Brown as a surname is descriptive, denoting color—either of skin, hair, garments or place of residence. It derives from the Middle English, broun, the Old English and Old French, brun, and the old Gaelic word donn meaning brown. Today, Brown as a surname is the fifth most popular in the United States, with the first being Smith, the second Johnson, the third Williams, and the fourth Jones.
In England, Brown is the fifth most popular surname, but the spelling there and in Ireland and Scotland as well is apt to be Browne.
Brown is the second most popular surname among African-Americans in the United States today. This stems from many freed slaves adopting Brown as their surname following the Civil War, rather than keeping the surname of their former masters. Many also adopted the name Brown to honor the famed abolitionist John Brown (1800-1895).
Last week’s column promised a look in this article at Brown marriages in Union County by 1850. The Browns who grew from two households in 1834 to eleven in 1840 to twenty-one in 1850 had a number of children who married citizens of the county, thereby connecting Browns to other early settlers. Maybe readers can find within this listing a relative of theirs joined in holy matrimony when the county was young.
The first Brown marriage recorded in Union County occurred on August 22, 1834, performed by Thomas Cearley, Justice of the Peace. It joined William Brown to Elizabeth Ensley.
Next came another William Brown who married Elizabeth Penson on August 6, 1837, with William Jones, Justice of the Peace, officiating.
Three couples went to the altar in 1839. These were Mariah Jane Brown who married H. Burch on March 12, 1839, with R. Byers, Justice of the Peace performing their ceremony. Next came Margaret Brown who married John Webster on May 10, 1839, joined by Justice of the Peace A. Chastain. On July 18, 1839, Milton Brown married Mary Conner with Robert Byers, Justice of the Peace, joining them.
Minervy Brown married Noah Raper on January 24, 1840, with David Thompson, Justice of the Peace, joining the couple.
Charles Brown married Ann Twiggs on April 24, 1842. John Martin, Minister of the Gospel, performed the ceremony.
Three couples were wed in 1843. Clarinda Brown married Alfred Shook on April 8, 1843, with Rev. Abner Chastain as officiant. John Solomon Brown married Sary (Sarah) Twiggs on September 3, 1843, with Lindsey Gaddis, JP, performing the ceremony. Elizabeth Brown married B. D. Beaver on October 5, 1843, with William Poteat, JP, the officiant.
James Brown and Lisa Roper chose May 19, 1844 as their wedding day, with David Thompson, JP, performing their ceremony.
Malinda Brown married John C. Patton on January 4, 1845. The Rev. D. D. Roach performed their ceremony.
Two Brown marriages occurred in 1846. Martha Brown and Joseph Stevens chose Valentine’s Day, February 14 as their wedding day, with the Rev. John Corn officiating. Emily Brown and James Cathey were married May 25 with the Rev. John Corn also marrying this couple.
Peggie Brown married Henry A. Lyons on September 17, 1847 with the Rev. John Corn as officiant.
April 2, 1848 was the date chosen by Rebecca Jane Brown and John Daniel for their wedding day. They secured Charles Crumley, Justice of the Peace, for their ceremony.
Three Brown marriages were recorded in 1849. On January 13 Mary A. Brown married John Thomas with H. J. Sparks, JP, officiating. On April 4, Sabry Adaline Brown married Hugh Seay with the Rev. Elisha Hunt officiating. On July 22, Robert Brown and Elizabeth Ann Carter were married by the Rev. Elisha Hunt.
Before 1850, nineteen young Browns were joined in holy matrimony in Union County. Space precludes my listing the 40 other Brown marriages that occurred between 1850 and 1897. My resource for this information came from the book, Union County Marriage Records, 1833-1897 (c1992) compiled and published by Viola H. Jones, extracted from Union County marriage records at the Georgia State Archives.
Look forward next week to accounts of some individual Brown families and their contributions to Union County’s growth and development.
c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 5, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.