Search billions of records on

David Brown: 1784 - 1868




RESEARCHERS -- James Hargraves. James Brown, Judy Voran, Marilu Werrell, Kay Van Der Ostyne, Ann Turner


Clicking on the Table of Contents Link will take you to the named section heading. Clicking on the section heading will bring you to the Table of Contents section.

























David Brown was born in North Carolina about 1784, according to federal land and 1850 census records. Further evidence from these records indicates that David Brown was born in what was then North Carolina, and, according to the research of James Hargraves, was the son of William Brown and Mary Anne (Leeper) Brown. There are records for a William Brown in Warren County, Tennessee in 1808, White County, Tennessee in 1807, and Smith Co TN in 1806 -- a petition to form Warren CO and what may be records of land grants, deeds and tax lists for this William and his father William in Roane, Hawkins, Sullivan, and Washington counties in Tennessee.

David Brown most likely married his wife Sarah in Smith or White County or Warren County, Tennessee about 1808. David first appears in recorded documents in 1807 in an order for a land survey in Warren County, Tennessee. The land was sold in 1814 when David, probably accompanied by his father William and brothers, Thomas, Alexander, Guian Leeper, and William moved south from Warren and Franklin County, Tennessee to the new lands that were opened to settlers in Alabama by treaty with the Creek Indians after the defeat of the Cherokees at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. David, William, Alexander, and Thomas Brown are listed on the 1816 census for the residents of Monroe County, Mississippi Territory.

David purchased a large tract near Ashville from the federal land office in 1819, and he served on the County's first jury. He appears a number of times thereafter in the County records. David was a farmer his entire life and eventually acquired more than 700 acres in an area two to three miles north east of the Ashville courthouse along present-day Highway 411. David's brother Alexander Brown was a trader with the Indians and the organizational meetings for the county were held at his trading post near Ashville, St. Clair County. Guian Leeper Brown, brother of David and Alexander was the first constable of St. Clair County.

The 1820 Federal census Alexander and David Brown lists in adjoining households with the listing for G. L. Brown six households away. Alexander and G. L. Brown had left the county by the 1830 U. S, Census.

The name of David's wife has not been proved, but family history has persistently known her as "Sarah". No primary source material has been located either to confirm or refute this memory, although the tombstone of David's son, Miller, in Mississippi, names Miller's mother as "S. Brown". The discussion below will present more detail about the identity of David’s wife Sarah.

Early researchers mistakenly concluded that David took a second wife, Sarah "Sally" Battles, on the sole evidence that Saint Clair court records show a marriage between Sarah (daughter of Samuel Battles) and a David Brown in 1831. Evidence, however, clearly indicates that Sarah Battles did not marry the same David Brown who is the subject of this article. In fact, at least two other David Browns lived in the County in 1831. The David who married Sarah "Sally" Battles is now thought to have been a nephew of the David Brown who is the subject of this article.

Documented children of David Brown include Miller (born 1809; married Delinda Philips; died in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, 1862); Louisa (born about 1811; married Washington Langford; probably died in Saint Clair County, after 1880); William Marion (born 1813; married Elvira Dearman; died in Marion County, Arkansas, 1856); Lou Hannah or "Lehaney" (born about 1814 to 1817; married first Gillum Dearman, married second James Frazier; died in Marion County, Arkansas, 1880); Margaret (born 1820; married Evan Watkins, Jr.; died in Craighead County, Arkansas, 1882); Jasper (born 1822; married Elizabeth Cox; died in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, 1857); Rebecca (born about 1830; married the Reverend Jasper Sibert; died in Craighead County, Arkansas, 1891); Marion (born about 1831; married Margaret Catherine Dearman; died of measles in 1863 while serving as Lieutenant with the 51st Alabama Cavalry); Harriet (born about 1833; married William G. C. Lewis; lived in Noxubee County, Mississippi, in 1873; place of death unknown); and Unity (born 1834; married James Harkey Beason; died in Saint Clair County, 1910). All of these offspring except Marion are known to have had children of their own, and genealogists have traced many descendants to the present day.

Family Group Sheet for David Brown Family

David Brown lived to be eighty-four; he died in August 1868. Legend says he was buried on his farm in an unmarked family cemetery alongside his wife and three slaves. These graves are on land now occupied by his great-great granddaughter, Ruby Lee Beason (Mrs. Charles) Braswell, and her family. David's offspring, now spanning at least nine generations, have spread across America from Atlantic to Pacific. (From the records of Marvin Ryan, Jim Brown and James Hargraves.)


David Brown lists his birthplace as North Carolina on the 1850 and 1860 censuses, but his actual birthplace may very well have been in what we now know as eastern Tennessee.

It may be helpful to an understanding of the history of the area of the country in which David was born to establish a rough timeline:

There are records for the two William Browns thought to be David Brown's father and grandfather in Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, Roane and Knox counties. Hawkins County, Tennessee at one time included the area that is now part of Hawkins, Roane, and Knox counties. The William Browns may have moved within the area, but that wasn't necessary to be counted as a citizen of any of those counties since new counties were formed as the population increased with new settlers from older, larger counties.

William Brown, the grandfather of David Brown, died in Knox County in 1803. His will was probated there in 1807. About that time, William Brown, purported to be David's father, received a land grant in White County in 1807.


Tradition has it that the first name of David Brown's wife was Sarah and that her last name may have been Miller. One piece of evidence to support the tradition of her first name is the inscription on the tombstone of Miller Brown, first documented child of David and his wife, reads "Son of D & S Brown".

David and his wife, Sarah, were probably married in Roane, Smith or White counties in Tennessee, since there are records of Browns in those counties from 1805 - 1807. The date of marriage of 1808 given here is approximate based on the birth date of David Brown's first documented child -- Miller Brown 1809. Sarah was probably from the family of Alexander Miller who in 1806 signed the petition to form Warren County and David Miller who appears next to David Brown on Warren County's 1812 tax list. Sarah died in Alabama in the 1840s. David died there in 1868, by which time most his children had moved to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.

There are at least three other bits of evidence that weight in favor her being named "Sarah":

(1)There was a sale of land in the mid-1830's in St Clair CO AL from David Brown to "Gilton" Dearman. Almost surely the second party was the man we have otherwise known as "Gillum" Dearman, first husband of our David's daughter, Louhannah (or "Lehanney"). In connection with this sale, a relinquishment of dower was executed by Sarah Brown, wife of David Brown. Of course, it is certainly possible the seller was not our David, but rather David Brown "the younger," son of William Brown, our David’s brother and the husband of Sarah "Sally" Battles Brown. On the other hand, it is more likely that our David was selling this land in order to help a new son-in-law. So there is another vote in favor of his wife's name having been Sarah.

(2) The book on the Philips and Yarborough families of St Clair, which was written in 1928, refers to our David Brown's wife as "Sarah". Note that this publication date was only sixty years after David died, at which time there surely were a number of people in the county who had known him and/or his children personally. It seems reasonable to assume that during the course of their research, the authors of the P-Y booklet talked to informants in the county who knew the correct name for David's wife. Bottom line:It is more likely than not that the P-Y booklet was accurate in calling her Sarah."

