Francis BROWN II (1716 – ) was Alex’s 7th Great Grandfather; one of 256 in this generation of the Miller line.
Lt. Francis Brown was born 14 Nov 1710. His parents were Thomas BROWN and Ann CHUTE. He married Mercy LOWELL on 5 May 1741 in Newbury, Mass.
Alternatively, Francis was born in 1716.
Mercy Lowell was born 20 Dec 1718 in Newbury, Mass. Her parents were Joseph LOWELL and Mary HARDY.
Children of Francis and Mercy:
|1.||Anne Brown||c. 1741|
|2.||Mary (Molly) BROWN||14 Feb 1743 in Newbury, Mass.||Zebulon ESTEY
8 Aug 1765 Newburyport, MA
|9 Aug 1835 in Upper Gagetown, NB aged 93|
|3.||Capt. Thomas Brown||10 Mar 1745 Turkey Hill, Newbury, Mass||Hannah Merrill
8 Jun 1769 Newbury, Essex, Mass.
|26 Jun 1803 Essex, Massachusetts|
|4.||Ruth Brown||17 Jun 1745 Newbury||Joseph Coffin
14 Apr 1767 Newbury
|1 Apr 1831 Newburyport, Mass|
|5.||Mercy Brown||24 Mar 1750 Newbury||Jacob Hale
16 Nov 1769 Newbury, Mass
|23 Aug 1840 Newburyport|
|6.||Benjamin Brown||14 Oct 1754 Newbury||Prudence Kelly
2 Feb 1776 Newbury
|13 Apr 1818 Chester, NH|
Francis lived on Turkey Hill, just west of Newburyport. Today, Turkey Hill Road is a couple blocks west of Interstate 95,
2. Mary (Molly) BROWN (See Zebulon ESTEY‘s page)
3. Capt. Thomas Brown
Thomas Brown was a prosperous sea captain.
Thomas’ wife Hannah Merrill was born 16 Nov 1745 in Essex, Mass. Her parents were Deacon John Merrill and Ruth Hale. Hannah died 29 Apr 1825 – Newburyport, Essex, Mass.
Thomas was an officer in the revolution. Thomas was first a private in Capt. Moses Little’s company of minute-men who marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775 to Cambridge – Service 5 days. [ Moses Little was later colonel of the newly formed 12th Continental Regiment and and led that regiment at the Battle of Bunker Hill, the New York Campaign and the battles of Trenton and Princeton.]
Next Thomas was an ensign in Capt. Jacob Gerrish’s Company, Col. Moses Little’s Essex County Regiment. This regiment reach Cambridge the morning of battle of Bunker Hill 17 Jun 1775 and although not yet mustered into service, it volunteered to go into action. Most of the Regiment including Gerrish’s Company crossed the Charlestown Neck under the fire of British ships and marched into the entrenchments on Bunker Hill. Gerrish’s Company was with their townsman Little in the redoubt.
Mrs. Brown with her slave Titus followed the regiment to Cambridge. The night after the battle, she filled a pillow case with provisions (mostly doughnuts she made herself) and placed it on Titus’ back and went with him to Winter Hill to which point most of the continental troops had retreated. After his freedom had been given him, Titus remained a faithful servant of the family until his death.
Thomas later became First Lieutenant under Capt. Barnard of the same regiment and then Captain of the Newbury Company under Col Aaron Willard’s Regimennt. As Captain, he marched to Fort Ticonderoga and thence to Fort Edwards to join forces against Burgoyne
Children of Thomas and Hannah
i. Sarah Brown (b. ~1775) m1. [__?__] Webster; m2. 19 Jul 1806 Newburyport, Mass to Josiah Hooke. (b. 21 Oct 1774 in Salisbury, Essex, Mass. – d. 18 Mar 1827 Castine Cemetery, Castine, Maine) Josiah’s parents were Josiah Stacey Hook (b: 29 May 1744 in Salisbury – d. 20 Sep 1829 Castine, aged 85.) and Sarah Pike (1747 – died Oct. 19, 1811, aged 64.). Sarah and Josiah had eight children born between 1801 and 1817 in Castine, Maine.
Newburyport Vital Records for Webster: Sarah [Mrs. int.], and Josiah Hook, Esq. of Castine, July 19, 1806.
