Summary of Current Research on
Benjamin Brown, born 1807 in Greene Co TN,


Part One

This is the first in a series of articles related to family of BENJAMIN BROWN, together with information on collateral families of HULL, LINGENFELTER, TROBAUGH.  If you find this information useful, please take the time to thank Jim Patrick for his great work!

We now feel quite secure that Benjamin Brown's parents were John and Catherine Hull Brown.

John Brown and Caty Hull were married 17 Mar 1807 in Greene County Tennessee.

 One of our first big clues was the biography of Alfred Brown which Donna had found in a history of McDonough County Illinois, which has previously been published on this list.  Although we certainly view biographies with a jaundiced eye, we can't discount their value as a starting point.  This biography placed Alfred Brown's birth in Greene County Tennessee, just 3 years after the Birth of Benjamin Brown. 

 "History of McDonough County Illinois, its Cities, Towns, and Villages, with Early Reminiscences, Personal Incidents and Anecdotes, and a Complete Business Directory of the County" by S. J. Clark, Springfield, Ill.: D.W. Lusk, State printer and binder 1878

 Page 578---
"Alfred Brown was born in Green county, East Tennessee, June 18, 1810, a son of John and Catherine (Hull) Brown. He a native of Virginia, and she of Pennsylvania, and both were buried in Indiana. The family removed to White county, Tennessee, and subsequently to Harrison county, Indiana, living a portion of the time in the adjoining county, Crawford, where they lived at the time of their death. Alfred was married March 27, 1835, to Sarah V. Shields, of Harrison county, a daughter of Robert and Naomi (Little) Shields. In the fall of 1835, with his family, Alfred removed to Fulton county, Illinois, where he lived till 1852, at which time he came to McDonough and settled on section 1, where he bought 80 acres, afterwards buying 94 acres more. He has lived on this place since; at first living in a small house, but in 1877, he built a fine residence 32x25 and 24x16 feet, one and one-half stories high, costing $1,800. His wife died August 3, 1871, and was buried at Blandinsville, leaving one child--Marinda, now the wife of J. D. Isom, living at the old home, where her father lives with her. She was born May 1, 1849. Mr. Brown is a member of the United Brethren in Christ, as was also his wife and daughter, in which church he has been class-leader for some time. This gentleman is highly respected by all his neighbors, and is considered a very worthy man in every respect."

We were shocked when Kathy presented us with information from her Aunt June's files, showing that Benjamin Brown had served in the Civil War and that Elizabeth Brown had filed for a widow's pension.  Donna followed up by getting copies of all the original documents and consolidating the information. This set of documents gave us the personal information about Benjamin, letting us know that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with dark complexion, gray eyes, and gray hair. This was the place where we finally learned that Elizabeth's maiden name was Elizabeth Spears, by her own testimony, and that she and Benjamin were married in White County Tennessee in 1825.  This finally corrected the bad transcription made by a county clerk when he mistakenly srote Elizabeth's maiden name as "Spencer", rather than Spears".  Donna's synopsis of Benjamin's Civil War experience has already been previously published on the Illinois Genweb:

"BENJAMIN BROWN’S CIVIL WAR PENSION Submitted by: Donna Walker Wefenstette

He joined Company C, 103rd Illinois Infantry Volunteers on August 11, 1862 and was mustered in Oct 2, 1862. The muster roll reads: 55 years old, 5' 8" tall, dark complexion, gray eyes, grizzled hair. He was discharged on disability March 28, 1863 for chronic dysentery.

On June 17, 1879 Benjamin Brown went to lawyers, Searns & Learnan, in Canton, Illinois who helped him fill out papers for a pension. Six affidavits were taken on the following dates: July 31, 1879 from Thadeus Knott, M.D., Ben's doctor before & after the war August 9, 1879 from Carey Westerfield, in same regiment August 16, 1879 from Jeremiah Vion, in same regiment August 18, 1879 from T. H. Fleming, M.D., regimental surgeon August 29, 1879 from Amos Lawrence, in same regiment August 18, 1879 from Ben himself.  All these affidavits were sent to the Department of the Interior, pension office in Washington, D.C.

On Feb 7, 1880, the commissioner gave the application number 310.215 but returned it for more information regarding his health and medical treatment both before and after the war. (Since they had the affidavits, including one from Dr. Nott his family physician, it's not clear why they wanted more information!)

November 11, 1880, the pension office requested a full military history from the adjutant general's office in Washington D.C. January 20, 1881, the adjutant general's office returned a form to the commissioner of pensions with the military history. February 5, 1881, the surgeon general's office returned a form to the pension office for a report of hospital treatment and a form with the certificate of discharge for disability. By then, Ben had died and the application is stamped ABANDONED.

February 3, 1881, Ben's wife, Elizabeth, went to a different lawyer, Charles J. Main of Canton to file an application for a widow's pension. ( This form confirms her maiden name of Spears and the date of her marriage as October 25, 1825 in White County Tennessee)

The pension office again took up the application, this time for a widow’s pension, assigning the number 480.475, and on June 22, 1881 they requested information from the adjutant general's office regarding the military records of Amos Lawrence, Jeremiah Vion and Carey Westerfield as to the presence or absence on or about the time they were with Co C, 103 Ill Vol Co.

