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......

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Still here....

I'm still here, folks.  I've been busy and I've put my genealogy on hold for a while until the mood strikes me again.  Life has a tendency to swoop in and make changes for you and now is the time for me to regroup a bit.  I'm sure I'll get back on the genealogy wagon soon enough.  Thanks for checking in on me!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In The Navy...

My daughter will be shipping out to the Navy on November 20th, which isn't very far away now at all.  I've decided to put my genealogy time aside for a bit so I can take advantage of what time I have left with her, especially since I'm already losing a week or two because of trip plans I'd firmed up before we learned her ship date.

See all of you on the flipside!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grandma Minnie in Stories and Pictures

My great grandmother Minnie (Minna Anna Louise (Papstein) Depperman, 1888-1985) has always been something of an enigma to me.  She was in her 80's when I was born and I was only 15 when she passed away at the age of 98.  She lived all of her life in northern Illinois (with the exception of her birth in Germany -- she was 1 year old when she arrived in the US) and I lived only my first seven years in northern Illinois before moving to southern Illinois for four years and then on to Texas.  After the age of 11 I only saw my Grandma Minnie twice more before her death.  We never did get a chance to sit down and have any sort of meaningful conversation.  I wish we had. The stories she could have told me!

Grandma Minnie, her famous "upstairs" (to the right) and homey kitchen
I knew that she'd raised my mother after my mother's parents divorced, and that my mother thought of her more as a mother than as a grandmother. My own personal memories of her are few, honestly; I only clearly remember her spending time with me one on one once (though I'm sure there were plenty more times that I don't recall.)  I remember sitting on Grandma Minnie's lap and she would hand me her Vick's Inhaler, letting me sniff it to my heart's content!  Otherwise I remember playing at her house quite a bit but I'm sure I spent much more time in her basement and on her front porch than I did with her.  She was probably busy cooking and conversing with the other adults.  I remember she forbade me to go upstairs so of course the banishment made me ache to sneak up and see what all the fuss was about!  I do recall sneaking up one day and seeing a row of bedrooms and not much else, all perfectly straight and neat and clean, like they weren't even lived in! -- before I was too scared to stay any longer and snuck back down.

I most remember thrilling to her dark, dank basement, so unlike the basements that I was used to in the metropolitan Chicago area I grew up in.  She would let me play down there because it was basically an empty room with a lot of space to run circles in (which I did!)  I clearly remember climbing down the stairs and seeing an old 1930's washing machine in the right corner of the basement near the cistern and, above that, a picture of a young boy in an ornate oval frame.  When I asked who it was I remember Grandma Minnie saying it was a "picture of my boy that died."  The boy was Alvin Friedrich Depperman, who was born around 1909 and died about 1912.  I was fascinated by the picture.  The little boy's eyes followed me wherever I went but I wasn't frightened of it.  I often stopped playing long enough to look at it longingly.  I wanted to touch it, but it was too high...and I knew better.  My mother always told me that in Grandma Minnie's house I was not to touch anything and to make sure that everything I got out was put back exactly as I found it.

Often when the family would get together I would stand in the front room looking at a picture that was always near the German bible that Grandma Minnie had on her end table.  It was of a handsome calvaryman standing in front of a row of Lipizzaner stallions.  Grandma Minnie told me that the man was her father when he was training those stallions for the Kaiser.  I didn't know who the Kaiser was -- the only Kaiser I ever knew was a Roll, ha! -- but of course now I know that it was Kaiser Wilhelm I, the King of Prussia from 1861 to 1888.  My g-g-grandfather August Karl Papstein wa in the cavalry in the early to mid-1880's and must've been a skilled trainer if he was chosen to work with the prized Lipizzaners (see more about these beautiful horses here)!  Unfortunately all these pictures -- the oval frame of Alvin, the handsome man in the cavalry uniform -- and the Bible, are all lost to us now.  Likely they were sold in a sale my Grandma Minnie's family had when she had to go into a nursing home so they could pay for her care.  Grrr!

It's been very interesting to me to look at pictures of Grandma Minnie.  The pictures I have of her are for the most part taken long after she raised her children and became a grandmother.  Recently a cousin sent me a picture of my Grandma Minnie taken when she was only 10-12 years old.  I love it! I post it here.  It was likely taken about 1900.  Minnie (the eldest girl) is posing with her parents, August Karl Papstein (1864-1946) and his wife Anna Marie Louise Koehn (1868-1952), her brother Otto and little sister Clara.  Goodness but when my younger brother was a boy, he sure did look like Otto in this picture!

Tragedy was just around the corner for the family, however.  August and Anna had already lost two infants before this picture was taken.  Otto never did get a chance to grow up -- he was born in September of 1891 but died between 1900-1910 and was buried in an unmarked plot next to his parents in the Peotone (Will Co. IL) Cemetery.  Clara was born in December of 1896, married Earl Laroche around 1918, and died in 1920.  She too was buried in the Peotone Cemetery.  August and Anna would go on to have three more children before 1910 (Louis b. 1901, Elsie b. 1905 and Frank b. 1909.) Then there was a lapse -- Anna was 44 upon Frank's birth -- and then perhaps....just PERHAPS....another came along. 
Grandma Minnie in 1918

I say perhaps because I have heard two distinct stories about this last child's parentage in my family.  A boy named Edwin Papstein was born on 10 Oct 1915.  Edwin was developmentally impaired (perhaps Down's, though the nature of his developmental issues has not been passed down.) As to whose son he was?  Well, if he was Anna's she was 48 when  he was born.  That's not beyond the realm of possibility, but it is a stretch one would think?  Anyway, the other story was that Edwin was Clara's son, born out of wedlock to Clara and an unknown man.  Clara would have been 18 if this is true.  As it is, I cannot locate Edwin or Clara on the 1920 census.  Clara was to die in 1920 and if Edwin was hers, it is not surprising that her parents took him in to raise him.  Edwin is, perhaps tellingly, NOT in the household of August and Anna in 1920 although their other children are.  This isn't definitive, however; they could have placed him in some sort of facility because in 1930 Edwin is found in the Illinois Institute for Feeble Minded Children in Lincoln in Logan Co., IL.  This place was also called variously the "Lincoln State School and Colony," the "Lincoln Developmental Center" and the "Lincoln State School."  In 1940 Edwin is living with August and Anna and is listed as their "son," though a biographical paper written by my grandma Minnie on the occasion of August and Anna's 50th wedding anniversary in 1937 did not mention Edwin at all.  So....until I can order Edwin's death certificate (he died in 1983 and is buried in the Peotone Cemetery) I am simply theorizing here.  It's fun to do that though!

My grandma Minnie married Franz Herman Depperman in 1904 and they had seven children.  Franz died in 1955 and Grandma Minnie went on and lived by herself until her death in 1985.   This last picture was taken on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1954.  It is Grandma Minnie and Grandpa Franz and their children (from left to right) Frederick Walter Depperman, Herman August Albert Depperman, Anna Henrietta Bertha (Depperman) Schannon Onkin, Alfred Eric Depperman, and Franklin Louis Depperman (my grandfather.)

Grandma Minnie was a fiesty and opinionated woman and the stories my mother tells me keeps her alive.  I sure hope that the recent finds I've made on this side of the family will shed some more light on her ancestors.  These Germans (Prussians) have been too long in the dark for me!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finally.....a few Papsteins!

As I mentioned last week, my plans were to start using OneNote as an organizational tool for my Browning family. I have begun that and I'm in love with it so far.

But life, in the words of the immortal John Lennon, is what happens when you're busy making other plans.  Life brought me a few awesome tidbits this week which have sent me spinning off into my German families.  It's so much at once that I'm afraid I'll have to post more than once about it.