Josiah served for 35 years as collector of the port of Castine, Maine on the mouth of the Penobscot Riber and was in charge of procurements for the fort there. In those days, the position was appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
During the War of 1812, from his base in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in August and September 1814, Sir John Coape Sherbrooke sent a naval force and 500 British troops in another “Penobscot Expedition”. In 26 days, they succeeded in taking possession of Hampden, Bangor, and Machias, destroying or capturing 17 American ships. They won the Battle of Hampden (losing two killed while the Americans lost one killed) and occupied the village of Castine for the rest of the war. The Treaty of Ghent returned this territory to the United States. The British left in April 1815, at which time they took 10,750 pounds obtained from tariff duties at Castine. This money, called the “Castine Fund”, was used to create a military library in Halifax and establish Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dalhousie is a coeducational university, with more than 18,000 students. Their varsity teams, known as the Tigers, compete in the Atlantic University Sport conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
With the growth of the postwar economy, the town became a prosperous place: the seat of Hancock County and a center for shipbuilding and coastal trading. By the 1820s, it had become a major entrepot for American fishing fleets on their way to the Grand Banks. It also prospered from the lumber industry, in which eastern Maine dominated the rest of the country before the Civil War. During this period of growth and prosperity, many of the handsome Federal and Greek Revival style mansions that still grace the village’s streets were constructed.
But Castine declined after the Civil War. Its fleet, which once sailed the globe, now carried coal, firewood, and lime to coastal ports, competing with railroads and steamships. Ambitious young people sought their fortunes elsewhere. The Hancock County seat moved to Ellsworth in 1838
For more on this fun story, see my post Battle of Hampden and the Castine Fund
ii. Hannah Brown b. 9 Feb 1772 in Newbury, Essex, Mass; d. 1 Aug 1828; m. 10 Jan 1799 Newbury to Edward Little (wiki) (b. 12 Mar 1773 in Newbury – d. 21 Sep 1849 in Auburn, Androscoggin, Maine) His parents were Col. Josiah Little (1746 – 1830) and Sarah Toppan (1748 – 1823). Hannah and Edward had eleven children born between 1799 and 1813.
iiu. Abigail Brown b. 31 Jul 1782 in Rowley, Mass.;d. Aft. 1860 census Newburyport m. Francis Todd (b. 6 Feb 1779 Newburyport, Essex. Mass. – d. Aft 1860 Census Newburyport) Francis’ parents were Jeremy Todd and Mary [__?__]
Francis was a merchant and ship owner in Newburyport.
In the 1860 census, Francis and Abigail were retired in Newburyport Ward 3.
Edward Little (1773-1849) was an attorney, founder of Lewiston Mills in Lewiston Maine and philanthropist who founded Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine.
Little’s father, Josiah, was a descendant of one of the first settlers of what is now Auburn, Maine. His grandfather, Col. Moses Little, was his father-in-law Thomas Brown’s first commanding officer in the company of minute-men who marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775 to Cambridge.
Edward attended Phillips Exeter before graduating from Dartmouth College in 1798. Little eventually became a successful attorney and entrepreneur in the city of Newburyport, but after a devastating fire in 1811 he moved to Portland, Maine several years later, and then in 1826 he moved to what is now Auburn. After his father’s death in 1830, Little inherited land in the Auburn area. Little was known as “a quiet, scholarly person who was known for his devotion to the community.” Little made many prominent donations, including the donation of a Congregational church building to Bowdoin College, and in 1834 he founded the Lewiston Falls Academy, donating 9 acres and considerable funds to the academy, which was later named the Little Institute and then Edward Little High School. Edward Little died in 1849.
The school was first commissioned by the Maine State Legislature as Lewiston Falls Academy. Little contributed numerous resources to the school, including land and money. It was renamed to the Edward Little Institute in September 1849. When the City of Auburn was given control over the school in April 1874, it came with the condition that the school always be named in honor of Edward Little. At the beginning of the 1930s, a second building was erected. The school suffered a fire that destroyed the entire third floor in 1943.
In 1961, the building currently used as Edward Little High School was completed. It cost US$1.9 million to build. In June 2009, the school was placed on probation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Reasons cited for this probation included “the poor and inadequate condition of the school’s kitchen facility…the insufficient heating system,” and low funding for educational resources and technology.
The school’s sports teams are known as the Red Eddies, with the ghost of Edward Little as their mascot. The school is a member of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. The high school newspaper is “Eddie’s Echo” The school’s most successful teams in recent years include basketball and track and field.
When the City of Auburn was given control over the school in April 1874, it came with the condition that the school always be named in honor of Edward Little. This dedication was probably written at that time.
