John Brown Family of Dry Fork, Butler County, OH
By Paul Teetor April 18, 1961
and copyrighted by James R. Brown

The information contained in this report has been secured from several sources. I am very indebted to Dr. Earle Brown of Milltown, N.J., who is preparing the genealogy of the ancestors and descendants of John and Mary Patton Brown who migrated from Lewistown, PA, in 1805 to Venice, Ohio. He has given freely of his time and effort to locate the data and write the genealogy. Those of us who are interested in this family record owe Earle a big debt of gratitude. It has been a pleasure to work with him. I also want to acknowledge the assistance given by Lucy Brown Stalcup, Ruth Brown Hoober, Bessie Brown Nelson, Percie C. Teetor, Rosemary Brown Morris, Izyl Brown French, the late Mark Brown, Evelyn George Clawson. Stories told me by my mother, together with old Brown family records which were in her possession, as well as some of my boyhood memories of life on the family farm have been utilized. For the customs and mode of living in the Venice and Dry Fork area from 1800 to 1825, I have availed myself of the book "The Saga of The Paddy's Run", by Dr. Stephen Riggs Williams of Miami University. A portion of this volume was written in 1873 by Roger Williams, an uncle of Stephen Williams. Hence it is very authentic because a few of the pioneers were still alive at that time. Dr. Williams spent his boyhood in Paddy's Run while his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Mark Williams were in North China working as missionaries.

The family record begins with Michael Brown, who was born in Ireland (County Limerick??) and died in Pennsylvania. This meager information is all that is available. It is believed that he lived a part of his life in what was then Susquehanna Co., PA. and now constitutes several counties in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Very little information is available regarding the second generation except that there was a son, John, who was born in Susquehanna Co., PA. and died in this county in 1794. (see footnote 1)

John Brown of the third generation was born in PA. in 1742. He apparently moved from Susquehanna county to Mifflin county. The date of this move is not known. There is a Brown township in Mifflin Co., whether or not there is any connection between the name of this township and the Brown family is not known. John Brown married Mary Patton, who was born September 10, 1754. In 1805, (footnote 2) John and Mary Patton together with their children moved to Venice, Ohio. John died in 1831 and Mary died in 1845 on April 24th. Both are buried in the Venice cemetery. We have no record of the ancestors of Mary Patton. I regret that I have not been able to contact any member of the Maryette Brown Ashcraft family. They might have been able to contribute information to the family record, especially about the ancestors of Dorcas Buchanan. The 1790 census lists Brown, Patton and Buchanan families in Mifflin Co, PA, but there seems no way of identifying them. There is a family belief that Dorcas was a close relative of President James Buchanan. I have not been able to confirm this story. Her father, Robert Buchanan was reported to be a very wealthy Irishman. He disinherited Dorcas because she married John Brown, a common Irishman. The records show wealthy Buchanans in both New York City and Philadelphia in 1800 but none with the name of Robert. There may be some substance to the relationship because in 1931 a lawyer, with a questionable motive, was promoting the story of a vast Buchanan estate in New York City which was available to Buchanan heirs and he contacted my mother as well as some other heirs in Ohio. The project was exposed as being a hoax, but the fact that they could trace the Buchanan name down to my mother indicates that it should be possible to trace the family record back to the early Buchanans. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the oldest daughter of Dorcas, with whom she was living at the time of her death, was Mrs. David McLain. I have not been able to locate any member of this family to secure any records they may have.

John Brown, of the fourth generation, was born March 17, 1781. He married Dorcas Buchanan in 1805. (footnote 3) She was born in 1786 or 1787. John and Dorcas settled on the Dry Fork farm. He died November 16, 1842 and is buried in the old cemetery at Shandon, OH, then known as Paddy's Run. Dorcas lived on the farm until the death of their son, John, on August 6, 1865, at which time she moved to Alert, IN. to live with her oldest daughter. It is believed that she is buried in the vicinity of Alert, IN. I have a letter written August 24, 1875 from O. Amy McLain, a granddaughter of Dorcas Buchanan, to Martha Brown advising her of the death of Dorcas Brown on August 21, 1875 in the 88th year of her age.

