of Rev. Richard Brown, late of the Troy Conference of
the Methodist Episcopal Church
The particular Brown stock from which came Richard Brown was originally
from England. His grandfather, Samuel Brown, when a boy of seven
years, moved with his parents to Coleraine, County of Londonderry,
Ireland, when he emigrated for America during the French War. He was made
prisoner by the French en voyage, and taken to the West Indies. On his
release, he made his way to Connecticut, landing at Saybrook. He
afterwards went to Litchfield, where he married and raised a family. His
oldest son, Charles Brown, was the father of the above Richard
Brown. The family remained at Litchfield until the close of the
Revolutionary War. At this time, the said Charles Brown was sixteen years
of ago. They then removed to near Nassau, New York, about twelve miles
east of Albany, where they settled and cleared up a farm from timber land.
The said Charles Brown remained a single man until thirty-seven years of
age, and, staying at home, managed the farm. At thirty-seven, he married a
widow of twenty-one years of age, with one child. Her maiden name had been
Asenath Woodard, which was changed to Brockway in her first
marriage, and her son by that marriage, Jonah Brockway, became a
member of the Brown family. The fruit of this marriage was eleven
children, in the order here given: Eliza, Richard, James,
Henry, Jane, Hiram, Susan, Asenath,
Charles, Julina and Calvin.
Those underscored were living in 1901.
Richard Brown was born March 12, 1807, near Nassau, New York, on
the old home place. His father's home discipline was noted as very mild.
The morals of the times were lax, especially as between the sexes. A
certain amount of religious education was had in the family. His father
and mother were both members of the Baptist Church, and his early
religious influences and teachings were from and with that Church. It must
be noted also that the educational advantages of that early day were very
meagre. Scarcely had the closing throes of the Revolution subsided, ere
the excitement of the War of 1812 was in the land. Amid such scenes, his
boyhood life began. The common schools afforded the only means of
education to the masses. These were sufficiently thorough for the
elementary branches, but ended there. Richard Brown became proficient in
all these schools could give, and was considered a good
scholar of the day. When about eighteen, he availed himself of the
advantages of Kinderhook Academy, which he attended for six months. His
studious habits were kept up at home and outside of school opportunities.
It was at this same time, when about eighteen, the first great temperance
movement began in this country, and he became a member of what was perhaps
the third Temperance Society in the land. This society was organized under
the management of the Rev. John Harris of the regular Baptist Church, who
was an able and worthy minister.
From 18 to 22 was the change period from home life to self-support.
When 18, he took his first school and in a neighborhood where the
Methodists had an established society, called the Chaney Hill Church. Now,
his early religious education from his mother and the Baptist Church had
been to the effect that he was one of the elect, and when God wanted him,
he would give him an especial call. His new religious associations
somewhat modified or unsettled his doctrinal views. He had passed through
several religious revivals, and was waiting for this call. While teaching
this school, he imbibed the idea from the Methodists that they did not
wait for a call, but believed in "seeking the Lord." His
religious state of mind, he called "drifting," which continued
from 18 to 22 years of age. In the winter of the latter year, he again
attended Kinderhook Academy. While there, the sudden death of a young
lady, her appeals for mercy, aroused in him the resolution that he would
not trust to a sick bed, which had been his idea of his time of salvation.
Another school was taken at the close of the Academic term, and the
following spring, at its close, his half-brother came to him, and induced
him to attend a meeting of the Presbyterians at Nassau. Here his religious
conviction led him to present himself as a seeker, and he responded to the
calls of the Church, and in four days he was clearly converted. He had
gone to this meeting to test the Methodist idea of "seeking the
Lord", and on the 6th day of May, 1829, after many and severe
struggles, he emerged to the light of God in conscious salvation.
He had from previous teachings received the impression of a call to the
ministry. At the above meeting, the Presbyterian people proposed to give
him a liberal education and in every way possible fit and furnish him for
their ministry. But he did not accept this generous offer, fearing he
could not adopt or subscribe to their doctrines.