It now seems probably that the first public statue erected in this State in honor of one of its citizens will be the one which the city of Auburn has voted to place in the park of Edward Little Institute, hereafter to be known as the Edward Little High School. It is creditable to the city of Auburn and to the State that this distinction should be first conferred upon one whose sole claim to it rests upon philanthropic grounds. It will be a statue not to a warrior or a statesman, but to an ardent and steady friend of the cause of education and of temperance. To a public spirited man, whose wise planning and unselfish enterprise, laid broad and deep the foundations of education, morality and religion in the two cities of Auburn and Lewiston, where he spent the last and most active years of his useful life.Edward Little was born in Newburyport, in 1773, and was the second son of Col. Josiah Little, of that city. He graduated at Dartmouth in 1797, and prepared himself for the bar. His early and middle life were spent in Newburyport and Portland. At one time he was a bookseller and publisher in this city, his stand being in Muzzy’s Row, Middle Street. We occassionally find old volumes containing his imprint.
At the death of his father, who had large landed estates in Maine, he removed to Danville, now Auburn, and built a mansion in a sightly position, overlooking the grand waterpower, the value and use of which he appreciated. While laboring to develope the industries of the villages clustered on either side of Lewiston Falls, forseeing as he did from the first the grand possibilities of the situation, he did not forget to plant and to foster the church and the school. One of his first acts, after the building of a church, was to give a large and valuable tract of land to the Lewiston Falls Academy, which he also endowed with gifts of money. It is characteristic of the man that he selected the fairest spot in all his broad domain for the school, and had it planted in an ample park near the confluence of the Little Androscoggin and the Androscoggin rivers. He was an early laborer in the temperance cause, and the writer of this article well remembers the series of temperance meetings held nearly forty years ago in his drawing room; for there was no hall or vestry then on the territory now occupied by two thriving cities.
Mr. Little died in 1849. His sons, Thomas, Josiah, and Edward survived him, but have now passed away, leaving many descendants. To of his daughters are now living, Mrs. Samuel Pickard, of Auburn, and Mrs. Charles Clark, of Lewiston. His younger brother, Josiah, of Newburyport, founded the free public library of that city, and many educational and benevolent associations were benefitted by his munificence. He endowed a prfessorship at Bowdoin, which has taken his name, and now another professorship in the same college is to be endowed with funds transferred for the purpose by the trustees of the Institute founded by Edward Little.
The sculptor who is to model the proposed statue has a noble form and a benignant countenance to represent in bronze. Fortunately many excellent likenesses of the good man are in existence. Doubtless a Maine sculptor will recieve the commission, and it is to be hoped that our first portrait statue may be in every sense a credit to the State.
The Edward Little House is an historic house at 217 Main Street in Auburn, Maine within the Main Street Historic District. The house was built in 1827 and was home to Edward Little. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
4. Ruth Brown
Ruth’s husband Joseph Coffin was born 26 Aug 1743 in Newbury, Essex, Mass. His parents were Richard Coffin and Abigail Hale. Joseph died 9 Mar 1769 in Newbury, Essex, Mass, just a couple of years after he and Ruth married 14 Apr 1767 Newbury.
Joseph had a twin Mary Coffin (1743 – 1829) In 1786 she married in Newbury to Edmund Knight (1744 – 1813)
Child of Ruth and Joseph
i. Moses Coffin b. 09 Sep 1768 in Newbury, Essex, Mass; d. 03 Feb 1843 in Boscawen, Merrimack, New Hampshire; m1.20 Dec 1792 Boscawen to Hannah Little (b. 10 Apr 1775 in Boscawen, Merrimack, NH – d. 04 Nov 1811 in Boscawen) Hannah’s parents were Enoch Little (1728 – 1816) and
Hannah Hovey (1733 – 1801). Moses and Hannah had three children between 1794 and 1811.
m2. Ann Webster (b. 1770 in Salisbury, Merrimack, New Hampshire) Moses and Ann had three more children between 1815 and 1818.
5. Mercy Brown
Mercy’s husband Jacob Hale was born 13 Sep 1746 – Essex, Mass. His parents were Jacob Hale and Mary March. Jacob died 16 Oct 1805 – Newburyport, Essex, Mass.
Children of Mercy and Jacob:
i. Jacob Hale b. 3 Aug 1772 in Newburyport, Essex, Mass.; d. 18 Mar 1836 in Newburyport m.28 Aug 1794 Newburyport to Mary “Polly” Hoyt (b. 776 in of Newburyport = d. 12 Oct 1836 Newburyport) Jacob and Mary had seven children born between 1795 and 1815
ii. Joseph Hale b. 19 May 1775 in Newburyport, Essex, Mass; d. 1788
iii. Benjamin Hale b. 7 Jul 1778 in Newburyport, Essex, Mass; d. 1858; m1. 12 Dec 1802 to Abigail Peverly Greenleaf (b. 18 Feb 1782 – d. 18 Feb 1804); m2. 12 Sep 1805 Essex, Mass to Anna Tilton Goodhue (b. ~1782 in Bradford, Essex, Mass.) Benjamin and Anna had five children born between 1806 and 1818.
