PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903          P.  746

JOHN A. BROWN. The family of which John A. Brown is a typical representative is one of the oldest and most honored in Windham county. For the most part earnest tillers of the soil, there has developed from their orderly and well directed ranks not only brawn but brain, and some of their members are known through the medium of their literary attainments and many sided culture. The latter day descendant of whom special mention is here made was formerly one of the largest dairy and stock farmers in Ashford, his farm of 225 acres being specially adapted to this means of livelihood. A teacher in his youth, a courageous soldier during the Civil war, a merchant for many years, and one of the staunchest upholders of the Republican party in the county, he has embellished his various avenues of activity with practical and lasting results, and maintained the ancestral reputation for fair dealing and wise conservatism.

John A. Brown is of the eighth generation from John Brown the “Assistant,” who was acquainted with the Pilgrims at Leyden before 1620 and came to Plymouth colony before 1636. (Morton’s N. E. Memorial, pp. 295, 296, 297.)

(I) Capt. John Brown, of Swansea, Mass., was among the very early settlers of Windham county, Conn. Nov. 8, 1672, he married Ann Mason, daughter of Major John Mason, of Norwich, Conn., and his death occurred before June 11, 1711. Between 1675 and 1690 the following children were born to him and his wife: Daniel, Ebenezer, Daniel, Stephen, and Joseph. Captain Samuel Mason in 1677 conveyed a 1000-acre right to Capt. John Brown, which land was located on the present site of Willimantic.

(II) Stephen Brown, born Jan. 29, 1687-88, married in June, 1729, Mary Risley, who died in 1730. During that same year he married Abigail Rugg, daughter of Thomas Rugg, of Mansfield, Conn., who died in November, 1731. Stephen Brown married for a third wife, in 1734, Mary Jacobs. His children were called, Abigail, Mary, John and Stephen.

(III) John Brown, born June 18, 1742, married, Dec. 22, 1763, Sybil Barrows, and tradition says that he had been formerly married, and that his third wife was formerly a Miss Fitch, his first having been a Miss Palmer. His marriage to Sybil Barrows is recorded in Weaver’s notes, as are also the following named children: Lydia, John, Eunice, Clarissa, Asenath, Sybil, Jabez, and Lucinda. John Brown was a large land owner in the town of Windham, his home being located on the Coventry road. During the war he is said to have been engaged in the making of saltpetre for powder used by the colonial army.

(IV) John Brown (3) was born Nov. 16, 1769, married, Oct. 10, 1793, Olive Martin, and had the following children: Julia, Roswell, Olive, Nathan, and Eliphalet; by his second wife, Elisabeth Palmer, he had Albert Banks, Maria Arnold, Elias Palmer, Wealthy, Sarah, John, Dwight and Ralph Williams. Mr. Brown was a farmer and never removed from the property owned by his ancestors. He is buried in a family yard on the Coventry road between Willimantic and Coventry.

(V) Eliphalet Brown, the father of John A., was born in Windham, Oct. 18, 1801, and was reared as were the other lads of his time. Although a hard worker on the home farm he managed to acquire a fair education, and was subsequently engaged in teaching for several terms. After his marriage he located on a rented farm in Ashford owned by his father-in-law, and at the end of two years removed to Willimantic, where he conducted a boarding house up to the time of his death, Oct. 6, 1834. He is buried in a cemetery on the Coventry road near Willimantic. March 27, 1829, he married Ermina Preston, born Aug. 16, 1801, a native of Ashford, and daughter of Solomon and Susannah (Hawes) Preston. Two children were born of this union: John Albert, born July 13, 1830; and Theron, born April 29, 1832. Theron Brown is a well known literary man of Boston, Mass., and was educated at the Connecticut Literary Institute, at Suffield, and Yale College, later graduating from the East Windsor Hill Theological Seminary. He also attended Newton Theological Seminary, and is a man of broad culture and many attainments. For several years he preached in the Baptist churches of Framingham and South Canton, Mass., but his voice failing he was obliged to abandon his chosen calling and live a less strenuous life. He is a poet and general writer, and is one of the editors of the Youth’s Companion. His son, Bennett Albert, was drowned at the age of thirteen years; and his daughter, Helen Preston, deceased, was the wife of Walter B. Allen, of Boston, Mass. The mother of John A. Brown married for her second husband, Lucius Horton, and she died in Ashford, July 2, 1886.