(3) The tombstone of David's first son Miller Brown, in Pontotoc CO MS, identifies him as the "son of D. & S. Brown." Sarah's maiden name is believed to have been "Miller" based not only upon her first son's given name, but also upon the persistent appearance of Miller families very close to the Browns in three or four Tennessee locations.


A thorough discussion of the settlement of the lands in the Second Surveyor’s District of Middle Tennessee is found at a web page by Fred Smoot: A link on that page leads to a map and a discussion of the land plats in the Second Surveyor’s District: A separate page contains a discussion and a map of the Third Surveyor's District

A William Brown, presumably the father of David Brown, received a land grant in White County in 1807.

Know ye That by virtue of part of certificate No. #63 dated the 21st day of July 1807 obtained from the board of Commissioners for West Tennessee by Thomas Dillon and entered on the 28th day of August by No. 169 as an occupant claim, there is granted by the said State of Tennessee, unto William Brown, assignee of the said Thomas Dillon a certain tract or parcel of land, containing one hundred acres lying in white County in the third District, on Cane Creek the waters of the Cany Fork – Beginning at a white hickory in a cane brake on the west side of said creek thence east crossing the creek one hundred twenty-six and a half poles to an elm, white walnut, white oak and small hickory near a clift of rocks thence south crossing said Creek one hundred twenty-six and a half poles to two black oaks, thence West one hundred twenty six and a half poles to ______ thence to the Beginning – Surveyed May 19, 1808 with the here _______ and, appurtenances, to have and to hold the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances to the said William Brown and his heirs forever. In Witness whereof John Sevier, Governor of the State of Tennessee.

In White County Deed Book D (Dec. 1811 - June 1812) there is the entry:

Page 61: Deed of Gift, 12 August 1811. William Brown for natural love for my younger sons William Brown and John Brown, all my estate in White County, granting an equal right to each. Witness: Turner Lane, Alexander Thomas. Inventory included, 150 acres, live stock, and also a negro woman slave named Frances, 17 years, now in Hawkins County."
(Joyce Martin Murray, White County Deed Books:Abstracts of Deed Books, A, B, C, D, E & F)

The deed records contain several references to Jacob, Isaac, William, Thomas J., John, Richard and George Morgan Brown, but after a careful study it appears thatall of these entries are referring to a completely different family group of Browns, even including the William, Thomas J. and John, so that only the August 12, 1811 entry is actually our William, who, according to the wording, seems to be recording a deed in White County while living in Warren County, in my opinion.  
There are also references to Jacob, John and Frederick Miller, but these also may be referring to a different family group than the Millers that came to exist in Warren County, Tennessee and even though David Miller is mentioned in other White County records, he does not appear in the deed records for that county.


We know from three documents from St. Clair County, Alabama(National Archives: Record Group 15A BLW+ 55-120-10045) that David Brown served in a militia unit from White County in the War of 1812. From these documents David Brown can be placed in the White/Warren county area of Tennessee. (Doc. 1; Doc. 2: Doc. 3)The land records of the area along the Red Banks of the Barren Fork River near what is now the town of McMinnville in Warren County make clear the relationship of the Browns in this area. The following information comes from the Warren County GenWeb site ( where Fred Smoot has placed his excellent research. All the surveys, grants, and principals in these documents can be found in the microfilmed copies of the originals in the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

In 1808 a tract of land was surveyed for George Richie. (TSLA RG50 Microfilm Roll 32 Tennessee Land Records Vol 26; Survey No. 1241) The chain carriers for this survey were William Brown Senr and William Brown Junr. Chain carriers for surveys were usually either close relatives or close friends of the person for whom the land was being surveyed. William Brown Senr and William Brown Junr appear to be father and son. In 1812 Robert Brown purchased this tract of land from George Richie, (Warren County, TN Deed Book A, pp 335-6)

In 1808 William Brown Senr and William Brown Junr were again chain carriers, this time for a survey for the heirs of Moses Davis. (TSLA RG50 Microfilm Roll 32 Tennessee Land Records Vol 26 Survey No. 1243) According to Fred Smoot this land was later sold to Thomas Brown although he does not give a citation.

In 1808 Wm Brown Senr and William Brown Junr were chain carriers for George Michie in a survey for a tract of land adjacent to the tract of land surveyed for Moses Davis. (TSLA RG50 Microfilm Roll 32 Warren County Tennessee Land Records Vol 26 Survey No. 1241)

Fred Smoot offers this further information:

A third "Brown" tract just to the east of 2nd/3rd Districts line demonstrates how the Brown family controlled many acres along the Barren Fork River and on Old Shelbyville Road east of Crisp.
About the Wm Brown survey and Thomas Vaughan grant: we could not find the Wm Brown entry, this is the first step of getting a grant. Unlike the Michie and the Davis heirsgrants, Wm Brown had a survey based on his prefference rightor occupant claim. The other two were based on North Carolina Military Warrants. We also could not find a grant to Wm Brown. Occupant claims required payment to the State of Tennessee and since the tract in the 1808 survey was not granted to Wm Brown, we can assume that he did not pay the State of Tennessee.
It appears that in 1811 Thomas Vaughan entered on the same tract and also submitted Wm Brawn's 1808 survey to the Tennessee Land Office. It was granted to Thomas Vaughan in 1814. There is the possibility that Wm Brown had an arrangement with Thomas Vaughan to later purchase all or part of the tract, or perhaps he rented from Thomas Vaughan. In any case, Thomas Vaughan used a Certificate issued by the Register of Western Tennessee to qualify for the grant.
A second tract of three acres granted to Thomas Vaughan actually joins the west side of the Brown three hundred acre survey and this tract of three acres is ì... near to the eastern boundary of the 2nd District ... Hence, we are able to plat the location of the two 3rd District tracts and place them in relationship to the two 2nd District tract.

Having reasonably established through the chain carriers of the previously mentioned surveys that William Brown Senr and William Brown Junr are father and son, the final survey of interest posted by Fred Smoot is especially interesting to David Brown researchers. This survey is for William Brown and the chain carriers for this survey are William Brown, Junr and David Brown. (TSLA RG50 Microfilm Roll 35 Tennessee Land Records Third SurveyorsDistrict, Vol 35, p. 5.)

The survey for the 200 acres for David Brown is found on another page of the website at Smoot describes the Surveyor's book: "Book, 34 Plats and Surveys, 3rd Surveyors District, 1807-1814. There are 357 pages of unnumbered surveys in that book." David Brown’s survey is on page 47 0f this book. The land described in the survey is the same land that David Brown sold in 1814.

The State of Tennessee No. 890.
To all to whom these presents shall come, Greetings:
Know Ye, That - by virtue of part of warrant No. 1190 (or 1120), dated the 10th of July 1784 issued to John Nelson by John Armstrong entry officer of claims for the North Carolina Western Lands, and entered on the 31st day of August 1807 by No. 254 as an occupant claim. . . . There is granted by the said state of Tennessee, unto David Brown. . . . . . assignee of the said John Nelson. . . . . .a certain tract or parcel of land, containing two hundred acres, lying in Warren County in the third District, and thirty fourth Section, beginning at two black Oaks one of them marked D B, thence south one hundred and seventy eight and eight tenths poles to a stake in the Barren forks of Collin's river, thence North one hundred and seventy eight and eight tenths poles to a white Oak and a black Gum on the west bank of the river, then west one hundred and seventy eight and eight tenths poles to the beginning. Surveyed April 22nd 1808.

