Search billions of records on


A Golden Key to the Brown Ancestry

By James E. Hargraves

David Brown, 1783-1868 of Warren County, Tennessee and St. Clair County, Alabama was our ancestor. Brown family researchers had, for more than 50 years, accumulated a vast amount of information relating to David, his wife, children and descendants, but up to the year 2002 did not know the identity of his parents or ancestors. There were no bible records, wills, estate records, court records or census records to prove his parentage or lineage. There had been much speculation about his siblings and parents and there was good circumstantial evidence that 6 males with the Brown surname living in St. Clair County, Alabama between 1815 and 1825 were his brothers. These included: Alexander, G. L., Thomas, William, Robert and James. Notable Brown family researchers Jim Brown and Marvin Ryan had long speculated that David’s ancestors were the Revolutionary War heroes Robert, William and Thomas Brown of Warren County, Tennessee, The Waxhaws, South Carolina and Augusta County, Virginia. The names, ages, locations and time periods were all good indicators of this relationship, but no proof could be found that made a direct connection between David and those war veterans who were living in Warren County, Tennessee from about 1808 to 1849.

Our own speculation from 1997 to 2002, was that William and Mary Ann Brown of St. Clair County, Alabama, who lived there between 1815 and 1834 were the parents of David Brown, and the criteria of name, age, location and time period seemed to indicate that this parentage was a good possibility, but still there was no proof and scant circumstantial evidence.

In 2002, We began a research project to identify all the siblings of David Brown. The first priority was to identify the brother who was then only known to us by the initials of G. L. This G.L. Brown was listed with his family on the 1820 census of St. Clair County, Alabama as a near neighbor of David Brown, but no record could be found of G.L. Brown in Alabama after 1820. He may have died, but if not, it seemed logical that he had moved westward from Alabama to Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri or Kentucky, as these were the American frontier states in 1820 and were on the westward migration routes from Alabama. It did not seem likely that he had moved east as these pioneers seldom reversed course and it also seemed unlikely that he had moved any further north than Missouri or Kentucky. The search criteria was then limited to the 6 states previously mentioned and the search was for any Brown individual with a given name combination, of names or initials that equaled G.L., as searching for a single given name or initial using G or L would have been quite impossible in my lifetime.

Using the FTM National Census Index, I found many Browns on the 1830 census in those 6 states with a combination of names or initials as G.L. Brown, but where to start? In 2002, we knew that some descendants of David Brown had moved to Mississippi and Arkansas in the 1840’s and 1850’s, but no locations were known for any Browns prior to the 1840’s. The search was started in Arkansas for 1830 because I just happened to have the entire 1830 U.S. census for Arkansas on microfilm. One of those families checked was Gean L. Brown of Pope County, Arkansas which showed the family as: 003001-011001, which was a perfect match to the 1820 census of St. Clair County, Alabama for G.L. Brown shown as: 2-4-1-1, as long as one male over 21 was eliminated from the 1820 census (probably a brother of G.L. Brown, but too old to be a son); and the oldest son had moved out (Guian Leeper Brown Jr. had moved out in 1829); and one daughter had been born after 1820 (daughter Catherine had been born in 1822). The census records are compared as follows:

1820 U.S. Census, St. Clair County, Alabama.

G.L. Brown: 2-4-1-1;

2 male 21 years or more, born 1799 or before.

4 male under 21 years, born 1799-1820.

1 female 21 years or more, born 1799 or before.

1 female under 21 years, born 1799-1820.

1830 U.S. Census, Pope County, Arkansas;

Gean L. Brown: 003001-011001;

3 male 10-15 years, born 1815-1820.

1 male 30-40 years, born 1790-1800.

1 female 5-10 years, born 1820-1825.

1 female 10-15 years, born 1815-1820.

1 female 30-40 years, born 1790-1800.

As mentioned, Guian Leeper Brown had a son, Guian Leeper Brown Jr. and further research indicated that his son Alexander named a son as Guion Brown on the 1850 Census and that his daughter Rebecca named a son as Gillan L. Brown on the 1850 Census. Records found in Arkansas which supported the identification of Guian Leeper Brown are as follows;

1824 Taxpayer List, Independence County, Arkansas: Gyan L. Brown.

1828 Taxpayer List, Pope County, Arkansas: Gean L. Brown.

1829 State Census, Crawford County, Arkansas: Gian L. Brown and Guian L. Brown.

1830 U.S. Census, Pope County, Arkansas: Gean L. Brown.

1832 Taxpayer List, Pope County, Arkansas: Gean L. Brown.

May 1, 1845, U.S. Land Patent, Pope County, Arkansas: Heirs of Guian Leeper Brown.

Returning back to research in St. Clair County, Alabama, a book of early county records was found that confirmed the Arkansas identification as follows;

April 12, 1820. Charged in Circuit Court: Guin L. Brown.

April 13, 1820. Named as Constable: Guin L. Brown.

September 1820. Arrest Warrant, John Moody Vs. Guin L. Brown.

September 28, 1820. Arrest Warrant rescinded by John Moody for: Guin L. Brown.

November 1820. Arrest Warrant: Leeper Brown.

The earliest record found of Guian Leeper Brown was the 1812 Taxpayer list for Franklin County, Tennessee which showed that he and 3 of his brothers had settled there as follows;

Alexander Brown.

