Monday, February 24, 2014

Thomas Brown, Native of Ohio 1843-1927 (52 Ancestors #8)

Thomas Brown was my great-great-grandfather on my Grandma Ethel's side.  His parents and siblings are unknown at this stage of my research.  However, there are hints of a father or brother named James, mother Sarah and a Van Pelt line.

Thomas was a husband, father, farmer and Civil War veteran.  He was also Ohio through and through.  With two exceptions discovered so far, he resided there all of his life beginning on June 3, 1843 until his death on April 7, 1927 at almost the age of 84.  Thomas lived in at least three counties:
  • Highland (Jackson Township)
  • Clinton (Wilson Township and Blanchester)
  • Warren (Lebanon, Harlan Township and Morrow)
Civil War Service
From 1862 to 1865 he mustered in and out of the Civil War at Camp Chase and Camp Dennison in Hamilton County, Ohio.  His service took him about 46 miles away from home using a current day map.  He was only 19 years old.   Thomas's first tour of duty was with Company D, 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on July 2, 1862.  His second tour was with the 24th Ohio Light Artillery [Hill's Independent. Battery] on July 27, 1863.

About 1881 when he was 38 or so, Thomas filed his initial Civil War pension claim on the basis of the effects of measles he acquired during his service.  His claim would be approved eventually.  For the next 45 years until his death, he continued to file claims for pension increases.  Documents obtained in his pension file revealed several medical affidavits and notarized testimony of his health from personal friends.  Following his death, his widow, Rebecca Edwards Brown, filed and was approved for a widow's pension.

Marriage and Family
On January 30, 1866 Thomas married Jane Clark of Adams County, Ohio.  They had three children:
  • Joseph Daniel Brown born 1867
  • Ida May Brown born 1868 or 1869
  • Hannah Ellen Brown born 1872
Ida May Brown was my Grandma Ethel's mother.  Ida was born in Worth County, Missouri according to her marriage and death records.  However, no other evidence supports that claim.  Perhaps a relative or neighbor of the Browns and Clarks lived in Worth County who drew the family there.  Some evidence suggests that Joseph and Hannah were born in Ohio.  Clues to follow-up on!

On January 10, 1880, a divorce notice appeared in the local newspaper.  Thomas had filed for divorce from Jane based on her "wilful absence for more than three years last past".  The divorce was granted on February 20, 1880 due to her non-response.  The children were not mentioned in the decree.  Census records indicated that Joseph remained with his father and Hannah became the 'adopted' daughter of Mahlon and Margaret Clark, Jane's brother.  The mystery remains as to who raised Ida, my great-grandmother.  She never spoke about her childhood so I'm currently piecing together her life through photos and newspaper articles when she moved to California hoping for hints related to the people with whom she interacted.

 On February 22, 1880, Thomas married Rebecca Edwards.  They had four children:
  • Emma Blanche Brown born 1880
  • Frank Leslie Brown born 1882
  • Ollie Agnes Brown born 1885
  • Murta Alma Brown born 1889
The life of Jane Clark Brown took a far different path.  In December 1881 she was committed to the Athens Insane Asylum in Athens, Ohio.  She remained there for the rest of her life, her brother Mahlon Clark serving as her guardian. 

I'm fortunate to be in touch with a descendant of a child of Thomas and Rebecca who is also interested in genealogy.  With our combined efforts we hope to learn more about the lives of the Browns, Clarks and Edwards.  Based on family stories and information in the pension record, Thomas Brown lived a quiet life, worked when possible despite various infirmities and was a respected, god-faring man.

Note: This is another article for the series in which I'm participating, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.  The story was originally posted on June 17, 2013.

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