Samuel Colville and George Bradley were the chain carriers for David Brown; Joseph Colville held a very large grant of land adjacent to David Brown and was the first County Clerk of Warren County.

An interesting point here is that in the survey for his land David Brown is the assignee of William P. Anderson and in the grant David Brown is the assignee of John Nelson.

A plat map prepared by Fred Smoot of these Brown surveys is on the Warren County TenGenWeb page and shows the adjacent holdings of Robert Brown, Thomas Brown and William Brown. ( A map of the Tennessee Surveyor' s Districts is posted at Notice that a line splits the area along the Barren Fork into the 2nd Surveyor's District to the west and the 3rd Surveyor's District to the east. David Brawn's survey is the easternmost tract of land on this plat map, while the land purchased by Robert Brown from George Michie is the westernmost.

David Brown's land grant is found on two documents in the Tennessee Archives. Apparently some grants were recorded twice in that geographic location and time frame. (Doc 1 -- (Tennessee State Library and Archives, , Book B, p. 59. TSLA Microfilm Roll # 26) Doc. 2 -- (Tennessee State Library and Archives, Middle Tennessee District, Book 8, p. 314. TSLA Microfilm Roll # 155)


A. B. Pruitt discusses the general outlines of the Glasgow land fraud on a web page at My own research in the Pruitt papers at the North Carolina archives has led me to the conclusion that David Brown’s land grant and possibly the land grants of Robert, Thomas, and David’s father William Brown, were part of the land involved in the fraudulent administration of North Carolina military land grants in Tennessee. Exactly how these parcels of land, which were a part of the fraudulent land deal, were transferred to Tennessee and how the state of Tennessee gained the authority to grant this land to petitioners is not an area of research that I have explored. Another excellent website that has material on land acquisition and distribution in Tennessee may be found at Again, Fred Smoot is a contributor to this web page.


The 1812 tax list of Warren County, Tennessee sheds additional light on David Brown, his family and neighbors.

Company Name Neighbors and Associates

William Brown #58
John Brown #70

Guyan Johnson#9, Temple Johnston#33 Joseph Johnson,#59 Jacob Johnston, Sr #60 William Johnson #61 William Johnson #62 Francis Johnston #71 Jacob Johnston #81 Robert Johnston #82 James Johnston #83 Alexander Johnston #84
Cooper David Brown #39 Thomas Brown #42 Peter Blancet #6 Thomas Langford #38 David Miller #40 Thomas Johnston #41 David Johnston #88

David Brown #25 Thomas Brown #26 Robert Brown #49 Jessee Brown #54 William Brown #58 Elijah Miller #12 David Watson #13, John Looney #15 Stephen Looney #28 William Watson #43 Robert Looney #106
Unidentified Thomas Brown #63 Jessee Dodson #32 Nimrod Dodson #63 William Chissm #85 William Colker #96 Alexander Miller #103
Hill Benjamin Brown #6 David Johnson #1 James Miller #32


Robert BROWN, Rev. War Soldier was b in Rowan CO, North Carolina, s/o William BROWN of Augusta CO, Virginia; brothers were William, Thomas, Alexander; later he res. in Burke CO, North Carolina; then in Hawkins County, where in 1797 he sold land on Dodson's Cr. of the Holston River to Martin JOHNSON, h/o Sarah COMBS .His brother, Thomas BROWN, also resided in Warren County, Tennessee, possibly adjacent David BROWN? Also note, however, that James Cooper's List also includes a David and Thomas BROWN.

There were two men named "David BROWN" on the 1812 Tax List, one on page 5 (Cooper's no. 39) and one on page 8 (Graham's no. 25). One of these is probably the same David BROWN who was born in NC in 1783 or 1784, enlisted for the Creek War in Warren County in October 1813, in the militia company of Capt. James COLE, and moved to St Clair CO AL ca. 1814-1818. Militia records for the Creek War (National Archives) show also that a (second?) David BROWN from Warren County served in the Creek War with Capt. William DOUGLASS'S company from Jan. 28 to May 10, 1814. Based on the names of his neighbors, David MILLER and Thomas LANGFORD, A reasonable explanation is that the David BROWN on page 5 is the David who moved to St Clair CO, Alabama, since the latter had a son named Miller BROWN and a daughter who married Washington LANGFORD. The land records of Warren CO show that a David BROWN received a grant for 200 acres in the 34th Section of the 3rd Surveyor's District in 1809 (page 47, Book 34, 3rd Surveyor's District), and that he sold this same parcel in 1814. Another David BROWN appears as a chain carrier on a survey for land granted to a William BROWN (Page 5, Book 35, Plats and Surveys, 3rd Surveyor's District). The working hypothesis of Brown researchers is that the William BROWN of the Warren county survey is the father of William and David Brown who removed to St Clair County, Alabama; that David Brown in Cooper’s list served as a chain carrier for his father; and that the David Brown in Graham’s company is the son either of Robert or Thomas Brown. It is also possible that the David Brown of Graham’s Company served as a chain carrier for his uncle William Brown.


David Brown began military service on 4 Oct. 1813 at Fayetteville, TN as a member of the company commanded by James Cole in the 1st Regiment of militia commanded by Col. Wynn (or Winn). The following declaration made in 1851 preparatory to entering a land claim verifies the dates of military service for David Brown for the War of 1812.

The State of Alabama County of St. Clair ~ SS
On this Seventeenth day of July A.D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace within and for the County and State aforesaid, David Brown aged sixty-seven years, a resident of St. Clair County in the State of Alabama, who being duly sworn according to law, declares that he is the identical David Brown who was a private in the company commanded by Captain James Coal in the Battalion 1st Regiment of Militia commanded by Col. Winn in the war against Great Britain declared by the United States on the 18th day of June 1812. --that he was drafted at Warren Co. Tenn. on or about the 4th day of Oct. AD 1813 for the term of three months and continued in actual service in said war for the term of three months and was honorably discharged at Fayetteville Tennessee on the 10th day of January AD 1814, on account of Term Expiring as will appear by the Muster Roll of Said Company.
He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the Bounty Land to which he may be entitled under the "Act granting Bounty Land to certain officers and soldiers who have been engaged in the Military Service of the United States," passed Sept. 28th,1850.
Sgd. David X Brown
Sworn to and subscribed before me, the day and year above written. And I hereby certify, that I believe the said David Brown to be the identical man who served as aforesaid, and he is of the age above stated.
Daniel E. McCurry (seal) J.P. Justice of the Peace.
State of Alabama, St. Clair County.
I, Irby Woolly, Judge of the Probate Court of the County and State aforesaid, do hereby certify, that Daniel E. McCurry is a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, duly commissioned and qualified; that his commission was dated on the 14th day of May, AD 1850, and will expire on the first day of March, AD 1853, and that this signature above written.
Given under my hand, and the seal of Said County, the 16th day of July 1851. National Archives, Washington D. C.

David Brown ended military service on 10 January 1814 at Fayetteville, TN.

