Notes on the
Long and Mysterious Life of
by Neil Allen Bristow
Hukey Brown was born about 1767 near the Chesapeake, and he was much traveled, moving from Maryland to Virginia to northeastern Georgia to the middle Tennessee Valley to Fayette County, Tennessee near Memphis and finally to De Soto County in northwestern Mississippi, where he died in his eighties. His antecedents are unknown, but he may have been accompanied on his wanderings by some close relatives, such as Bedford, Stephen, and Abraham Brown, and later by Robert Brown, all of whose names occur in connection with Hukey's.1
The origin of his unusual given name (sometimes given as Huky, occasionally as Hewkey or even Hughkey) has so far proved elusive.2 It may, however, provide hints as to his ancestry. A tantalizing lead came from a pedigree submitted to the World Family Tree: Another, much younger, Hukey Brown volunteered for service in the Mexican War from Jackson County, Indiana, along with his brother William. Army records record him as a private in Company C, 2nd Indiana Infantry (raised from Clay County). According to family tradition, both brothers died before they returned home, one on the Gulf of Mexico and the other on the Mississippi. However a Hukey Brown married Sarah Henderson in Jackson County in December 1848, and was counted in 1850 (without a wife), so the family tradition that both brothers died in the War seems to be in error.3 The Jacob Brown family had moved to southern Indiana at an early date, and sources are silent as to their origin, but if they came from the Chesapeake area, possibly by way of Kentucky, there may be a familial connection with our subject.
Hukey's daughter, Harriet Brown Laughter (1814-1884), was the mother of Amanda Laughter who married John Thomas 30 Dec 1868 in De Soto County, Mississippi. According to The Laughter Family Genealogy, Harriet was one of three Brown sisters who married three Laughter brothers. Harriet, the eldest, married John Joseph Laughter around 1830, probably in Fayette County, Tennessee. Cyrena (also spelled Syrena), who was born about 1820), married Edward T. Laughter about 1836, and died around 1880. Mary Jane Brown (1823-1898) married Thomas Murrey Laughter 23 December 1847 in De Soto County, Mississippi, the same day and with the same minister as her sister Susan married Alex G. Perryman. All four sisters were born in Alabama to Hukey Brown and an unknown wife.4
No listing for Hukey Brown is found in the fragmentary early census records for Alabama. The IGI is likewise silent. However, his name is found earlier, in northeastern Georgia (in Franklin and Jackson Counties). Before 1800, he had lived on Flat Creek in Franklin County (exact location unknown) as shown by a reference in a deed of a neighbor's land.5
There is substantial documentation that he lived on the north side of Grove Creek in Franklin County, next to Jesse Holland and Philip Mabry. He sold 50 acres of this land to Mabry in 18036 and 100 acres to Holland in 1805.7
In 1805 he registered for the State Land Lottery for a chance on to obtain lands newly opened for white settlement. He was eligible for and took two chances, one for himself and one for his wife and children. Neither entry won.8 Although the lottery entry indicates Hukey was married by 1805, his wife's name never appears on deeds or other records.
The latest date on which Hukey appears in area records is 12 Jan 1808, when he witnessed a deed from Abram Brown to Jonathan B. Walker for 52 acres in "Cabbin Creek" in Jackson County.9
He lost or abandoned another 340 acres of the Grove Creek land as the result of suits by Charles McKinney of Jackson County. James Terrell, Sheriff of Franklin County, seized the land and sold it at auction in February 1812. (The buyer was McKinney, who paid only $6.00.)10
He had apparently left the area by 1809, because in that year his name appeared on a list of delinquent taxpayers in Jackson County, published in a newspaper of the time, The Foreign Correspondent and Georgia Express.11 He also appears in a similar notice two years later.12
In Georgia, Hukey's name appears in connection with other Browns, notably Stephen and Abram (or Abraham). 'Hugh', Abraham, and Steven Brown appear on Franklin Tax lists for 1803, and Stephen and 'Hickey' Brown in 1806.13 Also in the area was a Bedford Brown, who played an active role in local affairs, rising to become a justice of the peace for Jackson County. Since Hukey named a son (born about 1812) Bedford, the elder Bedford Brown may have been a close relative.
