BrowningTownship History

Browning township was sonamed in honor of O. H. Browning, of Quincy. It is situated in the southeasternpart of Schuyler county along the Illinois river, and is irregular in shape.The surface is much broken, consisting along the Illinois bottom of ruggedbluffs. It was originally timbered, and it contains but a small quantityof prairie. The streams and water-courses are still well-wooded with oak,hickory, ash, walnut, sycamore, linden, maple, etc., sufficient for buildingpurposes, fuel and fences. The soil is quite productive, and in some parts,especially in the fertile bottom, yields bountifully to the hand of labor.The township is well supplied with streams, sufficient for water-powerand for cattle. Sugar creek, the principal stream tributary to the Illinoisriver, enters the township through the northern boundary toward the westand flows south forming a portion of the boundary line between this townshipand Frederick. The township is traversed throughout its entire extent fromits northern, southwesterly through its southern boundary by the Chicago,Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

Early Settlers

The first settlement in thetownship was made in the year 1826, by William Robertson; he was a nativeof North Carolina; he came to Schuyler county from Kentucky, attractedby the quantity of game that then abounded here, and settled on the southeastquarter of section 16.  His nearest neighbor was six miles distantin the Chadsey settlement.  After he had built a cabin in the wilderness,by an excellant of spring of water, which is still there, he engaged principallyin the pursuit of hunting, of which he was very fond.  Honey was veryplentiful, and Mr. Robinson [sic] could stand in the doorway of his cabinand point out a dozen bee- trees.  This article of traffic, togetherwith the venison hams, he used to carry to St. Louis in an Indian barkcanoe.  The Indians were quite numerous in those days, and he usedto hunt with them, frequently stopping in their wigwams.  By his intercoursewith them he became quite familiar with their language; he was a short,stout man and his great strength and endurance enabled him to bear thehardships of the hunter’s life which he loved so well; he was  marriedto Elizabeth Kirklin,  Esquire Isaac Lane officiating.  Ninechildren were reared as the fruit of this marriage, five of whom are nowliving–George in Texas; Alexander in Browning, on a portion of the oldplace; Joel on the old homestead; Sarah, wife of William E. Walton, inMissouri, and Malcomb in Macon county, Illinois.  He died in the year1866; his wife following him on life’s last journey in 1872. It was notlong after William Robertson had settled, until Alexander and Daniel Robertsoncame.  They were not related to each other, being of entirely differentfamilies, and the two latter named did not remain more than a year in thisvicinity.

In August, of the year 1828,four brothers, Thomas T., William, Henry, and Hartwell Lancaster, nativesof Kentucky, came to Schuyler county and settled in Browning on section22.  They all worked together and cleared a small quantity of land. In the year 1829 they were followed by their brother Gabriel and theirmother Elizabeth.  The brothers, after marrying and rearing families,all died except Hartwell and Thomas T., both of whom reside in the township,the latter on section 10, where he has been since 1832.  On March1st, 1831, he was married to Elizabeth Jackson, by Esquire Isaac Lane. Ten children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster, seven of whom are stillliving.  In his younger days he was a skillful and successful hunter. In the fall of 1829, he gathered a barrel of strained  honey and peddledit out in Morgan county; he is now (1882) seventy-five years old, haleand hearty, and made this year a full hand in the harvest field. When they came William Robertson was the only man residing in what is nowBrowning township, Alexander and Daniel Robertson, above mentioned, havingleft.

Isaac Lane, the next settler,was a Kentuckian, and came with his wife to the township in the fall of1828, and settled on the southwest quarter of section 16.  Here wasborn to them the first child ever born in the township.  Its namewas Sarah, and it died in infancy.  Isaac Lane was a large, muscularman, weighing about two hundred pounds; he was an early justice of thepeace; his father, Adrian Lane, lived with him for a short time; he leftthis place for California about the year 1850, and died on the way.

Shelton Luttrell settledon section 16 in 1828, where he reared a large family and where his widowstill lives; he came from Tennessee, and was an old pensioner of the warof 1812; he died in March, 1882, at the age of eighty-seven years, at theold place on section 16. George W. Justus and his wife came from Tennesseein 1828 and settled in the vicinity of Ridgeville.  Of his childrenthere are living F. M., M. L., Martha A., widow of William Chatman deceased,G. C., J. O. and T. J. Justus.  George W. Justus died in 1866; hiswife, whose maiden name was Susan Bates, died in 1864.

 John M. Campbell, inthe fall of 1829, came from North Carolina, and settled on section 14;he brought with him a wife and children; he was twice married, and oneof his family is known to be still living, Charles Campbell, who residesin Texas; he held the office of bounty commissioner for a number of years,and died several years ago on the section where he first settled, at theage of seventy-five. In the same year came Stephen Robertson and his wifefrom Kentucky and settled in the township.  In the spring of 1831,they moved to Macoupin county. John Baker came from Tennessee bringinghis family with him, and settled on section 23, in the same year. Some of his descendants are yet living here, but he moved to Morgan county,where he subsequently died.  George Garrison, a native of Ohio, cameand settled on the south half of section 29, where he bought a pre-emptionright from Larkin Baker, who had been there long enough to fence in abouttwelve acres of land and to build a log cabin and a stable.  He cameto the county by wagons drawn by a team of horses and a team of oxen. The value of his entire personal effects at that time did not, perhaps,exceed $350.  His family consisted of his wife and two daughters;Mary is the wife of David Cox of Kansas, and Emma the wife of EbenezerVail, of McDonough county, Illinois.

