Coincidences are part of everyday life some may say – I think they are more than coincidences! In my genealogy research there have been many times that perhaps I seem to have stumbled on something quite casually, or been in the exact place at the right time. I believe our ancestors – and all that we search for – want to be found. They want us to know about them, to be able to tell their stories, to make them come alive again! This is just one of those times.
While Ritchey and I were in an antique shop in Russellville, Kentucky, I overheard a conversation about a book in one of the booths. This man was so passionate in his telling of the story I knew he had to be a lover of history – and perhaps a genealogist himself! The book was The Heavens are Weeping – The Diaries of George R. Browder, 1852-1886, edited by Richard Troutman. This early settler of Logan County wrote almost daily in his journal. Unfortunately 8 volumes are lost, but those that are left give a wonderful picture of life in early Kentucky history, through the Civil War and beyond. As the person did not buy the book, I picked it up and asked the gentleman, Adam Scales, about it. He was a font of knowledge! Of course, that led to why we were there, our mission of genealogy research, our love of history and the search for old photos! Adam told us about another gentleman, Edward Coffman, Jr., who has updated and re-written his father’s book, Through My Father’s Eyes, The Story of Logan County, Kentucky. He must have known how excited I was about the book. He said, let me call Mr. Coffman and we’ll stop by to get one! I was afraid that was terribly impulsive, but we were invited to Mr. Coffman’s house. My surprise was great when a little old man using a walker answered the door saying in his charming voice, “Come in, come in, have a seat and we’ll get to know each other!” Mr. Coffman is a true Southern gentleman. At 91 he is still just as knowledgeable about the history of Logan County as a much younger man!
We learned that Jesse James robbed his first bank in Logan County. There were two of the citizens that were killed at the Alamo. Information about the older homes in the area – including Mr. Coffman’s, the oldest part built in 1814. And many other notes of interest. Mr. Coffman signed our book, a treasure we will hold dear.
I digress. The George Richard Browder that wrote the journals, is a second cousin of the Wilbur F. Browder in this biographical sketch. George Richard’s father, Robert (1804-1890) and his oldest brother, Richard (1789-1878) came from Dinwiddie County, Virginia, in 1820, settling first in Green County, Kentucky, moving westward to Logan County in 1825. Richard’s son David Browder is the father of Wilbur F. Browder.
I also have another question that must be answered. The name ‘Browder’ was given to several male members of the Linton family – is there a connection? Another puzzle to work out!
from Biographical Sketches of Logan County, Kentucky
Wilbur F. Browder
Among those who early settled in the vicinity of Olmstead, Logan County, Kentucky, was Richard Browder, who came from Virginia to that county in 1819. He engaged in the pursuits of the farm, at which he was very successful. he lived to a ripe old age, and was an honored representative of pioneer Methodism in this county, in the faith of which he trustingly died in 1867. He had a family of five children, the eldest of whom was David Browder. David was born in Virginia, and when the family removed to this state, was but an infant. He was reared upon his father’s farm; married Elizabeth Irvine, and in early manhood abandoned the farm to pursue merchandising. He removed to Clarksville, Tennessee, where, on the 12th of December, 1848, was born the subject of this sketch, Wilbur F. Browder. He afterward moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he died in 1871, and where Wilbur F. was chiefly reared. When sixteen years old, he entered the Randolph Macon College, of Virginia, where he pursued his studies for one year, at which time he became a student in the University of Virginia, graduated from that institution in 1868. He then entered the law department of the University of Lexington, Kentucky, graduating therefrom in 1869; was admitted to practice in November, 1869, and at once established an office in Russellville, Kentucky. Mr. Browder enjoys an extensive reputation as an able lawyer. He is a pleasant speaker, and in his practice has demonstrated the fact, that personal abuse and tonguy sarcasm are not elements of success in law practice. He has occupied several positions of trust, in all of which he has justified the confidence reposed in him. During the existence of the Logan County National Bank, he was for several years its president, and is now a director in the Logan County Bank. In 1874, he was appointed to the office of register in bankruptcy, which he filled until the office was vacated by the repeal of the bankrupt law in 1878. Mr. Browder was, until he resigned recently, master in chancery of the Logan Circuit Court, and is chairman of the executive Democratic Committee of his county and senatorial district. he was married in 1871 to Bettie Wills, daughter of John W. and Eliza (Bibb) Wills.