First Wife of John W. Addison, Florida
Many genealogies, using the 1870 U. S. Census, record the name of John W. Addison’s first wife as Rety Jane, Kety Jane, or Retz Jane. In an attempt to make sense of the entry, many have combined this census entry with the name on her tombstone to create the totally fictitious name Pyatt Jane Retz. The culprit in this mistake is the handwriting of the census taker for the 1870 U. S. Census. What looks like Kety or Rety or Retz is actually Piety. The apparent down stroke on the letter K or R is, in reality, the letter i, the second letter of the name Piety. John W. Addison’s first wife was Piety Jane Browning. Confirmation of this comes from the U. S. Censuses for 1850 and 1860, and, in particular, probate records in the Bradford County court house.
Piety Jane (“Pyatt”) Browning was the daughter of David Browning (1812 – 1890) and his first wife Elizabeth (d. bet. 1854 and 1860). Piety’s tombstone in Sapp Cemetery in Raiford, Florida, carries the name “Pyatt J. Addison.” Pyatt was apparently the pet name by which she was called, a shortened form of Piety given a variant spelling. Confirmation of her middle name as Jane comes from the 1850 U. S. Census where she is listed as Piety Browning, and the 1860 U. S. Census where she is named P. Jane Browning.
Probate records in the Bradford County Court House confirm that her given name was Piety. In a legal petition, dated 2 April 1891 (Bradford County, Florida, Probate Book 6, p. 590), John Addison requests the court to appoint him, as their father, guardian of Ira and Colonel Addison, “minor heirs of Piety Addison deceased.” Ira and Colonel Addison and their siblings, Emma, Frances, and Henrietta, are among David Browning’s “grandchildren,” so named in a letter of Julia Ann Browning, second wife of David Browning and sister of John W. Addison, dated 10 February 1890, included in the probate records for David Browning’s estate (Bradford County, Florida, Probate Book 6, pp. 312 – 13). Julia describes them as “children [of] Piety Addison now deceased and former wife of John Addision.” It is not coincidental that in Sapp Cemetery Piety (“Pyatt”) J. Addison and at least two of her children, Colonel and Henrietta Oni, lie buried next to the grave of David Browning.