(VI) John A. Brown lived on the maternal farm in the northwestern part of Ashford, and attended the district schools and the East Hartford Academy, in which latter institution he fitted himself for college. His plans for a higher education were seriously interferred with on account of impaired sight, and he was forced to return to the home farm, where he remained until 1852. He then purchased the interest of John Dunham in the store of Dunham & Spalding, at Ashford Village, the firm thereafter becoming Brown & Spalding. A couple of years later he bought out the interest of Mr. Spalding, and soon after took in James G. Gaylord, the firm name then being J. A. Brown & Co. This association continued until the disposal of the entire business to Mr. Gaylord, after which Mr. Brown repaired to the farm of his step-father, Mr. Horton, in which he had a half interest. The breaking out of the Civil war found him busily engaged in improving his share of the farm, and in August, 1862, he left his wife and three small children, and enlisted in Co. D, 1st C.V.I., for a three years’ service. The regiment was under the command of Colonel Arthur H. Dutton, and after two or three months in the field, Mr. Brown was detailed after the battle of Fredericksburg as brigade hospital steward, in which capacity he served for about a year. He was later transferred to the custom house in Norfolk City, and there engaged in clerical work until his discharge from the service in June, 1865. During the war he was given two furloughs home, and when peace was restored he again joined his family in Ashford, and soon after purchased his present farm, known as the Cady Place. He has since resided on that finely improved property, but for some years has been retired from his extensive dairying operations. He has devoted large sums of money to perfecting the details of his home surroundings.

On Jan. 3, 1854, Mr. Brown married Sarah B. Simmons, born in Ashford, Dec. 23, 1829, a daughter of Benjamin C. and Mariette (Byles) Simmons. The oldest of the children of this union is Fred. E. Brown, born Feb. 17, 1857, who married Abigail R. Byles, of Ashford. Mr. Brown is engaged in the insurance business in Bridgeport, Conn., and is a skillful musician, being especially expert as a cornetist. To him and his wife have been born two children, Ruth M. and Richard H. Anna P. Brown was born Oct. 8, 1859, and is at present engaged in teaching. Miss Brown has a superior education acquired at the Westfield (Mass.) Normal School, and she was for several years principal of writing in the West Springfield and Chicopee high schools. Herbert S. Brown was born March 12, 1862; on attaining his majority he went to Bismarck, N.D., and for about sixteen years resided west of the Mississippi. During the Spanish war he joined a regiment of the regular army in Texas, and went to Manila, from which place after more than a year’s service, he returned home with impaired health. He has since regained his strength, and is now living at home with his parents. Robert H., the youngest child in the family, was born July 1, 1870, and was educated at the Willimantic high school and at Bryant & Stratton’s Business College, at Providence, R.I. He is now chief clerk in the office of the superintendent of the N.Y., N.H. & H.R.R., at Providence.

As a Republican John A. Brown has been one of the most active promoters of his party in Windham county, and although Ashford is Democratic he has held many important offices of a local nature. He has served on the board of relief, as grand juror, town auditor, registrar of voters, school visitor and justice of the peace. In 1858 he represented the town at the session held at New Haven, and was an officer of internal revenue under Com. Washburn. He is a charter member of the Ashford Grange, of which he has served as lecturer, and he is a member of the T. G. Brown Post, No. 79, of Chaplin, of which he has served as quartermaster. When a young man he united with the Westford Congregational Church, and was afterward transferred to Ashford, of which latter church he has been a deacon for the past twenty years. He is now church clerk and treasurer. His wife and daughter are also members and active workers in the Ashford church.

Reproduced by:  Linda D. Pingel


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