Benjamin’s great grandson was the famous astronomer George Emery Hale
Son – Benjamin Ellery Hale (b. 06 Dec 1809 Bradford, MA- d. 4 Dec 1877 in CT)
Grandson – William Ellery Hale (b. 08 Apr 1836 Bradford – d. Nov 1898 in Chicago)
Great Grandson – George Ellery Hale (b. 29 Jun 1868 in Chicago – d. 21 Feb 1938 in Pasadena)
Hale discovered that sunspots were magnetic and demonstrated a strong tendency for east-west alignment of magnetic polarities in sunspots, with mirror symmetry across the solar equator; and that the polarity in each hemisphere switched orientation from one sunspot cycle to the next. This systematic property of sunspot magnetic fields is now commonly referred to as “Hale’s law.”
iv. Polly Hale b. 1 Sep 1780 in Newburyport, Essex, Mass.
6. Benjamin Brown
Benjamin’s first wife Prudence Kelly was born 17 Apr 1753 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Her parents were John Kelly and Hannah Hale. Prudence died in 9 Sep 1798 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire.
Benjamin’s second wife to be Mary Lunt was born 27 Jul 1753. Mary died 13 Mar 1838. I found a marriage record between a Benjamin Brown and a Mary Lunt dated 27 Jan 1790 which conflicts with Prudence’s commonly reported date of death.
Mr. Brown was a merchant of high standing in Chester, NH.
Children of Benjamin and Prudence
i. Nancy Brown b. 20 Oct 1776; d. 27 Apr 1799; m. Henry Sweetser (b. 4 Aug 1768 in Charlestown, Mass – d. 28 Jan 1847 in Concord, NH) After Nancy died, Henry married 3 Aug 1809 in Concord, NH to Susannah West (b. 22 Mar 1786 in Concord, NH – d. 2 Aug 1861 in Concord, NH) and had seven children born between 1810 and 1828 including Nancy Brown Sweetser b: 1 Jan 1813 in Chester, NH.
ii. Mercy Brown b. 18 Apr 1778 Newbury, Essex, Mass.; d. 8 Mar 1802; m. Daniel Whittier French (b. 22 Feb 1769 in Epping, Rockingham, New Hampshire – d. 15 Oct 1840 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire) Daniel’s parents were Gould French (1741 – 1823) and Dorothy Whittier (1745 – 1804). After Mercy died, Daniel married 30 Jun 1805 to Betsey Van Mater Flagg (12 Feb 1778 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire – d. 23 Apr 1812 ) and had four children between 1806 and 1811. Finally, on 6 Nov 1812 Daniel married Sarah Wingate Flagg (b. 31 May 1782 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire – d. 18 Dec 1878) and had five more children between 1813 and 1821.
Mercy and Daniel had one child Benjamin Brown French, b. Sept. 4, 1800, a man of considerable prominence and influence in Washington, D. C . for many years, till his death, 1870;
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Benjamin Brown French, succeeded William S. Wood in the fall of 1861. After his appointment French wrote in his diary on September 8: “I was at the President’s and saw Mrs. Lincoln and the President. Mrs. L. expressed her satisfaction at my appointment, and I hope and trust she and I shall get along quietly. I certainly shall do all in my power to oblige her and make her comfortable. She is evidently a smart, intelligent woman, and likes to have her own way pretty much. I was delighted with her independence and her lady-like reception of me. Afterwards I saw the President and he received me very cordially.”
It was a challenge for Mary Todd Lincoln, a “westerner”, to serve as her husband’s First Lady in Washington, D.C., a political center dominated by eastern and southern culture. Lincoln was regarded as the first “western” president, and Mary’s manners were often criticized as coarse and pretentious. It was difficult for her to negotiate White House social responsibilities and rivalries, spoils-seeking solicitors, and baiting newspapers in a climate of high national intrigue in Civil War Washington.
Mary Lincoln suffered from severe headaches, described as migraines, throughout her adult life as well as protracted depression During her White House years, she also suffered a head injury in a carriage accident, after which her headaches seemed to become more frequent. A history of mood swings, fierce temper, public outbursts throughout Lincoln’s presidency, as well as excessive spending, has led some historians and psychologists to speculate that Mary suffered from bipolar disorder.