Lieper Brown.

Thomas Brown.

William Brown.

And so, we now had his full name and what a rare name it was. At the time of his birth in 1789, the use of middle names was quite unusual and commonly referred to the maiden name of the mother, but in some cases, the full name of the maternal grandfather was used as given names and I believed that this was true of Guian Leeper Brown. But was there a Guian Leeper anywhere in the world? I believed there was, but how to find him, and if found, was there any connection between him and our Brown ancestors?

The strongest lead we had was the Revolutionary War heroes Robert, Thomas and William Brown of Warren County, Tennessee, whose family had their beginnings in the Scotch-Irish Settlement of Augusta County, Virginia. This location then, seemed the best place to start the search for Guian Leeper. A search of Chalkley’s Chronicles of Augusta County, Virginia revealed that James and Margaret Leeper had migrated from Ireland to Augusta County, Virginia in 1738, bringing with them the following children: Nicholas, Sarah, James Jr., Andrew, Jane and GUINE Leeper. They were headrights of the famous John Smith, importer of Scotch and Irish immigrants to Virginia. It is interesting to note that William Brown Jr. of Edinburgh, Scotland, immigrant and patriarch of our Brown line in America was also a headright of John Smith and William migrated from Scotland to the Scotch-Irish Settlement of Augusta County, Virginia in 1751.

Guine Leeper appears in 12 Augusta County Court records between 1747 and 1779, identified variously as: Guine, Gawen and Gawin. The last record in Augusta County, Virginia was that of January 19, 1779 in which he sells land in that county, but is noted as "late of Augusta", meaning that he has left the county. In 1782, he received a North Carolina Land Grant for Sullivan County, of which, Hawkins County was established in 1783 from Sullivan County, later becoming part of Tennessee, when that state was established in 1796. The excellent research of Judy Voran into the Hawkins County, North Carolina land records proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Guian Leeper and William Brown (Jr.) of Edinburgh, Scotland were next door neighbors in Hawkins County, North Carolina in the 1780’s, a key piece of information as this was the time period that Jane Leeper and Mary Ann Leeper, daughters of Guian Leeper married Felix Kennedy Brown in 1785 and William Brown 1783, sons of William Brown Jr. and Elizabeth Black, respectively in Hawkins County, North Carolina. William Brown Jr. lived in Hawkins, Knox, Roane, White and Warren Counties of Tennessee from 1783 to 1815.

It was William Brown Jr. and Mary Ann Leeper who moved with their children from Warren County, Tennessee to Monroe County, Mississippi Territory in about 1815 and that area became St. Clair County, Alabama in 1819. As we now know, they named their 4th child Guian Leeper Brown. William and Mary Ann Brown also had a son named William Brown who named a son Guian Jasper Leeper Brown, who was known variously as Jasper Brown, Gion J.L. Brown, Guin J. Brown, Guyan Jasper Lee Brown, Guyan J.L. Brown, Guina J.L. Brown and Guy Brown. This Guian of many spellings also had a son who was named, Guyon Jasper Leeper Brown. Felix Kennedy Brown and wife Jane Leeper named one of their sons Guyan Leeper Brown and the given name carried on in that line also, as it did in the William Brown Jr. and Mary Ann Leeper line.

It was concluded that our ancestor David Brown was the son of William Brown Jr. and Mary Ann Leeper, based on the trail of Guian Leeper Brown and the trail of his grandfather Guian Leeper, plus a mass of information of the Browns, their ancestry and connecting lines provided by many Brown family researchers, and especially the Leeper family researchers who contributed vital information for this project.

This, "The Guian Leeper Brown Project" was completed by James E. Hargraves and Gail McNeely as full partners in the research, with the vital assistance of those individuals previously mentioned. I do not believe that the Brown ancestry could have been known for many years to come without the "Golden Key" of Guian Leeper Brown to unlock the mysteries of the Brown ancestry and we now have identified all of David Brown’s siblings, most of their families and, above all, 8 generations of David’s ancestors.

James E. Hargraves

James Hargraves may be contacted at for questions on Guian Leeper Brown



*Guine Leeper…Gawin Leeper…Gawen Leeper…Guyan Leeper…Gavin Leeper… Gawan Leeper.
*Guian Leeper Brown…Guin L. Brown…Leeper Brown…Lieper Brown…Gyan L. Brown…Gean L. Brown…Guian L. Brown…G. L. Brown…Guin L. Brown…Gion J. L. Brown…Guin J. Brown…Guyan Jasper Lee Brown…Jasper Brown…Guyan J. L. Brown…Guina J. L. Brown…Guy Brown…Guion Brown…Gillan L. Brown…Gian L. Brown…Guyon Brown…Guyon L. Brown…Gideon Leeper Brown…Girard Leeper Brown…Gion L. Brown…Gionel Brown…Gionell Brown…Guinel Brown…Gionell Leeper Brown…Gerard Leiper Brown…Leap Gian Brown…Gion Leeper Brown… Guion Leeper Brown…Guyon Jasper Leeper Brown…Guyan J. L. Brown…G. J. L. Brown…Guyan Leeper Brown…Guyon Leeper Brown…Leper Brown…
*First spelling found.

Back to Brown Home Page