(Brown Family Letters)
Collection of Correspondence and Ephemera of the Brown Family of Madison and Schoharie Counties, New York, and Fairfax County, Virginia, including clergymen farmers, Rev. Jesse Brown and his sons, the Rev. Joseph Brown, and the Rev. Augustus Americus Brown, 1836-1908

63 letters, 88 manuscript pages dated 6 January 1836 to 16 December 1908. Of the 63 letters, 11 are not dated and about a half a dozen letters have pieces missing, with some text lacking. A number of the letters are folding letter sheets, with mailing address listed on rear address leaf. Correspondence is between members of the Brown family, and others, and as might be expected, it deals with religious matters, as there are three ministers in the family. The collection also includes over 200 pieces of printed and manuscript ephemera for the Brown family, including manuscript verse, sermons, legal documents, receipts, printed ephemera, etc. The ephemera documents the daily life of the Brown family, who were clergymen and farmers, the receipts and ephemera deal with the buying and selling of items needed by the family, or the selling of timber from their land, etc.

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Rev. Jesse Brown (1774-1866), Rev. Joseph Brown, and the Rev. Augustus A. Brown (1806-1881)

      Rev. Jesse Brown was born on 6 April 1774, at Middlefield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts and died on 22 December 1866 at Brown's Chapel, Fairfax County, Virginia. He is buried with his wife at Browns Memorial Cemetery at Great Falls, Fairfax County, Virginia. His wife was Abigail Richardson (1774-1861). The couple married on 7 December 1797 at Longmeadow, Hampden County, Massachusetts. Together they had at least three children, a daughter Maria Brown, and two sons the Rev. Augustus Americus Brown and the Rev. Joseph Brown.

      Rev. Jesse and his wife are listed with their son, Rev. Augustus Brown in the 1860 Census. Rev. Jesse and his son were both listed as farmers. They were enumerated in Fairfax County, Virginia, the town was not stated, but was likely the Brown's Chapel area.

      The Rev. Augustus Americus Brown was born on 4 February 1806 at Middlefield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts and died on 19 December 1881 at Brown's Chapel, Fairfax County, Virginia. His wife was Sarah Eliza Ramsey, born 24 December 1824 at Cobleskill, Schoharie, New York. She died on 8 February 1910, at Brown's Chapel. Sarah was the daughter of Frederick Ramsey (1790-1869) and Sarah Van Shaick (1799-1892) of Schoharie County, New York. Augustus A. Brown married his Sarah on 8 August 1844 at Lawyersville, New York. Sarah's brother was the Hon. Joseph H. Ramsey, an attorney, railroad executive, and politician from New York. As a state legislator and state senator he kept proposing laws for the state to support the building of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, which he was vice president, then president. For thirteen years he fought to get state support, but each time was thwarted by the veto of the New York governor. Finally, he was successful with a new governor, only to have the railroad taken over by Jay Gould and James Fisk and leased to the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. Like his parents, Rev. Augustus and his wife are buried at the Brown's Memorial Cemetery.

      The Rev. Augustus Brown and his wife had at least six children who lived into adulthood: Joseph Henry Brown (1845-1936), Sarah Mahala Brown (1848-1930), Irving Augustus Brown (1850-1916), Emery R. Brown (1853-1902), Herbert Van Schaick Brown (1855-1951), and Sigel Franz Brown (1859-1938). Several letters in this collection are written to Emery Brown, Sigel Brown also writes several letters.

      The three oldest children (Joseph, Sarah, and Irving) of Augustus and his wife were born in New York State. The rest of the children (Emery, Herbert, and Sigel) were born in Virginia. The three children born in Virginia were: Emery R. Brown, born on 21 January 1853, died on 2 August 1902. Herbert Brown, born on 2 September 1855, died on 30 April 1951, and Sigel F. Brown, born 24 January 1859, died 13 July 1938. These three children were buried with their parents at the Browns Memorial Cemetery at Great Falls, Fairfax County, Virginia. Also, these three children are represented in the correspondence and ephemera collection offered here.

      In 1850, the Rev. Augustus Brown and his father, the Rev. Jesse Brown, led a group of believers from New York to Virginia, where they purchased 320 acres. In 1874 Rev. Augustus Brown and his wife Sarah deeded a half acre of land to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church to build a house of worship.  The Augustus Brown and his two sons, Joseph and Irving, built the chapel. Services were first held in the chapel in 1879 and continued until 1967. The Brown's Chapel Cemetery became a community cemetery and today has over two hundred burials. Joseph Brown was a carpenter.

      Brown's Memorial Cemetery, separate from the chapel cemetery, was originally established as a Brown Family cemetery. Herbert Brown deeded two acres of land to the Brown's Chapel Cemetery Association on June 30, 1930. A 75' x 75' plot enclosed by an iron fence was reserved for the descendants of Augustus Brown and his wife. The reserved area is on the hilltop with an enormous holly tree growing in the center. A large granite monument that reads "BROWN" on one side and "WHEELER" on the other is located just beneath the holly. Markers 1 thru 6 below are located outside the fence, while the rest are inside. All of the markers are of grey granite and recent design. A 1936 WPA inventory of this site called it the "Anna Dunham Graveyard" reported only one gravestone, that of Anna Dunham. The rest of the stones were apparently placed after this date, thus explaining their contemporary design.

