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Brown family collection


Brown, Almyra

Almyra’s incoming correspondence is the core of the Brown family collection. The collection may have passed to her son Edwin in later years, as letters addressed to him are also well-represented.


Almyra Van Vorhes (sometimes spelled Vanvorhes) was born to Abraham and Mary Van Vorhes in Washington County, Pennsylvania, on May 3, 1818. She had seven younger siblings: Jane, Nelson, Andrew Jackson, Elizabeth, Louisa, Maria, and Henry. As a child, Almyra left Pennsylvania with her growing family and moved to Alexander Township in Athens County, Ohio. She married Austin Brown on April 16, 1838 and settled in Lee Township, Athens County. Her first child Edwin was born a year and a half later—just six months after the birth of her youngest brother, Henry. Almyra went on to have three more children over the next decade: Van, Daniel, and Emma Jane. In 1858, Almyra’s parents and six of her siblings left Athens County to pioneer a homestead in Stillwater, Minnesota. Between 1863 and 1873, Almyra lost two of her siblings and three of her children to illness. Almyra herself died on August 30th, 1894, at the age of 76. She is buried in Athens County.


Brown, Austin

Austin’s first name was William; though some correspondence addressed to him renders his name “William A. Brown,” he always represented himself as “Austin Brown,” “Austin W. Brown,” or “A. W. Brown" in his own letters. Austin was born the sixth of eight children to William and Polly Brown in Athens County, Ohio on October 21, 1814. His siblings Maria, Emma, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Lydia, Leonard, and Daniel were also born in Athens County. Austin married Almyra Van Vorhes on April 16, 1838 and settled in Lee Township, Athens County. Together with Almyra he had four children, three of whom died before their thirtieth birthdays. Austin died on Feburary 2, 1904 at the age of 89 and was buried in Athens County.


Brown, Edwin A.

Author of more than 180 letters in the Brown family collection, Edwin Brown is the Civil War Correspondence digital archive's most prolific writer. He was sometimes referred to as “Ed” and sometimes signed his name “E. A. Brown.” Edwin was born to Austin and Almyra Brown in Lee Township, Athens County, Ohio on October 5, 1839. He had three siblings: Van, Daniel, and Emma Jane.  As a young man, he met and formed an attachment to Emma Hudgell, who lived fifty miles away in Thornville, Ohio and was four years his junior. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the two had become engaged. Edwin enlisted in Company C of the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the Athens County Fairgrounds on July 31st, 1861 under Captain John Beckley. Over the course of the war, Edwin’s relationship with Emma frayed and the two eventually separated.  Following the expiration of his three year term of service, Edwin returned the family farm, where he courted several women before marrying Phoebe (or Phebe) Brownlee in 1871. The couple had four children: Harry, James, Minnie, and Oral. Edwin participated in several regimental reunions in later years and served as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. Edwin died on December 24, 1912 at the age of 74 and is buried in Athens County.


Brown, Van

Like his father, Van’s first name was William but he always represented himself as “Van Brown” or “W. V. Brown" in his own correspondence. Van was born to Almyra and Austin Brown in Lee Township, Athens County, Ohio on February 12, 1842. He had one older brother named Edwin and two younger siblings, Daniel and Emma Jane. Upon turning 18, Van moved in with his uncle Nelson Van Vorhes, proprietor of the Athens Messenger. For a few months before war broke out, Van applied himself to learning the printing trade. Only July 27, 1861, he enlisted in Company D of the 4th Regiment, Virginia Volunteer Militia in what is now Ohio County, West Virginia. Van participated in multiple engagements during his two years of service, but was finally killed by smallpox on March 8, 1863 in Louisiana. He was buried in an unmarked grave outside of camp but later received a tombstone at Vicksburg National Cemetery in Mississippi under the name “William Brown.” 

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