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John Stillman Brown family papers

Creator: Brown, John Stillman, 1806-1902

Date: 1818-1907

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: MICROFILM: MS 565-MS 568 (Ms. Coll. 300)
Ms. Coll. 300 (Use microfilm: MS 565-MS 568)

Unit ID: 40300

Biographical sketch: Unitarian minister, educator, farmer; of New Ispwich, N.H.; Douglas County, Kan.

Abstract: Primarily correspondence and miscellaneous papers, arranged chronologically. The early papers are concerned with family matters and schools. In 1841 the main letters are from non-family members. Charles A. Dana, a friend of Hannah Ripley, wrote about the Brook Farm community. During the Civil War, the letters are about active duty in the service and at the home front. Letters talk about camp life, military life and the ability & service of Indians as Civil War soldiers. There are also letters from John Stillman Brown's wife, Mary Ripley Brown; the Brown children; and Hannah B. Russell, Mrs. Brown's sister, giving details on social activities, religious life, politics, and the woman suffrage movement.

Space Required/Quantity: 2.08 cubic feet

Title (Main title): John Stillman Brown family papers

Titles (Other):

  • The John Stillman Brown family papers, 1818-1907, in the holdings of the Kansas State Historical Society
  • Guide to the microfilm edition of the John Stillman Brown family papers, 1818-1907, in the Kansas State Historical Society
  • John Stillman Brown collection

Biography

Biog. Sketch (Full):

John Stillman Brown was born on 26 April 1806 at New Ipswich, New Hampshire, and died in Lawrence, Kansas, 15 July 1902. He attended local common schools until he was 18 and then moved to Boston to work and save for his higher education. He entered Phillips Exeter Academy in 1827 and after two years transferred to the sophomore class at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. However, he was forced to withdraw at the end of the year in order to accumulate funds. He next enrolled at Union College, Schenectady, New York, where he was graduated with honors in 1834.

The next several years Brown spent in teaching, first at Brattleboro, Vermont, then Buffalo, New York, and finally, beginning in 1842, at Brook Farm, Roxbury, Massachusetts. Here he spent a year and a half as instructor in “practical and theosophical agriculture.” In 1836 he had married Mary Ripley whose cousin, George Ripley, was one of the founders of the Brook Farm community.

Brown was ordained a Unitarian minister in 1844 and served as pastor of the Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, Unitarian church for the next eleven years. In 1854 he moved to Ashley, Massachusetts, as pastor of its First Congregational Church. Three years later, in March 1857, he migrated to Kansas, settling on a farm a few miles west of Lawrence. In 1860 he became pastor to the Lawrence Unitarian Church and in 1863 gave up his farm to live in the city. He was secretary of the Kansas State Agricultural Society (now the State Department of Agriculture) in 1865 and 1866. He established the Kansas Farmer, an agriculturally oriented newspaper, in 1865 but after three years disposed of it to devote his time to local community service while in semi-retirement. He held such offices as Lawrence city clerk and superintendent of public schools in Lawrence and Douglas County.

John and Mary had had four children: Sarah, William, Charles, and Mary.

Little is known of the lives of Mary and Hannah Ripley. In the mid-1820s they were attending school, Hannah in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Mary at B.F. Farnsworth’s Female Classical Seminary in Worcester, Massachusetts. Hannah had been born 14 December 1804 and Mary on 27 November 1806. After Mary’s marriage to Brown the sisters apparently remained together, for Hannah was at Brook Farm with the Browns, and she lived in Lawrence, Kansas, after the family moved there. She married John L. Russell on 4 October 1853. Several years later she had returned to New England. The date and place of her death are not known. Mary died at Lawrence on 8 August 1878.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

The papers of the John Stillman Brown family, consisting of four document boxes of correspondence and miscellaneous papers, were given to the Kansas State Historical Society by a granddaughter of Brown, Lola Brown, on 21 February 1958.

The collection is arranged chronologically with partially undated letters placed at the end of the appropriate month or year. Totally undated material falls at the end of the collection but preceding unidentifiable fragmentary pieces. Dates supplied by the editors have been penciled in brackets in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the applicable material. Question marks denote some dissatisfaction with the reliability of supplied dates. Typed copies of illegible letters follow the original. These typed copies were not prepared by the staff of the Kansas State Historical Society but are included as an aid to researchers.