August 6, 1881 the adjutant general's office returned information on these three, that they were indeed with the 103rd regiment at the time of Ben's disability.

On June 22, 1883 the pension office sent P.M. Slaughter a letter regarding the standing in the community and general reputation for truth of T. H. Flemming, M.D. The handwritten reply is: "Canton, Ill June 25, The general reputation for truth and standing in the community of Dr. T. H. Flemming is good (underlined) Yours Resp P.M. Slaughter"

June 22, 1883, a letter was sent to Dr. Thaddeus Nott but was returned by the postmaster with a handwritten note on the letter: T. Knott m.d. is dead J H Hyde pm (post master) psd (initials) asst (Dr. Nott died Aug 5, 1881)

Feb 7, 1887 the pension office sent a letter to Mrs. Benj Brown but it had a hand written note on the envelope "return to writer".

March 22, 1887 a letter was sent to the postmaster in Bryant, Illinois for "the last known post-office address of Mrs. Elizabeth Brown who lived in your vicinity in 1881." There is one line on a piece of paper "Died at this place three or four years ago."

Her application is also stamped ABANDONED.

It appears that neither Ben nor Elizabeth received a pension. I believe if he had filed a claim in 1865 or 1870, he would have received a pension, but 18 years after the fact made the pension office suspicious. The claims floundered in the bureaucratic paperwork and time ran out, first for Ben and then for his wife, Elizabeth."

The next step was to connect Benjamin to some parents.  Although we had been pretty sure that Ben and Alfred were either brothers or cousins, there was really no proof.  Their closeness  was further indicated by the fact that Hiram Brown named one of his sons John Isom Brown, apparently in honor of Alfred's son-in-law, John Isom.

We knew that Benjamin Brown lived in Harrison County Indiana, along with other Greene County Browns, Trobaughs, and other collateral families, and that they mostly lived near the Crawford County line, in Western Scott Township (present day Harrison township), and that a Benjamin owned a farm in Crawford County for a brief time, just before Ben made his move to Fulton County Illinois.  It took a long time to figure out that John and Catherine Hull Brown moved from Greene County to White County TN and to Harrison County Indiana, where Catherine died in about 1833, and that John Brown subsequently remarried, to a wopman named “Elizabeth”, either Elizabeth Snowden or Elizabeth Stewart, but that can be ironed out a bit later.  In 1820 and 1830, John's wife is enumerated as being in the same age bracket as John.  From 1840 onward, his wife is ten years younger, and, beginning in 1850, she is named Elizabeth.  Phyllis and I finally identified the following census records as being the John Brown who married Caty Hull

++ Federal Census of 1820 of White County Tennessee, page 316

Brown, John 3 2 0 0 1 0 -- 2 0 0 1 0 0    
3 males under 10 (John H. Brown; George A. Brown; & ?)
2 males 10-16 (Benjamin Brown; Alfred Brown)
1 male 26-45 (John Brown, HOH)
2 females under 10 (??)
1 female 26-45 (Catharine Hull Brown)
++Federal Census of 1830 of Harrison Township, Crawford County Indiana, page 086

Brown, John -- Head of Household -- Enumerated next to brother Frederick Brown and two names from brother George Brown Jr.
2 males under 5 (Samuel Brown & ?)
2 males 5-10 (George A. Brown; John H. Brown)
2 males 15-20 (Alfred Brown & ?)
1 male 20-30 (?)
1 male 40-50 (John Brown)
1 female 10-15 (?)
1 female 15-20 (?)
1 female 40-50 (Catharine Hull Brown)
++Federal Census of 1840 of Sterling Township, Crawford County Indiana, page 375

Brown, John -- Head of Household
one male 10-15 (?);
one male 15-20 (Samuel);
one male 50-60 (John Brown);
one female 40-50 Second Wife, Elizabeth)
++Federal Census of 1850 of Sterling Township, Crawford County Indiana, page 31

384 384 John Brown  66 M Farmer 300  Virginia
              Elizabeth "  56    Kentucky
++Federal Census of 1860 of Ohio Township, Crawford Co Indiana, page 571[?]

1433 1434 John Brown 76 M Farmer  390 200 Virginia
                  Elizabeth   65 F    Kentucky
++Federal Census of 1870 of Ohio Township, Crawford Co Indiana, page 61

51 51 Brown, John  87 M Farmer 700 150 Virginia
            Elizabeth   75 F Keeping House  Kentucky

We still didn't have anything tangible to tie Benjamin Brown to Alfred and back to John Brown and Caty Hull.  I found a will abstract for John Brown's will in:  "Slevin, Ruth M. Will records: books 1-2. 1974. 71 pp.", but although the abstract mentioned Benjamin, it did not mention Alfred, and we already had a biography that tied Alfred to John Brown.  Karyn got tired of my dragging my heels, so she wrote off to Crawford County for a copy of the original will, and I did a verbatim transcript, which we'll publish in part two.



© 2012 Greene County, TNGenWeb coordinator and/or individual contributors. You are welcome to copy information found on this Greene County  for your personal use, but this information may not be sold,  used,  reposted or cached elsewhere  without expressed permission of the copyright holder(s).  Last updated 05/19/2012