Brown is one of those-seem-to-be-everywhere surnames, too common and too generic to easily climb the branches of the right family tree. I do not know where the root may have sprung up or when any seeds spread across the pond to America. My best guess is my line of Browns is Irish.
Certainly the Browns were long-time residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania and Quaker at one time, so perhaps they were Welsh also. They drifted off to the Methodists at some point of history. There is a link to former President Richard M. Nixon, whether that is something I should say or keep to myself is the question. Nixon may fall into the category of skeletons in the closet. Should anyone admit to a man who’ll do a ye-haw on a tractor with a cowboy hat while dressed in suit and tie?
Families who have dwelled in Chester County from the 1700s as Quakers are all pretty much relatives now. I’m related one way or the other to Darlingtons, Brintons, Downings, Dunlaps, Thomases and of course the Milhouses.
Case in point: Joshua Baldwin was a son of John Baldwin, an immigrant from Oxfordshire, England to Aston, Pennsylvania prior to 1689. Joshua was born at West Chester in 1721 and in 1747 at a Quaker Meetinghouse in Goshen married Miss Mercy Brown. Mercy was my 5-Great Grand Aunt, sister of my 5-Great Grandfather George H. Brown. Joshua and Mercy had among their seven children a girl named Hannah. Hannah Baldwin married William Milhous in 1767 and you might say some history was in the making. William Milhous was Richard Nixon’s Great-Great Grandfather and like it or nor this made me a fourth cousin to the disgraced President.3
Joshua Baldwin stands proof of the intertwining of we Chester County families. He had three wives, Mercy being number two after his first wife, Sarah Downing died. After Mercy’s passing he took a third spouse, Ann Meredith. Brown, Downing and Meredith are all family antecedents of yours truly.
George H. Brown was the Grandfather of Francis Fizz Brown (1855-1911). By this time the family were members in good standing at the Grove Methodist Episcopal Church. The contractors 4
Francis Fizz Brown was a builder of barns. He took a fatal fall off a slippery barn roof in Phoenixville and died after some hours of suffering. He was 56 years old.5 Forty-six years later his Grandson and namesake, my maternal Grandfather, was to die at 57 years of age.
My Great Grandfather Millard Charlton Brown also was a builder, taking the business a step further and constructing many of the homes that dotted his corner of the county, especially along Boot Road in West Whiteland Township. Millard died in one of the houses he built, broken-hearted after the death of his wife, Sara Anne Smiley. Millard and Sara had four boys and a girl. Millard trained the boys in aspects of the building trade, Millard Jr. (known as Bus) was an electrician, Ralph did plumbing and Paul kept books. My Grandfather, Francis (known as Brownie) was a carpenter. (Pictured on left are Millard Charlton
3. Records of Goshen Meetinghouse
The Downing Family
4. Martha Leigh Wolf and Diane Sekura Snyder
A History Of West Whiteland
West Whiteland Historical Commission
5. Daily Local News
West Chester, Pa.
November 2, 1911
Stored in the Chester County Historical Society Library