I've spoken before of the ridiculously small amount of knowledge I have about my mother's Prussian roots.  Her family didn't share information or pass down much in the way of history and anything that my great-grandmother Minna Anna Louise (Papstein) Depperman ever had was lost when it was all placed in a sale to help fund her last days in a nursing home.

Johannah Amelia (Papstein) Hoff
Recently, however, that's started to change.  The last couple months have brought quite a bit of extra knowledge my way.  When I was first entering into a serious study of my family's genealogy in the early 1990's I found a Popstein family (the anglicized version of Papstein) descended from my g-grandmother Minna's youngest brother, Francis Frederick Ferdinand Papstein.  Frank, born in 1909, was 20 years younger than my g-grandmother was.  He moved to New York state in the 1950's and raised his family there.  I corresponded with Frank's youngest daughter Marie for a few years.  Marie and I are first cousins twice removed and we are only seven years apart in age even though her father was of the same generation as my g-grandmother. 

Out of the blue a few nights ago I get an email from Marie's elder brother.  He sent me a map of the Pommern area of Germany and mentioned that our common ancestor (my g-g-grandfather and his grandfather August Karl Papstein, b. 6 Sep 1864 in Neu Labenz, Kreiß Dramburg, Hinterpommern, Prussia (which is now Poland) had a much older sister named Johannah Amelia Papstein, born in June of 1848.  The news itself didn't surprise me because I've always assumed August had siblings (and his obituary said he had a twin sister) but I was surprised to learn that he was one of the younger siblings in his family.  I was also a bit surprised because I didn't figure I ever would know any of his siblings.  I assumed many of them were still in Germany and were lost to me.

While I scurried to Ancestry and finally found Johannah Amelia Papstein after a rather diligent search, I received another email from my cousin who'd told me about Johannah.  He sent me a few pictures, one of which I was especially thrilled with!  My next post will be all about this picture and some of the things he and I have spoken about and I can't wait to share that. This post, though, is about Johannah. 

When I learned that Johannah was born in June of 1848 it occurred to me that, as incredible as it may seem, my cousin Marie (and her brother, the cousin I just mentioned who sent me the picture) has an AUNT born 164 years ago!  Wow! They have me beat.  My eldest aunt was only born in 1887.

Anyway, I learned that Johannah Amelia was born in or around Labenz in Kreiß Dramburg, Hinterpommern, Prussia (which is now Poland.)  I began a correspondence with the author of the tree containing Johannah and Albert and their descendants.  Turns out she and I are 4th cousins since our great-great-grandparents (August and Johannah) were siblings.  We exchanged info back and forth -  she let me know that Johannah had married Albert A.J. Hoff there around 1870 and they had at least three children that she knew of - and then they decided to emigrate to America.

Wilhelmina (Koplen) Papstein
I went on the hunt for any passenger lists that might show when Johannah and Albert came to America.  I found them after only a bit of digging and I found some more info besides. Who knows why the couple chose to travel separately but it appears that they did -- Albert came first to New York aboard the "India" in March of 1885 and Johannah and their living children (Anna, August, Emma, Bertha and Martha) followed soon thereafter.  They traveled aboard the "California" and arrived in New York City on 15 Jun 1885.  Johannah listed her destination as Peotone in Will Co., IL.

On the lists were the names of three additional children my cousin did not know about!  I looked at the 1900 census for Albert and Johannah in Kankakee Co., IL and it stated she was the mother of nine, with six of those still living. By the time we put the passenger list together with the census records, we determined that their chidren were Anna (1872), unknown (c1874-bef 1885), unknown (c1876-bef 1885), August (c1877), Emma (1879), Bertha (1881), Martha (1883), unknown (c1886-bef 1900), and Albert (1887).

But I'm sure by now you've noticed the pictures.  Oh my!  This was the best!  She sent me the picture of Johannah that you see posted here but not only did she have a picture of Johannah, she had a picture....of her MOTHER!

I know I squealed.  Hah!

Up until now, I have had no information about Friedrich Papstein and his wife Wilhelmina Koplen/Kopplin/Koplin, other than their names. Yet there Wilhelmina was on my cousin's tree, austerely peering at me from underneath her great white bonnet.  I see my g-grandmother Minna in her eyes.  I asked my cousin about the pictures but she doesn't know if they came from Germany or were done here in the states.  However, she did say she obtained them from her great aunt and that all of them were huge 16x20s, 'seemingly done at one time.'   

I post them here hoping that one of my readers will take a look at these and help me date them.  I 'think' I have a relatively good idea as to the date of Johanna's picture (the one posted at the front of this post).)  Firstly, she is wearing a memory charm housing a picture of a child, perhaps a young boy.  Her collar is high and her dress mourning black with a simple stripe of decorative gathering along the sides.  It's hard to judge by her hairstyle since she likely wears it as she did when she was younger but the age she looks (in her 40s) the dress and the high collar makes me want to date this in the early to mid 1880's.  She might've had it done prior to leaving for America or when she arrived to send back to family.

Now to the picture of Wilhelmina.  I've studied this one and the more I look at it, the more it seems that this is an older picture, re-done.  Perhaps Johanna took it with her when she left to remember her mother by?   Though I don't know.....even though the ornate white tightly looped bonnet, severe hair, and large criss-cross tie make me think this is a picture from the late 1850's-early 1860's, Wilhelmina's age (she was probably b. c1828 or so if Johanna was born 1848) makes me believe it is quite a bit later.  Perhaps the 1880's?  My cousin wondered if it could have been taken at the same time as Johanna's (therefore giving us a clue that Wilhelmina ALSO came to America!) and that is certainly possible, but I really don't know.

What do you all think?

Oh, more pictures soon!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Martha Ann Browning Cooley, and Bits and Pieces

It's Tombstone Tuesday and today I feature a tombstone that is close to my heart -- that of my aunt Martha Ann Browning.

Martha was born in Crawford Co., Illinois on 16 Oct 1934 to my grandparents Virgil Browning and Beulah Garrard.  She was their only child until my father came along in 1941. 

I've written in more detail about my aunt Martha 
and my feelings about her in a previous post about my grandmother's life.  You can read it here if you wish so I'll be brief.

Martha was a bright child and a rosy-cheeked girl.  She made friends easily and was the life of the party when she was around people.  She sang in the choir and when she was in high school, about 1952 or so, someone made a record of one of her songs that I think my father still has.  I've heard it and she had a beautiful singing voice.  Funny, my dad does too.  I wish I could say I inherited that!

She married Oral Oval Cooley on 7 Jun 1953 in Robinson in Crawford County.   All the pictures I've seen of the pair look like they were very much in love and my aunt Martha was all aglow.  She became pregnant at the age of 19 and gave birth to a son on 30 August 1955.  All was not well with her, though, and she began to show complications immediately after the birth.  She developed a fever and died at the Allen Sanitarium (a hospital in Robinson IL) three days later due to hemorraging from the birth.

I've posted my favorite picture of my aunt Martha here.  She is a real beauty.  I see my grandma and my dad in her and she's just....oh, I don't know.  Doesn't she just GLOW?  Her beauty is within. 

I wish I'd known her. 

Now to the bits and pieces:

I'll be going on a genealogical trip to Little Rock in a few days along with a friend of mine. Her great-grandfather was murdered there in 1929 and we'll be hitting all the sweet spots when we're there. We'll go to the Arkansas History Commission and the Arkansas County courthouse in Stuttgart. We hope to hit Dewitt (where the murder occurred) and maaaybe even make it to a cemetery or three. For my part, I will be investigating the Strickler family (one of my daughter's lines) who moved to Washington Co., AR from Sullivan Co., TN in the 1830's.  I hope to find some wills and other goodies.  Our daughters (both age 19) are coming with us so it'll be a girl's weekend as well!

My love affair with OneNote is in full swing. I'm putting records in there and seeing it all come together and I'm really liking it so far. I can feel that this will be a big bonus for my work.