A website of the regimental histories of Tennessee militia prepared by the Tennessee State Library and Archives gives the following information for the militia company in which David Brown served:

* DESIGNATION: 1st Regiment West Tennessee Militia
* DATES: October 1813 - January 1814
* MEN MOSTLY FROM: Wilson, Jackson, Robertson, Bedford, Lincoln, Montgomery, Robertson, Sumner, and White Counties
* CAPTAINS: Bailey Butler, Robert Braden, William Carothers, James Cole, James Holleman, William McCall, Bayless E. Prince, John Porter, John Spinks, William Wilson BRIEF HISTORY:
Along with Colonel McCrory's regiment, this unit was part of the brigade commanded by General Isaac Roberts. Wynn's regiment totaled approximately 417 men. They participated in Jackson's first campaign into Creek territory where they fought at the Battle of Talladega (9 November 1813). At this battle the regiment sustained heavy casualties, especially in Captain John Porter's company, where the captain himself was among the wounded.
Colonel Wynn was a planter and politician from Wilson County who was serving as state senator at the time of the outbreak of the Creek War. His regiment was mustered in at Fayetteville in early October 1813 and mustered out in early January 1814.

That the David Brown of St. Clair County, Alabama may be identified with the David Brown of Warren County, Tennessee is attested by three documents filed by David Brown in St. Clair County, Alabama in 1851, 1852, and 1855. Two of the documents state that David Brown was drafted in Warren County, Tennessee, which is interesting since Col. Wynn's company was primarily from White County, Tennessee.

An interesting personal sidelight for me is that John Hopkins, my 3rd great grandfather of my mother's Hopkins line, died of a wound that he received at the Battle of Talledega. He was in the Second Regiment of Mounted Volunteer Riflemen under the command of Col. Newton Cannon.


The following is a deed of David Brown's land in Warren County, Tennessee to Abraham Joseph and Daniel Alexander in 1814.

Brown, David to A. Joseph and D. Alexander Indenture, Made Feb. 2 1814. Between David Broan (sic) of Warren county Tennessee and Abraham Joseph and Daniel Alexander of Smith Co. Tenn. Witnesseth for a consideration of four hundred and thirty-five dollars Brown sold to Abraham Joseph and Daniel Alexander a certain tract of land in Warren Co. Beginning at two black oaks one of them marked D.B. south one hundred seventy-eight and eight tenths poles to a poplar east one hundred and seventy-eight and eight tenths poles to a stake in the barren fork of Collins River north one hundred seventy-eight and eight tenths poles to a white oak and black gum on the west bank of the river thence one hundred seventy-eight and eight tenths poles to the beginning, containing two hundred acres more or less, being a tract granted to David Brown May 1, 1809. No. 890 and is the same land where Thomas Adams now lives,. To have and to hold, etc. David Brown (Seal) Witnesses Armstead Stubblefield, Robert Arcar, Thos. Johnstone, John McLean, Isham Perkins.
State of Tennessee Warren County April session 1814
Acknowledged in open court Jos Colville, Clerk Sept. 5 1814
Registered November 1, 1814


The final record for David Brown in Warren County, or indeed in the state of Tennessee, is the sale of land in Warren County.

There is a very interesting interactive map site for the formation of Alabama counties from the land cessions of the Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians in Alabama: It is helpful to consult this map as we consider the movements of David Brown and his family from Warren County, TN at the time that David sold his land in February 1814 to 1819 when David made his first land entry in St. Clair County.

In 1814 the Chickasaw, Creek, Cherokee, and Choctaw Indians held legal title to the lands in what is present day Alabama except for a small triangle of land called Madison County. There are early tax lists for Madison County, but no Brown who might be identified as a member of David Brown's family is listed on the early Madison County tax lists.

The first document we have for David Brown after the sale of his land in Tennessee is in the 1816 Census of Monroe County Mississippi Territory. (Mississippi Archives, Microfilm Roll 1610.) He is on page 13 of the microfilm copy of the Territorial Census, preceded by John Waters and followed by John Barton. William Brown, presumably his father, is on the preceding page of the census with Jesse Brown who is possibly a brother or cousin on page 12 of the census. Alexander Brown along with William Mackey who assigned the land in David Brown’s first land entry in St Clair County, Alabama in 1819 is on the first page of the census. Mary Dearman and William Dearman whose children married the children of David Brown are also on the first page of this census.

David Brown and his father William Brown (d. aft 1832) probably traveled more or less directly to the area of Ashviille, St. Clair County in Tennessee although they might have spent some time in Franklin County, Tennessee where the names of men who appear to be brothers of our David, Alexander, Guian Leeper and Thomas were on the Franklin County, Tennessee tax rolls of 1812.

The changes in the legal boundaries can be outlined as follows:

Early history of St Clair County: Along the Coosa River from a point above Ten Islands, the entire river boundary of the county is dotted with evidences of aboriginal occupancy. At Lock 3, at Lock 4, and Woods Island and at points in the northwestern section of the county the indications are quite extensive. DeSoto found the country on the opposite bank of Coosa River quite thickly settled when he visited Coosa in 1540 and it is very reasonable to suppose that these settlements extended west. A town of the Cherokees was located some 20 miles southeast of Brown's villages in Marshall County, but little is known of it.

Later History and Settlement: It is very likely that soon after the treaty of Fort Jackson the upper parts of the Creek cession were visited by many prospectors. It is certain that by the close of 1815 some settlements had been made in the cession. The influx of settlers greatly increased in 1816 and many permanent homes were made in what later became Shelby County. Settlers from Madison County traveled down the old Indian trail that led from Ditto's Landing to Mud Town on the Cahaba, while East Tennesseeans came down the Tennessee River in Flat boats, landed at Deposit or Gunter's Landing, and thence made their way to their place of settlement. The Georgians and Carolinians reached the Creek cession on the Coosa by crossing the Chattahoochee at the Upper Shallow Ford, passing through Rome, crossing Will's Creek near Bennettsville and thence skirting the east side of the mountains. By 1818 the settlers in the new county had become so numerous that the first session of the Alabama Territorial legislature found it necessary to create thirteen new counties. Source: Owen, Thomas McAdory, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1921), p. 1220-1221


The area in which the Browns apparently first settled was on Big Canoe Creek or Brown's Creek, a few miles north of Fort Strother where David, at least, had spent some time in service with his Tennessee militia company.

Mattie Lou Teague Crow in her book History of St. Clair County (Alabama) describes Alexander Brown's trading post in St. Clair County:

The first court was held at Alexander Brown's combination home and trading post on December 7, 1818 "The site of Alexander Brown's place is four and a half miles from the present town of Ashville, on old Number 11. It is still spoken of as "Old Town" î It was often called Cabala, since was within a few miles of the location of Chief Catala's village, Littafatchee. (p. 15)

From the records of the 1820 U. S. Federal census in St. Clair County we know that David Brown’s household was adjacent to that of Alexander Brown and that there were five households between those of David Brown and his brother G. L. (Guian Leeper) Brown. It appears then, that for the first few years in St. Clair County David Brown, wherever he may have bought his first land, lived at Alexander Brown's trading post or adjacent to it. Perhaps he assisted his brother in the activities there.