From Georgia, he apparently lived for a time in Franklin County, Tennessee, where 'Herky Brown' was among property owners signing a petition protesting high taxes about 1812. He moved downstream along the Tennessee River to the Florence, Alabama area, where he remained up to the mid-1820s. 'Herky Brown' was elected as a Justice of the Peace in Lauderdale County, Alabama 26 Mar 1821, and 13 Dec 1823. He was sitting there as a JP as late as Decemeber 1825.14
Then he moved west to Fayette County, Tennessee, near where William Benjamin Laughter and his large family from North Carolina settled. 'Huky Brown' (aged between 20 and 30) is listed on page 42 of the Fayette County returns in 1830, with a female aged 15-20; William Benjamin Laughter is listed on page 37.15 In 1828, Hukey was summoned for jury duty in the Circuit Court of Fayette County, hearing 12 cases on two days in mid-July. He and his colleagues found for the plaintiffs in all but one case. In 1833 he and two others were commissioned to "settle with the administrator of the estate of Henry Owen, deceased," that is, to examine the administrator's accounts. In the following year he was elected by the County Court to serve as Constable "for the next two years". In January of 1834 he was appointed to administer the estate of James (or Janus) Hausey, a matter which dragged on until June of 1837. Hawsey's widow, Jane, apparently died in this period because at the same Court meeting which approved his administration of the estate, Hukey was named guardian of their five "minor orphans."16 It has been suggested that Jane might have been another of Hukey's daughters, but since her children did not share in his estate the relationship could not have been that close.
Hukey Brown was one of the pioneer settlers of De Soto County, serving as the first President of the Board of Police Commissioners, as the local governing body was titled, in 1836,17 so he must have commuted back across the Tennessee line to wind up the Hawseys' affairs, which might help explain why the matter dragged on for so long. Perhaps a son remained in Fayette County because the 1840 Census lists an 'H. B. Brown' in that location.18 The same census finds a fifty-plus Hukey Brown in De Soto County with three teenage boys and two girls, with one older male and three older females, for a total of ten in the household. (Some of the children may have been the Hawsey orphans.) The eldest female (in her twenties) may have been a second wife, also counted in 1830.19 Hukey died intestate in 1849.
It appears that Hukey was married at least twice (perhaps three times) but we do not know the names of any of his wives. There is a tradition that one of them was Claudia Hunt, daughter of a Michael Hunt. The Hunt family connections with the Laughters have been well-documented. Both families lived in the North Carolina Piedmont just south of the Virginia line, in the late 1700s. William Benjamin Laughter (1788-1837) and Frances "Frankey" Hunt (1878-1861) had married in Warren County in 1807, four years later her sister Ann Mary Hunt wed his brother John Langford Laughter, and Groves Hunt had married Susan Laughter two years after that. Frankey had a brother named Michael who married another Frankey Hunt (a first cousin) in 1812, but there were only two known children from their short marriage (he died in 1815). Perhaps Michael Hunt had an earlier, unrecorded marriage or there was a cousin of the same name.20 If Hukey did marry a Claudia Hunt, the wedding may occurred in Franklin County, Tennessee, or more likely in Fayette County, where both the Browns and the Laughters were living from the mid 1820s, but documentation is missing.
Hukey may have had a dozen children. Their number and names are unclear, but the probate records settling his estate provide the best clues.21 Since only the children born after 1800 (and their descendants) shared in the estate, the administrators (and the court) did not know of any older children. Had there been any, they would have been entitled to equal shares. Either Hukey married for the first time in his thirties (rather late for that period), or his first marriage produced no surviving children. (The eldest surviving child, Sarah Brown Perryman, was born about 1805 in Georgia, according to census records.)22
The administrators of his estate were Bedcar Perryman, the husband of his eldest daughter, Sarah, and Wesley H. Brown, a younger son. The records clearly indicate the three daughters who married the three Laughter brothers and the two daughters who married Perryman brothers. Sons included were (in addition to Wesley) Bedford, John, Louis, and Milton. Milton, who was still a minor in 1852, may actually have been a grandson, the child of the H. B. Brown who was counted in Fayette in 1840. Also among the heirs were two grandchildren, James C. Ealey and Eliza Jane Ealey (who had married William T Douglas in 1846).
Thus a tentative Brown family group would include:
+ (First wife)
|-- Jane? Brown
|-- Sarah Brown*
|-- Hukey Brown, Jr ?
|-- (Female) Brown*
|-- Bedford Brown*
|-- Harriet Brown*
|-- Cyrena Brown*
|-- Wesley H. Brown*
|-- Mary Jane Brown*
+ (Claudia Hunt?)
|-- Susan Brown*
|-- John Brown*
|-- Louis Brown*
|-- Angeline Brown*
|-- Milton Brown*
| ca 1767 - 1849
? - abt 1824
ca 1801 - bef 1834
ca 1805 - ?
ca 1807 - bef 1850
ca 1809 - bef 1850
ca 1812 - 1882
1814 - 1884
ca 1820? - ?
ca 1822? - ?