I'm also in heaven -- I've recently found Ohio Probate Records online at Familysearch!!!!

None are indexed and the image count is sky-high but I've been spending my time going through each and every image in the counties of Harrison, Coshocton, Tuscarawas, Jefferson and Washington. As you can imagine this is a tedious and time consuming undertaking. Weeks even! But that's okay -- it must be done because there's no way I'll be getting to any of these counties soon (and even if I did, I'd have to spend days in the courthouses there pouring through the records!)

So -- if my presence is a bit spotty I'm not checking out of here, I'm hopefully adding more information to my arsenal.  I've already found some real gems in the OH records that I want to explore.

Oh, and ok....I've also experienced a D'OH moment of epic genealogical fail proportions, so much so that I don't even want to admit to it here for fear that I'll have to turn in my genealogist card and go sit in the back of the class.

*sigh* I'll make myself do it. Just not now. Haha!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Research Plans are my Weekend Plans

First, thanks to everyone for all the kind comments about my newfound brother.  It's a great adventure I'm embarking on!

My plans this weekend are to spend some time revamping all my files.  It's the first step to getting to the point I want to be at with my research on Samuel Browning.  I've been using OneNote a long time to keep my personal files in order (as well as using it as a gathering receptacle for random notes about families I found while cruising the Internet) and I really wanted to find a way to incorporate it into my daily genealogical life.  However, it seemed so overwhelming.

I ran across this article and this article on a few days ago about OneNote.  I read it and re-read it and decided to give her suggestions a try.  I downloaded her Research Log and Research Notes templates and played with them a while until I got them into a format I was comfortable with.  I redid all my random notes into different notebooks by surname and made sure to attach the Document tab she suggested to each of them.  Lastly, I began a chronology report on Samuel and his wife Margaret and synced it to SkyDrive via the new Outlook email that will soon replace Hotmail.

All this is 'a lot accomplished' for me, with 'much more to be accomplished' this weekend.  I am tired of running about like a headless chicken chasing tails I've already chased.   This weekend I'm ready to begin the task of moving everything over and consolidating it into one streamlined system.  I'm excited to do it and I can't wait to see results with it.

Heck, I'm already seeing results!  As I did the chronology and placed source materials in for reference, I saw exactly what else I needed to research and what my current sources were.  No more headless chickening!  I can go back through the work I've already done and fill in missing details.  I love it!

Lastly, I have a bewildering amount of original source documents that can be inserted into OneNote and I can FINALLY see all of them in one place, in one file, without scratching my head trying to remember where I put things, where I filed them, what they say (I can translate underneath) or who gave them to me.  I can access these things in the cloud and all my data will be a lot safer than just being on my PC and external HDs.  I've told myself I needed to do this for a long time -- I'm just doing it.  Nike should be proud of me.  Ha!

Tech and I aren't the best of friends -- meaning I don't have the new 'gadgets.'  I live on a very limited budget and so I don't have or want a smartphone (I have the internet ALL AROUND ME at all times, I can't justify the cost lol!) or a tablet PC. I had a laptop back in the 90's but that one was given to me, and I'd take another older one if someone would give it to me free (ha!)  My computers are all over 5 years old (luckily I know enough about them to fix them when I need to) and my parents always buy the latest thing and pass the older ones down to me anyway.   I have a old Dell Axim x51v that I flashed to use Windows Mobile 5 and I put Pocket Genealogist on it and carry my database with me that way.   Yeah, I'm old school.

I've used TMG (The Master Genealogist) as my genealogical database program of choice since 1993 and have no intentions of switching. It is a fantastic genealogy program with loads of personalizing options and high caliber reporting capabilities. I know that some of what I plan to do with OneNote could probably be done within TMG but I guess that I don't 1) have the patience to get into the learning curve with it and 2) I like the inherent 'feel' of the file cabinet/file folder idea of OneNote. One is my database, the other my filing system.

I am a happy genealogist!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Have Another Brother...

...and it's something I've wanted to say for years now.

My mother gave a son up for adoption when she was 16.  I've known about it since I was 13, when I was sitting in my room one afternoon eavesdropping on a conversation my parents were supposed to be having privately -- yes, I was a nosy child.  Aren't most genealogists?

I can remember being so surprised by the revelation that I wasn't the first child my mother had ever had!  I think that was the first time I can remember being able to fathom that my parents had lives before me.  It was a pretty important lesson.

Of course, I've spent the intervening years hoping that someday this son would begin a search for his birth mother.   When I first began talking about it with my mother, she seemed at once very desirious of some sort of connection and then very hesitant to pursue it.  I can't pretend to understand the feelings that are involved when someone gives up their child but I could hear some of them in my mom's voice.  She was so young and there were so many deeply personal and extenuating circumstances in her ultimate choice to place him for adoption.   In all the years that have followed she's wanted to find him -- she always said the hole in your heart never goes away -- but there was also a fear there that haunted her.  He just didn't want him to hate her for the decision she made.

Some years back I helped her fill out paperwork to place her name in the Illinois registries but when it got caught up in a few snafus she never completed the process.  I wanted her to -- and she wanted to -- but the fear was still overwhelming the desire.  As a genealogist I felt I had the tools at my disposal to help the process of finding him go faster, and the fact that he was my half-brother and my blood definitely spurred my own desire to know....but you simply wasn't my call.  It was hers.  She had to be ready and I wasn't going to force anything until she was.

Well, as I posted recently, Illinois adoption laws changed late last year.  I posted it here because when the laws changed I brought the subject up to my mother again and added that the new laws would make it easier for adopted children in Illinois to obtain their original birth certificates.  I wanted her to know that it was very possible those changes would allow her son a better chance to find her.

So on the 25th, when I got a vague email enquiring about my mother.....I just knew.

Of course I called her immediately and explained.  Though the possibility existed that it was one of her half-siblings (her mother remarried and had 5 children with her second husband that we have only met once back in the mid 70s) both of us didn't really think that it was that.   When I asked her if she'd like to think a few days before I answered the email she told me, "No. You go ahead and respond.  If I think for a few days I'll chicken out.  You do it."

So I did.

It's still way too early in this process of discovery to guess about how things will settle out.  So far he seems like a good man, who has risen over difficulties and made a good life for himself.  I had a good phone call with him and I look forward to getting to know him better.  I've waited a long time for this and I don't feel the need to rush it now.

But I'm not "big sissy" any more.  I'm the middle child.  And ya know....I don't think I'm going to mind.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Something of great significance happened to me and my family yesterday.

I will share the story here when the time is right, after we have the time to explore it all and absorb it properly.

But it's wonderful!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about my 4th-great-grandfather Samuel Browning.

Samuel is a cornerstone of this blog.  He is the reason I started doing The Browning Series over in my sidebar and he's the patriarch of the 'Browning Fifteen,' the total of his children with his two wives Margaret Markee and Sarah Ann (Bell) Gaddis.  His parentage is my Holy Grail.

He's also my brick wall.  As in walled up and fortified.  As in a know, the thing that even keeps dragons out?  I've known about his existence for over 20 years now and his parentage is nearly as clouded in mystery now as it was when I first saw "S & M Browning" on his son James' tombstone.

My original plan when I started this blog was to talk about Samuel's children -- introduce them all one by one -- and then tie them all together by going into detail about Samuel and his wives.  I've accomplished a lot on that already, as you can see by the amount of listings underneath 'The Browning Series' on my sidebar.  I've spoken of many of his children, and his grand- and great-grandchildren.  I just haven't moved as fast as I'd have liked and I haven't really been as dedicated to this blog as I was in the beginning.

That was what I've been thinking about in the last couple of days.  I was asking myself why.

I know why.

Sure, there's the frustration of continually beating my head against the wall that is Samuel.  I find a few things here and there, more details about his life and his movements, and it makes me thrilled and happy and I temporarily grow that much more determined to continue my search.  I know quite a bewildering amount about him, actually!  But he continues to stump me and the excitement fades and I eventually stall out.

