Samuel J. Browne immigrated from Bristol, England in 1804 with his father, and they settled in Cincinnati. He learned the printing business in his youth, and became one of the founders of the Cincinnati Gazette. His profits from the newspaper were plowed into real estate in and around the city. In 1830, Samuel purchased 25 acres on the north side of the Miami Canal. He built a grand home surrounded by gardens and an orchard. The 1870 census shows the value of his real estate to be $500,000, quite a sum for that time. He lived in the grand house for the rest of his life. The street where his house stood had been appropriately named Browne Street.
Samuel belonged to The Cincinnati Pioneer Association, an honorary club for persons who resided in Ohio continuously since July 4, 1812. He served as the chaplain. By his last will and testament, he established the Browne Permanent Improvement Fund, an endowment for the support of the University of Cincinnati. In his personal life, he had seven children by his first wife. After her death, he remarried to Esther Barton Atlee and fathered five more children.
The trouble erupted in the summer of 1872. Samuel’s orchard attracted the nearby youth population for the sport of stealing fruit, especially the fine pears. They not only took fruit, but damaged property and made a noisy commotion. Eighty-four year-old Samuel had warned them to stop the trespassing, but to no avail. He asked his grandson Edwin to inform him whenever the little thieves returned. Upon being thusly alerted one day, Samuel grabbed his rifle and proceeded to fire it from his porch. A thirteen year-old boy named Frank Schick was hit in the left side of his chest and died instantly. When Rev. Browne was informed that a boy had been shot in the orchard, the old man callously replied, ”Well, I couldn’t help it; the boys have been bothering me a long time.” He told his grandson and nephew to not say anything about the incident to anyone.
Whether he could actually see well enough to hit a target thirty yards away, or intended to actually hit anyone, occupied several hours of debate and testimony in the ensuing trial. Edwin had to testify against his grandfather, a difficult position for him. The verdict: “Second degree murder; death from the effects of a gun-shot wound, caused by a shot fired in a deliberate manner from a gun in the hands of one Samuel J. Browne.” The defendant’s advanced age, poor eyesight and mental state were taken into account. The deceased boy’s widowed mother sued for monetary damages, but Samuel died before a decision was rendered.
Our client had no idea! The results of our research efforts revealed a rather distinguished skeleton. Isn’t family history fun?
Raquel Lindaas, AG®