Moses Brown, son of Edward and Jemimiah Brown, was born 7 February 1777 in Craven County, North Carolina.[i]He inherited 215 acres of land on the north side of the Trent River in Jones County, North Carolina from his father along with horses, cattle, hogs and a feather bed. Four of his brothers owned land side by side with his land.[ii]Moses, however, did not remain in North Carolina.
In 1790 Moses was in Edgefield County, South Carolina. Circa 1804 he married Sarah (Robertson) Brown who was the daughter of Christian Robertson. Their oldest daughter, Christian (Brown) Fortenberry was born in South Carolina in 1805.[iii]By the next year they were living in Liberty County, Georgia where three more children were born: Edward Stewart Brown (b 1806), James G. Brown (b 1808) and Sarah (Brown) Fortenberry (b 1810). [The sisters both married Fortenberry men but those men were not brothers.] Moses’ wife, Sarah died in childbirth or soon after the birth of her youngest child.[iv]
Moses prepared to move further south. First, Moses needed to obtain a passport because the territory of the Creek Nation was located between Georgia and Mississippi. On 31 March 1810 it was ordered…
…that passports be prepared for the following persons to travel through the Creek Nation of Indians, to wit, one for Moses Brown and Daniel Brown, the former with his mother in law, four children and five negroes from the county of Liberty in this state.[v]
At the age of 33, Moses packed up his belongings and his four children, including baby Sarah who was born the month before the passports were issued. His mother in law traveled along, most likely to take care of the children. His younger brother, Daniel Brown traveled along as well. It is unknown how long their journey lasted.
Travel was difficult. When settlers first traveled into the area Indian trails were the only routes to travel. People traveled by foot, horseback, ox cart or Conestoga type wagons.
As late as 1829, travelers making the trip for the first time were guided by compass. Food supplies consisted of whatever farm products could be preserved for a year’s journey, with game available along the route. Fresh water was obtained from springs or streams near camping sites and barrels of drinking water, refilled each day, were carried on ox carts or lashed to the side of a wagon.[vi]
In 1807 the Three Chopped Way through the Creek Territory opened and immigration increased between the Carolinas, Georgia and Mississippi. Sam Dale began a moving business with “a train of teams and three wagons” and could accomplish a round trip every two months. He moved settlers into the Mississippi Territory and took Indian produce to Georgia on the return trips.[vii]
By 1812 Moses Brown was in Marion County, Mississippi where he married again. On 7 August 1812 he married Nancy (Perkins) Brown, daughter of James Perkins.[viii]Moses and Nancy had five children, born in Marion County: Amanda (Brown) Patrick (b 1813), Nancy P. (Brown) Patrick (b 1815), Margaret C. (Brown) Reed (b 1817), Moses Brown (b 1820) and Aaron Brown (b 1822). Rees Perkins Brown (b 1825) and Samantha E. Brown (b 1828) were born in Ohio.[ix]
The settlers [of Marion Co., MS] were kept busy not only with their farming and logging but they had hundreds of cattle to look after. Each cattle owner had to design his own brand, had to have the branding iron made in his home blacksmith shop, and also, he had to work out an ear mark. These brands had to be registered with the court. Then each animal had to be marked. This branding was necessary because all the cattle grazed on an open range.[xiii]
Moses registered his ear mark.