There are many reasons.  I feel one of them is my comparative 'inexperience' when it comes to pre-1850 records.  I am sure I have more experience than I feel I do in this regard; I tell myself that my experiences in working the Browning vs. Beck case from 1837 on my sidebar must surely count for something!  However, the players in that case were known to me.

So what about the records that I know about.  Records?  Hah.  You're probably saying, go to wills and probates...but guess what?  Samuel doesn't HAVE any.   I know where he died -- he was living in Windsor, Shelby Co., IL in a log cabin -- and I know within a five year gap, likely within a 3 year gap (1865-1870, though probably closer to 1868) but I've been to the Shelby County courthouse and there were no wills and no intestate papers there.  No guardianship papers for his minor children Laura and Mary Medora, either.  His widow Sarah was still in Windsor in 1870 but around 1873, she moved to Putnam Co., MO to join her adult children from her first marriage.  (I thought about looking in the newspapers but the Shelbyville Democrat begins in 1876 and the Windsor Gazette in 1879. Bah!)

And let's not get me started on trying to find Samuel's father.  Wills, probates, etc., etc. for early Harrison County, Ohio?  Hah!  Good luck.  The same thing goes in Harrison County, but worse.    I have a very good idea that John Browning (found in the 1820/1830 censuses in Harrison Co.) is Samuel's father.  However, proving it?  Apparently a LOT of the county's old records were left out in the courthouse hallways back years ago.  Many were likely just taken from those old boxes by whoever wanted them, and finally they were all dumped out back and the Genealogical Society grabbed as many of them as they could (out of the dumpsters!!!) but goodness knows how many of them are permanently gone. 

I've exhausted a lot of the 'simpler' resources and I feel like I'm wading in a way too deep pool.  That, and I also get the feeling that I'm not completely utilizing the resources that I HAVE found.  This is why I'm writing this now.  I think it's time I stop waiting to blog about exploring all the resources I've got now.

I haven't, though, and as I said before, I know why.  Really why.  Because there was always someone working with me who was my cousin, my fellow Browning researcher, and my friend.   Patricia O'Connor. She was the lady I could always depend on to pick up the phone and listen to my natterings about this resource, or what this tiny clue might've meant, or where to look next.  The lady that understood who I was talking about so I didn't have to explain who the 5th cousin twice removed of this child was.....she knew, too.  We were in it together!  We celebrated finding new things together with laughter and excited phone calls at 6 am.   And Pat's been gone now for a few years and with her went some of my focus.  I just miss her so freaking much.  It's hard to work alone.

I told myself when she died that I'd continue on, for her.  I haven't done that because I feel adrift without her.  Add that to my 'chasing my tail' feelings, the frustration of not knowing where to go and what to do to go about finding Samuel and his father, and there you have it.  I just don't want to feel this any longer.  I want to find this, finally.  So I'm not going to wait to blog about Samuel.  I'll just do it.

So I'm trying to organize my research plan on Samuel and I'm going to lay it out here on my blog.  My intent is to get everything together that I've found over the last years and draw it up in such a way that I can see every step I've made and every step I've not yet explored.  I want to locate all the available records and tick each box off when I've looked.  Maybe that will help me see what I'm missing and maybe, just maybe, there will be a breakthrough.  I'd appreciate suggestions and comments about records that I might not have thought of during the time period of 1790-1840 in Ohio, and places to look in Shelby Co IL concerning death records that I also might have missed.

Bear with me as I do.  I hope I can make it all make sense.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - John Wesley Francis Browning's "Folly" in the Scientific American, 1864

This must have a few words of explanation, hence the 'almost' in the title.

John Wesley Francis Browning, the son of Samuel Browning and Margaret Markee, was -- according to one of his two entries in the 1860 census (Pleasantville Twn. in Cumberland Co., IL on 12 Jul 1860 and Pleasant Grove Twn, in Coles Co., IL on 17 Sept 1860) -- an engineer. 

According to my cousin Pat -- John's descendent -- John Wes Browning had built his 'machine' somewhere on property that he and his wife lived on in Cumberland Co. before they moved to Coles Co. and some took to calling it "Browning's Folly" because it never worked. 

If it didn't, perhaps he spent countless hours working diligently and perfecting his invention so that it would.  He was certainly proud of his efforts at any rate, as he had beautiful vellum patent papers drawn up with all his diagrams and he made sure to apply for a patent, filing the application in Mattoon.  The patent, number #44594, was dated 11 October 1864. 

The Scientific American published a small blurb in its magazine about his invention.  It is shown here.

This blurb, and the patent papers, are all that is left of John Wesley Francis Browning.  He seems to disappear sometime soon thereafter.  His wife Matilda is back in Cumberland Co., IL in 1867 but there is no trace of John.  She was living next door to her parents in 1870 -- still no John.

His daughter Sarah Viola 'Kate' Browning apparently had a falling out with her mother and took a picture of John, and his vellum patent papers, with her when she ran away to Terre Haute, IN in the early 1880's.

John is a mystery to me still.    You can read more about him and his family if you follow this link.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Eldridge Garrison Garrard

It's Tombstone Tuesday and that means we should post a picture of a tombstone but as you will see, I won't be posting one.

Tonight's subject is Eldridge Garrison Garrard.   He was born 3 Aug 1888 in Crawford Co., IL, and was the son of Robert Elbert Garrard and Louisa Adaline Eagleton.  Since Robert and Louisa are my grandma Beulah Ethel (Garrard) Browning's parents (and therefore my g-grandparents) this means Eldridge was my grandma's brother and my great-uncle.

I wish I had a tombstone picture to post for this little guy, but I don't.  He never had one.  It's a wonder anyone knows that he existed at all.

My grandma said that Eldridge was born with a cleft palate and that one cold January day in 1890, when he was almost two years old, Eldridge was toddling around in the house while his mother Louisa was doing her washing at the hearth.  He had climbed up on a chair, probably one that she had been sitting at doing her chores, and was bouncing on it in the way that babies do.  The chair tipped over and little Eldridge fell and hit his head on the edge of the stone fireplace.  Grandma said it took him a few days to die.

He died on the 18th of January, 1890, and was buried a few days after that in the Haskin Cemetery in Crawford Co., IL.  His gravesite is unmarked.

Grandma took me to the cemetery in 1995 and pointed to the patch of ground where Eldridge lies buried.  I have thought and thought about that today and have realized that I never took any photos of that area.  I am fairly certain I will remember where she pointed when I get back to the cemetery next summer.  At least I hope so.  My grandma is gone now.

My grandma would often tell me about her brother Eldridge. She never knew him -- he died ten years before she was born -- but I think she felt that she did and that he, like all her other siblings, was her brother.   Her parents certainly kept his memory alive and my grandma, in her turn, kept his memory alive that much longer by passing her memories down to me.

Sleep well, great uncle Eldridge.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I have been posting only sporadically on my blog recently because, like many other genealogists, I've been indexing the 1940.  Since I am DYING to see Illinois searchable, that's the state I've been indexing.  My blog will still be here when the indexing is over!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cecil(e)'s Letters - Say WHAT? A Mystery Solved...

For the last ten years since my beloved grandmother Beulah Ethel (Garrard) Browning died -- and for at least ten years before that -- there had been an ongoing mystery playing in my head about her younger years.  This 'mystery'  really wasn't much of a mystery.....not really......I thought I'd had it all figured out long ago.   The mystery part I always tried to fill in with 'details' was only because my grandmother never really shared too much information about it.

Hm.  I sound as clear as mud.  I should explain.