He was also much infused with the rising missionary spirit of the
period. After this meeting, he went to Chatham, Columbia County, New York,
to study medicine in the office of a Dr. Root. This was under the idea of
thus better qualifying himself for future missionary work in connection
with Judson's mission in India. At this place was another organized
Methodist society. He attended their meetings and interested himself in
their theology. For a year he thus studied divinity and medicine at the
same time. Being still under the influence of his Baptist education and
Baptist friends, he had not united with any church. About this time,
however, he went to a Baptist preacher, and suggested membership in the
Baptist Church, if the Baptist teaching on the subject of
"election" could be satisfactorily explained to him, as he had
difficulties in his mind about it. If these could be removed, he would
offer himself to the Church, with the Burmah Mission in view. This the
preacher failed to do. No light was given. It was a dark day. Then he
began to read Wesley's sermons and Clarke's Commentaries, and found that
his views chime with the Methodists. These works were obtained in and
through the Methodist family with which he boarded, a family somewhat
related to him. The result was he became a member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church. Thus happily was mingled the study of medicine and
theology. Although a strict Methodist, yet doubtless he imbibed and
assimilated some of the impressible elements of the other churches named.
In due time he was licensed as an exhorter.
In the winter following he again taught school, and again in another
Methodist neighborhood. Prior to the opening of the school, he attended a
camp meeting at Canaan Camp Ground, and was greatly blessed, but
contracted a cold which so affected him that he thought he was going to
die of hasty consumption. Under this impression, his call to the ministry
came up, and as was common in those days, he was much disturbed. Was he
really called to preach, or was he called to die? He tried to give up his
school, but was persuaded to hold on, and he became the inmate of a family
by the name of Dorr, a widow and a Methodist, with the experience of a
high state of grace. While engaged in teaching, a meeting of great
interest was begun. This occurred in the absence of the circuit preacher.
In the manifest need of leadership, he took hold, and a great meeting
ensued. He had thought himself used up in health, but the meeting made him
better, and this was the last of his "hasty consumption." When
this school term closed, he went to attend a course of Medical lectures at
Pittsfield, Mass. At a Quarterly Meeting at this place, Jarvis Nichols, P.
C., he received license as a local preacher. He was immediately (1832)
from that point sent by the Presiding Elder, as a supply on the
Middlefield Circuit, New York Conference, which he served nine months.
While on this Circuit, at Hinsdale appointment, he preached from the text,
"Lord, I will follow thee, but suffer me first to go and bury my
father." That week he was called home to attend his father's funeral.
This coincidence made a lasting impression on his mind.
In the year 1833, at the organization of the Troy Conference, at the
close of what he regarded as an extra probation of nine month, Richard
Brown was duly recommended and admitted on trial. He was appointed to
Williamstown Circuit, Mass., Troy District, as junior preacher, with
Russell M. Little as senior preacher, and Coles Carpenter as presiding
elder. He was not present at the Conference when received.
He was appointed to Jay Circuit, N. Y., in 1834, as junior preacher
with Barns M. Hall, a second junior preacher, John Frazier, preacher in
charge, and John M. Weaver presiding elder.
The following Conference, 1835, he was sent as preacher in charge to
Morristown, Vermont, but was unable to recall his presiding elder for that
year. At the close of this year he was married to a very estimable lady, Miss
Harriet Julia Horner.
The years l836-37 were spent on Bakersfield Circuit, Vt., as preacher
in charge, with Adam Jones as assistant and P. C. Oakley as presiding
1838-39, he was preacher in charge at Redford, N. Y.; 1840, as junior
preacher at Wilmington and Clintonville (formerly "Jay"), Ezra
Sayres preacher in charge and John M. Weaver presiding elder.
1841-42 find him at West Plattsburg, N. Y., as preacher in charge, J.
M. Weaver, presiding elder.
For the years 1843-44, he was at West Addison, Vt., as preacher in
charge, Joshua Poor presiding elder. He was appointed to Bristol, Vt. as
preacher in charge for 1845, Joshua Poor presiding elder.
