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1932 item about the Browning family from Arkansas to Texas after Civil War
Posted by: Nita (ID *****6995) Date: May 08, 2008 at 08:23:07
  of 4260

This might be helpful for some researchers.
I am not related, but curious if this line is related to the Browning line in Carroll County, Tennessee.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas, Texas
February 28, 1932
Much of West Texas History Centers Around Brownings, Pioneer Weatherford Family
Weatherford, Texas, Feb. 27: Married in August 1865, Mr. and Mrs. JOHN R. BROWNING of Weatherford have the distinction of having been married longer than any other couple in Parker County. But the Browning family’s laurels do not rest on that alone, for one of JACK BROWNING’S brothers, JAMES N. BROWNING, was a member of the Legislature, a district judge and lieutenant governor, and the other two brothers, W. L. “BUD” BROWNING and J. A. BROWNING, achieved prominence in the cattle business.

JOHN ROBERT BROWNING was born at Arkadelphia, Arkansas July 24, 1845. He was the son of WILLIAM F. and MARY BURK BROWNING. His father was a surveyor and a prominent man in the section where he lived. Mrs. J. R. Browning’s maiden name was LYDIA MONTGOMERY and she was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee October 14, 1845. Her father and four brothers were killed or died during the Civil War.

Mr. Browning enlisted in the Confederate Amy and served in the cavalry under the command of Gen. CABELL. He is now drawing a Confederate pension from the State of Texas.

“When we were married,” Mr. Browning said, “the only work in that part of the country you could get any money for was splitting rails, and I did not know how to do that. An old friend taught me and we got a job splitting 1000 oak rails which took about three days. My part amounted to $3.30, and it looked like a lot of money. I worked that fall for anything I could get to make a living and my wife was at home spinning, weaving and making our clothes. A little money went a long way. The next year we started farming.”

By 1871 the Brownings had accumulated enough worldly goods to start to Texas where Mr. Browning’s brothers had already gone. They were writing back of big money to be made in the cattle business.

The Brownings landed at Fort Griffin in Shackelford County, a wild frontier post, Federal soldiers being stationed there at the time. Many cowboys made that their quarters and Indians still raided this section of Texas.

JAMES N. BROWNING, five years younger than JOHN R., was getting his start in life at Fort Griffin. The man he was may be known by the fact that in 1864, at the age of 14, he had taken his brother JACK’S place as a soldier while Jack came home to plant the crop. Now a grown man, he was supplementing the seven months of schooling he had received as a boy by reading law. Later he was to be one of the best known lawyers of Texas and lieutenant governor of the state. W. L. “BUD” BROWNING and J. A. BROWNING, other brothers, were getting a start in the cattle business, which they followed throughout their lives.

After a few months at Fort Griffin, Mr. and Mrs. Browning decided they did not want to live in that environment, especially with a family of girls. Then, too, they had been accustomed to farming and looked on it with more favor than the nomadic life of the cowman.

At that time Weatherford was the big trading point of the territory of over 100 miles to the west and northwest. It was a hustling frontier town.

“When I first traveled across it, I thought Parker County was the finest country I had ever seen. There were clumps of trees, live oaks, post oaks, and hackberry, scattered here and there with open space between them. Cutting across the country were streams fringed with timber. Fine grass everywhere, fat cattle and plenty of game. It was as fine a place as one would want to make a living and get a start in life.”

Mr. Browning moved to Parker County and took up land about 14 miles west of Weatherford. He felled trees, split the trunks and built a palisade house for his first home. He broke land and planted a crop and then came his first disaster. He owned a pair of young mules that he had driven from Arkansas. They were $300 in gold and with his wagon and team, he could make $4 to $5 a day when he wanted outside work. He had been warned that it was unsafe to let valuable stock run loose, but he hobbled them and let them graze at night near the house. One morning they were gone and he never heard of them. It was a severe loss and it took him some time to get on his feet financially.

As pioneer conditions passed, Mr. and Mrs. Browning settled down to farm life in Parker County. In their more active years they bought and improved five farms in the county. After their children were all grown, they moved to Weatherford and have lived here for the past 24 years, but they continue to own a farm near town.

The children living are Mrs. J. M. BAUCOM of Canyon, Texas, R. E. BROWNING of Waurika, Oklahoma, Mrs. W. E. FONDREN of the Adell community in Parker County, and JOE BROWNING of Weatherford. There are 20 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.

Of the six children born to W. F. BROWNING, three are still living, Mrs. J. O. STREET of Okemah, Oklahoma, Mrs. S. S. PARRISH of Fallong, Nevada, and J. R. BROWNING of Weatherford. Between the death of W. F. BROWNING and one of his sons was 53 years. JOE and W. L. “BUCK” BROWNING both stayed in the cattle business and died some years ago. JAMES N. BROWNING has been dead several years. He was a member of the one of the leading law firms of Amarillo and was known throughout the state.

The most outstanding achievement in the career of JAMES N. BROWNING was his work in the legislature in connection with the introducing and passage of certain land laws thereby the actual settler would be allowed to file on small tracts of land in the Panhandle country.

In the early days it was the general belief of those living in the more populated section of the state that the land in the Panhandle country was barren and desolate country and unfit except for any purpose except cattle raising. So firm was this belief that the legislature passed many laws that retarded its development.

The most unjust law was known as the leasing law. For a very nominal sum, cattle barons were privileged to lease from the state millions of acres of land for grazing purposes. Thus in a year or two, almost the entire Panhandle was controlled by a few cattle syndicates.

In many instances land that was bring lived on by actual settlers was leased out from under them. Families were notified to leave being told they were trespassers. At one time, on one particular ranch, 25 families were told to get out and stay out.

Mr. Browning represented 69 counties in his district which was by far the largest representative district in the state. He pleaded for the repeal of this measure and finally succeeded in getting the desired action.

The repeal of the leasing law and the passage of Mr. Browning’s bill to sell the land to the actual settlers did more to develop the Panhandle and West Texas than any single act by any other man or set of men.

As a lieutenant governor, Mr. Browning was an authority on parliamentary law and presided over the senate with a dignity and dispatch. He acted as governor of the state for a few days on two occasions when Gov. SAYERS was called out of the state. As a district judge, Mr. Browning was noted for his fair decisions.


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