 As I've said in earlier posts, my grandparents were unusual for their times because they waited so long to marry.  My grandmother was 33 years old and my grandfather was 32 when they married in 1934.  They'd been seeing each other since 1927.  The Great Depression and responsibilities for taking care of other family members had extended their courtship.  Every time my grandma and I touched upon the subject of her relative spinsterhood and whether or not she'd had other boys she was sweet on before meeting and marrying my grandfather, she would steer the conversation away from particulars and just talk in rather sweeping generalities.  However, at some point the conversation would always come around to one name.  Cecil Buchanan.  Or at least that's how it always seemed to me.  I never asked much about him and I just put two and two together in my head and assumed that he was the boy that she'd liked and she didn't want to go into details.  Maybe because he'd broken her heart?  I didn't know...and honestly I didn't come right out and ask.  I just made the connections and filed the name away in my head.  I assumed I knew the story.

Yes, all the genealogists in the room are snickering behind their hands.  Don't think I can't hear you.

I've also stated before that I inherited my grandmother's cedar chest and her umpteen million boxes of pictures and letters and....stuff.  Well, imagine my surprise when I found a lock of strawberry blonde hair all tied up in a ribbon, dated 1917!  It's the lock of hair and the ribbon in the picture at the top of this post.  I was all excited when I found it.  It's got his name written on it, and a lock of his hair.....and his birthdate, and her birthdate.  Awwwwwww, how teenager-like and romantic!  Ah ha, I thought! Here's some solid proof that Grandma WAS sweet on him!

Some time later, in another box buried in her things, I came across two letters that Cecil had written.  One was postmarked 1920 from Bloomington, IN and the other 1923 from Mattoon, IL.  I read through them and they seemed rather warm and loving but also rather detached.  I thought that a bit strange, really, but how was I to know hoe young people courted in letters at the time?  Anyway, after reading them over again a few times I grew curiouser and curiouser and thought hey, I have him somwhere in 1920!  I should look him up in the census!

I don't know why I hadn't done it before.  It was one of those 'slip my mind' things, I guess.  But I sat down letters in hand and started looking him up in the census.

I found him fairly easily in the 1920 Bloomington, Monroe CO IN census:

But....wait.  What's that?   Do you see it?   I thought that Cecil was a boy and this one is a girl.  Grandma always pronounced it SEE-SIL and not SUH-SEAL so this Cecile?  Hm, I thought, that can't be right.  I know,  I'll search the 1910 and see where this Cecile is:

I found 'Cecile Buchanan' in the 1910, all Crawford Co., IL.  Huh.  Right where my grandma was living at the same time.  And what's that again?  A GIRL?  Again?  Once is a coincidence maybe, or a mistake, but twice?

Ok, I thought. Is it possible that the CECIL my grandma had always talked about, and the CECILE I was looking at it possible that my grandma was talking about her BEST FRIEND???

After another few days of poking about I was beginning to think just that.  I found Cecile's marriage to Hilbert Cox and found a picture of her tombstone on a Warrick Co IN site.  Attached to the picture was an email address. I sent an email to that address and waited with bated breath.  It didn't take me long to receive a reply and to begin a correspondence with a wonderful lady who is Cecile's granddaughter.  What was even more fun was that Cecile's daughter was still alive!

I shared a long and informative phone call with both of them and I was able to compare much of what was in the letters to what these lovely people already knew about their mother and grandmother.  I learned an interesting fact very quickly, though....even though they spell it Cecile, it's pronounced SEE-SIL.  I also finally learned who the Margaret Buchanan was who took one of my favorite pictures of my grandmother, walking home from school with a metal lunch pail in 1915. She was Cecile's younger sister.

The evidence is overwhelming.  Cecile and my grandmother were chums.  Friends.  They were friends from at least 1915 until 1923, the date of the last letter.  My grandma kept a lock of Cecile's hair and even though the birthdate written on it is wrong (Cecile was actually born in Feb 1900) the people mentioned in the letters reference both Cecile's family (Helen, Margaret, Grandma Dunlap, and Elba Mudhenk) and my grandmother's family (her mother Louisa and sister Julia.)  Their tone in the letters I mentioned above?  It all made sense now.

So the mystery of the identity of 'Cecil Buchanan' is finally solved.  There's just one more thing I wonder about.  Grandma must have known what I was thinking about her Cecil.  Why didn't my grandma set me straight?

The joke's on me, grandma.  I love you dearly, you sly devil, you.  I bet you're chuckling now.  Goodness knows I am.  Hahahah!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday & The Browning Series Pt 10(e) - Susannah Olliezona Crago

With this post I combine two different sorts of genealogy 'prompts.' 

The first is Tombstone Tuesday, so today I feature the stone of little Susannah Olliezona Crago. This simple stone is at the Labette City Cemetery in Labette County, Kansas.

The second 'prompt' is one more of my own making.   I've been doing a series now for the last couple of years that I call "The Browning Series."
Samuel and Margaret Browning had thirteen children and after Margaret's death, Samuel chose a widow named Sarah Ann (Bell) Gaddis as his second wife.  Samuel and Sarah had two more children together.   My plan has been to feature each one of the fifteen children in a separate post (and often, their children as well!) and finally tie the family together with a discussion of their parents.

Susannah Olliezona Crago was the fifth child of Isaac Fordyce Crago and Susannah Browning.   Susannah Olliezona was born in 1871 in Noble County, Indiana.  She lived in Noble County for a few years after her birth but moved with her parents to Labette County, Kansas at some point around the year 1879. She was found in the census in June of 1880 living with her parents in Fairview Township in Labette County.

Olliezona is such a unique name, isn't it?  Ever since the first time I saw it I've liked it.  It rolls off the tongue.  Because of the sound of her name I always pictured her as a sweet little blonde child, her two pig-tails bouncing as she played in the Kansas sunshine.  Silly old sentimental me.

But she got sick one day......maybe.  Maybe she got injured somehow, or maybe she had a congenital problem.  Who knows.  But at some point between the time of the 1880 census in June and December of 1880, this sweet little girl died, and most likely in Fairview Township.   We'll never know for sure what killed her but as her mother Susannah's date of death was 1881, is it possible that the two were victims of some sort of illness?

Little Olliezona was buried at the Labette City Cemetery in Labette County, Kansas.  Rest in peace, sweetheart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Peek-A-Boo!

They say a picture can say a thousand words?  Bah.  I always have one or two more to add to that, ya know!  "Wordless" is a foreign concept for me.  So here's the picture...

Some of the explanation is under the picture but I just have to add my few words.  I wish I knew for sure who the woman was sitting on the porch holding the two adorable little pudgy toddlers, but I don't.  It might possibly be Daisie Catherine (Rush) Browning, the first wife of Roy Browning, my grandfather Virgil's brother.  If this is Daisie, she is holding Frederick Leroy Browning (b. 1928) and Esther Mae Browning (b. 1929) and would date the picture to around 1931 rather than the c1929 I have listed. Whoever the lady is, she is smiling a mile wide, though, isn't she?  I also don't know the identities of the older boy to the left nor the older girl to the right with her finger to her lips looking puzzled.  She's clasping the hand of a smaller girl who is only half in the frame.  I don't know who the smaller girl is either.  I also like the wagon off in the distance.

I do recognize my grandfather Virgil Joseph Browning in the big hat.  He's smiling, too.  It must've been a funny moment they captured.  And that lady peeking out behind the barn with an impish look about her?  My grandmother  Beulah Ethel Garrard.  At this point my grandparents weren't married yet -- that didn't happen until 1934 -- but they were dating.

Peek a boo, Grandma!  I see you!

I also recognize the "old home place," the Browning family farm.  Well...I call it the Browning family farm, but it's really the Nichols place.  My 3rd-g-grandfather Joseph Nichols bought the land (in 1849) and built the house and established it.  It was just passed from his daughter Eliza Ursula (Nichols) Swan down to Ursula's daughter Estella Jane (Swan) Browning and then to Stella's sons Virgil, Roy and Emerson Browning. 