Responsible for hosting many social functions, she has often been blamed by historians for spending too much on the White House. She reportedly felt that it was important to the maintenance of prestige of the Presidency and the Union during the Civil War.
Once a Democrat, Benjamin Brown French was clerk of the House when Congressman Lincoln arrived in Washington in 1847; Lincoln’s vote helped defeat him for reelection.
A prominent Washington Republican, he served as marshal of the first Lincoln Inaugural and as general factotum to the President’s aides in the early days of the Lincoln Administration. He worked hard to ingratiate himself with the Lincoln in order to get the public buildings post – even writing a long poem for Mrs. Lincoln. He was the deputy to Marshal Ward Hill Lamon at the dedication of the Gettysburg Battlefield for which he composed a funeral dirge that was sung at the ceremony. He also served the factotum who introduced Mrs. Lincoln at receptions in the Blue Room. “Every Saturday from 1 to 3 M. & every Tuesday from 1/2 past 8 to 1/2 past 10, I am required, as an official duty, to be at the President’s to introduce visitors to Mrs. Lincoln. It is a terrible bore, but, as a duty I must do it…”2 In 1865, he oversaw the White House preparations for President Lincoln’s funeral—including the design of the catafalque.
Perhaps French’s most important function was to oversee the expenditures for the White House redecorating. He had to find a way to pay the excess bills that had been accumulated under his predecessor, William S. Wood. On December 16, 1861, French recorded in his diary the events of the previous weekend: “Mrs. Lincoln sent down for me to go up and see her on urgent business. I could not go, of course, but sent word I would be up by 9 A.M. Saturday. Although suffering with a severe headache I went & had an interview with her, and with the President, in relation to the overrunning of the appropriation for furnishing the house, which was done, by the law, ‘under the President.’ The money was actually expended by Mrs. Lincoln, & she was in much tribulation, the President declaring he would not approve the bills overrunning the $20,000 appropriated. Mrs. L. wanted me to see him & endeavor to persuade him to give his approval to the bills, but not to let him know that I had seen her!”
Although the President was infuriated by the overspending, French arranged a deficiency appropriation from Congress of $4500 and to shift funds from other Washington projects to cover Mrs. Lincoln’s spending spree.
French’s whole family was involved in preparing for Lincoln’s funeral. Anthony Pitch wrote: “Benjamin Brown French’s son, Ben, an engineer, had personally built the pine catafalque to hold the coffin. French’s wife, Mary, had sewn and trimmed the black cloth cover.
iii. Hannah Brown b. 5 Feb 1780; d. 13 May 1863 Springfield, Illinois; m. as his second wife Deacon Jacob Mitchell (b. 3 Dec 1763 – d. 14 Feb 1848 in North Yarmouth, Cumberland, Maine). Jacob’s parents were David Mitchell (1728 – 1796) and Lucretia Loring (1742 – 1809). Jacob was a farmer of Yarmouth, Maine. Jacob first married 23 Sep 1786 in North Yarmouth to Phebe Buxton (b. 22 Aug 1764 – d. 9 Apr 1812 in North Yarmouth) Jacob and Phebe had seven children born between 1787 and 1802.
Hannah and Jacob had the following children: Phebe Buxton (Mitchell), d. young; Benjamin Francis (Mitchell), d. in Memphis, Tenn., during the war; his wife and children are living in Missouri; two of the sons are preachers; Samuel Woodbury (Mitchell), ni., but has no children; has been pastor, 1890, of a Congregational church in Columbia, Tenn., for 24 years. He first learned the printer’s art in the Christian Mirror office in Portland, Me., obtained a liberal education, and became prof, of languages in Jackson college, Columbia, Tenn., which office he tilled some twelve years before he entered the ministry; Asa Cuminings (Mitchell), was civil engineer on the Portland & Ogdensbnrg railroad, after which he kept a drugstore in Bellows Falls. VT, where he died 1885. His eldest son Frank continued the business; Mary Elizabeth (Mitchell), d. in Columbia, Tenn., about 1863.
iv. Lydia Brown b. 6 Feb 1782 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire; d. 23 Feb 1811 in Gorham, Cumberland, Maine; m. Hon., Toppan Robie (b. 27 Jan 1782 in Candia, Rockingham, New Hampshire – d. 14 Jan 1871 in Gorham, Maine) Toppan’s parents were Edward Robie (1746 – 1837) and Sarah Smith (1754 – 1843) Lydia and Toppan had two children, Harriet (b. 1805) and Francis (b. 1809)
After Lydia died, Toppan married 17 Sep 1811 to Sarah Thaxter Lincoln (b. 12 May 1793 in Hingham, Mass – d. 23 Apr 1828 in Gorham, Cumberland, Maine) and had three more children between 1812 and 1822. Finally, Toppan married 25 Oct 1828 to Eliza Stevens (b. ~ 1783 in Maine – d. 2 Nov 1865) Eliza had first married Capt. William Cross.
