PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903          P.  119-122

BROWN. There is now (1903) living in Putnam, Windham county, the town's eldest citizen in the person of Hon. Hiram N. Brown, whose life spans but ten years less than a century, and it has been a life, too, of good deeds, so that he is looked upon as Putnam's "grand old man." Mr. Brown is the father of Hon. Charles Hathaway Brown, long a prominent citizen and business man of Putnam, of the hardware firm of Perry & Brown, and a former representative and senator, from the town and district.

HIRAM N. BROWN was born June 7, 1812, in New London, Conn., not far from the Waterford town line, a son of David and Lydia (Stebbins) Brown, natives of the same locality. David Brown was a grocery merchant for many years in New London, and a well-known citizen throughout that section of country, being prominent as a Mason. He believed in the precepts of the Golden Rule and endeavored in his daily life to keep them before him as a guide. Late in life, owing to failing health, he sought another climate, removing to Utica, N.Y., where he died and was buried. His wife, who was a member of the M.E. Church in New London, was a good Christian woman and a devoted wife and mother. Her death occurred at the home of a daughter in Woodstock, Conn., where her remains rest. Ten children were born to this couple, as follows: Peter, the eldest, who died at Charleston, S.C.; Charles, who died at Utica, N.Y.; William, who died on Staten Island; Isaac, who died in 1899, a resident of the State of Wisconsin; Sarah M.; Eliza, who married Jonah Gates and died in Woodstock, Conn.; Hiram N.; Mary Ann, who died and was buried on Staten Island; George, who died in New London; and Emma Eunice, who married Benjamin Putnam and died in Woodstock.

In childhood Hiram N. Brown attended a school taught by the then well-known master, Dow, in New London. At an early age he learned the tailor's trade with Joshua Hamilton, of New London, and in 1834 located at West Woodstock, Conn., where for twenty years he followed his trade. In 1854 he removed to Putnam, where, associated with Andrew Leavens, he opened a store for general merchandise. Two years later Mr. Brown withdrew and established the tailoring and clothing business in which he continued throughout the rest of his active business life, retiring therefrom in 1888 with a comfortable competence. While retired from business, Mr. Brown is by no means an idle man, for even at ninety he believes in being occupied, and when not busy in his garden he is active in other lines about the premises and in his home. He is a wonderfully well-preserved man for one of his years, is in possession of all of his faculties, almost unimpaired, and one would judge him to be a much younger man.

At the age of twenty, and while yet at home, young Brown, along with a number of other boys of like age, formed a temperance society, which was one of the first organizations of its kind in the State. To its principles Mr. Brown had adhered throughout his long life and to the avoidance of stimulants and tobacco, along with food properly cooked, he attributes his longevity and good health. He has been a staunch advocate of temperance all his life and has done not a little toward the uplifting of those addicted to the habit of drink, and to the elevation of the morals of humanity. On removing to West Woodstock he was the means of bringing thither lecturers on temperance, paying them out of his own pocket. This resulted in a great temperance movement in which hundreds of men signed the pledge and led temperate lives. For many years, too, Mr. Brown was a worker in the church and Sunday-school of the several localities in which he lived, being a teacher in the latter. Many years ago he united with the Congregational Church at Putnam.

Mr. Brown's political affiliations have been with both the Democratic and Republican parties, although a Republican continually since the organization of that party in 1856, casting his first Republican vote for John C. Fremont, and his last for the lamented William McKinley. His first vote was cast for Andrew Jackson for President. While a resident of Woodstock, Mr. Brown, in 1853, represented that town in the General Assembly of the State, and he has held every office in the town excepting that of selectman. In Putnam also, he has been active and prominent in public affairs, and has held all of the local offices in the town. He served seven years as postmaster of Putnam, having been appointed after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President. In fact Mr. Brown has been an all-round good and useful citizen. He has never been a member of any secret organization. He is truly a connecting link between the past and the present, being full of reminiscences, and recalls with vivid recollection early events of the nineteenth century, among them the visit of Gen. LaFayette to New London.

