BrowningTownship History

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

The Illinois River and SugarCreek form the southern boundary of Browning Township, and along thesewaterways are high bluffs. The general land surface is broken and, in theearly days, was covered with a heavy growth of valuable timber. This hasall been cleared away save along the streams, and the land put in cultivation.

William Robertson was thefirst settler in Browning Township. He came to Schuyler County from Kentuckyin 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 andskilled in the art of woodcraft. He located there on account of the abundanceof wild game and unmindful of the fact that his nearest neighbor was sixmiles away. Bee-hunting was a profitable business in those pioneer days,and Mr. Robertson was not slow to realize it. Fur-bearing animals werealso numerous there, and their pelts found ready market in St. Louis, andfrequent trips were made down the Illinois River by Mr. Robertson in hiscanoe.

Soon after locating in BrowningTownship Mr. Robertson was married to Miss Elizabeth Kirklin by SquireIsaac Lane, and a family of nine children was born to them. One son, JoelRobertson, still resides on the old homestead and Alexander has his homeclose by. Malcomb Robertson. another son is also a resident of BrowningTownship.

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

Thomas T. Lancaster, theoldest of the brothers, was born January 28, 1807, and lived to the ripeold age of almost ninety-nine years, his death occurring January 24, 1906.He was married March 1, 1831 to Miss Elizabeth Jackson, and the followingyear 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. Hewas accompanied by his wife and their child was the first born in the township.

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

John M. Campbell, a nativeof North Carolina, located on Section 14 in 1829, and Stephen Robertsonand wife, of Kentucky, also came that same year, but in 1831 removed toMacoupin County, Ill. Other pioneers of 1831 were John Baker of Tennessee,who settled on Section 23, and George Garrison, who made his home on Section29.

George Skiles, who becamea resident of Browning in the early ‘thirties, first located in SchuylerCounty December 2, 1826, when he built a cabin on Section 16 in RushvilleTownship. He was a soldier of the war of 1812 and was with Gen. Jacksonin the battle of New Orleans.  In 1816 he located in Indiana, movedfrom there to Kentucky, and later to Missouri in 1819, where he lived untilbe took up his home in Schuyler County. Mr. Skiles was Coroner of Schuylerin 1830, and held the first inquest in the county over the body of GeorgeEverett who was murdered by James Morgan.

Jonathan Reno, a native ofTennessee, was one of the pioneers of Schuyler County, locating in BainbridgeTownship in 1825. From there be removed to Section 16, Rushville townshipwhere 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 onlyone who became a permanent resident of Schuyler County. His life was spentin the county with the exception of the years 1842-43, which were spentin Iowa and, in 1849, he located in Browning Township. Mr. Reno was marriedto Miss Eliza Thornton, who had come from East Tennessee in 1826, and sheis one of the few surviving pioneers of the county who came here previousto 1830. Mrs. Reno makes her home with her son, B. F. Reno, and has thefull enjoyment of all her faculties in her ripe old age.

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

The first mill in BrowningTownship was erected on the east bank of Sugar Creek, in section 20, in1829, by George Skiles, David Wallace and Alfred C. Wallace. At first itwas rigged for a sawmill, but burrs were added in 1831 to grind wheat andcorn. 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 surveyedand platted by Leonidas Horney for Robert Dilworth, and the plat on recordbears date of May 11, 1848.

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

The first merchant in Browningwas James Austin, who opened a general store there in 1849. Others of theearly merchants were Benjamin Kirkbride, A. L. Wells, R. R. Dilworth, GeorgeMcEvans, Albert and Marion Bates, G. B. and Wiley Hollingsworth.

The first school in the villagewas 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 Browningconstitute one of the important industries of the village and a large businessis done in this branch of trade. Just now the village is having a businessboom, 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, whichhas later been renamed Bader, was laid out by Jeremiah Stumm for SamuelFowler, August 5, 1870. It is situated on the southeast quarter of thesouthwest quarter of Section 2, and is a thrifty and prosperous littlevillage.

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

Excerpted from HistoricalEncyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, editedby Howard F. Dyson.
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersenfor Schuyler County ILGenWeb

Copyright 1999-2006 Judi Gilker ; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercialuse of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibitedwithout prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with theinformation.

Return toBrowning Township index