Toppan was a gentleman of property and standing in Gorham, Maine. In the 1850 census, his real estate was valued at $10,000, but he had already given most of his fortune away.
Toppan’s son Frederick Robie (wiki) (1822 – 1912) served 1882 -1885 as the 39th Governor of Maine. During the American Civil War, Robie accepted an appointment from President Lincoln as Paymaster of United States Volunteers. He served with the Potomac army from 1861 to 1863. He then was transferred to Boston as Chief Paymaster of the Department of New England. He later served in Maine administering the final payments of discharged soldiers.
Here is the full text of “Memorial of Hon. Toppan Robie” from archive.org.
Some extended excerpts: Toppan’s grandfather was Samuel, son of Ichabod, son of John Robie, who came to this country from England and settled in the town of Atkinson, NH about 1660. Mr. Robie’s mother was the daughter of John Smith and Sarah Toppan, of Hampton, NH. Hence, through his maternal grandmother came his somewhat peculiar christian name.
His parents removed from Chester, NH, to Candia in 1780, and when he was about four years old they returned to Chester, where they lived the remainder of their days. His father died at the age of 92, his mother at 89.
His early opportunities for acquiring even a common school education were limited. When eight or nine years old he went to live with his grandmother Smith — then Webster, by her second marriage ; being a great favorite with her, partly no doubt on account of his christian name. He remained the greater part of the time until he was fourteen with her and her son Edmund Webster, who was perhaps the most active and influential merchant in the town. He attended the town school when there was one, and was occasionally sent by his uncle to a private school, where he was taught only reading, writing and arithmetic.
But it was during these years that his future course was shaped. Being a favorite in the family and familiar with his uncle he spent a great deal of time in his store, where his natural inclination to mercantile pursuits was developed and fostered. At the age of fourteen he went to Haverhill, Mass., and was there employed in a store by Capt. Cotton B. Brooks, afterwards a successful merchant of Portland, where he died in 1834.
In March, 1799, when 17 years of age he came to Gorham, a friend in Haverhill having procured a situation for him as clerk in the store of the late John Horton. He remained with Mr. Horton but a few months, and then went into the employ of the late Dan’l Cressey, who was at that time the principal trader in Gorham, and with whom he continued until September, 1802, when, before he was twenty-one years of age, in company with the late Sewall Lancaster, he commenced business for himself. During these years of clerkship his compensation was from $50 to $216 per year and board. Yet from this, by strict economy and careful husbanding of his earnings, he had laid by a very respectable amount, which he had as his own to use in commencing business.
[Gorham is named for our ancestor Capt. John GORHAM (1620 – 1676) Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather three times over, through his daughters Desire and Temperance and his son James. John died 5 Feb 1675/76 after being wounded 15 Nov 1675 in the Great Swamp Fight (see my post) in King Phillip’s War. He was wounded by having his powder horn shot which split against his side, and he was severely weakened further from exposure. He died of the resulting fever.
Gorham, 11 miles west of Portland, was first called Narragansett Number 7, it was one of seven townships granted by the Massachusetts General Court to soldiers (or their heirs) who had fought in the Narragansett War of 1675. The population was 14,141 at the 2000 census. Gorham is home to the University of Southern Maine, with roots to Toppan Robie as you'll see later.]
Mr. Cressey had confidence in him, trusted his business with him,, and often sent him, young as he was, to Boston to make his stated purchases for him. This, at a time when the purchase money of thousands of dollars was carried on the person, and the journey was made on horseback, the goods to be purchased a general assortment, for a variety of customers, requiring no ordinary skill and judgment in selection, and shrewdness in buying, was a delicate and responsible commission ; yet it was executed by young Robie in a manner which not only gave satisfaction to his employer, but established an acquaintance and standing among merchants in Boston, Avhich were of great advantage to him when he commenced business in his own name.
In 1804 Toppan took his brother, Thomas S. Robie, then a lad of thirteen, into his store, where he was employed in various capacities, from that of shop boy to the position of chief clerk until 1815, when the two brothers went into partnership as retail merchants, and for more than twenty years carried on business under the name of T. & T. S. Robie, in the store occupied at Toppan’s death by their successors, Messrs. Ridlon & Card. Never were two persons better fitted to conduct business together than these two brothers. Capt. Robie frequently declared, ” never did two brothers get along more cordially and pleasantly than we did from beginning to end.”