Andrew Jackson's Tennessee militiamen opened a road called Jackson Trace, which led from Columbia, Tennessee through Fort Deposit on the TN River, about eight miles west of present day Guntersville, AL, into the Upper Creek County of Alabama. Alabama history states that the Greasy Cove area of Chandlers Beat, St. Clair Co., was settled by soldiers from Andrew Jackson's army after they fought the Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. The reason for the name Greasy Cove (still known as that today) was the soldiers camped there and butchered hogs on their way back to TN.

The Brown family

All of David Brown's siblings were in a wagon train that probably left Franklin county, Tennessee sometime during 1815 except William (d. 1828) who did not arrive in St. Clair County, Alabama until 1822.

From the 1816 Census of Monroe County, Mississippi Territory it seems reasonable to deduce from the enumeration is that David Brown is living separately; that Alexander Brown still has brothers Guian Leeper and Thomas with him, as they were in Franklin County, Tennessee; that William Brown (d. aft 1830) has children: James, Robert, Felix, John, Temperence, Sarah and Elizabeth with him; that sister Mary Ann has married and living with husband Joseph Coker; that William’s son (d. 1828) had not yet arrived in Mississippi Territory. That's all 13 children accounted for, or 12 siblings of David.

A plausible interpretation of the 1816 Monroe County, Mississippi Territory Census, is that Alexander Brown had 3 sons born 1808 to 1816. The 1820 Census of St. Clair County, Alabama shows that Alexander Brown still has the 3 sons and that between 1816 and 1820 that he has an additional three daughters. The fact that Alexander had six children born so close together between 1808 and 1820 would indicate to me that he was having children in the same time period as David Brown and Guian Leeper Brown and that he was of the same generation as David and Guian that he was indeed, David and Guian's brother.

We have proof in any case that some of the Browns were just northeast of Ashville as early as January 1816. This info comes from the book by Charlotte Adams Hood, "Jackson's White Plumes" (Bay Minette AL: Lavender Publishing Co., 1995.).

Mrs. Hood's book does not mention "our" Alexander Brown specifically. There is, however, an extremely interesting reference to his trading post. It is on page 72, where Mrs. Hood quotes from the unpublished diary of General John Coffee for 1816-17 (kept at the Alabama DAH in Montgomery).

In the diary, General Coffee tells of surveying the treaty line between Cherokee territory and the lands given up by the Creek as a result of their loss at Horseshoe Bend. He says that on January 27, 1816, he left Fort Strother -- where we know our David Brown served during the Creek War (1813-14) -- and then "swam Shoal Creek and Beaver Dam Creek."

The latter is obviously today's "Beaver Creek," which runs roughly parallel to present-day State Route 24 in St. Clair County. This creek runs through Beaver Valley -- the area where John Looney's restored house presently sits and where Rebecca Watkins and Reuben Philips, ancestors of many later Browns eventually settled, after they departed land adjacent to David Brown on Big Canoe Creek.

General Coffee then says he "lay all night at Brown's on Canoe Creek. (James Catawley's old place.)" Clearly he must be referring to Alex Brown's trading post, which we think was located on Big Canoe Creek in (or very near to) present-day Section 26 of R4E, T13S.
Then the next morning, January 28, 1816, Coffee says he paid his bill at Brown's ($1.75) and "employed two chainmen Joseph Coker and James Brown."

So we learn here the important info not only that Alexander Brown's place formerly belonged to James Catawley -- whoever he might have been --but also that Joseph Coker and James Brown were there as early as January 1816 as well

An interesting map drawn in the early 1990s,based upon the description in General John Coffee's 1816 diary of the line he proposed as boundary between the Creek "cession" (lands where white settlers would freely be allowed to settle) and the Cherokee nation is presented here.

We may assume that Coffee's recommendation was followed. But in any case, it is clear that the area immediately around Big Canoe Creek, where Alexander Brown is believed to have had his trading post as early as 1815 or even 1814, was safely outside the territory Coffee proposed to reserve for the Cherokee.

(On this crude map, it looks like Big Canoe Creek was about five miles from the proposed cession line. But on regular modern maps, the distance looks more like about ten miles.)

David Brown’s first land
The original land entry for David Brown’s first land exists in the National Archive. The document refers to the SE 1/4 of Section 28, T 13S, R4E, and it carries number 162. (The number was probably based on the entry date.) It is the "Final Certificate," dated 7 December 1830. However, the cover jacket says the patent was dated August 15, 1831. The jacket also says "sig'd' May 21, 1833. It is filed under Roll No. 25 (of the Huntsville Land Office?), page 275. The list price of the land (160 & 68/100 acres) was $2.00 per acre. David made a deposit of $80.34 on July 10, 1819, as the assignee of William Mackey. So the "tract book"Üfor St Clair shows David's entry date as 1819.

Apparently nothing else happened until 37.5% of the balance due was waived, thanks to relief granted by Congress on March 31, 1830. Then David paid the balance due of $150.65 on or about December 7, 1830, giving him clear title.

This entry is not in the GLO/BLM's online database because the credit entries before 1820 were done under another legislative authority.


From the History of St. Clair County (Alabama) by Mattie Lou Teague Crow:

For a brief period after the Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed [August 9, 1814], few white families came into this area. Many of the defeated Red Sticks were still actively hostile to the whites, and some pioneers who did venture in met violent death. British agents kept the scattered Creeks in an angry mood. Another reason that the settlers hesitated to move in was the proclamation from President Monroe that forbade the settlement of the territory until it had been surveyed.

On March 3, 1817 an act establishing the eastern portion ( of the existing Mississippi Territory as the new Alabama Territory was passed by the United States Senate. Shelby County was one of the first counties created by the first territorial legislature in January, 1818 and at the second meeting of the legislature in 1818 St. Clair County was created.

"Speaker of the house of Representatives
President of the Legislative Council
Approved 16th November 1818
Governor of the Alabama Territory

An act to alter & ascertain more particularly the boundaries of the count of Shelby, & to lay off a new county in the north east part thereof, to be called and know by the name of St. Clair county.

Sect. 2. And be it further enacted, That all that tract of country included in the following boundary lines, viz Beginning at the north west corner of the county of Shelby, and from thence, running along the ridge dividing the waters of the Black Warrior from those of the Cahawba and Coosa rivers to the Cherokee boundary line, thence along said line to the Coosa river, thence down said river to the county of Shelby, and thence along the boundary of said county to the beginning (sic), shall form one county to be called and known by the name of St. Clair,
Sect. 3. And be it further enacted, That there shall be holden in and for the said county of St. Clair, in each year, a superior court of law and equity, on the second Monday’s in March and September, and there shall be holden in and for the said county of St Clair in each year, a county court on the third Monday’s in March and September, and an intermediate court on the fourth Monday’s in December and June.
Sect. 4. And be it further enacted, that for the time being, the said courts for said county of St. Clair, shall be holden at the house of Alexander Brown, and that the said courts I and for the county of Shelby, shall hereafter be holden at the house of Benjamin May. ----But the said courts may respectively for want of necessary buildings at the several places herein designated for holding the same, adjourn to such other places contiguous thereto, as may seem most proper."

