 1885 Cumberland County courthouse fire.

Friday, July 2, 2010

How To Reconstruct a Family pt. 2 -- Play Detective!

And now for the second installment. I ended the first on a question: What to do next?

Well, I'd researched Amanda as much as I could from 1870-1930 and felt I had a pretty good idea of her life and movements. It was back to the census, armed with a little more knowledge. I decided to pick it up in 1900, the first census that was available after the 1880 when Amanda had been living in Jefferson Co., IL with her children with George Browning, John W. and Ella May.

I searched John W. first since he carried the Browning surname. With a name like John it was still going to be tough so I figured I'd first narrow it to John W. and rule those out first, it'd be easier. I searched with the parameters of his name, his possible birthday (c1874 +/- 1 yr) and birthplace (IL). A few hits came up and I just started going down the list, picking the few that seemed closest to Jefferson Co. first. One was in Franklin County and another in Edgar County but I ruled them both out pretty quickly by comparing birth places and other family living close. Another was in White County and looked promising but his mother was listed as born in Indiana. I kept him in my mind and moved on to the first one on the list that wasn't in Illinois -- John W. and Lydia A. Browning, who lived in St. James, Mississippi Co., MO.

I looked on the map and saw that Mississippi Co. bordered Alexander Co., IL and was separated from it by the Mississippi river. It was only a few counties away from Jefferson County. Hm. John W. was b. Sept 1874 in IL, both his parents had been born in IL, he and Lydia had been married four years, Lydia was born in Aug 1876 in KY, and the couple had two sons, William B. b. Oct 1896 and Jesse R. b. Nov 1899, both born in MO.

This sounded interesting! But I knew that I needed more information to rule the family in or out. I noticed that William was born in 1896 and would've had to register for the WW1 draft if he'd lived that long. I went to Ancestry, searched the WW1 Draft Registration database for a William B. born 1896 in MO (using exact search on the birthdate) and got a hit for William Bennet Browning. I got really excited reading through it! Dated 5 Jun 1918, it stated that he was born 5 Oct 1896 in East Prairie, Mississippi Co. MO. His father was born in Mt. Vernon, IL and the relative he listed was Lydia Browning who was living in Medina, Madison Co., TN.

Mount Vernon! That's in Jefferson County! That told me that the John W. Browning who'd been in the 1900 census was William's father AND it told me he'd been born in Jefferson Co., IL. The date AND the place matched the John W., son of George Browning and Amanda Raney! Whooo! I had a gut feeling that this was the right family so I began to do a bit more in-depth research on them.

I returned to the census records from 1910-1930 and reconstructed the family's movements:

3 May 1910 Wolf Island, Mississippi Co MO, ED 104, Sh 1A, image 1, HH 2, line 7
McDADE, J.B. age 46 c1865, m. 4 yrs, b. TN, fb IRE, mb, TN
McDADE, S. C. age 45 c1866, m. 4 yrs., b. MO, fb AL, mb TN
BROWNING, Liddy (sister) age 32 c1878, widowed 3 ch, 3 liv, b. KY, fb IRE, mb TN
BROWNING, Bennett (son) age 13 c1897, b. MO, fb IL, mb, KY
BROWNING, Roy age 11 c1899
BROWNING, Lee age 2 c1908
POLESTON?, D.N.(or G. N?), father in law, age 76, wid, b. AL, pb AL

1920 Wolf Island, Mississippi Co, MO; ED 116, Sh 8A, HH 143, line 6, Image 1105
BROWNING, Lydia age 44 b. KY, fb KY, mb TN
BROWNING, Bennie age 23 b.MO fb IL, mb KY
BROWNING, Ray age 19 b.MO fb IL, mb KY clerking at store
BROWNING, Lee age 18 b.MO fb IL, mb KY

Ah, the 1910 census shows Lydia living with her brother J.B. McDade so I used that last name and did a search in both available Missouri marriages databases on Ancestry. The first (Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002) wasn't at all helpful but the second (Missouri Marriages, 1851-1900) was! I located her marriage to John:

John W Browning m. Lydia A. McDade in Mississippi Co., MO on 16 Oct 1895

I went to go perform one last census search. I remembered that Lydia had mentioned her parents had come from Tennessee and I noticed that she and her son William were there in 1918 when he registered for the draft. I thought I needed to go look for McDade families in the state. I found the right family in the 1880 Madison Co TN census in the 16th Dist. Liddie A., aged 2, was living with her sisters and brothers: Margaret age 21, John L. age 19, William age 18, Jesse aged 15, Susan age 12, and Bennett J. age 7. Bennett and Liddie were born in KY and the rest were born in TN. I felt it very likely that this was the correct family. Liddie had named two of her sons Jesse and William Bennett.

I now had quite of bit of information on the family. John W. and Lydia A. McDade had married in 1895 and lived in Mississippi Co., MO from Oct 1895 until June 1900. They had three sons (William Bennett, Jessie Ray/Roy, and Lee) from 1896-1902 and somewhere between 1902-1910 John W. died and Lydia moved in with her brother and sister-in-law. Lydia and her son William were apparently living in Madison Co., TN in 1918 but they were back in Mississippi Co., MO by 1920. I couldn't seem to find Lydia or her sons William or Jesse in 1930 but I did find Lee. He was married and still living in Mississippi Co.

So what next? I'd pretty much covered marriages and the census. Ah, ha! The next link in the earthly chain.....death records!

I went to Family Search Beta and did a search in the Missouri Deaths and Burials, 1867-1976 collection for John with no results. Since John's death was early and likely not recorded, I then decided to try all Browning names. Only 11 appeared, none of whom matched.

All right, hm.....well, William had mentioned Tennessee. I decided to try the family names in the Tennessee Deaths and Burials, 1874-1955 collection. I tried Lydia first and got a hit! Lydia died in Medina, Gibson Co., TN, on 28 Nov 1942 at age 66. She was born in 1876 and was listed as married. Her spouse's name was John Wylie Browning. Her parents were listed as Bennett Mcdaid and Susie Davidson.

I tried William with no results, then tried Jesse and got another hit. Jesse Ray Browning died on 5 Feb 1922 and was buried on 6 Feb 1922. He died in Medina, Madison County, Tennessee at age 21. He was born 28 Nov 1900 in MO and was single. His father's Name was Wiley Browning, born IL, and his mother's name was Liddia Mcdade, born in KY.

These two records told me John's middle name -- Wiley -- and the death dates of his wife and son. I turned to the SS Death Index at Rootsweb and found William Bennett Browning. He'd died on 17 Nov 1966 in Humboldt in Gibson County, Tennessee. I took a quick trip back to the USGenWeb site for Tennessee counties and a search in Gibson County for his name in the cemetery listings gave me the following: William B. Browning, d. 17 Nov 1966, married Mealie M., b. 28 Oct 1908- 3 Feb 1998. Both were buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Humboldt, Gibson Co., TN. Lastly, I hopped over to Find-A-Grave to look for William's headstone and got lucky again! Some kind soul had taken a picture of William's stone.

Now for a synopsis.

Do I know for sure yet that the John Wylie Browning who married Lydia McDade is the son of George Browning and Amanda Ann Raney? Nope. The circumstantial evidence is pretty good though. I'd have to locate a few different sorts of documents for solid proof. Amanda's will, if she had one, might mention him or his children. And what of John's own death records? If he died c1904-1910 there might be some sort of death record (though it's doubtful it lists parents) but one never knows. He might've had a will that mentioned his parentage. Perhaps there is a funeral record? It appears that writing to Mississippi Co., MO to get what record there are is my next step to solid proof.

Sometimes, though, circumstantial evidence is all you'll have to go on. Build as strong a case as you can for it if that's what you're using. Pay attention to the smallest of hints, such as where a draft registration was processed. Think about the families that cohabited or collaterally touched yours to find leads. Trace each person back to the earliest census you can find them in for clues like who their relatives were because those people, and their movements, might impact your relatives. While I know I'm stating the obvious for most of us genealogists, for the beginners......well, it's just the stuff like this that you miss.

The moral of this story -- think outside the box!

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!