Microfilm targets have been kept to a minimum and are used only when necessary to indicate retakes, corrections, enclosures, etc. Targets containing editorial information have not been included.

The early part of the Brown family collection is mainly concerned with family matters: letters between Mary and Hannah Ripley and their brother William, letters from John S. Brown to his family and friends during his school days, letters Brown wrote to Mary during their courtship, and correspondence concerning the private female seminary which the couple operated at Buffalo, New York. Much is said in these letters about various schools and the educational systems in use at the time.

Beginning in 1841 the character of the collection changes to include considerable correspondence from non-family members, particularly Charles A. Dana whose letters to Hannah reveal the deep and lasting friendship they shared. In this exchange there is much information about the Brook Farm community with which Dana was also associated. After 1850 the Dana and Brook Farm letters cease.

Once the family moved west conditions in territorial Kansas and Lawrence become the subject of their letters and with the advent of the Civil War the collection contains information about those on active duty in the service and the state of things at home. Of prime interest are the descriptive letters written by Leigh R. Webber to members of the Brown family between 1861 and 1864. Webber was a private in Company D, 1st Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry, from June 3, 1861, until the unit was mustered out of service on June 16, 1864. He accompanied the regiment through all its campaigns beginning with the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, 10 August 1861. Here Webber was wounded but was soon returned to duty. In 1862 he wrote from Lexington and Kansas City, Missouri; Fort Scott and Fort Riley, Kansas; and Columbus, Kentucky.; and Pittsburg Landing and Trenton, Tennessee. In 1863 letters were sent from Providence, Louisiana, where his unit was engaged in digging the canal from the Mississippi River to Lake Providence; Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi; and Vidalia, Louisiana. The final year of his service, 1864, saw him at Bovina Station and Mill Dale, Mississippi.

Webber’s letters are detailed in their depiction of camp life and reflect his displeasure at his comrades who impressed him as being drunken "jayhawkers" with little interest in the purpose of the war.

A shorter series of Civil War letters, but equally as descriptive of military life as Webber’s was written by Daniel L. Chandler, a private in Company H, 10th Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry. Chandler served in that unit from 17 August 1861 to 31 October 1862, and then transferred to the 3rd Indian Home Guard as hospital steward. Letters were written from Paola and Mound City, Kansas, in 1862, and from Neosho, Missouri, and the Cherokee Nation in 1863. His letters are particularly interesting for their comments about the ability and service of Indians as Civil War soldiers.

As the Brown children, Sarah, William, Charles, and Mary, achieved maturity their letters dominate the collection. Correspondence from Mrs. Brown and Sarah, who remained in Lawrence as a school teacher, records life in a pioneer community in a frontier state. Social activities, religious life, and some politics are all described in detail from first-hand experience. Sarah’s activities in the woman’s suffrage movement are also illustrated.

Contents: Roll 1 (MS 565). Correspondence and papers of the John Stillman Brown family: 1818-1857 -- roll 2 (MS 566). Correspondence and papers of the John Stillman Brown family: 1858-1863 -- roll 3 (MS 567). Correspondence and papers of the John Stillman Brown family: 1864-1879 -- roll 4 (MS 568). Correspondence and papers of the John Stillman Brown family: 1880-1907 ; genealogical material.

Locators:

Locator Contents
000-00-00-00  MICROFILM: MS 565-MS 568 
006-12-07-07 to 006-12-08-01   

Microfilm:

  • MS 565:
  • MS 566:
  • MS 567:
  • MS 568:

Related Records or Collections

Other Finding Aid/Index:

Finding aid available at the Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka), on its web site, and on each microfilm roll: http://www.kshs.org/p/john-stillman-brown-family-papers-1818-1907/13994

Published guide: Snell, Joseph W. Guide to the microfilm edition of the John Stillman Brown family papers, 1818-1907, in the Kansas State Historical Society / Joseph W. Snell, Mrs. Eunice L. Schenck ; microfilm technician, George T. Hawley. -- Topeka, Kan. : Kansas State Historical Society, 1967. -- [8] p. ; 23 cm.

