Levi Browning, a prominent pioneer citizen of Benton, Ill., was born in Franklin County, October 18, 1820, a son of John and
Nancy (Kitchen) Browning, natives of Tennessee. The father came to Illinois Territory in 1804, living in the Old Fort in Cave township, until 1820, when he settled on what has since been known as Browning Hill in the township that now bears his name. He resided there until his death some twenty years since, soon after the close of the war. He was a farmer and reasonably successful for that early day. He was a Baptist minister, one of the pioneers of that faith in this country. Levi was reared to manhood on the farm in his native county, and secured a fair education in the subscription schools of the log cabins of that day. He began the life of a pioneer farmer, and as early as 1840 came to Benton and began the mercantile business on a small scale with his older brother, William R. Those were the days when the merchant made a horseback tour to St. Louis and bought and brought back goods overland with the ox-team, and our subject was no exception to the rule, having made a score or more of such trips: About 1848 he built a saw mill near Benton, and in 1854, the grist-mill, the first steam mill in the county, which he operated until the war, and then resumed the mercantile trade, in which he has been most successful. He owns about 1,000 acres of real estate in the county. In 1853 he married Fannie Howell, a native of St. Clair County, Ill., who died in 1854. An only child is deceased. In 1855 he married Tabitha Layman, of this county. Seven children are living: Mrs. Lulu B. Ward, of DuQuoin, Ill.; Quincy.E., of Washington, D. C.; Thomas S., deputy county clerk; Flora B., Mattie D., Nannie E. and John L. He was originally a Jacksonian Democrat, but of late has been an ardent Prohibitionist. For forty years he has been one of the Sons of Temperance. In 1854 be was appointed drainage commissioner, and sold about 40,000 acres of swamp land to the profit of the county. He has been a leading member of the Missionary Baptist Church for over half a century, and is one of the most respected pioneers.