1846 at Salisbury and Goshen, Vt., as preacher in charge, with same
He was sent to Galway, N. Y., in 1847, and served as preacher in charge
two years, with Ephraim Goss as presiding elder. In 1849 he was at North
Hampton, N. Y., as junior preacher, Seymour Coleman senior preacher, and
E. Goss presiding elder. In 1850 he was at Corinth, N. Y., as preacher in
charge, and Truman Seymour as presiding elder. In 1851-52 find him
preacher in charge at Arlington, Vt., D. C. Starks, presiding elder.
1853-54, at Ketchums' Corners, and Quaker Springs, N. Y., D. C. Starks,
presiding elder. This circuit embraced the old Stillwater Battle Ground.
1855 he was in charge of Cooksboro, N. Y., and the same presiding elder.
He was now supernumerary for two years, 1856-57. During this time he lived
at Lansingburg and Troy, and was engaged as agent in the nursery business.
At the Conference of 1860 he was made effective and appointed in charge
of Pownal, Vt., with D. C. Starks, presiding elder. In 1861 he took the
superannuated relation, and thus retired from the active ministry. He then
resided at Berlin, east of Troy, N. H., conducting a private school and an
insurance business until the close of the Civil War.
At a number of charges, there were gracious revivals, a church was
built at Ketchums' Corners, and a parsonage at West Plattsburg. At other
places debts were extinguished in connection with his pastorates.
In 1867, he removed to Mount Hope, Missouri. After the death of his
wife in 1870, he made his home in Kansas with his daughter, Mrs. Julia
A. Whitney, for fifteen years. During this time he taught school,
canvassed Allen and Woodson counties for the American Bible Society, and
was fruitful in all church work.
Since 1885, his home was with his daughter, Mrs. M. V. Powell,
near and at Odessa, Mo. until his death. Here his life and work were
"known and read of all men." He never ceased to be a worker and
a leader in work.
Paul's declaration of himself was distinctly and forcibly illustrated
in Richard Brown. "For him to live was Christ." He gave an
untiring zeal to establish and build up the cause of Christ through the
church of his choice.
It is not easy to overdraw in eulogy the character, life and influence
of Richard Brown. He was a man of mark wherever placed. Could he have had
the advantages of a liberal education and an impressive bodily presence
added to his native qualities and talent, he might have reached position
below few in the church. And he was largely and truly a self-made man. His
literary gifts and scholarship were far above the ordinary. He was a Greek
and Latin scholar of no mean order. His quite ready acquaintance with the
arts, sciences and history, as well as current events, indicated the
student mind and a carefully chosen, if not wide, range of reading. It is
not usual to find men of his age so promptly up-to-date as he was.
He was a man of far more than ordinary strength of character, evinced
in much will-power, strong personal convictions, independent judgment and
tenacity of purpose. To these he added a retentive memory, quick decision
and rapid executive force.
As a result of these, his spirit was aggressive. He could not be idle
or indifferent in the presence of wrong or duty. Responsibility must be
discharged, not ignored - difficulties conquered, not yielded to. To such
a character, life would not be smooth or void of mistakes. There must
needs be friction and conflicts, but there would also be great
satisfactions and marked achievements. His infirmities were only such as
are common to all, but they were overborne by virtues and sterling
qualities which will make his memory as "ointment poured forth."
His lifetime was the period of the greatest religious movements. All
the great religious agencies, missions, church building, education, were
born since himself. Even the Sunday-school cause was in its infancy.
Of all these he was a close and deeply interested observer and student.
He never sympathized with the thought that the former times were better.
He marched in the front ranks, and was constantly abreast of the times.
The last six months of life were marked by increasing feebleness of
body and some weakening of the mental powers. However, his mind, when
roused, was clear and responded to the end.
At a delightful communion service held in his room shortly before his
death, he said, "The dying is all past, and I am only waiting to
enter the heavenly door." A day or so before he died, he listened to
the Scripture with close attention and with intelligent, feeling response.
Thus he evinced in many ways and times the sense of a completed and
assured readiness for the great change.
He endured his frequent sufferings with patience and great
On Friday morning, August 15, 1902, the "weary wheels of life at
last stood still." "Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,
for the end of that man is peace."
Note: This biographical sketch was written as a eulogy
and therefore probably in 1902. The author is unknown.