Two dates appear in the different family records as to when the Brown family migrated to Venice and the Dry Fork of the Whitewater River. The dates are 1805 and 1809. (footnote 4) Circumstantial evidence can be given to support either date. Most of the evidence supports the 1805 date. My mother told me that the Browns made the trip west in 1805. The George family genealogy states the Brown, Willey, Wooley and Dick families left Lewistown, Mifflin Co., PA. in 1805 as a caravan migrating to Venice. One record shows that a mill located above a shallow crossing in the Miami River above Venice was sold to Samuel Dick in 1805 and the ford has gone under the name of Dick's Crossing. The deed for land near Venice, the SW 1/4 of section 32, T 3, R 2 E (footnote 5) to John Brown and bearing the signatures of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison is dated 1807. This indicates that the land was purchased about 1805. This quarter section was willed to his son Nelson. John also purchased the quarter section adjoining on the east and willed this to his son Matthew. John and his two sons also purchased another quarter section across the road north of these sections.

From the contents of this will it seems safe to say that John and Mary Brown migrated to Ohio with all their children then living; Joseph, John, Samuel, Rachel, Nelson and Matthew. Their son John and his bride, Dorcas Buchanan Brown, traveled West with his parents and the three other families. The roads were not well developed, some thru Indian country. The bride Dorcas was given the assignment of riding horseback ahead of the caravan each day to select a camp site for the night and have part of the meal prepared by the time the group arrived. This continued until they reached Pittsburgh. From there they traveled by boat (footnote 6) to Cincinnati and then overland to Venice. The Browns brought with them $900.00 in gold. To protect this gold and other property they brought with them on the journey, they had a large pack of vicious dogs.

The quarter section of lands adjoining his original quarter section was used for the Brown family home. The house is a two story brick structure with a chimney at each end. It is being used today as a residence. The original quarter section now adjoins the atomic energy plant at Fernald, OH. Eventually the Brown families acquired 2000 or more acres of land in the Venice-Layhigh-Indian River area. John helped his son John select the farm on Dry Fork and contributed cash for its purchase.

I will attempt to briefly describe the customs and conditions of living in the Venice-Dry Fork area from 1800 to 1825. By 1800 the land of the Symmes Purchase had been picked over and the land west of the Great Miami River was not surveyed and opened for Settlement until 1801. At that time a group of Welsh emigrants from Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire, North Wales settled a community, then called Paddy's Run, later called Glendower, New London and at the present time Shandon. A Welshman, Edward Bebb, purchased the west half of section 27 in Morgan township of Butler County. John and Dorcas Brown purchased the south half of this land from Bebb, who kept the north half for the use of his family. This purchase by Bebb was the first land sold in the township. Edward Bebb and family played an influential part in the community. His son, William, established a school on the farm and operated it from 1828 to 1832. It was the famous Sycamore Grove School of Dry Fork. Following are some of the students who attended the school. Judge A.W.C. Carter, William Dennison, Gov. of Ohio; Chas. Larrabee, lawyer in Chicago; member of the second constitutional convention of Wisconsin, circuit judge for ten years, member of the first constitutional convention of Washington Territory, a breeder of new plants and fruits. Dr. G.M. Shaw of Indiana. Daniel Shaw, member of the Louisiana Legislature. Peter Melendy, he was active in establishing Iowa State College at Ames, Iowa. Hampton Davis, Mayor of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Augustus Jordan, prominent lawyer in New Orleans. William Bebb, the director of the school, became Governor of Ohio in 1846.

Bebb's other son Evan R. Bebb became a business man in New York City. The firm of Bebb and Graham preceded the pioneer department store of A.T. Stewart and Company which later became the John Wannamaker Store.

Just south of the Brown farm is the "narrows" of Dry Fork. Here a dam was constructed and a short mill race built to operate a grist mill to grind the grain for Paddy's Run and vicinity. In 1805 all traveling was done by horseback, following bridle paths with the trees "blazed", here and there, hence the grain was carried to the mill by horseback. A good road was one free from tree stumps and brush. This mill was built prior to 1808. John Iseninger built the second building near the mill. It was a still house where corn whiskey was made and sold for 12 to 18 cents per gallon. Wild fruits were used to manufacture brandies. A general store was started in 1810, then a flax seed mill for producing oil. Later a saw mill, brewery, blacksmith shop and an extensive cooper chop for making barrels and buckets. The oldest church in the township was near by. This community was known as Morgantown. It thrived until 1828 when a new road was built from Cincinnati to Brookville, IN. which by-passed the rough country near Morgantown. It has long since disappeared.

Because of the fact that every family had to take wheat and corn to the mill to be ground, the first library of the community was located in the grist mill in 1817. Following is a partial list of the books contained in this library. Plutarch's Lives, Pictorial Cincinnati, Lives of the Poets, Riley's Narratives, Brooks Gazatteer, Lewis and Clark's Expedition, Aesop's Fables, Davis' Agriculture, Park's Travels, Gay's Fables, Chaptol's Chemistry, Life of Bonaparte, Essay on Sheep, Brydone's Tours, Guthrie's Geography, Ramsey's United States, Clark on Slavery, Blair's Lectures and the Spirit of Despotism. This library had a remarkable influence on the community.