Indexes:

The following is a partial index to correspondence in the collection:

Beecher, Henry Ward:

  • 1884, Feb. 7

  • 1885, Oct. 31

Brook Farm:
  • 1841, Jan. 12

  • 1842, Mar. 31; June 26; July 5; Sept. 12, 22; Oct. 17 (two letters)

  • 1843, Jan. 13; Feb. 20; Mar. 10, 12; May 24; July 3, 13; Nov. 6, 20, 26

  • 1844, Jan. 28; Mar. 10

  • 1845, Apr. 28; July 6; Oct. 27

  • Undated (seven Dana letters; one Morton letter)

Brown, John Stillman
  • 1829, July 19

  • 1830, Aug. 15

  • 1835, Sept. 4; Oct. 4; Dec. 21, 26

  • 1836, Feb. 13; Mar. 9; May 4, 30; June 13, 24; July 28

  • 1837, Sept.?

  • 1839, July 31

  • 1842, Sept. 12

  • 1843, Nov. 26

  • 1849, Dec. 15

  • 1852, Feb. 28

  • 1854, Jan. 8

  • 1856, Jan. 27

  • 1857, Jan. 23; May 29; June 21

  • 1858, Feb. 14; June 13

  • 1863, Sept. 1; Oct. 19

  • 1879, Sept. 18, 22

  • 1880, June 15, Aug. 25

  • 1882, May 9; Aug. 9, 12; Sept. 11; Oct. 11

  • 1883, Sept. 22

  • 1885, Jan. 27; Mar. 13; Dec. 15

  • 1886, Apr. 14; Oct. 25

Canfield, James Hulme
  • 1885, Dec. 8

Chandler, Daniel L.
  • 1861, Sept. 11, 28

  • 1862, Apr. 22, 26, 27

  • 1863, Feb. 7, 10; Mar. 27; Apr. 7

Civil War:
  • 1861, Jan. 13; Feb. 26; Sept. 11, 12, 17, 28; Nov. 11 (two letters), 20, 24; Dec. 6

  • 1862, Jan. 11, 30; Feb. 1; Mar. 8, 23; Apr. 22, 26, 27, 30; May 28; June 1, 5, 13, 15, 27; July 11; Aug. 12, 20, 26, 30; Sept. 15, 20; Oct. 5, 9; Nov. 12, 16; Dec. 5, 7, 14, 20

  • 1863, Jan. 7, 13, 14, 16, 20, 22; Feb. 4, 7, 10 (two letters), 17, 27; Mar. 9, 16, 28, 29 (two letters); Apr. 3, 7, 22, 24; May 3, 10, 13, 17, 24, 29; June 6, 26; July 5, 12, 26, 27; Aug. 9, 18, 19; Sept. 5, 11, 18, 27; Nov. 17; Dec. 24, 27

  • 1864, Jan. 13, 30; Feb. 13; Mar. 15; Apr. 8, 13, 17, 27; May 3; July 7; Aug. 2; Dec. 23

Collyer, Robert
  • 1863, Oct. 11

Curtis, George William
  • 1843, Jan. 13; July 13

  • 1859, July 8; Aug. 6

  • 1860, June 9; Aug. 13, 24

  • 1880, Sept. 8

Dana, Charles A.
  • 1841, Jan. 12

  • 1842, Mar. 31; Sept. 22

  • 1845, Apr. 28; July 6; Oct. 27

  • 1847, Sept. 5

  • 1849, Apr. 6

  • 1850, June 4

  • Undated (seven letters)

Emerson, Ralph Waldo
  • 1850, May 8

George, Henry
  • 1888, Apr. 21

Hale, Edward Everett
  • 1879, May 15; Aug. 25

Hosum, George W.
  • 1843, July 3

Indian Home Guard
  • 1863, Feb. 7, 10; Mar. 27; Apr. 7

Jarvis, Edward
  • 1843, Feb. 20

Kansas infantry, First regiment
  • 1861, Jan. 13; Feb. 26; Sept. 12, 17; Nov. 11 (two letters), 20, 24; Dec. 6

  • 1862, Jan. 11, 30; Feb. 1; Mar. 8, 23; Apr. 30; May 28; June 1, 5, 13, 15, 27; July 11; Aug. 12, 20, 26, 30; Sept. 15, 20; Oct. 5, 9; Nov. 12, 16, 20; Dec. 5, 7, 14, 20

  • 1863, Jan. 7, 13, 14, 16, 20, 22; Feb. 4, 10, 17, 27; Mar. 9, 16, 29 (two letters); Apr. 3, 22, 24; May 3, 10, 13, 17, 24, 29; June 6, 26; July 5, 12, 26, 27; Aug. 9, 18, 19; Sept. 5, 11, 18, 27; Nov. 17; Dec. 24, 27

