This post is the second of three about Charles Otho Browning, the second child of Asbury Taylor Browning and Minerva Corderman.
My cousins recently found the photo I have posted here. It's unidentified, but it is of a man they feel almost certain is their g-g-grandfather, Charles. The photo was found amongst their g-grandmother Tena's (Charles' daughter's) things. The man in the photo looks to be about 30 or so. He has a nicely groomed beard, and his clothes (sack coat, wool vest, white shirt, collar in) and hairstyle (nicely oiled and parted) place him comfortably in the mid to late 1880's range. If you'll look at this picture, and then take a look at one of the smaller pictures in my blog's background (of a similar man wearing similar clothes) I think you'll be able to see how much the two men resemble each other. If our identification is correct, these two men (both named Charles) would be 1st cousins, once removed.
My cousins informed me that they'd taken this photo to a local conference sponsored by Family History Expos this past weekend and showed it to a photo historian who dated it between 1885-1890, most likely around 1887 (+/- a year or so) when the particular kind of cabinet card stock was used the most.
I thought the historian's date analysis was pretty accurate; however, I wanted some independent authentication so I turned to the photographer's mark on the photo. The one on this picture reads Hutchings Bros. Railroad Photo. Car.
Preliminary research on the photographer seems to indicate that the Hutchings Railroad Photo Car was a railroad car designed to be a traveling studio. Robert O. Brown's 2002 book, "Collector's Guide to 19th Century U.S. Traveling Photographers" (published by Brown-Spath & Associates, 2002. 339 pages, ISBN # 1-929955-13-8) states that Hutchings likely worked from 1884-1889, headquartered in Kansas but travelling up and down the railroads into NE. The railroad cars that were used resembled the one seen here, below. I found a few other pictures of families bearing this photographer's mark and most of those labeled were taken in the 1886-87 range and originate from Kearney, a town in in Buffalo Co., NE.
Now to compare what we know of Charles with the photo. Charles Browning was born in 1856, so a picture taken in 1886 or so would find him in his early 30's and at the right age to be the man in the photo. Charles was living in the Shelton area in Buffalo Co., NE c1884 and in Marion Co., KS, in 1887, both areas that Hutchings was known to operate in. It is also known that Charles worked for a man named R. M. Quigley in the months leading up to his death (early 1889), a man who in later years formed his own track-laying company (Quigley-Keough Track Laying Co.) and his own construction company (R.M. Quigley Construction Co., out of St. Louis.) In what capacity Charles worked for him, I don't know, but that he did is certain.
I really think this is a picture of Charles Browning. It's nice to get to see him and have in mind what he looks like, as we read the events leading up to his tragic death.
Next time, the railroad accident that claimed his life.
Image of railroad car taken from:http://www.railroadheritage.org/SPT--FullRecord.php?ResourceId=1052
Reference: "The Book of St. Louisians: A biographical dictionary of leading living men of the city of St. Louis and vicinity by J.W. Leonard, pg. 596.
More reference: The Frisco: A Look Back At The Saint Louis - San Francisco Railway
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