The Miami Indians were a common sight until 1820 when a forced migration took them to Miami, Oklahoma. They frequently visited the Dry Fork farm. A tributary to Dry Fork has been named Kiatta Creek in honor of the old chief Kiatta and the village of Tarif took the name of Okeana in honor of his daughter Okeana.

As soon as the pioneer owners purchased the land, they selected a spot in the unbroken forest where they would build a cabin. The site was cleared of trees, logs chopped, clapboards rived, punchions hewed. With all the neighbers assisting, the cabin was raised in two days. Oiled paper provided the windows. The furniture was mostly home made or purchased in the village of Cincinnati. The first house built on the Dry Fork farm was located on a knoll a short distance from Dry Fork. A small stream ran past in front and another one on the east side. Water for household purposes came from a nearby free flowing spring with potable and cold water issueing from under a large maple tree. A small building was constructed over the spring, this served the purpose of the modern day refrigerator.

The original cabin was replaced by a new story and a half frame building in 1857 on another knoll nearer the highway. It is still in use. In the early 1840's the farm was divided equally between the sons Robert Buchanan and John. Robert and wife Elizabeth Caley lived on the west half of the land. They built a house on the north half of their property, it was also located near a good spring which provided their water supply. In 1840 this land was sold to his brother John for $1600.00 In the 1870's this parcel of land was sold to Jerry Brady who built a new house on the south east corner of the property along the Okeana-New Haven road. In 1902 this property was purchased by Stephen and Florence Teetor, thus reuniting the original John Brown farm. The Brady house is now occupied by the Robert C. Teetor family.

Just when the R.B. Brown family migrated west I do not know, but it must have been several years after the death of R.B. in 1856 because during my mother's girlhood, her favorite playmates were her cousins Bob and Lucy Brown who must have been living on the farm at that time. My mother was born in 1856.

Returning to life with the early settlers, they of course had a big job in clearing and preparing the land for cultivation. My father cleared the last parcel of land of trees when I was a small boy. The pioneers had excellent food, the forest abounded with game; rabbits, squirrel, turkey, quail and a large variety of nuts, wild fruit, berries, paw paws and persimmons. Dry Fork provided hard shell and soft shell turtles and fish. Sugar and honey came from the forest. In place of tea, they had sassafras and spice wood. Their truck patches provided vegetables, some of which were buried in the ground to be used during winter months. Cattle and hogs were butchered for meat, some of which was smoked or pickled for use during the summer. Buckskin was used for moccasins and hunting shirts, wool from sheep and also flax was used for making cloth for clothing. "Kivers" were woven on a loom in two parts and then sewed together. Cooking was done in a large fireplace. Wood ashes were accumulated for making lye to produce their soft soap from scraps of fat meat accumulated during the winter months. Ordinary sodium lye was purchased to make a hard soap for bathing purposes. The Proctor and Gamble Company sent their wagons out in the spring to collect the wood ashes for the manufacture of soap. Flames from the fire place, lard oil lamps and tallow candles provided lights. There were no matches. Table knives were few and invited to a meal you carried your own. Forks had only two tines. Knives had an enlargement at the end for eating peas and the like. Following is a small verse of that day.

                                 I eat my peas with honey
                                 I've done it all my life
                                 It makes the peas taste funny
                                 But keeps them on my knife.

Wheat was cut with a sickle and threshed in winter with a flail. Hay was cut with a scythe. Some of the farm products were sold in Cincinnati and some were loaded on flat boats and floated down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to southern cities. There is a State Park in New Salem, IL. containing a large exhibition of farming methods and equipment as they existed in the early part of the 19th century.

The community had severe earthquakes in 1811 and 1812. A big meteorite shower in 1833. A devastating epidemic of Asiatic Cholera broke out in the Paddy's Run area in July 1834. Fifty deaths occured in the community in a little more than a month. Death occured in a very few hours after exposure. So far as I can determine from the records, no member of the Brown family succumbed to the disease.

During the civil war, Wm. L. Brown, son of R.B. and Elizabeth Brown, was a member of Company C, 69th Ohio Infantry. He was killed in the war.

At the time of General Morgan's raid in 1862, the level field located between the Brown home and Dry Fork was planted in corn. The Browns hid their horses in the center of the field and the raiders did not find them.

