TriState Counties

 

About Us - Our Story

After Mr. Browning opened his funeral home in 1954, countless community members approached him seeking information about their deceased loved ones. Immediately, Mr. Browning recognized a deep community need for historical preservation and genealogical records, and he embarked on a project to document the stories of the people and families of Evansville, Indiana.

 
The daily obituaries, listed in the Evansville Newspapers, were typed on 3x5 cards in a specific format that delineated the fifteen most consistent pieces of information listed (name, date of death, age, cemetery, church, occupation, survivors, etc.) by Mr. Browning and his secretary Gladys Goodson. They filed the index cards alphabetically in a card catalogue. Eventually, these records expanded to include birth announcements, weddings, anniversaries, local awards, and veterans’ information, allowing researchers to build family trees. Previously, genealogists seeking information in Evansville had to search through public records chronologically. The implementation of Mr. Browning’s system enabled researchers to search by name in alphabetical order, saving them countless hours.
 
Demand continued to grow, and in 1981, Mr. Browning and his daughter Jean Browning Hester microfilmed all his files and then distributed copies of this microfilm to ten local libraries, as well as the Allen County Genealogical Library and the Library of the Latter Saints. Local librarians commented that Mr. Browning's files were among their most used resources, and in 1999, the Browning records— containing information from the 1906 to present day—were digitized and loaned to the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library. All of this information was incorporated in a programs created by Joseph Tawil and Troy VanAken. This allowed the public to easily search for information in the Browning Database free of charge. It has averaged over 3 million computer hits annually for the last 19 years.
 
Since 2005, Browning Genealogy (www.BrowningGenealogy.org) launched its second database, chronicling obituaries and local history from additional counties in Southern Indiana, Northwestern Kentucky, and Southeastern Illinois. The Browning Genealogy staff continues adding new entries to the database on a daily basis, including obituaries from 11 counties in Indiana, as well as two counties in Illinois and 15 counties in Kentucky. We aim to continue Mr. Browning's legacy through preservation, education, community engagement, and outreach. This database is free of charge and provides the public the same services for surrounding counties that have been provided for Vanderburgh County since 1999.
About Us - People
In addition to the members of the Browning Family Foundation, a number of organizations and individuals contribute to the life of this historical treasure.
 
Libraries
 
The Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library(EVPL) made the Browning Genealogy Database accessible to the public via the internet since February of 1999. The Genealogy Database resides on the EVPL website, and the Browning Family Foundation and staff continue to update and index information on a daily basis, free of charge, for the county. This popular genealogy search site has accumulated more than 30 million hits in the past decade. The EVPL website also hosts the Browning Local History Database. The staff at the EVPL have assisted with computer programming and managing information since 1999 and continue to do so today, and the library hosts the server and firewall for our Vanderburgh County and Evansville newspaper records. The standard search modality allows searching by the deceased individuals’ names. The advanced search modality allows searching by any of the fifteen categories frequently observed in an obituary. This is available for all obituary data entered since 1990 and will provide sociological information for generations to come.
 
 
Housed by the Evansville Public Library, our genealogy website includes approximately 400,000 obituaries of Vanderburgh County residents from 1905 to 2018. The local history archive, also created in 1999, contains over 900,000 entries of engagements, marriages, high school yearbooks, church directories, promotions, newspaper articles and over 40,000 entries of people of Evansville who served in WWII. The local history site averaged over two million computer hits annually for the last 19 years.
 
Alexandrian Library of Posey County, Indiana collected and organized Posey County obituaries from the Mount Vernon Democrat from 1990-2018. The library and the Democrat have graciously allowed us to scan and index their information. Over 15,800 obituaries have been entered over this 28 year period of time.
 
Pike County Library has allowed student workers to scan and index many microfilm records from their genealogy collection, including past newspapers as well as the current Press Dispatch. As librarians pull records for their patrons from their expansive genealogy collection, they scan and index the records into our website, making them easier to retrieve in the future. There are approximately 15,600 obituaries from 1995-2018.
 