On Jan. 14, 1838, Mr. Brown was married at Dighton, Mass., to Harriet Hathaway, born Nov. 13, 1814, at Dighton, a daughter of Ebenezer Hathaway, and to the union came children as follows: Henry Newton, born Jan. 30, 1839, in Woodstock, who married Delia Ann Fisher, and died Feb. 18, 1890, at Woonsocket, R.I., where he had been engaged in a wood and coal business; Charles Hathaway, born Oct. 21, 1842, in Woodstock, mentioned below; Harriet Louise, born Jan. 20, 1848, who died June 29, 1854, in Putnam, and is buried there; Emma Adelphine, born Nov. 19, 1854, who married may 11, 1881, Elmer G. Tucker, of Worcester, Mass. The mother of these children died May 21, 1868, and Mr. Brown was married (second) at Pomfret, Conn., Aug. 11, 1869, to Maria S. Tucker of that town. The second Mrs. Brown was educated in the schools of Pomfret and the New Britain Normal School. For some eight years she taught school in her home town and in Woodstock, and is now one of the valued teachers in the infant class of the Sunday-school of the Putnam Congregational Church.

CHARLES HATHAWAY BROWN, son of Hiram N. was born Oct. 21, 1842, in West Woodstock, Conn., and removed with his father's family in 1854 to Putnam, where his later boyhood was passed and his preparation for business was received. In July, 1870, associated with F.W. Perry, the two established the present extensive business of the well-known hardware firm of Perry & Brown, of Putnam. During this intervening third of a century, Mr. Brown has gradually but steadily come to the front until he is one of Putnam's most substantial business men and prominent citizens. He is of that type of men who have never sought public office, but public office has sought him. In 1884 he was elected treasurer of the Putnam fire district, the duties of which he discharged and acceptably filled until 1896. Since the last named year, Mr. Brown has been the efficient treasurer of the city of Putnam. In 1887 he was elected registrar of voters and each year since has been re-elected. In 1896 he was honored by his fellow-townsmen with a seat in the General Assembly of the State, and in 1901 he became, by the suffrages of his district, the sixteenth, a member of the State Senate, in both bodies serving with intelligence and ability. In the House he was a member of the committee on Banks and Banking. Senator Brown is a member of the corporation of the Putnam Savings Bank; is a director in and president of the First national Bank of Putnam; director in the Putnam Light and Power Company.

On Sept. 1, 1866, Senator Brown was married to Caroline E. Spaulding, and to them have come three children, two of whom, Wilfred and Dell, are deceased. Harriet Hathaway, the third child, has been liberally educated, attending first the Putnam schools, later Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass., graduating in 1897. She is a member of Elizabeth Porter Putnam Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

There have been several branches of different Brown families in New London county, among them the posterity of Rev. Chad Brown, who, with his wife Elizabeth and son John, came to New England in the ship "Martin," landing at Boston in 1638. Mr. Brown entertained religious and political sentiments in sympathy with Roger Williams, and went to reside with him at Providence, R.I., and rose to prominence in that plantation. He had studied theology before coming to New England, and in Providence became settled over the church there, following Roger Williams. James Brown, of Newport, R.I., in the fourth generation from Chad (through John and James), born in 1700, married Ann Noyes, born in 1704, and their son James removed to Norwich, Conn. A brother of James Brown of the fourth generation from Chad, who was born in 1702, married Dorothy Noyes, a sister of Ann, the wife of James Brown, settled in Stonington, Conn., and made that town his home through life. These Noyes sisters were the daughters of Dr. James Noyes. Then another progenitor of the Browns in new London county was Thomas Brown, through his sons, Moses, John and Eleazer Brown, of Lynn, Mass., all of whom removed in early life to Stonington, Conn., and were the ancestors of the greater number of the Browns of Stonington.