John Brown of the fifth generation married Martha Jane George. They lived on the Dry Fork farm to the end of their lives and were successful farmers. John Brown, son of R.B. and Elizabeth Brown died in infancy.

John Randolph Brown of the sixth generation married Linda C. Griffis. They migrated to Frankfort in Marshall County, Kansas and settled on a farm there. They also, were very successful farmers.

No member of the seventh generation was named John Brown.

The eighth generation has one John Brown, son of Charles L. and Florence Brown.

The above facts regarding descendents with the name of John are limited to the descendants of the John Brown who settled on the Dry Fork farm in 1805. For the following 128 years there was one or more members of the family with the Brown name living on the farm. Direct descendens of John Brown own and are operating the farm in 1961.

Attached to this report is a genealogical chart of the Dry Fork branch of the Brown family. A few portions of this record have been made by piecing together bits of information secured from various sources and arranging them in what appeared to be a logical order. In the case of the birth dates of the children of John and Dorcas Brown, the dates for the sons are available but not for the daughters. We know that the oldest child, a daughter, was born in 1810. It is assumed that the first daughter was named for his mother, the second daughter named after her mother; which according to a story was Lucy and the third daughter named for his favorite sister, Rachel.

For the benefit of anyone who may be interested in visiting the Venice-Dry Fork area, there are available two maps giving good details of the area. They are the Harrison Quadrangle-Ohio-Indiana and the Shandon Quadrangle Ohio, Department of Army Corps of Engineers, 7.5 minute series. These are for sale by the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, 25, D.C. The various pieces of land owned by members of the family can be located on these maps. The cemeteries where the members of the family are buried are also shown. In this connection, the cemetery at Venice is the burial place for many of the Browns. The old cemetery in Shandon contains the graves of the following:

      John Brown, D-November 16,1842, Age 61 years, 7 months, 5 days
              William, son of John & Dorcas Brown, D-May 22,1841. Age 22 yrs., 9 mo., 5 days
              Robert B. Brown, D-December 10,1856. Age 44 years, 1 day.
              John; infant son of Robert & Eliz. Brown. D-Jan. 18,1846. 2 mo. 11 days
              Wm. H. Brown, Co. C. 69th Ohio Infantry, Son of Robert & Eliz. Brown.
                                    D-May 8,1862.  Age 19 years, l mo., 24 days

There is also a Barbara Addie Brown, B.-Dec. 13,1844. D-Nov. 18, 1866 and Jesse Brown, D-Feb.27,1835. Age 28 years, l month, 14 days.

John Brown, who died August 6,1865 is buried in the George Family cemetery which is N.W. of Okeana. His children, Joshua, Lucinda and Marcella may also be buried there. His wife, Martha, and children Amanda, Florence and Charles are buried in the New London Cemetery on the Shandon-Alert Road.

Dr. Earle Brown, 110 Van Liew Ave., Milltown, N.J. is preparing a genealogical record of all the descendents of John and Mary Patten Brown who settled in Venice, OH. He has spent many days in producing this work and has included the record, in so far as it is available, of all known descendents. If you desire a copy of this record, please write to Dr. Brown at the above address.

Additions, corrections and suggestions in connection with this report will be appreciated.

                                                        Paul Teetor,  April 18, 1961

Footnotes were provided by James R. Brown, a direct descendent of John Brown, Sr. of Mifflin County, PA. Footnotes are updated as of July 6, 1999.

Footnote #1 - Research at Mifflin County, PA. showed that John Brown purchased land in that county in 1769. Also his will was found showing that he died in 1794 in Mifflin County. Estate #357 WB-1, page 69.
Footnote #2 - John Brown, Jr. and family migrated to OH in 1809. This fact is supported by a deed showing sale of Mifflin County land in 1809, Book K - page 137. Also, John made two purchases of land in Ross Township in Butler County OH in 1809. The Brown family Bible also states they came to Butler Co., OH in 1809.
Footnote #3 - John and Dorcas were married in 1809 just before leaving PA. for OH. This is supported by information obtained from descendents.
Footnote #4 - See Footnote #2.
Footnote #5- This 1807 land purchase is probably a different, unrelated John Brown.
Footnote #6 - The Brown Family Bible states that 9 people and 13 dogs came down the Ohio River from PA. to OH. It is known for certain that John and Dorcas Brown traveled over land to OH and they were probably accompanied by two others of the Brown clan, since it is known that 13 members of the Brown family migrated to OH at this same time.
A copy of the will of John Brown Jr. is on file at the Butler Co. OH archives. Old will record No. 1 {1803-1832} page 512.