He competed largely and successfully with the merchants of Portland for the extension trade, not only of neighboring towns in this State, but also for that of all Northern NH and North Eastern VT., a region then known as the “Coos Country,” [today Coos County NH (two syllables) covers the the state's northern panhandle] whose natural market before the building of rail roads, was Portland. For those distant and desirable customers, his business became largely wholesale business, both in the purchase of their produce, and in the sale of goods with which they reloaded their teams. Coming as they often did, especially in Winter, in companies of from twenty to sLxty or more teams, the traffic with them became most important, lucrative and demanding.
During the war of 1812 he was Captain of a company of militia, and when, in 1814, it was supposed that Portland was in danger of invasion, and among other troops Gen. Irish’s brigade was ordered there, Capt. Robie marched “to the front,” at the head of his company.
After the death of his brother in 1838, Mr. Robie continued in trade a few years, and then withdrew from active participation in his mercantile business to focus on his property and philanthropic pursuits.
He was six years a representative of the town at the General Court of Massachusetts. In 1820-21 he was representative in the Legislature of Maine, and in 1837 a member of Gov. Kent’s Executive Council. In politics, commencing as a Federalist, lie was afterwards an ardent Whig, and in latter years an equally earnest Republican. For many years he was treasurer both of the parish and of their ministerial fund. He was also one of the Trustees of Gorham Academy for more than fifty years — for many
years their treasurer — and contributed often to aid the institution. Today, it is the University of Southern Maine.
Though not by nature a generous man, certainly not impulsively so, he dispensed very liberal sums in public and private benefactions, as in the instance already alluded to of his contribution to the Ministerial Fund and in aid of the Academy, in his gifts to the town of the soldier’s monument and a town clock, and a donation made by him on his 80th birth-day of $85,000 to the Congregational Church and Parish of Chester.
Since he was eighty years old he has cleared and prepared for tillage some ten acres of wood and pasture land. In the summer months when the early — six o’clock — morning train from Gorham to Portland passed his newly purchased land we have often seen the venerable old man at work there, hatchet in hand, endeavoring, by cutting and burning, to exterminate the juniper bushes growing there, intruders to which he seemed to have special dislike, as symbolical of uselessness, waste and neglect.
v. Francis Brown b. 11 Jan 1784 Chester, NH – 27 Jul 1820); m. 11 Feb 1811 to Elizabeth Gilman daughter of Rev. Tristram Gilman of Yarmouth, Me., a lady of fine intellectual powers and devoted Christian character.
(wiki) served as the president of Dartmouth College from September, 1815 to July, 1820.
vi. Prudence Brown b. 3 Apr 1786 Chester, NH.; d. 28 May 1871 West Springfield, Hampden, Mass.; m. 31 Oct 1811 Chester, NH. to David Thurston (b. 6 Feb 1779 Rowley, Essex, Mass. – d. 7 May 1865 Litchfield, Lincoln, Maine) David’s parents were David Thurston and Mary Bacon.
Francis graduated from the College in 1805 and from 1806–1809 held a tutorship there. He also served a pastor in a Congregational church in North Yarmouth, Maine.. Brown was removed from his presidency at the College as part of the actions that resulted in the Dartmouth College case, but was reinstated following the 1819 decision in favor of the College.
A pastor from North Yarmouth, Maine, he presided over Dartmouth College during the famous Supreme Court hearing of Trustees of Dartmouth College v. William H. Woodward or, as it is more commonly called, the Dartmouth College Case.
Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case dealing with the application of the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution to private corporations. The case arose when the president of Dartmouth College was deposed by its trustees, leading to the New Hampshire legislature attempting to force the college to become a public institution and thereby place the ability to appoint trustees in the hands of the governor. The Supreme Court upheld the sanctity of the original charter of the college, which pre-dated the creation of the State. The decision settled the nature of public versus private charters and resulted in the rise of the American business corporation.
The contest was a pivotal one for Dartmouth and for the newly independent nation. It tested the contract clause of the Constitution and arose from an 1816 controversy involving the legislature of the state of New Hampshire, which amended the 1769 charter granted to Eleazar Wheelock, making Dartmouth a public institution and changing its name to Dartmouth University. Under the leadership of President Brown, the Trustees resisted the effort and the case for Dartmouth was argued by Dartmouth alumnus Daniel Webster, before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818.