The Shawneetown Library copied and organized information from the Gallatin Democrat from 1954 through 2017. The library and Gallatin Democrat have given us permission to scan and index their current and future information. In our database, there are approximately 9000 Gallatin Democrat obituaries from 1969 to present.
 
The Gibson County Public Library supports our effort to keep our website up-to-date with Gibson County records from the Princeton Daily Clarion, Hazelton, Owensville and Oakland City newspapers. The library and papers have given us permission to scan and index current and future records. There are approximately 34,900 obituaries from 1963 to present scanned and indexed from these four newspapers.
 
The Spencer County Public Library and Perry County News contribute regular updated records to our website. There are approximately 1,100 Perry County News obituaries from 2011 to present.
 
The Knox County Library has preserved the obituaries from Knox County, Indiana over the last five decades. These obituaries have been copied and organized by the Vigo Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Library allowed us to scan and index these records, and there are approximately 19,700 obituaries from 1970-1985.
 
Willard Library has been a huge supporter of the project since its inception and subsequent move to the internet in the 90s. They continue to support the project in many ways, including assisting in hosting events and lectures, many of which are on our Youtube Channel, and helping patrons locate records.
 
Contributors
 
Kenneth Hunley, a Marine Corps veteran who served in World War II, compiled information on more than 3,000 veterans from the Pike County area who served during the Second World War. These entries include photographs, ribbons, and cemetery tombstones of the veterans. Mr. Hunley’s records can be accessed in the Browning Veterans Database.
 
Dennis Au was Evansville's Director of the Historic Preservation Office for nearly two decades. During his tenure, he implemented and led many neighborhood and cemetery tours to coincide with Historic Preservation Month. Mr. Au has been an enthusiastic supporter of our endeavors and an inspiration for the Browning projects.
 
Marci Au, the Director of the Evansville Public Library for two decades (1995-2015), had the foresight and wisdom to help spearhead the process of digitizing the Browning records, making them publically available online. In the last decade, our site has received over 30 million hits, creating a huge impact on the community. Additionally, our archives have earned a selective five-star rating from the Evansville Public Library, in large part due to Marci’s vision. Her tenacity and support helped make the project a reality, and she cannot be given enough credit. She was aided by Mike Abaray, who helped the project in its infancy. The new director, Cyndee Landrum, continues to support and expand this community service.
 
Foundation Members
 
Mark Browning, Board Member, continues the legacy of his father, Charles Browning, through his work directing our nonprofit archive. Mark is a hematologist oncologist, philanthropist, and advocate for cultural and historical preservation in Evansville and the Tri-State Area. He helped create and implement the www.browninggenealogy.org database that provides “user friendly” genealogical information for over 28 Tri-State Counties. He assists with the development of internships with high schools and colleges to facilitate “active learning” for subsequent generations. Collaboration with many county libraries, high schools and universities is one of his missions to ensure sustainability of these historical preservation projects.
 
Rebecca Browning Carter, Board Member, has been a practicing nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital for over 30 years. She has also served as the secretary for Browning Genealogy for over a decade.
 
Jeannie Browning-Hester, Board Member, worked closely with her father in the early stages of Browning Genealogy. In 1981, Charles Browning and Jeannie microfilmed all the obituary 3x5 cards that were later donated to ten libraries. She expanded the local history database to include anniversaries, marriages, yearbooks, churches, and accomplishments. Her active support of her father’s research project during the early stages was crucial to its growth. She has provided “how to” courses on accessing the website to many different groups in Evansville.
 
Charleen Browning Spear, Board Member, has continued her mother’s legacy of writing biographies of individuals served by Browning Funeral Home for the past 27 years. She also gives presentations on genealogy and local history at libraries in Evansville.
 
