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Browning, John J.
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Browning, John J.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 727-728


John J. Browning, an honored veteran of the Civil war, now belonging to Hayes post, No. 477, G. A. R., of Summer Hill, Illinois, was born in Bracken county, Kentucky, December 13, 1838. When he was but fifteen years of age he was taken to Palmyra, Marion county, Missouri, by his parents, Andrew and Alice (Chick) Browning, both of whom were natives of Bracken county. The father learned the distiller's trade and was employed in his grandfather's distillery up to the time he removed to Missouri, where he engaged in freighting prior to the advent of railroads. He took up his abode in that state in 1840, and continued to make his home there for some time; but afterward returned to Kentucky, where he died in 1853. His wife long survived him and passed away in her ninetieth year, her remains being interred in Shelby county, Missouri.

John J. Browning was reared in the usual manner of lads in a country town, and he acquired his education in Palmyra, Missouri. The first money he ever earned was secured by assisting in a livery business, in which he continued for about six years. In 1856 he came to Atlas township, Pike county, and secured employment as a farm hand with William Dustin, a farmer of Atlas township, with whom he remained for two years. He afterward began working for Henry H. Yokem, continuing upon his farm until 1860, at which time he went to Pittsfield, remaining there until the 17th of August, 1861. His patriotic spirit being aroused by the attempt of the south to overthrow the Union caused him to offer his services to his country and he was sworn into the Union army at Camp Butler, Illinois, becoming a member of Company B, Twenty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, with which he remained for three years. During this period he participated in the battle of Fort Harmon, Tennessee, and the engagements at Shiloh, Corinth, Davis Bridge, Holly Springs, the siege of Vicksburg, the battle of Jackson, Mississippi, and afterward returned to Vicksburg. Later he was in the engagement at Natchez, Mississippi, and then went with his regiment to Harrisburg, Louisiana, but the enemy evacuated before the arrival of the Union troops, so Mr. Browning, with his command, returned to Natchez and then went to the Big Black River, nine miles from Vicksburg, where the regiment went into camp for the winter. When spring came they marched back to Vicksburg and embarked for Cairo, Illinois, where the Seventeenth Army Corps joined McPherson's command and was reorganized. They took passage on steamboats going to Savannah, Tennessee, and marched to Kingston, Alabama, where Mr. Browning and his corps overtook Sherman's command and under the guidance of that brilliant military leader engaged in the battle of Atlanta. At that time his term of service having expired, Mr. Browning returned to Springfield, Illinois, and was mustered out of service on the 26th of August, 1864, after the battle of Shiloh he was detailed from his regiment for detached service. When his term of enlistment had expired he returned to his home in Pike county, Illinois; but the war was still raging, and he could not content himself to remain in the village while the safety of his country was imperiled, and on the 12th of October, 1864, he again enlisted, this time for one year's service, as a member of Company A, Thirty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He started to the front, but was delayed on account of illness, and did not reach his command in Raleigh, North Carolina, until the time of the surrender of General Joe Johnston. With his command he went to Washington, D. C., and took part in the grand review, the most celebrated military pageant ever seen on the western hemisphere. Not long afterward he became ill and was finally discharged August 2, 1865.

Mr. Browning then returned to Pike county and took up his old occupation as a farm hand with Mr. Yokem, continuing with him for a short period. On the 14th of September, 1865, however, he completed arrangements for having a home of his own by his marriage to Miss Margaret J. Dunaven, a daughter of James Dunaven, of Virginia. His wife died August 6, 1866, and their only child, a daughter, died in infancy. On the 8th of April, 1868, Mr. Browning was again married, his second union being with Sarah T. Dunaven, a sister of his first wife. She died April 8th, 1869, and their son died at birth. On the 1st of June, 1869, Mr. Browning wedded Miss Sarah A. Carr, a daughter of John and Elizabeth Carr, and unto this union were born nine children, six sons and three daughters: Huey, born January 30, 1871; Fred K., born January 6, 1873; Elsie E., January 8, 1875; Mary J., October 24, 1876; William R., August 6, 1878; Homer C., May 24, 1880; Stella E., December 27, 1882; Nathan M., March 26, 1884; and Ernie, March 19, 1886. All are yet living but the mother; Mrs. Sarah A. Browning, passed away February 14, 1888. Mr. Browning has since married Mrs. Eliza Johnson, nee Waters, the widow of James S. Johnson. Her husband was a Civil war veteran, enlisting on the 18th of February, 1865, and was discharged from service at Louisville, Kentucky, July 9, 1865.

Politically Mr. Browning is a stalwart republican, never faltering in his allegiance to the party since casting his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. In an active business career he has depended entirely upon his own resources and labors and has justly won the proud American title of a self-made man.

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