I recognize that porch, too, and those dark planks to either side of the door.  I remember those well.  I played many a day on that porch.  This picture sure does make me smile.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy 69th, Mom!

My mom is 69 today.

From the beautiful little flaxen-haired girl in the pink dress:

To the young girl smiling in a school photo and playing in a kiddie pool: the newly minted Mrs. Browning.....

to a mother, quite understandably exhausted:

 She's the best friend a person could ask for and a helluva nurse to boot....

...and the most awesome grandmother in the world!

 She's a lot of things to me.  She's not just my mom, she's a friend.  She's the woman I turn to when I need a level head with a splash of cold water or a shoulder to cry on and a comforting word of advice. She's got a will of iron and a feisty soul and more smarts in her little finger than most people I know.  I'm a lucky lady to call her my mom.  I love you, Mom.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy 48th, Mom and Dad!

My parents are celebrating 48 years together today.  Congratulations, Mom and Dad!  May you have many, many more.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New Illinois Adoption Laws

As of last November, the state of Illinois has changed their laws regarding adoptions.  Adult adopted persons (21+) born in Illinois can request non-certified copies of their original birth certificates through the Illinois Department of Public Health.

There are slight differences in the laws depending on whether the adopted person was born before 1 Jan 1946 (birth parents of children born after this date may request that their names be deleted from the non-certified birth certificate within their lifetimes, and all birth parents may indicate their preferences regarding contact with the adult birth children) but this new law is still the most open that the state of Illinois has ever been.


Go here to read more about the new laws:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday - The Murder of William Hoy

I wrote about William Hoy a few weeks ago and completely forgot that I should have included him on a Black Sheep Sunday!  So do click here and read his story!

Hallelulah! (or however you say it in German)

Tonight my good friend Suzi (she writes a new genealogy blog here so do go there!) and I were talking genealogy, as we often do when we're together.   I was telling her of my longstanding troubles finding the passenger lists for either of my mother's German grandparents, the Deppermans and the Papsteins.

In the Papstein case (August Karl Papstein, his wife Anna, and their daughter Minna) I have some naturalization records and a story written for their 50th wedding anniversary about how they met and where they lived in Germany (Koslin District, Neu Lobitz/Janicow, Kreiß Dramburg, Hinterpommern, Prussia (now Poland) and what August did (served in the German Cavalry training Lippanzer stallions) and the date that they came over (29 Mar 1889, no sure place where they disembarked, but they ended up in Peotone, Will Co., IL.) I've had no luck finding them in the lists, however.  None.  Grrrr.

Then there was the even trickier one -- my great-grandfather Franz (Frank) Herman Depperman.  Franz ended up marrying Minna, the daughter of August and Anna.)

I'd been looking online for Franz for years, and in books for years before that, with no luck whatsoever.  I told Suzi the little I thought I knew --  that family stories had been that Franz had come over from Germany as a teenager and had spent some time in Pennsylvania as a barber before finding his way to Peotone in Will Co., IL.  As the years passed I wondered if these stories were completely true because I found that his mother Henrietta had died in Peotone, so that meant she'd come over too.  I also learned that she had married at least twice more....once to a Schmidt and once to a Johann Koehn.  She was buried in Peotone next to Johann.

 I'd tried every possible combination of spellings that I could think of to look for Franz and his mother (and for Johann too since the immigration date was 1897 on the 1900 census.) Nothing.

I was convinced that both my German families had just grown wings and flapped over here.

Anyway, Suzi was looking over the lists on Ancestry with me and out of the blue she said,  "Have you tried D-O-E-P-P-E-R-M-A-N-N?"

*blink*  Huh.  No.  No, I hadn't.  I typed it in, and POW!  There it was!  Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I am fairly certain I squealed.

The stories were true or at least partially so.  My great-grandfather didn't come over alone, but he was a teenager, and he came over with his mother and stepfather (mistranscribed as Kolhn) on the ship Switzerland out of Antwerp, Belgium.  Whatever were they doing in Belgium?  They landed in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, in May 1896, and there's the Pennsylvania connection.   They were from either Bramburg or Dramburg -- it's hard to read.  Which one do you think it is?  I hope Dramburg since so were my Papsteins, and even if the two families didn't know each other in Germany (which I wonder about -- Franz's mother-in-law Anna Papstein's maiden name was Koehn!) it allows me to concentrate on one area of Germany for further research.  Their passage was paid for by a man named Ferd/Fred/Ferdinand Nickel, Johann Koehn's son in law.  Is that Johann's daughter's husband from a first marriage, or Henriette's?  Who knows?  Anyway, they were going to join Ferdinand in Peotone.

I looked down the list and saw another teen going to Peotone named Gustav Borwig.  He states he is going to be with his uncle Ferdinand Nickel. So who is Gustav?

Well, I have more avenues of research now.  I will have to find out who all these people are and that'll be fodder for another post.  As it was, I jumped up and gave Suzi a big old hug.

She said, "My bill will be in the mail."

Now THAT'S a debt I'll be happy to pay!  *cue genealogical Happy Dance music*

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy 71st, Dad!

My dad is 71 today.

From the infant held in his mother's arms:
To the young Elvis lookalike:
 ...and playing in a rock and roll band.....

To the newly married husband:

To the loving son taking care of his aging mother, my adored grandmother:

And of course, a fabulous father and grandfather!

For the many roles you've played in your 71 years and to the many people in your life that you've touched, I want to thank you. Keep on keeping on.   I love you, dad.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Browning Series Pt. 7g, or The Elusive William D. 'Jim' Hoy

A couple posts ago I shared the life story of Samuel Browning Hoy, the second child of John Hoy and Julia Ann Browning.  Today I"m going to feature Samuel's "double cousin" William D. Hoy.  William and Samuel were double cousins because William's father James was John Hoy's younger brother and his mother Margaret was Julia Ann Browning's younger sister.

There are always people in your family tree that stump you and William is one of these.  I was lucky to find him, actually -- without the help of some cousins (descendants of William's older brother Edward Jasper Hoy) I don't know that I would have found him!  He was a traveling man, that's for sure, and a lot of what he did to make a living was on the other side of the law.

I wrote briefly about William in this earlier post, and in this one, when I discussed his parents James Hoy and Margaret Browning.  At that time I teased him a bit by saying he was a bootlegger and died an interesting death.  Now's the time to reveal all!

William was born on 26 Nov 1860 in Palestine in Crawford County, Illinois.  He was one of the youngest of James and Margaret's brood.  His father James was a farmer and no doubt the family lived on a farm in the vicinity for some years prior to the Civil War and afterward.  They were still living in Palestine in July of 1863 when James was one of many men listed from the Palestine Princt as a Class 2 draftee.  James stated he was 44 at the time.  I've never found any proof that James was called to serve. 

I don't know much about the draft lists and it would benefit me to learn more.  I know the difference between Class 1 (men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years and unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five) and Class 2 (pretty much everyone else) and that men who were mentally or physically impaired, the only son of a widow, the son of infirm parents, or a widower with dependent children were exempt from the draft.  But if they were exempt did that mean they weren't written down on the lists at all?  I ask because James Hoy was listed.

I am not sure when things went south for William and his family but I can narrow it down to a window of a few years.  William's mother Margaret died at some point between the birth of his younger brother Zera (likely early 1862) and October of 1864, when his father married Amelia Funk.  Since I have no death record, burial record or tombstone to refer to concerning Margaret's death, this is where the Drafts list comes in.  Right now my window for Margaret's death is 1862-1864.  If the rule was "if a widower with children, do not list on draft records" and James is listed, then it would stand to reason that James was not yet a widower in July 1863. His name on this list would narrow the window of Margaret's death a bit, to between July 1863 and October of 1864.