Webster argued the college’s case against William H. Woodward, the state-approved secretary of the new board of trustees. Webster’s speech in support of Dartmouth was so moving that it apparently helped convince Chief Justice John Marshall, also reportedly bringing tears to Webster’s eyes.
Webster’s legendary claim, “This, sir, is my case! It is the case not merely of that humble institution; it is the case of every college in our land! … [I]t is, sir, as I have said, a small college, and yet there are those who love it,” earned him a national reputation and Dartmouth a clear victory.
The Dartmouth case helped establish Daniel Webster’s reputation for eloquence and persuasiveness. A scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone. In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history. Tellingly, Jabez was also accused of breach of contract, though of the Faustian kind. I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American. Go here to read the passage in the Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.
The jury of the damned in the film is slightly altered from the original, as revealed in the following dialogue:
- Scratch: Captain Kidd, he killed men for gold. Simon Girty, the renegade; he burned men for gold. Governor Dale, he broke men on the wheel. Asa, the Black Monk, he choked them to death. Floyd Ireson and Stede Bonnet, the fiendish butchers. Walter Butler, the king of the massacre. Big and Little Harp, robbers and murderers. Teach, the cutthroat. Morton, the vicious lawyer. And General Benedict Arnold, you remember him, no doubt.
- Webster: A jury of the damned.
- Scratch: Dastards, liars, traitors, knaves.
- Webster: This is monstrous.
- Scratch: You asked for a jury trial, Mr Webster. Your suggestion – the quick or the dead.
- Webster: I asked for a fair trial.
- Scratch: Americans all.
In the original story, Webster regrets Benedict Arnold’s absence, but in the film, he is present and Webster objects, citing him as a traitor and therefore not a true American. His objection is dismissed by the judge.
Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the historic decision in favor of Dartmouth College, thereby paving the way for all American private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters and without interference from the state. In a letter following the proceedings, Justice Joseph Story explained “the vital importance to the well-being of society and the security of private rights of the principles on which the decision rested. Unless I am very much mistaken, these principles will be found to apply with an extensive reach to all the great concerns of the people and will check any undue encroachments on civil rights which the passions or the popular doctrines of the day may stimulate our State Legislatures to adopt.”
It was not a popular decision at the time, and a public outcry ensued. Thomas Jefferson’s earlier commiseration with New Hampshire Governor William Plumer stated essentially that the earth belongs to the living. Popular opinion influenced some state courts and legislatures to declare that state governments had an absolute right to amend or repeal a corporate charter. The courts, however, have imposed limitations to this.
After the Dartmouth decision, many states wanted more control so they passed laws or constitutional amendments giving themselves the general right to alter or revoke at will, which the courts found to be a valid reservation. The courts have established, however, that the alteration or revocation of private charters or laws authorizing private charters must be reasonable and cannot cause harm to the members (founders, stockholders, and the like).
The traditional view holds that this case is one of the most important Supreme Court rulings, strengthening the Contract Clause and limiting the power of the States to interfere with private charters, including those of commercial enterprises.
While the outcome was a tremendous victory for Dartmouth, the turmoil of the four-year legal battle left the College in perilous financial condition and took its toll on the health of President Brown. His condition steadily deteriorating, the Trustees made provisions, in 1819, for “the senior professors…to perform all the public duties pertaining to the Office of President of the College” in the event of his disability. Francis Brown died in July 1820 at the age of 36.
Francis’ Curriculum Vitae
Installed as pastor of the Congregational Church, North Yarmouth, ME, Jan 11, 1810; elected Professor of Languages in Dartmouth College the same year, but declined; married Feb 4, 1811; elected President of Dartmouth College in August, 1815, and inaugurated Sep 27, 1815; he died at Hanover, NH, Jul 27, 1820. The Presidency of Hamilton College was offered him under date of Mar 17, 1817, but declined, May 28th. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from both Hamilton and Williams Colleges in 1819. For contributions to the literature of his profession he had little time or strength. Several of his addresses and sermons were published, viz.: Address on Music, delivered before the Handel Society of Dartmouth College, 1809; The Faithful Steward; Sermon at the Ordination of Allen Greeley, 1810; Sermon on the Occasion of the State Fast, 1812; Sermon before the Maine Missionary Society, 1814; Sermon at the Ordination of Jonathan Greenleaf, at Wells, Me., 1815; Calvin and Calvinism, 1815; Reply to the Rev. Martin Ruter’s Letter Relating to Calvin and Calvinism, 1815; Sermon before the Convention of Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers of New Hampshire, Concord, N. H., 1818.
Thurston genealogies pg 425 By Brown Thurston