1823 - 1898
? - bef 1850
ca 1825 - ?
ca 1825 - ?
ca 1827 - ?
1829 - 1913
ca 1834 - ?
(married abt 1800)
md. James/Janus Hawsey
md. Bedcar Perryman
who remained in Tennessee.
md. (Male) Ealey
md. Margaret McWilliams
md. John Joseph Laughter
md. Edwin T. Laughter
(Not traced after 1870)
md. Thomas M. Laughter
(married abt 1823)
md Alex G. Perryman
(Not traced after 1852)
(Not traced after 1852)
md Felix Perryman
(still a minor in 1852)
* They or their children shared in Hukey Brown's estate in De Soto County probate proceedings.
Census records for De Soto County bear out the connections: In 1850 a Louis Brown, a farm laborer aged 22, was living in the household of Edward and Syrena (Brown) Laughter. In the same neighborhood was a three-family household: Thomas and Mary Jane (Brown) Laughter with two small children; William Douglas, a carpenter (26) from Alabama and his wife, E- J- (21), also from Alabama with a two-year-old daughter. Also Wesley Brown (28), a farmer with real estate valued at $1000, which was higher than the average. In the next house resided John Joseph and Harriet (Brown) Laughter with their nine children, including Hukey Brown Laughter (17) and Amanda B[rown?] Laughter (7)23 (In 1860 the Edward Laughter household included James Douglass, age 8.)24 Another grandson, William Hukey Laughter, son of Mary Jane and Thomas Murrey Laughter, shared Hukey's unusual name, so he must have been fondly remembered by his children.
So much about Hukey remains unknown. I have attempted to organize fragments of information to present one possible picture. If anyone has additional information that could make the picture clearer, please drop me a note.
(Click on footnote number to reurn to text.)
1 The Mortality Schedule of the 1850 Census for De Soto County, Mississippi gives his age as 83, his cause of death as "old age" and his birthplace as Virginia. John Brown has done yeoman work teasing out traces of the mysterious Brown family. The late Elizabeth N. Manning, long time an active member of the De Soto Genealogical Society, was also diligent in digging out old records and gracious in sharing her research with others.
2 Some researchers have stated that his name was "William Hukey" but in every contemporary document I have seen it is given simply as "Hukey" (or some spelling thereof). I have seen speculation that Hukey is a nickname for Henry. None of the standard sources list such a connection, but it is within the realm of possibility, considering that Sukey came somehow from Sarah. For more, see "Who Is Hukey Williams?"
3 Oran Perry, Adjutant General, Indiana in the Mexican War (Indianapolis, 1908). Abstracts posted on <http://vax1.vigo.lib.in.us/~jmounts/mexican/2ndcmw.htm>. 1850 Census Jackson County, Indiana, 177. Carr Twp, fam 120. Hukey Brown, 26, was in the household of David Brown, 28, and Olivia, 16. All born Indiana. He is not found ten years later.
5 Franklin Deeds TT: 58-59. 1 Dec 1800: Alexander Beard of Jackson co to David Shelton of JC $285 100 ac in FC on s fk of Flat Cr being part of 140 ac where John Owen lived, adj land where Huky Brown formerly lived, Pittock, Canterberry, Maxfield Kennedy. Wit Joseph Hampton. Rec 14 Jan 1812. Martha Walters Acker, Deeds of Franklin County, Georgia, 1784-1826 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1976), 289.
6 Franklin Deeds RRR: 83-84. 12 Sep 1803: Hewkey Brown of FC to Philip Mabery. $170 50 ac in FC on Grove Riv, on line between Bush and Holland. /s/ Huky Brown Wit John Machen. Rec 10 Feb 1809. Franklin Deeds, 248.
7 Franklin County Deeds PP: 63. 20 Mar 1805: Hughkey Brown to Jesse Holland Sr, both of Franklin Co, In cons. of $500 conveys 100 ac in FC on Grove River, whereon said Brown now lives, adj Philip Mabry, Allen, Randall, being part of land granted to Reuben Allen 'in the year eighty eight' /s/ Hukey Brown. Wit John Machen, James Young. Sworn to by Machen before M Wilcox, JP, 17 Aug 1805. Recorded 20 Dec 1806. [Holland sold the land to his son Jesse Jr, 9 Oct 1806. PP: 62.] Franklin Deeds, 207.
