Today we focus on the family of Harmon Brown (July 2, 1816 – 1904), born in South Carolina to Henry and Rachel Harmon Brown. Harmon, who was given his mother’s maiden name, was the first-born of this couple in 1816. His known siblings were Romulus A. Brown who married Elizabeth Corn; Mariah Jane who married Henry H. Burch; Martha who married Joseph Stephens; and Elliott who married Alex Caldwell.
The Brown family moved from South Carolina to Buncombe County, North Carolina. When Harmon was a young man, he set out on his own to become independent. He went to Tennessee, to the area since called the Great Copper Basin. There, between two fledgling towns, Ducktown and Isabella, where copper (first mistaken for gold) had been found in 1843. Harmon Brown bought land in that vicinity, but evidently did not mine for copper. After marrying about 1837 a young lady he met there, Sarah Clonginger (b. 9/1/1820-?), whose parents were Jack Rhine Clonginger and Elizabeth Hancock Clemmer, Harmon sold his land in Tennessee and headed for Union County, Georgia. Later, he heard about the copper available on his Tennessee farm and went back to investigate, but the sale of land had been finalized and he could not buy it back.
They bought property in Union that then became Towns County in 1856, in what was known as the “Fodder Creek” area. The Harmon Brown family was recorded in the Union County census in both 1840 and 1850, with his family growing from five in number in 1840 to nine in 1850. By 1860, the family was listed in the Towns County census. Living in the same neighborhood that his brother Harmon lived was Romulus A. Brown, his wife Elizabeth, and their growing family.
In Towns County, Harmon Brown became a prominent citizen. His land holdings in 1860 were evaluated at $3,000, several hundred acres. The Browns were Baptists by religious persuasion, and several of the Brown offspring from various Brown families became ordained Baptist ministers. In fact, Harmon and Sarah’s first-born, John Monroe Brown (b. July 31, 1838 in Union County, GA, died March 8, 1932) who married Emmaline Garrett in Union County on Dec. 23, 1856, was ordained to the gospel ministry. The Brown family was also gifted in music and enjoyed playing and singing the “shaped note” Fa-Sol-La method. They had a place dedicated to worship in the cove where they lived, and the place is still sometimes known as “Meetin’ House Cove.”
Old Union Baptist Church in Towns County was founded August 5, 1843. Rachel Harmon Brown, Harmon’s mother, was living in his household and she became member number 23 at Old Union. His sister, Martha, also was among the first members, as was his sister-in-law, the wife of the Rev. John Monroe Brown, Emmaline, who joined in 1892.
Harmon and Sarah Clonginger Brown had a large family of twelve children. They are as follows:
(1) John Monroe Brown (1838-1932) married Emmaline Garrett.With a large family of twelve children, eleven of whom grew to adulthood, and ten of these having married, Harmon and Sarah Clonginger Brown’s family increased to a sizeable descendancy.
(2) Alfred E. Brown (1840-?) married Mary Malinda Allen.
(3) Jacob Washington Brown (1843-1865) lost his life in the Civil War.
(4) George Elisha Brown (1845-1929) married Mary Ann Woodring.
(5) Jeremiah Jackson Brown (1847-1915) married Sarah G. Kendall.
(6) Smith Loransey Brown (1850-1915) married Mary Elizabeth Souther.
(7) William Clayton Brown (1852-1930) married Rebecca Roberson.
(8) Rachel Elizabeth Brown (1854-1946) married Enos Plott.
(9) James LaFayette Brown (1856-1945) married Margaret Elizabeth Kirby.
(10) Samuel Young Brown (1859-?) married Narcissa Nichols.
(11) Martha Clementine Brown (1860-1933) married John Padgett Souther.
(12) Joseph H. Brown (1863-1865).
Before the days of public education, Harmon Brown, wishing to have his children learn the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic, helped to fund and establish a subscription school at Macedonia in Towns County taught by a Miss Pitchford.
Sarah Brown’s Bible passed on to one of her many grandchildren, reveals her precise Victorian script as she carefully penned in the names of her twelve children.
Harmon Brown and his beloved wife Sarah Clonginger Brown were laid to rest at the Mt. Ivey Cemetery on Sunnyside in Towns County. At last account, their graves were unmarked. Maybe some of their descendants will investigate finding the graves and erecting a marked stone to their memory.
[Resources: The Harmon Brown story in The Heritage of Union County (1994), p. 84; in Hearthstones of Home (Towns County History, 1983), p. 23; and GED Brown Family Genealogy website.]
c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 12, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.