William probably barely remembered his mother, if at all.  He had better opportunity to remember his stepmother but even her time with them was short-lived.  She was with the Hoy family for at least one year but less than five; by 1870 she was living with her brother Augustus Funk.  By all appearances James Hoy had died between 1865-1870 and his children were scattered out all over Crawford County.  What I find sad is that by the age of 10, William had lost both his parents.

In 1870 there is a bit of a question about where William was living.  He appears to be listed twice in this census: once in Hutsonville Township in a poorhouse run by a man named William Beers with his younger brother Zera and a woman named Sarah Hoy (perhaps his eldest sister?) and second in the household of Roland and Elvira (Ellison) Fuson in Honey Creek Township. Guardianship records for any of the Hoy children would be fantastic but so far I've come up with nothing. 

William’s whereabouts from 1870 until 1910 are sketchy. He never married or had children (but that might be up for argument?) and was by all accounts a traveling man. He has been particularly hard to trace after 1870 because throughout his life he gave either misleading or false information to the census takers.  He was at least migrating northwards because the next time I find him for certain (in 1910) he had settled in the village of Ashton in Fremont County, Idaho. He was boarding with Charles Nordvall, a divorced man from Sweden who'd come to the US in 1871.  Nordvall was the proprietor of a livery and William was listed as a carpenter.  

During this time (1902-1910) William made friends with a man named Benjamin Alvin Matthews and according to all the sources I have, this friendship was a long term one.  It was also to end in tragedy.

Benjamin Alvin Matthews was born in July 1858 near Scipio in Millard Co., Utah and was the son of James Matthews and Mary Ann Johnson of England.  In 1900 Alvin and his wife Mary McArthur and their children (including a son named Wallace) were living in Scipio. Around 1902 or so Alvin and his family moved to the Green Timber district in Fremont County, Idaho.  By 1910 Alvin had become a widower (his wife Mary died in 1904) and had moved to the Green Timber precinct.  By 1920 he had moved again, living in dwelling number 105 in the Warm River precinct.

In dwelling number 156 was a man named "James" Hoy. "James" (now listed as a Snake River trapper) stated that he was 55 years old, had been born in Iowa, and that he didn't know where either of his parents had been born except that they were from the "U.S."  That this man is William is almost certain.  He'd just decided, I suspect, to use his brother's name.  I also have some reason to suspect he'd been using it for a while.

Anyway, by 1930, William had moved to another part of Fremont County, in the Green Timber Precinct near Ashton.  He made a homestead about a mile or so from his friend Alvin Matthew’s ranch.  This time, he stated his name as William D. Hoy and that he had been born in Kentucky.  He also stated that his father had been born in Scotland and his mother in Ireland.  He again claimed he was a river trapper.

 I know some of you are wondering how on earth I figured out that James Hoy and William D. Hoy were the same person. Well, I don't know that I would have if I hadn't had a helpful bunch of newspaper reports to assist me!  They're all posted here.  Take a look at all of them.

 These sources also indicate that William entered into some sort of business partnership with Alvin Matthews. I don't know for certain but my best guess is the manufacture and distribution of  whiskey, for sometime in1935 William was held in the Fremont County jail in St. Anthony on charges of selling whiskey to the enrollees in the Porcupine Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp near his homestead.  Charges were not pressed and William was released.

One Sunday, on 29 March 1936, Alvin Matthews ventured up to William’s cabin east of Ashton for a visit but did not return.  The next morning Matthew’s son Wallace went up to the cabin to find his father and found that Matthews had shot William six times, killing him.  The two men had argued sometime during the course of the day or into the evening.  The coroner determined that William had most likely died sometime on Sunday afternoon or evening. The remains of a still and a quantity of whiskey were found at the scene and Matthews was highly intoxicated.  Matthews was placed under arrest on Monday morning and held in the Fremont County Jail.  During his stay he acted strangely and spoke of suicide.  Three days later, on Thursday, 2 April 1936, Matthews was found dead in his jail cell.  The coroner’s jury ruled his death a suicide. You can read more about it in the article to the right.

William was buried in the Riverview Cemetery in St. Anthony near the Snake River in Fremont County, Idaho in an unmarked grave.  Benjamin Alvin Matthews was buried at the Pineview Cemetery in Ashton and you can see a picture of his tombstone here, taken by John Warnke and posted on Find-A-Grave in 2006.

Obviously the deed that Benjamin Alvin Matthews did weighed upon him heavily.  Who knows what happened up in that cabin; if the men were drinking and got angry, whether they argued about past slights or if they weren't seeing eye to eye on any of the business dealings they had with each other.  Maybe one too many insults were flung around along with the alcohol and the guns.  Whatever happened, once he sobered up Alvin could not live with the thing that he'd done, which was kill his best friend.  As I read all these articles and absorb what happened in the aftermath of the shooting and subsequent suicide, I don't find anything in my heart other than sadness. A lot was lost that day, a lot more than just William's life.  Alvin's children and grandchildren lost their loved one as well.

A few more final thoughts and theories about the elusive William D. 'Jim' Hoy.  In my last post I asked that Jodi Blackhawk contact me if she would.  I did so because she left me a note about a possible connection.  I will speak more about that connection now and you'll see why I hope she will contact me. 

I said earlier that I didn't have any record of William's whereabouts from 1870-1910.  That's 40 years!  A man can marry and have grown children in that span.  Maybe this is something that William did. From members of his brother Edward's descendents I learned that William ran afoul of the law by bootlegging whiskey to the Indians in Idaho.  Though he ended up in Ashton in Fremont County and died there at the hand of his friend, some of his life in the interim might make more sense if he, is, indeed, the Jim Hoy that Jodi mentions in her comment on this post.

According to her elders, Jodi's 2nd-great-grandmother Yeehavitz, a Shoshoni born on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in 1868, married a James/Jim Hoy and had two children with him. (Fort Hall, a mere 110 miles from Ashton, was a stop on both the Oregon and California Trails and exists in present-day Bannock and Bingham Counties.)  Jim left Yeehavitz to look for work but was gone so long that she remarried, to a Joseph Blackhawk.  Jim Hoy apparently came back years later and Joseph told him never to return or risk losing his life.  Jim never did come back and Yeehavitz's son by Jim, Henry, was Jodi's great-grandfather.

Could the Jim Hoy who left Fort Hall be the same man as William D. Hoy, who used Jim as his nickname in Fremont Co., ID?  It's certainly possible.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

JodiBlackHawk, Get In Touch with Me!

It was my intent to feature William D. Hoy (the son of James Hoy and Margaret Browning) on my blog today but I think I will continue to write his story and post a plea instead.  Back in February a person named JodiblackHawk left a comment for me and I am hopeful that she will get in touch with me. 

She may have some information for me, and I may have some information for her.  She speaks of a Jim/James Hoy and I'm wrapped up in William, and I know it's too early to say for certain -- but we may very well be talking about the same person.

Jodi, if you're reading this, please contact me at the email address on my sidebar under my picture!

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 29th, 2012 - Scanfest!

I have never participated in a Scanfest before but I am bound and determined to start doing so.  The amount of records, photos, etc., that I have is simply astounding.  I was the only repository for my paternal grandmother AND grandfather's families and those people (I'm sorry, but it has to be said) were packrats!  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  Packrats + Genealogy = Happiness!

Anyway, the Scanfest is being hosted by the AnceStories blog on Sunday, April 29th, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time (that's 1 PM - 4 PM for those of us in Central.)  There will be live chatting along with the scanning to make it less tedious -- which is a brilliant idea.  For more information, hightail it over to this blog entry!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Browning Series Part 3b, or Samuel Browning Hoy, the Young Soldier

Today I will share what I know about Samuel Browning Hoy, one of the sons of Julia Ann Browning and her husband, John Hoy. I hope you'll remember the Browning vs. Beck trial that I featured on my blog last year, but if you don't, take a look at the sidebar on the right. I promise you that you won't be bored reading the full case but just in case, here's a short summary: It was 1837. Julia was sixteen and had given birth to a son named Washington out of wedlock. She and her father accused James Beck and sued him for Bastardy, child support, and Trespass On The Case. It's a long case, with a famous lawyer (Edwin McMasters Stanton, later to become President Buchanan's Attorney General and President Lincoln's Secretary of War), likely a famous juror (Emanuel Custer, the father of General George!) and some fascinating insights into how differently trials were conducted then than they are now. It's a fascinating case and you should go read it now. Go, go, go!