Present Part-Time Employees
 
Kathy Boyd oversees input by all other part-time employees. She responds to incoming inquiries via phone and email, and inputs cause-of-death records from the Evansville Courier and Press on a weekly basis. She is the outside liaison for any new projects and assists with keeping financial records up to date.
 
Kira Long is our resident graphic designer. She also assists Kathy in the operational management of Browning Genealogy. Kira answers email inquiries, manages student workers, and communicates with outside sources on new projects. She also inputs the Sunday obituaries and Marriage License records from the Evansville Courier and Press, the Browning Funeral Home records, and Posey, Gallatin, White, Perry, Spencer, and Crawford County obituaries. Additionally, she creates DVDs of local history lectures and events and uploads them to our Browning Genealogy YouTube channel.
 
Meg Duell leads the way in writing grants to help support our projects and promote long-term sustainability. Additionally, she writes and edits copy, maintains our social media accounts, and coordinates with community partners and foundations to build capacity and preserve local history.
 
Morgan Smith inputs entries from SCOOP Magazine from Bucyrus Erie, one of the most influential industries in the Evansville area for nearly 70 years, into our Bucyrus Erie Database.
 
John Dowell directs the incredible progress we’re making in Kentucky, coordinating with funeral homes and newspapers to acquire permissions to scan and index their records. He also supervises and directs the student interns currently enrolled in Kentucky colleges and universities. John acts as a constant community liaison, informing professional and amateur historians and genealogists about our services. John is a true workhorse. Since joining the team, he has facilitated the addition of approximately 21,500 obituaries from fifteen Kentucky counties.
 
Chris Ross inputs daily records for Kentucky, a collection that is rapidly expanding.
 
Brenden Phillips compiles Daviess Co., KY Marriage Records using Daviess County Public Library equipment.
 
Allison Jones compiles Ohio Co., KY Marriage Records using Daviess County Public Library equipment.
 
Megan Miskimen is a Boonville High School student employee who works to scan and index the Knox County binders that were compiled by the Vigo Chapter of the DAR into the website database. So far, Megan has added many of the 19,000 obituaries from 1970-1985.
 
Arla Akin inputs the Saturday obituaries from the Evansville Courier and Press.
 
Becky Drury inputs the Monday through Friday obituaries from the Evansville Courier and Press.
 
Martha Earls inputs the Gibson County obituaries on a daily basis and creates yearly binders to donate to the Gibson County Public Library. She has entered nearly 35,000 from 1963-2018.
 
Memorial High School Interns
 
Meghan Stratton completed the history of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church and Cemetery in Snake Run, Indiana. She also scanned several issues of SCOOP Magazine from Bucyrus Erie.
 
Nathan Folz scanned and indexed the entire collection of St. Mary’s Nursing School yearbooks. He also photographed the framed class pictures and doctor photos from St. Mary’s medical library, organizing them on our database.
 
Lydia Wessel scanned obituaries from Pike County. In partnership with the Pike County Public Library, she scanned the entries from microfilm and input them into the Southern Indiana and Illinois Databases. Her work helped increase our obituary count to approximately 22,000 entries.
 
Ashleigh Kormelink scanned and indexed Knox County obituaries from the binders compiled by the Vigo Chapter of the DAR. The site now contains approximately 19,700 obituaries from Knox County, and the project continues.
 
Biographies
 
Dolores DeWitt Browning (1923-2016), Charles Browning’s wife, and her daughter Charleen Browning Spear, Foundation Co-President, have written over 5,000 biographies of individuals who were served by Browning Funeral Home over a twenty-seven year period. Based on facts and memories from family members, the biographies describe the characteristics and personality traits of each individual. Inspired by the sagacious Charles Browning, we realize that to know and understand the life of another person, we need to be informed about their occupations, avocations, faith, personality, achievements, and dreams. These portraits are documented in tribute biographies and kept on our website for future generations to appreciate. Through the creation of these biographies, we honor each person who has died, give comfort to their families, and add to the historical richness of our society.
 