HENRY NEWTON BROWN, the eldest son of Hiram N. Brown, was born Jan. 30, 1839, in Woodstock, Conn., and secured his education in the public schools of Putnam and at Wilbraham Academy. Beginning his business life as a clerk in Putnam, he established himself in the dry-goods business, later confining himself through several years to a shoe business and still later operating a coal and wood business. After his removal to Rhode Island, he engaged extensively in a lumber business and died at Woonsocket, in that State, Feb. 18, 1890; he was interred in the Putnam cemetery. His political identification was with the Republican party. Mr. Brown was one of the leading and most useful members of the Congregational Church. His marriage to Delia Ann Fisher, Oct. 9, 1861, resulted in the birth of two children, namely: Edward, who died in Putnam; and Louise, who married Kendall Castle, of Rochester, N.Y. Their two children are: Newton Brown and Kendall Brooks. Henry N. Brown was a member of the Masonic fraternity in Putnam. His standing as a man and citizen may be judged by an article which appeared in the columns of the Patriot, at Putnam, at the time of his decease. So well does it express the general feelings of friends, acquaintances and fellow-citizens, that the biographer gives the entire article from the pen of Rev. C.S. Brooks, one who knew him well. Mr. Brooks says:

"I very much regretted that it was impracticable for me to comply with the request to officiate at the funeral of Mr. H. Newton Brown. Since I was prevented from performing that office, allow me through the Patriot, to lay upon his casket my very affectionate and sad tribute of appreciation and respect. I found him when I came to Putnam, one of the positive, enterprising and aggressive men who had given the brave, growing town a type of its own, and a type both heroic and worthy it was. Mr. Brown was one of the prominent representatives of both the daring and the honor which composed the type. His aspiration, alertness, vivacity and enthusiasm set him well toward the front of the pushing and courageous body of men that were fashioning this rising township. I question whether there was a single movement that looked toward the solid progress of the place which did not have his sympathy and alliance. And it is very much to take a community when everything is in the crude state, and have faith in the future of it, and then to proceed and plan and fashion that future. You say, now, that he is dead. But as you look about you, he lives and speaks in the fine facilities and appointments which on so many sides make up this body public.

"As a husband, father, son and brother, only they can tell adequately what he was whose desolation in this bereavement is unspeakable. He was a man, not merely with a fertile mind and active hand, but he was emphatically a man with a heart. A heart with the strength of a man and the tenderness and warmth of a woman, a heart such as God makes when he creates a whole man. We rejoice to sit in the light and heat of its gladness and glow, and wherever it goes, it carries summertime. May that circle of kindred who in expressible anguish will miss his genial presence and cheer, be compensated and upborne by the Almighty Father and Elder Brother. 'My grace shall be sufficient for thee, My strength shall be made perfect in weakness.'

One less at home --- The charmed circle broken; a dear face Missed day by day from its accustomed place; But cleansed and saved and perfected by grace, One more in Heaven.

One less at home --- A sense of loss that meets us at the gate; Within, a place unfilled and desolate; And far away our coming to await, One more in Heaven.

"As we pause reverently by his bier, we should take note, and take to heart, that he was pre-eminently a Christian man. Boldly and unswervingly he stood shoulder to shoulder with other citizens on the temperance issue in town when it was anything but a holiday matter to do it. Squarely and manfully he met the question. Religion was a part of his life. It was no cant with him, no conventional thing, nothing that he put on upon occasion; but he wore it as he wore his face. I have known scarcely any man who could speak on personal religion with an un-Christian man more naturally, normally than he. Many is the man, I doubt not, who can recall the frank, manly words he has spoken to them about being a Christian. He had that tact and open heart that made him an apt servant of his Lord. He has won, I trust, in his wayside work gems for his crown which will make it resplendent in the day of Jesus Christ. He has been called in at noon, to lay down pen and sickle and assume, we trust, some of the high tasks of Heaven. As we gaze up after him through the parted heavens, in affectionate remembrance, may the gracious lessons of his life inspire us to prompt, devout and abundant labor for the same Lord."

Reproduced by:  Linda D. Pingel


Return to Main Page

This page was created by Linda Pingel on April 7, 2008
copyright 2008 - all rights reserved