Browning Township History

Browning is one of the fractional townships lying on the eastern border of Schuyler County. It was named in honor of Hon. O. H. Browning, of Quincy, United States Senator from Illinois and for many years a prominent attorney.

The Illinois River and Sugar Creek form the southern boundary of Browning Township, and along these waterways are high bluffs. The general land surface is broken and, in the early days, was covered with a heavy growth of valuable timber. This has all been cleared away save along the streams, and the land put in cultivation.

William Robertson was the first settler in Browning Township. He came to Schuyler County from Kentucky in 1826 and built his cabin on Section 16 beside a bubbling spring of fresh. clear water. He was a young man, full of energy and fond of adventure and skilled in the art of woodcraft. He located there on account of the abundance of wild game and unmindful of the fact that his nearest neighbor was six miles away. Bee-hunting was a profitable business in those pioneer days, and Mr. Robertson was not slow to realize it. Fur-bearing animals were also numerous there, and their pelts found ready market in St. Louis, and frequent trips were made down the Illinois River by Mr. Robertson in his canoe.

Soon after locating in Browning Township Mr. Robertson was married to Miss Elizabeth Kirklin by Squire Isaac Lane, and a family of nine children was born to them. One son, Joel Robertson, still resides on the old homestead and Alexander has his home close by. Malcomb Robertson. another son is also a resident of Browning Township.

In August. 1828, four brothers, Thomas T., William, Henry and Hartwell Lancaster, came to Browning from Kentucky and located on Section 22. The following year their mother and a younger brother, Gabriel joined them. They made permanent homes in the township, and their descendants continue to reside there.

Thomas T. Lancaster, the oldest of the brothers, was born January 28, 1807, and lived to the ripe old age of almost ninety-nine years, his death occurring January 24, 1906. He was married March 1, 1831 to Miss Elizabeth Jackson, and the following year located on Section 10, where be lived the remainder of his life.

Isaac Lane, also from Kentucky, settled in Browning on the southwest quarter of Section 16 in 1828. He was accompanied by his wife and their child was the first born in the township.

Shelton Luttrell a veteran of the War of 1812, and George W. Justus, both from Tennessee, were settlers of the year 1828, and were accompanied by their families. Mr. Luttrell settled on Section 16 and Mr. Justus near Ridgeville.

John M. Campbell, a native of North Carolina, located on Section 14 in 1829, and Stephen Robertson and wife, of Kentucky, also came that same year, but in 1831 removed to Macoupin County, Ill. Other pioneers of 1831 were John Baker of Tennessee, who settled on Section 23, and George Garrison, who made his home on Section 29.

George Skiles, who became a resident of Browning in the early 'thirties, first located in Schuyler County December 2, 1826, when he built a cabin on Section 16 in Rushville Township. He was a soldier of the war of 1812 and was with Gen. Jackson in the battle of New Orleans.  In 1816 he located in Indiana, moved from there to Kentucky, and later to Missouri in 1819, where he lived until be took up his home in Schuyler County. Mr. Skiles was Coroner of Schuyler in 1830, and held the first inquest in the county over the body of George Everett who was murdered by James Morgan.

Jonathan Reno, a native of Tennessee, was one of the pioneers of Schuyler County, locating in Bainbridge Township in 1825. From there be removed to Section 16, Rushville township where he resided until 1830, when he took up his home in McDonough County. He afterward lived in Iowa and finally removed to Missouri, where he died. Mr. Reno had ten children, and of these Jonathan Reno, Jr., was the only one who became a permanent resident of Schuyler County. His life was spent in the county with the exception of the years 1842-43, which were spent in Iowa and, in 1849, he located in Browning Township. Mr. Reno was married to Miss Eliza Thornton, who had come from East Tennessee in 1826, and she is one of the few surviving pioneers of the county who came here previous to 1830. Mrs. Reno makes her home with her son, B. F. Reno, and has the full enjoyment of all her faculties in her ripe old age.

The first school taught in Browning Township was presided over by Nathaniel Grover who came from Tennessee and opened his school here in 1835.

The first mill in Browning Township was erected on the east bank of Sugar Creek, in section 20, in 1829, by George Skiles, David Wallace and Alfred C. Wallace. At first it was rigged for a sawmill, but burrs were added in 1831 to grind wheat and corn. Thomas Justus also built a mill above the site of this one in 1829, which was a combined saw and grist-mill.

The village of Browning, which is the only incorporated village in Schuyler County, was surveyed and platted by Leonidas Horney for Robert Dilworth, and the plat on record bears date of May 11, 1848.

John Lippencott, who located in the township in 1829, built his cabin on the present site of the village of Browning, and has the honor of being the first settler. Peter Holmes was another of the early residents, locating there in 1830.

The first merchant in Browning was James Austin, who opened a general store there in 1849. Others of the early merchants were Benjamin Kirkbride, A. L. Wells, R. R. Dilworth, George McEvans, Albert and Marion Bates, G. B. and Wiley Hollingsworth.

The first school in the village was taught by Miss Dilworth and the first school house was built in 1854. The village now has a fine brick school building and employs three teachers.

The fisheries at Browning constitute one of the important industries of the village and a large business is done in this branch of trade. Just now the village is having a business boom, as it were, and a bank and a newspaper have lately been established, the histories of which appear in their respective chapters in this volume.

The village of Osceola, which has later been renamed Bader, was laid out by Jeremiah Stumm for Samuel Fowler, August 5, 1870. It is situated on the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 2, and is a thrifty and prosperous little village.

Population of the township in 1900, including Browning town, 1,480, that of the village being 455.

Excerpted from Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, edited by Howard F. Dyson.
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen for Schuyler County ILGenWeb

Copyright 1999-2006 Judi Gilker ; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with the information.

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