Past Employees
 
Gladys Goodson passed away on August 14, 2014. She was the first and longest employee of Browning Funeral Home, working for the family for over 50 years. During her career, Gladys worked closely with Charles Browning as he began to capture obituaries from the early 1900s forward. Gladys was as tenacious as Mr. Browning, with a tremendous work ethic, and she indexed obituaries for many years, updating the local history site with information. She and Mr. Browning were responsible for typing most of the 3x5 index cards and filing them. There are now at least 1,300,000 cards in our physical collection, all of which are scanned into our database.
 
Joyce Winters collected obituaries and organized them alphabetically from White County, Illinois for at least 19 years. Most of her information came from the Carmi Times, Grayville Navigator and the Daily Republican Register in Mt. Carmel, IL, as well as the Norris City Newspaper. We continue to add to Joyce's project today and currently have approximately 13,300 obituaries from White County.
 
Barb Dyson helped us scan and index obituaries from White County, Illinois. She also worked on the Veterans Database. During her time, she helped the White County collection reach approximately 13,500 obituaries, the Posey County Veterans number 1,100 entries, and the Pike County WWII Veteran obituaries grow to 3,000 entries.
 
Lucille Shoulders indexed the immigration records at the Boonville Clerk’s Office with the approval of the County Clerk, Shannon Weisheit.
 
Josh Lamb, while a senior at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, indexed the immigration records for Vanderburgh County.
 
Kahri Jackson indexed 13,500 individual records from the Articles of Association volumes at the Vanderburgh County recorder’s office. This information is located in the Business Entities and includes individuals and businesses that registered their business in Evansville from 1836 through 1980.
 
Sharon Ethridge entered obituaries for families who chose Browning Funeral Home to handle their arrangements. She attached a short biography, photo, detailed a list of family members, and included the original obituary that was submitted to the newspapers. The biographies were composed by Dolores Browning and Charleen Browning Spear from 1991 to the present time. Her daughter, Katherine Ethridge, continued her work.
 
Katherine Ethridge worked for Browning Genealogy after graduating from USI. She entered Browning biographies, cemetery information on New Salem in Vanderburgh County, and Shiloh and Folsomville Cemeteries in Warrick county. She also helped archive many years of Charles Browning’s miscellaneous newspaper articles. She scanned and indexed the documents required by the Daughters of the American Revolution that justify the placement of eight historical markers in Vanderburgh County.
 
Carla Wilson worked on the project part-time from 2005-2007. She indexed early biographies from Browning Funeral Home from 1991-2006, and she made corrections and reformatted them into .pdf files to be viewed from our database.
 
Emily Miller and Taylor Brooks, Mt. Vernon High School students, added about 1,200 obituaries from the Mt. Vernon Democrat to our website during the last two years of high school. The Alexandrian Library allowed us to use their equipment and space for the project.
 
Lynn Green worked for Browning Genealogy during her junior and senior years at North High School, 2004/2005. She was placed on the job through her business co-op class and worked on reformatting the Browning Funeral Home files into PDF.
 
Christine Kottemann worked for Browning Genealogy between substitute teaching jobs. She scanned and indexed Posey County, Indiana obituaries.
 
Cindy Wongngamnit is a certified genealogist. She scanned and indexed Posey and Knox County obituaries.
 
Shiloh Stone orchestrated the scanning and indexing of Gallatin County, Illinois obituaries from the last 55 years. As an intern at USI, Shiloh secured approval from the Shawneetown Library board to digitize their collected records spanning six decades. Currently, Shiloh teaches at the University of Minnesota.
 
Joy Stone, a member of the DAR, scanned and indexed obituaries of Gallatin County.
 
John Belisle, used his computer expertise to assist with the creation of a program used to document immigration information from Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties.
 
Website Designer: Kevin Mattingly
Technical Support: Dave Flick