Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Joys of a Comprehensive Obituary - William Way Browning

For a researcher an ‘Obituary’ can give us valuable information about the life of an ancestor we never knew.  A comprehensive obituary can give us valuable vital statistics, names of parents, siblings and possibly tell us about the occupation of our ancestor.  For me, the best obituary contains information about the personality of my ancestor.  I can generally locate information elsewhere about the facts of their life but where, outside of an obituary, can I learn about the person they were?

The following obituary for my maternal 3rd great-grandfather William Browning is one of the most comprehensive that I have found to date:

(click on image to enlarge)
obtained from the Files of the Bradford County Historical Society


One of Towanda’s Oldest Citizens

William W. Browning, one of Towanda’s oldest and most highly respected citizens, passed from mortal ken Friday night. He had been in poor health for a long time and in bed for five weeks, with ailments incident to old age and peacefully passed away at 11:45 o’clock at the home of his son, Councilman E. I. Browning on Mechanic street.

William W. Browning was born in Orwell township on Jan. 20, 1816, his parents being pioneer settlers in that township. When a youth he learned the trade of chairmaking, a vocation he followed in Orwell township until 1874, when he came to Towanda and entered the employ of the late J. O. Frost, continuing with the firm of J. O. Frost Sons until failing health compelled his retirement. His wife died six years ago, since which time he has made his home with his son on Mechanic street.

Deceased was of a kind, friendly disposition, honest as the day, and firm in his friendships. His allotment of 92 years were quietly spent in humble pursuits, he being content with the simple life, as it were, doing his very best always. All during his residence in Towanda, he was a good citizen, a man worthy of respect and esteem at all times. He was a charter member of the Towanda Universalist church.

He is survived by one daughter, Mrs. L.M. Coolbaugh of Lockwood, N.Y. and two sons, E.I. Browning of Towanda, and Gay Browning of Susquehanna. There are no brothers of sisters of the deceased, he being the last of his immediate family.

The funeral was held on Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the Browning home on Mechanic street, and interment was made in the Riverside cemetery.

Unfortunately, I am not sure of the newspaper this was found in.  I am, however, so grateful for this account of William’s life especially the third paragraph which gives me such rich information about the character of my third great-grandfather.  I wonder what his ‘humble pursuits’ were?

To read more on the life of William see post Celebrating the Life of William Way Browning.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,

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