It’s funny that I never realized that there were three stories about panthers in Mama’s book, I Remember, until I reprinted the first one about her experience with a panther two days ago. Then I thought, “Hey, I remember reading somewhere else in the book about her dad and a panther when he was a cowboy!” So, I looked up that story and shared it yesterday. And as I was relaying that story, it reminded me of yet another one about his father! So I looked it up and here is her third, and I think final, story about a panther.
But before I tell you Mama’s last panther story that involved her Grandpa Browning, here’s is another of her stories that gives a little background on that kind of interesting grandpa:
Grandpa and Grandma Browning
I never knew my grandparents on Dad’s side. They had both died before he and Mom met, but here is what I know about them from Dad’s stories.
My grandfather was Dr. Benjamin Franklin Browning. His brothers were James Monroe, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and several others, whose names I can’t remember. They were all named after famous men from the past.
Grandpa’s father was a wealthy farmer and had servants. When Grandpa was a baby his nurse dropped him and broke his back. He grew up to be a hunchback and was only 4’11” tall. His father realized he could never be a farmer or do any sort of manual labor, so he sent him to school to be a doctor.
Dr. B.F. Browning was a country doctor and called on his patients on horseback or in a horse-drawn buggy. He and his wife, Martha Ellen, lived a few miles from Lansing, Kansas in Leavenworth County in a one-room log house, heated by a huge fireplace. It had an attic where my Dad slept as a boy. He had to climb a ladder to get up in the attic and sometimes in the winter he would wake up with snow on his covers.
Grandpa and Grandma were both very proud of their Scottish ancestors. Their families both belonged to the Roberson Clan in Scotland. Grandpa was related in some way to the poet Robert Browning. He inherited some land in Scotland once, but the only way he could claim it was to go over there and live on it for two or three years. He never went.
Grandpa and Grandma had four children, two boys and two girls. The oldest child was Reubena Ellen. They called her Reubie. Then there was another girl who died when she was about a year old. Next was a boy named Robert who also died as a baby. My dad was the fourth child. His name was Duncan (his mother’s maiden name) LaRue. (Sandra’s note: To give you some perspective on the dates for these events, I know that Duncan was born in 1869.)
Grandpa planted a double row of walnut trees from their house out to the road. I saw those trees and his old home when I was about 9 years old (Note: she was born in 1907. S). We were living in Kansas City and Dad took us out to see the old place. We rode the interurban. An interurban was a street car that traveled between cities.
Now, here is the excerpt from Mama’s book about her Grandpa’s panther story:
Grandpa Browning and the Panther
Dad used to tell us a lot of stories about his family. The story I remember best is about Grandpa coming home late one night from delivering a baby. The night was dark, no moon, not even any stars. He had to ride through dense woods. He was riding along on his horse, thinking about getting home and being able to get some rest. All at once his horse lunged forward and he had difficulty hanging on. At that moment a panther landed on the horse’s back behind the saddle and then slid off. The horse really took off for home then with Grandpa hanging on for dear life.
If the horse had not lunged forward, the panther would have landed right on Grandpa. No doubt the horse either sensed the panther or he could see it in the dark. Grandpa would never have seen it. It was a close call for Grandpa.
The fact that three past generations of my family had stories to tell about panthers tells me one of two things — either panthers were verrry common west of the Mississippi in the olden days and sightings were common for everyone — or, my family is just genetically predisposed to attracting panthers! In which case, I probably should steer clear of the panthers when I go to a zoo.
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