  • 1864, Jan. 13, 30; Feb. 13; Mar. 15; Apr. 8, 13, 17, 27; May 3; July 7; Aug. 2; Dec. 23

Kansas infantry, Tenth regiment
  • 1861, Sept. 11, 28

  • 1862, Apr. 22, 26, 27

Lawrence
  • 1857-1907 (Brown-Whitman letters)

Liser, T. J.
  • 1842, Oct. 17

Morton, Howard
  • Undated (one letter)

Nute, Ephraim
  • 1857, Dec. 15

  • 1892, Nov. 26

Ripley, Ezra
  • 1824, Feb. 26

  • 1832, Apr. 13

  • 1836, Mar. 21

  • 1837, Jan. 16

Ripley, George
  • 1843, Nov. 6

  • 1861, June 6

Robinson, Sara T. D.
  • 1895, Mar. 11

Stearns, Charles
  • 1861 (undated)

  • 1863, May 21

  • 1865, Dec. 9

  • 1866, July 4

Stearns, Rachel
  • 1866, May 15

Von Rohr, Henry
  • 1843, May 24

Webber, Leigh R.
  • 1859, Aug. 14, 31; Oct. 22; Nov. 6

  • 1860, Mar. 11; Nov. 11, 30

  • 1861, Jan. 13; Feb. 26; Sept. 12, 17; Nov. 11 (two letters), 20, 24; Dec. 6

  • 1862, Jan. 11, 30; Feb. 1; Mar. 8, 23; Apr. 30; May 28; June 1, 5, 13, 15, 27; July 11; Aug. 12, 20, 26, 30; Sept. 15, 20; Oct. 5, 9; Nov. 12, 16, 20; Dec. 5, 7, 14, 20

  • 1863, Jan. 7, 13, 14, 16, 20, 22; Feb. 4, 10, 17, 27; Mar. 9, 16, 28, 29 (two letters); Apr. 3, 22, 24; May 3, 10, 13, 17, 24, 29; June 6, 26; July 5, 12, 26, 27; Aug. 9, 18, 19; Sept. 5, 11, 18, 27; Nov. 17; Dec. 24, 27

  • 1864, Jan. 13, 30; Feb. 13; Mar. 15; Apr. 8, 13, 17, 27; May 3; July 7; Aug. 2; Dec. 23

Index Terms

Subjects

    Brook Farm Phalanx (West Roxbury, Boston, Mass.)
    Kansas State Agricultural Society
    Douglas County (Kan.)
    Kansas -- History -- 1854-1861
    Lawrence (Kan.)
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Participation, Indian
    Brown family
    Brown, Charles
    Brown, John Stillman, 1806-1902
    Brown, Mary
    Brown, Mary Ripley, d. 1878
    Brown, Sarah
    Brown, William
    Dana, Charles A. (Charles Anderson), 1819-1897
    Ripley, Hannah
    Snell, Joseph W.
    Agriculture -- Kansas
    American letters -- History -- 19th century
    Education -- Kansas
    Farm life -- Kansas -- Douglas County
    Unitarian Universalist churches -- United States -- Clergy -- Biography
    Women -- Suffrage
    Women's rights

Creators and Contributors


Additional Information for Researchers

Use and reproduction:

These papers of the John Stillman Brown family are the property of the Kansas State Historical Society. Brief quotations are authorized without restriction but publication of any major portion of the material on this film must be approved in writing by an officer of the Society. Literary rights are not owned by the Society and cannot be conveyed.

The microfilm edition of the John Stillman Brown Family Papers may be used at the offices of the Kansas State Historical Society, borrowed through interlibrary loan or purchased.

Reproduction: Microfilm. Topeka, Kan. : Kansas State Historical Society, 1967; rolls MS 565-MS 568, lab no. 8494-8497, available for research or inter-library loan

Cite as: It is suggested that the following citation be made to this microfilm publication: “John Stillman Brown Family Papers” (microfilm edition), manuscript division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.

Action note:

Editor: Joseph Snell

The publication of this pamphlet guide and of the microfilm publication it describes was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications Commission (now the National Historical Publications and Records Commission), Washington, D.C.

Holder of originals: Originals owned by the Kansas State Historical Society (Topeka)