Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Katherine Hamilton Browning, 1830-1906
By Lisa Hendrickson, Independent Historian
Katherine Hamilton was born September 5, 1830 in Hamburg, New Jersey to Francis Price Hamilton (1786-1868) and Ann Sharp Hamilton (1790-1867). She was the ninth of 11 children, 4 boys and 7 girls. Her father was a wealthy farmer. Both of her grandfathers fought in the Colonial army during the Revolutionary War.
On October 24, 1854 Katherine married Ross Charles Browning (1822-1899). They had three sons: one who died young, Frederick T., Charles R. and an adopted daughter Bertha. Ross Browning was born in Barre, VT and graduated from the Liberal Institute in Lebanon, NH. Initially he taught school in Sussex County, NJ and then was employed by the Erie Railroad. In 1859 he partnered with Alvin J. Johnson forming Johnson & Browning, an atlas publishing company. The family moved to Richmond, Va. and he ran the printing plant there. Because he was loyal to the Union forces, he had to flee, losing his plant. In 1861 they moved to Orange, NJ. Then in 1865 the couple purchased a home in Llewellyn Park, a community designed around the new concept of "country houses for city people." The large estate homes were within an easy rail commute to New York City. Ross became president of the Metropolitan Washing Machine Company of New York, retiring in 1892. He died of pneumonia in 1899 in Florida and is buried at Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, NJ.
Browning was a founder of the First Unitarian Church of Orange and also a trustee from 1892-1904. Additionally she was a trustee of the Orange Free Library and advocated for building Triangle Park in Orange. Active in many groups, she served as president of the Woman's Club of Orange (WCO) for many years. Founded in 1872, the WCO was the first association of women founded in New Jersey by her friend Louisa Lord Riley, a fellow suffragist. The purpose of the club was "the discussion of topics of social and general importance, for the purpose of awakening in its member a more vital interest in such topics," including woman suffrage.
In July 1897 she attended a special meeting of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association (NJWSA) in Orange to discuss the September 1897 special election proposing an amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution giving women voting rights in matters affecting public schools. At the meeting, key suffragists including Dr. Mary D. Hussey, Mrs. Florence Howe Hall and Browning spoke of the progress of spreading the woman suffrage idea.
Browning was a member of the Orange Political Study Club (OPSC) which was the largest chapter in the federation of state clubs in 1902. At the annual meeting of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association held in Orange in 1902, she was elected to the board of directors. At an April 1906 meeting of the OPSC honoring the memory of Susan B. Anthony, the Reverend Antoinette Brown Blackwell reminisced about the early campaign for women and Browning spoke about the early days when Anthony published The Revolution. Browning passed away on October 18, 1906 at her home in Llewellyn Park, NJ. She is buried at Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, NJ.
"Women Looking for the Ballot," The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ), July 1, 1897, pg. 1.
"Ceremonies Held at New Home of Orange Woman's Club," The New York Tribune," October 26, 1905, pg. 10.
"Members of the Orange Political Study Club", The New-York Tribune, April 29, 1906, pg. 49.
"Mrs. Katherine H. Browning," The New-York Tribune, October 18, 1906, pg. 7.
- Federal Manuscript Censuses of Poulation, 1850, 1900, 1910
Find a Grave: Charles Ross Browning, Katherine Hamilton Browning, Ross Charles Browning
www.werelate.org : Katherine Hamilton