Back now? Good! Okay, so some years after the trial (in 1843) Julia married John Hoy and their story was one I told here. This post is about their second child, Samuel Browning Hoy. Of all John and Julia's children, I know the most about him.

Samuel was born on the seventh day of July in 1848 in Harrison County, Ohio. He was living with his parents and his older brother William (b. c1846) and younger sister Josephine (b. Aug 1850) in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in the 1850 census. Samuel's half-brother, Washington (the result of Julia's liaison with James Beck, b. Mar 1837) wasn't living with his mother and half-siblings; he was living with Julia's parents Samuel and Margaret (Markee) Browning.

Sometime between 1851-1855 the Hoys joined most of the rest of the Browning family relations and moved on to Crawford County, Illinois. The 1855 IL state census makes it appear that John Hoy had died, because Julia and her sons Samuel and William (by this time both Washington and Josephine were also dead) were again living with Julia's parents, Samuel and Margaret (Markee) Browning.

By 1860 Samuel's mother Julia had married again to James E. 'Melton' Legg and was living with him, his five children, and her nephew Elias Browning. You'd think she'd have her boys with her but that wasn't the case -- both William Hoy and Samuel Hoy, aged only 15 and 13 at the time, were once again living with their grandfather Samuel Browning and his second wife Sarah Ann (Bell) Gaddis Browning in Crawford County. (Samuel's first wife, and Samuel Browning Hoy's grandmother, Margaret, had died in 1856.)

The following year Samuel B. Hoy (perhaps along with his older brother William M.J.) moved with his grandfather and step-grandmother to Windsor in Shelby County, Illinois.  I'm not sure about William M.J.  If he did also move to Shelby County he'd returned to Crawford County before February of 1865, when he mustered into service in Company H of the 152nd Illinois Infantry out of he town of Palestine.  I'll mention William again in a moment.  Back to Samuel B.

When the Civil War started Samuel was thirteen and much too young to sign up immediately. He waited until 1864 (when he was 16) before he traveled to Mattoon, a city in Coles County about 15 miles northeast of Windsor. On 21 March 1864 he signed his volunteer enlistment papers, claiming that he was eighteen years old. He was assigned to the 54th Illinois Infantry, Union forces, and was told to muster in on the 30th. But on 28 March 1864, the veterans of the 54th Illinois Infantry were on furlough and had been ordered to reassemble in Mattoon. According to the Adjutant General’s Report, “an organized gang of Copperheads led by Sheriff O’Hair attacked some men of the Regiment at Charleston, killing Major Shubal York, Surgeon, and four privates, and wounding Colonel G. M. Mitchell. One hour later the Regiment arrived from Mattoon and occupied the town, capturing some of the most prominent traitors.” Copperheads were also known as Peace Democrats and were a group of anti-abolitionist Midwesterners.

Two days later, on 30 March 1864, Samuel mustered into Company F. His muster papers say he had sandy hair and gray eyes and was 5' 10".  That's pretty tall for a boy his age!  Anyway, his regiment was immediately on the march and the young Samuel could not keep up. During the march Samuel began growing lame in his left foot. The company moved to Duvall’s Bluff and Clarendon and fought General Shelby, and in time Samuel’s lame foot degenerated into a running sore with small bones working their way out of the upper front part of the foot. The foot prevented him from marching and he had to be hauled in an ambulance part of the way back to Duvall’s Bluff. He was given light duty for the remainder of his service. His regiment was then assigned to guard a section of the Memphis and Little Rock railroad. Many of his regiment were captured during a battle near the railroad, but Samuel’s company was spared.

I said I'd mention Samuel B.'s older brother, William M.J.  As I said earlier, William had also joined the war, mustering into service out of Palestine in Crawford County, IL, in February of 1865.  According to the muster and descriptive rolls of Company H, William was 6’0” with dark hair, dark eyes and a dark complexion.  His regiment was assigned to duty as a railroad guard for the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad until July of 1865.  A month before that, on 2 June 1865, William died of an unknown disease (most likely smallpox) in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  I haven't ever been able to locate his burial.

On 20 August 1865, two months before he mustered out, Samuel was hospitalized for chronic diarrhea in the General Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was released for duty on 28 August 1865. Samuel mustered out on 15 October 1865 and was discharged at Camp Butler on 26 October 1865.

Sometime after his discharge Samuel went to a party at the home of Cornelius Stephenson of Robinson. According to Charles F. Huls and Sarah Ann (Huls) Browning, the spouses of Samuel’s first cousins Margaret Ann Browning and Thomas Nevitt Browning (children of James Browning), Samuel did not dance because of his lame foot but walked with a cane. Samuel was employed by Martin B. Woodworth between 1866 and 1870 as a day laborer. Martin also employed Effie Emmaline Browning (Samuel’s first cousin and the daughter of Samuel J. Browning) as a domestic servant. Samuel worked for Martin out in the fields but Martin claimed Samuel would “frequently give out on account of his lame foot.”

Samuel married Emily Ellen McCarter, the daughter of Samuel G. McCarter and Polly Ann Cannon, on 11 September 1875 in Crawford County. Emily was born on 5 July 1851 in Crawford County. Samuel and Emily Ellen settled in Montgomery Township in Crawford County and had four children (John, Charley, Lillie and Oscar.) In the mid-1880’s Samuel pursued a soldier’s pension, which was granted, and Samuel and Emily spent the remainder of their married lives in Heathsville and Flat Rock in Montgomery Township.

Emily died on 2 February 1930 in Flat Rock and was buried on 4 February 1930. After Emily’s death, Samuel went to live with his son John William Hoy. John, who never married, took care of Samuel for the remainder of his life.

Here's where it gets interesting. When he took Samuel in to take care of him John William applied for an increase in pension for Samuel and during the filing, documents were prepared that seemed to support Samuel’s original statements to his recruiting officer that he had been eighteen years of age at the time of his enlistment. I have copies of Samuel's original soldier's pension files and one of the documents within is a copy of his enlistment papers. This document, signed in March of 1864, specifically states that Samuel was eighteen (which would place his birth in 1845-6.) These documents, along with Samuel’s typed state death certificate and the typed county clerk’s copy of his death certificate, give his year of birth as 1845.

However, I also have his original death certificate. It is handwritten. Take a look at the listed date of birth. Don't you think there is clearly a numeral "8" underneath that numeral “5”? I do.

While it is possible that Samuel had been born in 1845 there is stronger evidence to make a case for the 1848 date. In the 1850 census Samuel was two years of age; in the 1860 census he was thirteen. On the birth certificate of his second child, Charles (born in March 1879) he stated he was thirty years of age. At the birth of his third child, Amy Lillian (born in March 1881) he claimed he was thirty-two years old. As these birth certificates were prepared at the time of the event and not years afterward (as his pension documents were) only one conclusion can safely be drawn: I think that Samuel or his relatives desired to protect his youthful decision to claim lawful age at the time of enlistment (not to mention making sure that the government couldn't demand his pension money back for lying on his enlistment papers!) In reality, Samuel was not yet sixteen years old when he entered into service in the Civil War.

Samuel died on 3 April 1931 in Flat Rock in Crawford County and was buried on 5 April 1931. Both he and Emily are buried in the Robinson New Cemetery in Robinson Township in Crawford County, Illinois.