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Browning, Caleb T.
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Browning, Caleb T.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 563-565


Caleb T. Browning, who after many years of active and successful connection with farming interests in Pike county, is now living a retired life in Perry, was born in Pendleton county, Kentucky, June 23, 1827. His parents, Caleb and Penelope (Powers) Browning, were also natives of the same state, the former born October 19, 1800, and the latter January 5, 1805. In November, 1833, the father left Augusta, Kentucky, with his family and journeyed to Illinois by way of the river route, arriving at Naples in the month of December. There was only one house in Perry at that time and all of Pike county was but partially improved, only here and there a cabin indicating the advance of civilization. Mr. Browning entered eighty acres of timber land and eighty acres of prairie land and built thereon a log cabin nineteen feet square. He split the clapboards himself and made the floor of oak timber. He cleared the first season a tract sufficient to raise thereon a crop of corn, gathering enough for his own use and also some to sell. In the spring of 1837 he removed to his prairie land whereon he had built a house, living there until 1845. He then burned brick, from which he erected a fine residence, continuing to make it his home until 1850, when he removed to Kansas. He owned at one time about four hundred acres of Illinois land. Following his arrival in the Sunflower state he bought one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he improved and on which he spent his remaining days. In 1839 he was chosen justice of the peace in Pike county and filled the office until the spring of 1843. In early life he was a member of the Baptist church but afterward united with the Christian church. His political support was given to the whig party. He passed away in Rice county, Kansas, August 25, 1880, while his wife died January 25, 1841. Their marriage was celebrated near Germantown, Kentucky, October 6, 1825, and they became the parents of seven children, of whom five are now living, namely: Caleb T.; J. M., who married Mrs. Gardner; William P.; Sarah; and Abigail, the wife of Joseph Horton.

No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life for Caleb T. Browning in his boyhood days. He pursued his education in Perry and worked in his father's fields from the time of early spring planting until crops were harvested in the autumn. In 1848, when twenty-one years of age, he started out in life on his own account upon a tract of forty acres, which his father gave to him. He cultivated that place until 1854, when he sold out and bought the old homestead of ninety acres, on which he continued to reside until 1881, when he purchased the Peter Brower farm, continuing its improvement and development until the 4th of November, 1904, when he left his farm and took up his abode in the village of Perry. Mr. Browning still owns a farm of one hundred and sixteen acres in Perry township.

Mr. Browning has been married twice. On the 10th of February, 1853, he wedded Mary Ann Carpenter, who was born February 6, 1837, and died May 27, 1872. She was a daughter of Teilman and Elizabeth (Cooper) Carpenter, the former born in 1805 and the latter in 1818. Mr. Carpenter was a pioneer settler of Pike county, coming to this state from Tennessee, while his wife was a native of Kentucky. They arrived here prior to the advent of the Browning family in this part of the state and Mr. Carpenter died in 1841, while his wife passed away in 1886.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Browning were born nine children, of whom five are yet living: Fannie, who was born October 9, 1857, and is the wife of Jacob Riley; Frank, who was born March 27, 1860, and was married in 1886 to Edith Bolton; Lula, who was born May 31, 1862, and is the wife of C. M. Bradbury; Harvey who was born December 7, 1865, and married Ellen Lacksheide; and Allie, who was born March 9, 1864, and married Melissa Herring. After losing his first wife Mr. Browning was again married, the second union being with Miss Gillie LaRue, whom he wedded April 1, 1874. She was born February 24, 1844, and was a daughter of Thomas R. and Margaret (Williams) LaRue. They were married in Missouri, where they lived for a number of years and then came to Perry, Pike county, Illinois, where the father was a blacksmith and conducted a shop, spending his remaining days in Perry. At one time Mrs. Gillie Browning was a school teacher. Her death occurred March 14, 1905, when she had reached the age of sixty-one years. By the second marriage there were six children, of whom four are yet living: Edna, Maggie, May and Maud. Of these Maggie is now the wife of Ralph Walker and has two sons. One child of Mr. and Mrs. Browning died in infancy, while Roy died December 10, 1903.

Mr. Browning belongs to the Christian church and in politics is independent, voting for men and measures rather than party. He has now reached the seventy-eighth milestone on life's journey and for long years has been a resident of Pike county, few of its settlers antedating his arrival here. He is therefore familiar with its history, his mind bearing the impress of the early historic annals of the county. He has borne the usual hardships of pioneer life, has undergone the vicissitudes that are typical of frontier settlement, and as the years have passed has won prosperity through well directed effort and now is enabled to enjoy a well earned rest in honorable retirement from further labor.

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