Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dr. William Brown & Bridget Palmer Brown of Mendon, New York

Fields near Mendon, New York (photo: Andy Arthur)

Last year, I wrote about the breakthrough I'd made on my Brown ancestors.  After many years of searching, I had finally proven the parents of my fourth great-grandmother, Amelia Brown.  Her parents were Dr. William Brown and Bridget Palmer of Mendon, New York.  I'd also determined that William's parents were Joseph Brown, a Revolutionary War veteran, and Elizabeth Gary.

Not long after that post, my local genealogical society hosted a meeting about using the DAR's records.  I did some digging in the DAR database and discovered that they've deemed the records used to connect Joseph Brown with his children are not adequate.  I decided I would compile records that would meet the DAR's standards, but have since plunged into a data black hole.  There is much circumstantial evidence for this lineage, but insubstantial documentation.  As a result, I've been spending a lot of time digging for any little tidbit about the Brown family that would confirm their relationships.  I reached out to a genealogist in Rochester, New York, who has been incredibly helpful in searching local archives for information that might not be digitized.  Thank you, Bob!  I've also been working on the indirect Brown lines, hoping there will be clues in those families.  After all, that's how I found William Brown and Bridget Palmer, by researching the descendants of their other children.  For now, I'd like to share what I've learned about the Brown family in Mendon, and hope that I'll soon be able to provide additional proof linking William to his parents.

William Brown was born March 24, 1780 in Connecticut.  I believe he was born in Killingly, Connecticut, where his parents were living in 1775, when Joseph Brown volunteered to fight for the rebel colonists.  He was the fourth of ten children born to Joseph and Elizabeth, and the first to survive infancy.  According to the book "Migrations to Mendon 1791-1821" by Diane Hamm, William moved from Connecticut to Mendon, New York in 1809.  He was 29 years old.  I haven't found a marriage date and location for William Brown and Bridget Palmer, but my guess is that they were married in Mendon sometime between 1809 and 1811.  Their first child was born in Mendon in 1812.

Bridget Palmer was born about 1793 in Connecticut.  I have not yet been able to determine her parents or exact place of birth.  She was young when she met and married William Brown.  She was just eighteen when their first child was born.  The children of William Brown and Bridget Palmer were as follows:

  • Elizabeth Brown (b. 1812 in Mendon, NY; d. 1883 in Manistee, MI; m. John W. King)
  • Mercy Brown (b. 1815 in Mendon, NY; d. 1879 in Mendon, NY; m. Loton Samuel Hodge)
  • Maria Brown (b. 1817 in Mendon, NY; d. 1901 in Buffalo, NY; m. John Walker Davock)
  • Amelia Brown (b. 1823 in Mendon, NY; d. 1876 in Cincinnati, OH; m. John Gustavus Bellangee)

During the years when his daughters were born, William Brown was the town doctor in Mendon.  He and Bridget lived in East Mendon, in the Eleven Thousand Acre Tract, with their children and seem to have been involved in local affairs.  In 1813, William Brown served as the Commissioner of the First School Fund in Mendon.

Bridget Palmer died in 1828 at the young age of 35.  My fourth great-grandmother, Amelia, was just five years old when she lost her mother. William was 48 years old when his wife died.  At this time, he gave up his career as a doctor and moved to nearby Pembroke, New York with his daughters.  He set himself up as a farmer in Pembroke, and a year later he married Sarah R. Loomis.  She was the daughter of Jacob Loomis and Selina Holmes of Salem, Connecticut.  Sarah appears to have been 42 at the time of their marriage, and bore William a son at the age of 44.

Loomis Palmer Brown was born in Pembroke in 1831.  Loomis was much younger than his half-siblings.  His eldest sister, Elizabeth, was nineteen at the time of his birth.  My fourth great-grandmother, Amelia, was eight.  The fact that Loomis bore the names of both his father's wives is very interesting.  Purely speculating, but this indicates to me that William must have deeply grieved the loss of his first wife, Bridget.  I also wonder if Sarah had known Bridget.  She might have been honoring a friend by giving her son Bridget's name.

William Brown died in Mendon on May 2, 1868, at the home of his daughter, Mercy Brown Hodge.  He was 88 years old.  He is buried in Mendon Cemetery in a plot with his first wife, Bridget Palmer.  It is not known when Sarah died.  She was still living at the time of the 1860 census, but I can find no record of her after that.  I suspect she may have died before William, which is why Mercy was tending to her father in his infirmity.

A death notice for William Brown was published in the Buffalo Courier Journal on May 7, 1868.  It read: "Died at East Mendon, NY at residence of son-in-law Loton Hodges, esq, Dr. William Brown, age 88 yr, 1 month and 7 days, father of Mrs. Maria Davock of this city."

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