8 Frances Wynd, Franklin County, Georgia, Records ( Albany, GA: author, n.d.), 46.
9 Jackson County Deeds E: 149. 12 Jan 1808: [Metes & bounds description] Also witnessed by James Mitchell, who swore to its authenticity 7 Feb 1809 before James Willson, JP. Rec. 17 Mar 1809. Faye Stone Poss, Jackson County, Georgia Deed Abstracts, Books E - G 1808 - 1822, (Snellville, GA: Faye Stone Poss, 2000), 33. (Stephen Brown appears in the next document, E: 150, as a witness to deed of Mordicai Benton to Abraham Brown for Brown's purchase of the 52 acres on Cabbin Creek 4 Mar 1804, but not recorded until 17 Mar 1809.)
10 Franklin County Deeds TT: 63-64. 4 Feb 1812: Sheriff's Deed Rec 11 Feb 1812. James Terrell, Sheriff of FC to Charles McKinney of Jackson co. In cons $6.00 conveys 340 ac in FC on waters of Grove Fork of Broad River. Said land was levied on as the property of Hukey Brown to satisfy two judgements against Hukey Brown, obtained by Charles McKinney before Jesse Smith Esq of JC, and was sold at auction 4 Feb 1812 to the highest bidder. /s/ Jas Terrell. wit H Terrell, John R Brown, JP. Franklin Deeds, 290.
11 30 Dec 1809 (Vol II, No 82). He was among those in Capt. Hampton's District. (Early militia units doubled as taxing divisions.)
12 17 Jan 1812 (Vol IV No 182). Capt. James Patton's District. The paper had shortened its name to The Georgia Express.
13 See Indexes on Automated Archives CDs. There are also entries for 'M' and 'N' Brown, in other years which might be transcription errors for 'H' Brown. Jackson and Franklin County records contain many references to Stephen, Abraham, Thomas and Bedford Brown, but nothing to prove kinship to one another or to Hukey.
14 Franklin County, Tennessee Historical Review v 13 n 2 (1982). p --; "Alabama civil registry of county officials Volume I, 1819-1832" in Valley Leaves v 5 n 4 (Jun 1971): 140, 142. Estate sale of John Jones in Lauderdale Co shows Huky Brown, JP. Southern Genealogists Exchange Quarterly v 14 (Spring 1973) Issue 65: 3. My thanks to John Brown for running down the sources, which he had misplaced.
15 1830 Census. Fayette County, Tennessee. 37, 42.
16 Fayette County Court Minutes 1:243. 252-265 (Jury duty); A:244 (Constable); A:124, 201; B:42, 50, 169, 182 (Hawsey estate); B:181 (Hawsey orphans).
17 Mildred M. Scott, 19th Century Hernando (Hernando, MS: De Soto County Genealogical Society, n.d.), 2.
18 1840 Census. Fayette County, Tennessee, 142. If this was a son, he predeceased his father, because no such person shared in the estate.
19 De Soto County, Mississippi, 106. Perhaps this was Claudia.
20 Rhonda Entrikin wrote 14 Sep 2000 that her husband's family had "a chest of drawers made by Michael Hunt for Angeline's marriage to Felix Perryman. Accompanying the chest is a letter from an aunt of Edward [Entikin]'s detailing how it was made for Angeline and the many places it had been. My father in law is 83 yr's old and has had this chest for many years." (See the message.) Since Angeline Brown was not born until 1829, fourteen years after the death of Michael Hunt (Frances' brother) in 1815, he could not easily have made the chest for Angeline. For help in untangling the cousins, see Douglas Laughter's data.
21 De Soto County Records, Probate Case 398. De Soto County Genealogical Society, Courthouse Attic, Hernando, MS. Administration granted to B Perryman and Wesley H Brown, Jan 1850. Appraisal ordered Mar 1850. Suit to clear title to town lots Apr 1850, Feb 1852. Administrators ask for Final Settlement Apr 1852.
22 1850 Census, De Soto County, Mississippi, p. 385. "Perryman, Sarah 44 - GA.." Northern Division, family 250; 1860 Census, Greene County, Arkansas, p. 540. "Perryman, Sarah 55 kh GA." Salem Twp, Herndon PO, family 157.
23 1850 Census. De Soto County, Mississippi, 371, 373.
24 1860 Census, De Soto County, Mississippi, 202.