"The first court was held at Alexander Brown's combination home and trading post on December 7, 1818. It is interesting to note that the first case to be docketed on "Minutes of Circuit Court - St. Clair County, 1818-1821" was the case of Joel Chandler vs. Alexander Brown. It was a damage suit in which Chandler claimed that Brown had damaged his property while trespassing. The amount sued for was ten thousand dollars. At the trial, however, Chandler begged to withdraw the complaint, and the court dismissed the case on payment of court cost by the defendant. Brown readily paid the $13.56. The presiding judge was Honorable Henry Y. Webb.
The site of Alexander Brown's place, where the above described court was held, is four and a half miles from the present town of Ashville, on old Number 11. It is still spoken of as "Old Town." It was often called Cataula, since it was within a few miles of the location of Chief Cataula's village, Littafatchee.

It is remarkable that so many of the original records have been preserved, and today, though fragile with age, may be read in the record room at the Ashville courthouse. These records were begun and kept in an orderly manner at Alexander Brown's place at Old Town when Alabama was still a territory. They were next stored and kept in the first log courthouse built in Ashville in 1824. When the central part of the present brick structure was built in 1844, they were transferred there. During the last months of the Civil~ War, they were carried to Jacksonville, then the county seat of Benton (later Calhoun) County, for safekeeping. Judge Inzer was responsible for their safe return to Ashville when he became probate judge in 1865. These are valuable rare documents and should be carefully guarded.

The first Will Record, 1819-1827 records a document appointing John Looney as administrator for the estate of Thomas Brown, deceased. It is headed Alabama Territory, St. Clair County, and it is dated June 29, 1819. The appraisal of the Brown estate listed such things as: four beehives, one grindstone, one kettle and hooks, one churn, one spinning wheel, one 100m, one rifle gun and shot bag, one coffee mill, one lot of Delft ware, one lot of pewter, one whiskey barrel, et cetera. In addition to these articles, the home and acreage and four Negro slaves are listed."

Court records involving Browns in the early Court Minute Book 1819 – 1821:

On the 4th May 1819 Alexander Brown and Robert Cunningham were surety for the appearance in court to answer to a suit brought by M D Thomason for a sum of $31. 28 1/2 owed by McClung to Thomason.


There appear to have been four individuals named "David Brown" in St. Clair County during the early 1820s: (1) a man from South Carolina, who moved to Rusk County, Texas, ca. 1836; (2) his son, "David Brown, Jr.," who also moved to Texas; (3) the man who came to St. Clair County from Warren County, Tennessee, ca. 1815 – "our" David Brown; and (4) a son of the William Brown who died in St. Clair in 1828.

In this regard, it's worth noting that David number (4) -- who was a nephew of David number (3) -- is called "David Brown Jr." in at least one source. The word "junior" in this instance appears to have reflected a fairly common usage in the early 19th century, whereby the word was often applied to an uncle-nephew or grandfather-grandson relationship, in addition to a father-son relationship.


The first land for which David Brown applied was SE 1/4 of Section 28, T 13S, R4E.
The document refers to the SE 1/4 of Section 28, T 13S, R4E, and it carries number 162. The number was probably based on the entry date. It's the "Final Certificate," dated 7 December 1830. But the cover jacket says the patent was dated August 15, 1831. The jacket also says "sig'd' May 21, 1833. It's filed under Roll No. 25 (of the Huntsville Land Office?), page 275.

The list price of the land (160 & 68/100 acres) was $2.00 per acre. David made a deposit of $80.34 on July 10, 1819, as the assignee of William Mackey. Thus, the "tract book" for St Clair shows David's entry date as 1819. (William Mackey was on the first page of the 1816 Monroe County, MS Territorial Census.).

Apparently nothing else happened until 37.5% of the balance due was waived, thanks to relief granted by Congress on March 31, 1830. Then David paid the balance due of $150.65 on or about December 7, 1830, giving him clear title.

This entry is not in the GLO/BLM's online database because the credit entries prior to 1820 were done by a previous legislative authority.
Land Patents

The following table is a record of the land patents received by David Brown that are either on record with the Judge of Probate of St. Clair County or with the United States Bureau of Land Management or both. All are in Twp 13 S, Range 4E.

Aliquot Sect Acres Doc. # Date
SE 1/4 Sect. 28 160.68 # 162 10/7/1819
W 1/2 of SE1/4 Sect 33 79.96 #1205 17/1/1820;5/2/1820
W 1/2 of SE 1/4 Sect 23 80.37 #1250 1/10/1823
E 1/2 of SE 1/4 Sect 23 80.37 #1250 1/10/1823
E 1/2 of NE 1/4 Sect 32 78.84 #4772 10/1/1849
SE 1/4 of SW 1/4 Sect 28 40.17 #5016 4/9/1834
SW 1/4 of SW 1/4 Sect. 33 39.36 #12185 1/2/1843
NE 1/4 of SW 1/4 Sect. 28 40.17 #17966 15/6/1854
SE 1/4 of SE 1/4 Sect 29 39.84 #26914 3/1/1858

David paid $98.55 for eighty acres on February 11, 1832 but did not receive the patent on his land until October 1849 for his land. The patent was numbered #4772. Images of land patent #4772.

Land Deeds

Deed Book B., p. 227 - David Brown purchased 160 acres from Robert and Nancy Dial (SW1/4 Sect. 24 13S R 4E) 26 May 1835 for $300. Elizabeth Rankin had Power of Attorney for Robert and Mary Dial. David purchased this for about $1.88 an acre and sold half of it to Evan Watkins five years later for a little over $3.00 an acre.

Deed Book B., p. 279 - David Brown purchased from David S. Lipscomb of Bibb County, Alabama 157.43 acres for $400 on 14 April 1836. The description of the land was the NW 1/4 of Sect. 33 13S 4E.

Deed Book B., p. 594 -William H. F. Franklin & wife Elizabeth to David Brown, 11 Jan 1840, $900. E 1/2 of SE 1/4 Sec 33, Twp 13 R 4E, 80 ac; also NE /4Sec 33 Twp 13 R 4E, 157 acres. s/s William H. F. Franklin, E. A. [her X] Franklin. Wits: R. Bouland, J. W. Hooper.

Deed Book B., p. 485 - David Brown to Gillon Dearmon SE 1/4 Sec 23, Twp 13 R 4E, $500, 14 Jan 1837 [X] mark. Sarah Brown, privy examination/sale of dower same date. [X] mark Gillum Deerman (sic) patented the E 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of Sec. 24 on 8/5/1837. James and Sarah Regan sold the NW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 (49 ac) to William M. Brown, son of David Brown and brother of Gillum’s wife Louhannah Brown Dearman.

Deed book B., p. 851 - David Brown to Evan Watkins, 22 Apr 1840, both of St. Clair Co. W 1/2 of SW 1/4 Sec 24 Tp 13 R4E, 80 ac. $250. Wits: Jno F. Dill, Joseph Dill. David [X] Brown. No privy exam of wife. P. 323 -

In the years that he lived in St. Clair County, David Brown laid claim to about 680 acres of land. Except for the two parcels of land which he acquired in 1823 and which he later sold to Gillum Dearman and the land which he purchased from Robert and Nancy Dial in 1833, the land is in a checkered arrangement just a few miles northeast of the town of Ashville. The town of Ashville was on land granted by Phillip Coleman by deed in 1823, probably in the NW1/2 of the NW of Sect. 8 Twp 14S, Range 4 E, thought this is not explicitly stated by Mattie Lou Teague Crow in the discussion of the formation of the town of Ashville (p. 16-17.)