Moses and his brother, Daniel Brown, served during the War of 1812. The brothers served in Nixon’s Regiment, the 13thMississippi Regiment.[xv]Moses served first as a private from 15 October 1813 to 14 April 1814 and later as a sergeant from 3 January 1815 to the disbanding of the Regiment in April 1815.[xvi]
In 1816 Moses was again listed in the Mississippi State Census in Marion County.[xviii]At that time, in the county, there were 176 heads of families. Of those, 108 were slave owners. Because of the limited amount of families intermarriage was necessary and in a few years a large part of the population was closely related.[xix]
In May 1819 Moses’s first mother in law, who had traveled to Mississippi with the family and who most likely lived with or nearby the family, was having difficulties. The sheriff of Marion County ordered 12 men to “examine the intellectual ability and mental capacity” of Christian Robertson. In June those 12 men ruled that Christian was a “lunatic” and Moses Brown was appointed her guardian. He inventoried her estate which included “slaves and various other properties” in August 1820.[xx]
In 1820 census detailed the people in the Moses Brown family. The family had four males: one 26 – 44 [Moses], two 10 – 15 [Edward S. and James], and one under 10 years old [Moses, Jr.]. The family had seven females: one over 45 [This could be Christian Robertson], one 26 – 44 [Nancy], two 10 – 15 [Sarah and unknown child], and three under ten years old [Amanda, Nancy and Margaret]. There were also nine slaves.[xxi]
In September 1821 Moses’ children were affected by their grandmother’s status. Moses’ oldest four children, Christian (Brown) Fortenberry, Edward S. Brown, James G. Brown and Sarah Brown were Christian Robertson’s grandchildren. At the time of her difficulties the oldest, Christian (Brown) Fortenberry was married. The others were still young children. Then their maternal grandmother died. In 1821,
Noble W Harris presented a Will importing to be the last Will and Testament of Christian Robertson deceased and Moses Brown one of the Subscribing Witnesses thereto came into Court and being examined on oath said that he fully believed and was confident that the said Christian Robertson at the time of making said Will was not of sound mind and memory and incapacitated to transfer property by will; on which testimony the Court rejected the said will.[xxii]
In September 1821 Edward, James and Sarah were declared minors and their father was granted guardianship over them.[xxiii]The reason for this was almost certainly because their grandmother’s estate or part of her estate became theirs. They had some amount of wealth but were too young to administer it themselves. In 1822 the court ordered the return of property to the children. Four ‘negroes’ were returned to them. In 1818 their grandmother had given away those negroes.[xxiv]Maybe that transaction was voided because of her mental abilities at that time. Periodically Moses reported to the court on the status of the estate. In October 1822 Moses gave a final report to the court.
The final Account Current on the Estate of Christian Robertson, late a lunatic, of this County with Moses Brown, her guardian – – Having been Examined audited and reported for allowance at this Term and due proof of notice being given by the guardian as required by law – – and no exception being made thereto – – It is therefore Decreed by the Court that the said account Current be finally allowed, and that this Decree together with said account Current be made a part of the Record of Guardianship – – and that the said Guardian stand chargeable to said Estate in the sum of one hundred and nine dollars Seventy one, or shown by striking a Balance on said account.[xxv]
Edward, James and Sarah were the recipients of another estate. They were the heirs of James Graham.[xxvii]James lived in Liberty County, Georgia and was the son of Christian Robertson from a marriage previous to her marriage to Mr. Robertson. James had two half sisters, Rebecca (Robertson) Haines and Sarah (Robertson) Brown. Because Sarah had died before him her share of the estate went to her children, Edward, James and Sarah.[xxviii]
In 1824 their brother in law, William M. Fortenberry, was assigned as their guardian. In 1826 William returned to the court to report on that estate. In December 1829 William reported the sale of the property. In June 1830 and July 1832 he reported on the estate again.[xxix]
Moses Brown left Mississippi, changing his home state again.
Moses Brown, moved from North Carolina to Mississippi in the early 1800s even as other relations migrated north. The family’s discomfiture over Moses’ slave-owning status led them to send a nephew south to change his mind. Dutifully, the nephew appealed to his Uncle Moses to leave Mississippi “on account of the children” and to renounce the institution of slavery. Eventually, his persuasive powers prevailed. With five children and a very pregnant wife, Moses Brown boarded a steamboat headed for Ohio. Family lore maintains that Moses freed nearly twenty people in Cincinnati before joining the northern Browns in Logan County, Ohio. There, on July 3, 1825, his wife Nancy gave birth to a son. On the day before the country celebrated its forty-ninth year of independence, Moses and Nancy named their child after her grandfather and brother, both of whom were slave owners. Their namesake, Rees Perkins Brown, however, would grow up to challenge their southern way of life.[xxx]
When Moses moved to Ohio his oldest children, the children of Sarah (Robertson) Brown, did not move with him. Christian (Brown) Fortenberry, Edward Stewart Brown, James Graham Brown and Sarah (Brown) Fortenberry remained in the south. When he moved away, Christian was 20 years old and married. However, Edward was 19; James, 17; and Sarah just 15 years old. The children who moved north with him were his younger children, the children of Nancy (Perkins) Brown: Amanda (Brown) Patrick, Nancy P. (Brown) Patrick, Margaret C. (Brown) Reed, Moses Brown, Jr. and Aaron Brown. The youngest children of Moses and Nancy, Rees Perkins Brown and Samantha E. Brown, were born in Ohio.