      The 1870 and 1880 Census shows the Rev. Augustus A. Brown living at Dranesville, Fairfax County, Virginia, which is next to Great Falls.  He is enumerated with his wife and six children in 1870, and his daughter Sarah's child Clarence Wheeler (her husband is not listed with her in 1870, but is in 1880). In 1870 the Rev. Augustus is listed as a farmer, with his sons Irving and Emery as farm hands. His son Joseph is listed as a carpenter. In 1880, Augustus is enumerated with four of his sons (Irving, Emery, Herbert, and Sigel), and his son Sigel's wife Mary, and his own wife Sarah. In 1880, Augustus is listed as a clergyman, his son Irving is a farmer - the others are only noted as "at home." The children did not move far, they are enumerated next to their father. Their daughter Sarah and her husband Philip Wheeler and they lived next door with their children.  Philip Wheeler was listed as a laborer in 1880. Next to Sarah and her husband's family was listed Joseph H. Brown, Augustus' oldest child, who married and had a family. He was listed as a house carpenter. Augustus' sister Maria also lived next to Augustus.

Description of Correspondence:

      A number of letters are addressed simply "Brother Brown," or "Rev. Brown," or "Mr. Brown," and the recipient cannot be easily deciphered. However, with research, one should be able to tell for whom the letter was intended. Other letters are clearer as is shown by the following:

2 letters are written to the Rev. Jesse Brown, of Middlefield, Otsego County, New York, and date1857. One of these is written by one of his son Augustus.

11 letters are written to the Rev. Joseph Brown, either at Hamilton, Madison County, or at Sharon, Schoharie County, New York, and are dated 1836-1857. One of these is written by his brother, the Rev. Augustus Brown, as well one letter is not dated. There is also 1 letter is written by Joseph Brown to his mother and is not dated.

13 letters are written to the Rev. Augustus Brown, either at Clarksville, Otsego County, New York, at Westford, or at Colvin's Run, Virginia, and are dated 1836-1889. One of these letters is written by "J. Brown," and another letter is addressed to "Sigel & Augustus Brown."

4 letters are written by Augustus Brown, one of these is these is to his brother Rev. Joseph Brown and one is to his father Rev. Jesse Brown, 1836-1857 (noted above).

4 letters are written to Emery Brown, of Colvin's Run, Virginia, and are dated 1892-1897. Of these, two letters are from his brother Sigel Brown, and dated from Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. One of the Sigel Brown letters is addressed to "Emery & Herbert," Herbert Brown was a brother of Emery and Sigel, they were all the sons of the Rev. Augustus Brown.

2 letters written by Sigel Brown, 1892-1894, both to his brother Emery Brown (noted above).

1 letter written to "children," from Sarah Ramsey, of Lawyersville, New York, she was the mother of Rev. Augustus Brown's wife, and dated 1858.

Two of the letters are written by the Rev. George Peck, a well-known Methodist clergyman, from Middlefield, NY, who helped to found the Cazenovia Seminary (1825) and the Wyoming Seminary (1844) as was one time editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review (1848-51) and the Christian Advocate (1852-53). In the 1860s and 1870s he took an active role in the Holiness Movement. He was the grandfather of the American author Stephen Crane.

Other correspondents to the Brown family are: Wm. Round; Mrs. J. W. Mchan; Keyes Murphy; John Harvey; D. B. Gardner; Daniel M. Fanchild; D. A. Shepard; A. E. Daniels; Nelson Rounds; H. Halstead; D. Beekman; J. Richard Stockley; Sumner Ely; Kinsey Dyer; James McLeanouogh; J.H. Hurst; A. J. Porter; Rob. R. Jackson; J. J. Moorman; J. Camack; P. M. Cranford; W. T. Schooley; J.C. Fenton; Gregg & Co.; Aitcheson & Bro.; Whitford & Co.; Cornelius Oliver; Jennie Webster Shafter; Cornish Co.; E. Davidson; George Peck; Wm. Hull; & others.

      Description of Ephemera:

125 manuscript receipts, c1830s-1890s

16 printed letterhead receipts, 1863-1905.

9 printed tax receipts for Fairfax County, Virginia, 1861-1897.

2 used postcards, 1881-1895, written to Augustus Brown and Hebert Brown

86 manuscript pp., of verse, sermons, etc.

6 manuscript documents (court, agreements/contracts, property, etc.).

6 used envelopes - might be able to be matched to letters in collection.

2 printed and manuscript court papers, 1850-1881.

1 temperance pledge card, 1873, for J.A. Brown.

3 misc. printed and manuscript ephemera.

37 printed pieces of ephemera (circulars, business cards, invitations, newspaper clippings, etc.).