Other Brown Land Patents in St Clair County .

Last First Date Twp Range Sect Aliquot Acres
Brown Blanchet 6/1/1858 17S 3E 11 W1/2SW 79.55
    8/1/1861 17S 3E 15 NENE 80.1
      17S 3E 14 NWNW  
  Francis C 3/1/1858 14S 4E 1 W1/2SE 79.75
  Joycy 6/1/1858 15S 3E 5 SE 200.56
      15S 3E 8 NENE  
  Marion 3/1/1858 14S 4E 4 N1/2NE 79.88
  William 11/20/1823 14S 5E 9 E1/2SE 80.44
  William 11/30/1825 14S 5E 14 E1/2SE 80.31
Brown James 10/1/1823 12S 6E 21 W1/2SW 80
    8/5/1837 13S 7E 9 SESW 40.55
  Joshua H 8/17/1838 12S 6E 15 B 122.25
      12S 7E 33 E1/2SW 80.33
  Mary Ann 9/10/1834 11S 5E 30 SWNE 40.99
  Robert See Joshua          
    8/17/1838 12S 6E   A 40.25
    See Joshua          
  William 2/25/1822 11S 5E 30 E1/2NE 80.19
    2/25/1822 11S 5E 30 E1/2SW 80.19

The land in Etowah County was in St. Clair County when it was patented. Etowah County was not formed until 1868.
Note: Peter Blancet was in Cooper’s District in the 1812 Warren county tax List with our David Brown, David Miller and Washington Lankford. Peter Blancet was on the 1819 list of Intruders in Cherokee land in northern Alabama. It appears that at some point a Brown male may have married a Blancet/Blanchett woman. The land patented by Blanchet Brown was not near any person now known to have a relationship with Browns or close associates of Browns.

Marion Brown , youngest son of David Brown, (N1/2NE Sec. 4 14S 4E) patented the land directly south of David Brown (SW1/4SW1/4 Sec. 33 13S 4E)

Francis C. Brown received a patent on the same date as Littleton Yarbrough in the same section, Twp and Range.

Deed Book B., p. 338 - Manoah Yarbrough to Littleton Yarbrough, W 1/2 of NE 1/4 Sec 13, Tp 14, R 4E, $225, 13 Oct 1835. [Signed]

Joycy Brown (female) patented land in the same section as Amzi Byers.


The 1820 census for St. Clair County lists both a "David Brown" and a "D. Brown." The entry for David Brown appears to be the man who moved to Rusk Co TX ca. 1836. The "D. Brown" appears to be the David of this paper, since this entry accounts exactly for all known children of the latter.

D Brown 1 white male over 21 (David), 2 white males under 21 (Miller and Wm. Marion); 1 white female (David's wife) 3 white females under 21 (Louisa, Louhanna and Margaret) 1 free person of color.

This entry is for a David Brown who appears not to be related to our David Brown.
David Brown 1 white male over 21; 8 white males under 21; 1 white female over 21; 3 white females under 21 and 5 slaves.

A Brown 3 white males over 21; 3 white males under 21; 1 white female over 21; 3 white females under 21

G L Brown 2 white males over 21; 4 white males under 21; 1 white female over 21; 1 white female under 21

George Brown (also in Monroe County, MS Territorial census next to John Brown) 1 white male over 21; 1 white male under 21; 2 white females over 21; 9 white females under 21

The William Brown listed in the following entry might be a brother or father of our David Brown.
William Brown 2 white males over 21; 3 white males under 21; 1 white female over 21; 3 white females under 21 and 2 slaves.


The 1820 Federal Census of St. Clair County, Alabama shows that David Brown has living with him a "free person of color." A "free person of color" at that time was generally defined as a person of Indian blood who was living among the white settlers rather than living as a member of a tribe. This is unusual since there are only two others in the county designated as such. It seems likely that this person was William Miller, brother of David’s wife Sarah Miller, and was Cherokee Indian.* There were no Miller families in the 1820 Census and none who purchased land in St. Clair County prior to 1821, and yet William Miller married Rebecca Phillips on February 22, 1821 in that county. The many connections of the Brown/Watkins/Phillips families are well known to most researchers. It seems likely that William Miller traveled with David Brown’s family along with other families allied with the Browns on their trek to Alabama in 1814-1815. There are about three dozen of David Brown’s descendent lines, most or all of whom have an oral history of Indian heritage. Some histories say Cherokee and others only say Indian. My Great Grandfather, James Knox Polk Hargraves married Nannah Watkins and lived next door to his in-laws for about 20 years. They were Evan Watkins Jr. and wife Margaret Ann Brown, daughter of David Brown. James told his 16 children that his mother-in-law Margaret was a Cherokee Indian. This information was passed on to my father, as well as all of the other grandchildren of James and then to the great grandchildren of James. In those days, of the mid to late 1800’s, if you had even a 1/8 part Indian blood, you were considered to be a full-fledged Indian. This marriage of James and Nannah has seemed all the more remarkable to me since, according to the oral and written history of the Hargraves line, Thomas Hargraves, father of James was scalped and murdered by a renegade band of Choctaw in front of his cabin, in Marshall County, Mississippi, about 1857, as his family: wife Susannah and children James and Laura, watched in horror. JEH
Although the Cherokee were certainly the tribe best known to everyone in St. Clair in 1820, I see no particular reason to assume the Millers got their Indian blood from the Cherokee. If the Millers were living near the Browns in the Waxhaws prior to 1780, as seems plausible, then the Indians with whom they had most contact in those days were probably the Catawba. But if Sarah and William's father (David? Alexander?) found an Indian or part-Indian bride after moving to western NC or east TN, then of course the Cherokee connection becomes much more likely.


The 1830 St. Clair County, AL census:
David Brown: 1 male 5-10 (Jasper); 1 male 15-20 (William Marion); 1 male 20-30 (Miller); 1 male 40-50 (David). 1 female under 5 (Rebecca), 2 females 10-15 (Margaret & Louhannah); 1 female 15-20 (Louisa) 1 female 30-40 (David's wife).

The 1840 Alabama census for St. Clair County has the following entry for David Brown:
David Brown : 1 male 5 - 10 (Marion); 1 male (15-20) (Jasper); 1 male 50-60 (David); 2 females 5 - 10 (Unity and Harriet); 1 female 10 - 15 ((Rebecca); 1 female 40 - 50 (David's wife).

The 1850 Alabama census for St. Clair County has the following entry for David Brown:
David Brown : David Brown is listed in household #154, age 66; birthplace, North Carolina; occupation, farmer; real estate valued at $300; can neither read nor write. Daughter Harriet: age, 17 years; birthplace, Alabama, occupation, housekeeper.


On November 12, 1833 David Brown and his young family like all other families in the southeastern United States were probably witness to the night of the largest meteorite shower in recorded history.

In scientific terms:

"The solar system is full of dust. Even in the absence of a meteor shower, you can see about three meteors per hour on a dark night. Most of the time, a meteor shower yields 10 to 50 meteors per hour. On some occasions, however, when the Earth passes very close to a comet and enters the densest part of its dust cloud, meteor showers can be truly spectacular. The greatest meteor shower in recorded history occurred on November 12, 1833, when the Earth passed through the cloud of dust shed by the Comet Tempel-Tuttle. On that night, observers saw 100 meteors per second!"