The Ohio Browns were antislavery Quakers. Moses never returned to the faith, but his change of heart led him to sign a petition “praying” for Congress to abolish slavery in Washington D. C. After his death, his widow Nancy migrated west with her now adult children and their Quaker relatives. They settled in Michigan’s southwestern frontier in 1844 and straightaway got involved in local antislavery politics and the Underground Railroad network. Their new home in Cass County, Michigan was an established refuge for people fleeing slavery, a fact which drew the persistent attention of slave catchers.[xxxi]
Moses died 27 February 1838 in Ohio. He was 61 years old. Moses was buried in Zanesfield Cemetery, Logan County, Ohio. His stone can still be found there.[xxxii]Nancy Chandler (Perkins) Brown died 8 February 1870 in Jefferson, Cass County, Michigan at the age of 83.[xxxiii]
[i]Criminger, A. F. (1984). The Fortenberry families of southern Mississippi: with early records concerning the Faulkenberry/Fortenberry families of the South. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press. Page 201.
[iii]1860 US Census, MS, Marion County, Page 29; ancestry.com. William Fortenberry family.
[iv]Criminger, A. F. (1984). The Fortenberry families of southern Mississippi: with early records concerning the Faulkenberry/Fortenberry families of the South. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press. Page 200 – 210.
[v]Potter, D. W. (1982). Passports of southeastern pioneers, 1770-1823: Indian, Spanish, and other land passports for Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North and South Carolina (Reprint 1990). Baltimore: Gateway Press, Inc. Page 259.
[ix]Criminger, A. F. (1984). The Fortenberry families of southern Mississippi: with early records concerning the Faulkenberry/Fortenberry families of the South. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press. Page 200 – 210.
[xi]Williams, E. Russ. Marion County Mississippi Miscellaneous records, 1812 – 1859. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1986. 976.221. Names of Persons with Taxable Property 1813. Moses Brown.
[xxviii]Criminger, A. F. (1984). The Fortenberry families of southern Mississippi: with early records concerning the Faulkenberry/Fortenberry families of the South. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press. Page 200.
[xxx]Marty, PhD, ‘Rest in Peace, Rees Perkins Brown’;Rees Perkins Brown—The Fourth Antislavery Martyr of Bleeding Kansas–January 18, 1856; 2016; Leavenworth County Historical Society; leavenworthhistory.wordpress.com; accessed January 2017.
[xxxi]Marty, PhD, ‘Rest in Peace, Rees Perkins Brown’;Rees Perkins Brown—The Fourth Antislavery Martyr of Bleeding Kansas–January 18, 1856; 2016; Leavenworth County Historical Society; leavenworthhistory.wordpress.com; accessed January 2017.
- 13th Regiment of Mississippi Militia; accessgenealogy.com; Daniel, John, Moses, Robert Brown.
- Criminger, Adrianne Fortenberry. The Fortenberry Families of Southern Mississippi with Early Records Concerning the Faulkenberry/Fortenberry Families of the South. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1984.
- Find A Grave; OH, Logan, Zanesfield; Zanesfield Cemetery; findagrave.com; Moses Brown.
- Potter, Dorothy Williams. Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770 – 1823. Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1990.
- Mississippi Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers, 1812 – 1815; Nixon’s Regiment; Moses Brown; ancestry.com.
- Moses Brown Cass County Pioneer. (n.d.). Vigilant, Cassopolis, Michigan. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
- MS Early Census Index, 1813 Marion, MS. Jackson, Ronald V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. Mississippi Census, 1805-90. [database on-line] Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 1999-. Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes.
- North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665 – 1998, Jones County, Edward Brown, 10 August 1795; ancestry.com.
- Upton, Mrs. Robert Chester. Marriage Records Marion County, Mississippi 1812 – 1860. 1958. FHL 976.221
- Williams, E. Russ. Marion Co MS Miscellaneous records, 1812 – 1859. Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1986. FHL 976.221
- Williams, Jr., E. Russ. Records of Marion County, Mississippi. 1965. 3. FHL 976.221