George Skiles was a nativeof Maryland, and arrived in the county December 2d, 1826, settling on thesixteenth section of Rushville township; he had lived in Tennessee, andfrom that state he was with General Jackson at the battle of New Orleans. In the fall of 1816 he went to Indiana; subsequently he removed to Kentucky,where he remained till 1819, when he went to Missouri.  From thisstate he came to Schuyler county, bringing with him a family of elevenchildren, seven of whom are still living, four daughters and three sons;John lives in the town of Browning, James R. in McDonough county and WilliamC. in Nebraska.  All three are ministers of the gospel.  GeorgeSkiles held the first coroner’s inquest ever held in the county; he heldit over the body of George Everett, shot and killed by James Morgan. JonathanReno, a native of Tennessee, came in the fall of 1825 to Schuyler county,and settled first in Bainbridge township, where he lived a year; he nextsettled on section 16 of Rushville township, and in the year 1830 movedto McDonough county.  After the lapse of some time he returned toSchuyler county, and remained about three years; he finally went to Missouri,where he died.  He had ten children, only one of whom, Jonathan, becamea permanent settler in the county.  Jonathan settled on section 22,of Browning, in 1849; he has seven children, all living in Schuyler county.David Wallace, a native of Tennessee, in 1825 settled on the northeastquarter of section 21, of Rushville township, where he lived for five years;he then went to McDonough county.  After his roving disposition hadled him to many changes of residence he died in Schuler county.  Ofhis eight children, Alfred, Moses, James, Oliver, Thomas, John and threedaughters all are now living except Moses; Alfred is now living at an advancedage in Browning; he was born in Tennessee in the year 1805.  He cameup the river on board the “Red Rover,” in June, 1828, on one of the firsttrips ever made up the Illinois by steamer; he has ever been an activeman, and assisted in building one of the first water-mills constructedin the county in 1828.

The first school was taughtin a small log cabin, by Nathaniel Glover, a teacher from Tennessee. This was in the year 1835.  The first building erected exclusivelyfor school purposes was built at Ridgeville.

The pioneer perhaps suffersless from almost every other cause than from insufficient mills to grindmeager harvest won from the primitive soil.  The subject of mills,therefore, engaged the early attention of the first settler, and GeorgeSkiles, David Wallace and Alfred C. Wallace set to work vigorously anderected the first mill in the year 1829, on Sugar creek, in section 20. It was a rude log structure and was at first merely a saw mill.  Tworun of burrs, one for wheat and one for corn, were added in 1831. The dam was constructed of logs and dirt, and a portion of it yet remainsto remind us of those primitive days. About the same time Benjamin Chadseyand a man named Jordan, built the same kind of a mill a little below onthe stream.  In the spring of 1829, Thomas Justus, brother-in-lawof George Skiles, built a combined saw and grist-mill above the Skilesmill.  And above the Justus’ mill, a little later, a mill was startedby William McKee.  Wilcox and Teal built a mill just above the pointwhere the bridge crosses the creek on the Frederick and Browning road.

The first marriage in thetownship was celebrated between William Robertson and Elizabeth Kirklin. The first birth was of Sarah Lane, daughter of Isaac Lane. She died ininfancy. The first Justice of the Peace was Isaac Lane, whose officialpresence seems to have been much sought after by wooing swains and love-sickmaidens.

Land Patents

The first patents to landwere issued November 20, 1817; John Miller for N. E. ¼ of section1; October 6, 1817, to G. S. Douglass for N. E. ¼ of section 3,and to Lemuel Latenion for N. W. 1/4 of section 3; December 22d, 1817,to Michael Howell for S. E. 1/4 of section 4; October 24, 1817, to IsaacHarrison for S. W. 1/4 of section 6, and October 23, 1817, to John A. McDonaldfor S. E. ¼ of section 6.

Board of Supervisors

The county was placed underthe township organization in the year 1854.
1854 – John Bogue
1855 – John M. Campbell
1856 – Thomas J. Kinney
1858 – John M. Campbell
1860 – John Parish
1861 – John M. Campbell
1864 – Benjamin Walton
1865 – Stephen Strong
1866 – Jonathan Reno
1868 – John M. Campbell
1869 – Jonathan Reno
1870 – William C. Ventors
1871 – William C. Reno
1872 – A. R. Marshall
1874 – Sherman B. Dray
1876 – William C. Reno
1877 – Mark Bogue, resigned
1877 – William C. Reno
1881 – William Bader

The farming industry of BrowningTownship is quite important, and notwithstanding the brokenness of muchof the surface it has some very productive farms. The total number of farmsin the township is 155. The population including towns is 1529.

Excerpted from The CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol LongwellMiller for 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.

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