Mattie Lou Teague Crow describes the event very vividly in her book (p. 186-187):

The Night the Stars Fell

Many people disagree as to what year of our Lord marks the date that stars fell on Alabama, but just as many are sure that "once upon a time" this phenomenon did take place. Many there are who say that this miraculous occurrence changed the state's destiny. There have been legends told and retold about what happened "when the stars fell." The pioneer families worked hard to build their homes and towns in this wilderness. It was natural for them to seek out ways and means of recreation and entertainment. This was especially true of the younger generation. Late in the 1820's dance pavilions began to appear in various locations - on the river, near a lake, at St. Clair Springs. There was such a pavilion near Greensport on the river. On cool autumn nights, when the crops were gathered, and the harvest moon was shining, or in the spring before the work was begun, young folks met at one or the other of these pavilions for a night of fun and frolic. The Negro musicians were there with their fiddles and banjoes. Colored lanterns were strung around the pavilion, and the necessary chaperones were seated sedately in the place provided for them. George W. Philips, who lived near the river, often told his grandchildren of just such a night. Mr. Philips left a note on the margin of his ledger which reads:
We were on the river on the night the stars fell - November 12, 1833.

His sweetheart, Patsy Boatman (whom he married in 1834) was with him at the pavilion.65 The legend says that it was almost midnight, and the musicians were playing - for the third time - "Good Night, Ladies," hoping that the revelers would soon leave the dance floor. Suddenly the night was gone, and it was bright as day. The dancing stopped - the singing stopped - the music stopped. The dancers, weary from hours of merrymaking, stood looking up in amazement, for before their very eyes the stars in the heavens had deserted their stations in God's great galaxy and had become a shower of brilliant lights all about them. The silence lasted only a moment, for soon the. ladies were screaming, the men uttering words of astonishment. Some fell to their knees in prayer. Others exclaimed, "The end of time!" Just as suddenly as the shower of stars began, it was gone. Darkness returned, and things looked normal again. People began to ask, "Did that really happen, or was it only a vision sent to warn us?" A very subdued, solemn group of people soon left the pavilion to return to their homes. Quiet and darkness reigned. The aftermath? No more dances at the pavilion, a great turning to religion in the little churches that dotted the valley, a great many confessions made at protracted meetings, and requests for the prayers of the older generation. And who knows, there was probably a good bit of soul-searching among the elders of the state, for it was not only on this particular location that the stars fell. Stars fell on all of Alabama.


David Brown probably was born in the year after the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution. His father William Brown and his grandfather William Brown as well as uncles Alexander, Thomas, and Robert had served the American colonial cause. David, himself, participated in the defense of the settlers of northern Alabama against the Cherokees and the British. Now one more war was to invade the peace of his life and that of his family.

The opening shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter (named after Colonel Sumter who had commanded the militia at the Battle of Hanging Rock with whom his grandfather had fought in the American Revolution.) In 1861 David Brown was seventy-five years old, a widower whose children were married in households of their own. He had one son, Marion, still living in Alabama just north of David’s own land in Section 33. In 1861 Marion was 30 year old. He served as Lieutenant in 51st Regiment, Alabama Cavalry in the Civil War. He died May 9, 1863 of measles.

The regiment [in which Marion served] was organized at Oxford, in Calhoun (formerly Benton) County, in August 1862, and was ordered to Tennessee a few weeks later. During the war, it served primarily in the brigades of Gen. Allen of Montgomery, or Gen. Hagan of Mobile. The regiment was used primarily to raid the enemy’s lines of communications and to protect the flanks of the Army of Tennessee. It’s first major action was in the battle of Murfreesboro (Stone’s River), Tennessee, in December 1862. During the winter of 1863-64, the regiment was arduously employed in East Tennessee. From the beginning of the Atlanta Campaign on to the end of the war, the 51st was engaged with the main army and suffered heavily. About a week before the end of the war, the regiment captured the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment (US). The 51st Alabama surrendered at Raleigh, North Carolina.

In addition to the privations of war, David Brown lost his youngest son. David Brown lived three more years after the surrender of the Confederacy at Appomattox.

DEATHAND DISTRIBUTION OF ESTATE -- Estate settlement papers

David Brown died in 1868 sometime before the first date of his estate papers, which was 868. He apparently did not leave a will, but the estate settlement papers 14 of his estate run to approximately 100 pages. These papers are an excellent example of how legal documents can link parents to children and grandchildren because all of David's children and grandchildren (where the parent has died) as well as where they were living in 1868 are listed in the estate paper. Jim Brown is beginning the transcription of these pages and they will be added to the page for the links above as they are completed. This is a very difficult task and Jim is to be thanked for his meticulous work in transcribing these pages on the David Brown estate.

"Legend says that he [David Brown] was buried on his farm in an unmarked family cemetery alongside his wife and three slaves. These graves are on land now occupied by his great-great granddaughter, Ruby Lee Beason (Mrs. Charles) Braswell and her family." The following is from a history of St. Clair Co.

"When his estate was settled his land was sold so as to make distribution to such a large number of descendants. Years later his farm was mortgaged to Judson College, Baptist Girls School, at Marion, Ala. to secure the cost of the owner's daughter's education. When the debt was not paid Judson College foreclosed on the mortgage and sold the land at auction. It was bought by Euel Beason, whose wife and children live on it now (1969) .

When his daughter Ruby Lee married Charles B. Braswell, her father gave them 4 acres of land on which to build their home. They cleared away a "thickety" place for the house. Soon after its completion they began to find places sinking around and under the house. Upon inquiry they learned that hill was an old burial place of a man named Brown. Further search proved Euel Beason had bought his great-grandfather David Brown's old farm unknowingly and had given his daughter her great grandfather's burial ground as a homesite. So David Brown's great grandson and daughter are growing up on his resting place. p. 373.

The following is from an email from Morris Simon to Jim Brown and Judy Voran(16/12/20000). Morris’ wife is a descendent of Washington Lank(g)ford. This excerpt from the email is published here by permission

My wife is a Lankford descended from Washington Lank(g)ford and Louiza
Brown. Her father (still alive) is the grandson of James Marion Lankford, one of Washington's sons. Washington & Louiza lived on and near David Brown's estate during his lifetime, and Washington attempted to administer the estate after David died. Because Washington himself was essentially landless, it was very difficult for him to maintain the required bonded status as the administrator of such a large estate. After Washington's death, Louiza lived for several years with two different sons in St. Clair County, and then very likely moved to Texas with one of them, where she died sometime after 1880. I am still trying to track her movements after Washington's death and will post what I find as soon as I feel confident about the information. My father-in-law was taught to refer to David Brown as "Gransir Brown"> ("Grand Sire") and he described David's gravesite to us very precisely, referring to "a grove of cedars" on what is now Highway 411 just before you reach Ashville. When we went to the St. Clair Co. Archives and learned about the Beason-Braswell house, we also read an old account which placed the graves in what is now a rose garden. The site was easy to find, and we took pictures of both the garden and the old cedars which were part of the "copse" mentioned on Bruce & Judy's web site. I will try to scan the photographs and share them with all of you.