Bio Sketch: Henry Brown (1772-1823), early settler in Dayton, Ohio

Henry Brown was born about 1770 in Lexington, Virginia, where he lived until coming to the Northwest Territory in 1793 as a military secretary. He was involved in the pack-horse brigades that transported supplies to the army at forts including Forts Hamilton, Greenville, and Wayne, until 1795.

In the spring of 1795, shortly after the Treaty of Greenville, Brown became business partners with John Sutherland. The business of the firm Sutherland & Brown was to trade with the Native Americans. Sutherland & Brown was based just outside the stockade at Fort Hamilton; however, as more white settlers came to the area, the Indians began to move further north. Consequently, Sutherland & Brown sent their agents into northwestern Ohio to trade with the Indians at places such as Greenville, Fort Wayne, and Wapakoneta. Brown set up a branch store at Fort Loramie in 1799.

In 1804, Brown moved his branch store to Dayton, on the east side of Main Street, just south of Water Street (now Monument Avenue). His was the first store in Dayton at that time. In addition to Indian trading, Sutherland & Brown also conducted business by shipping goods New Orleans on flatboats.

Between approximately 1797 and 1808, Henry Brown appears to have had another business partnership with a man named John Mathews. Less is known about this partnership, however.

In 1808, Henry Brown built the first brick residence in Dayton, on the west side of Main Street, between Second and Third Streets, north of the Old Courthouse.

First Brick House, Dayton, Ohio, by Dayton Metro Library Local History, on Flickr

First Brick House, Dayton, Ohio, by Dayton Metro Library Local History, on Flickr

By 1810, relations between the Native Americans and the United States began to deteriorate, and trade with the Indians had become especially dangerous. As a result, Sutherland & Brown recalled their agents and dissolved their partnership in June 1812. Shortly thereafter, Brown became a government agent in charge of Indian supplies, which were distributed by Indian Agent Col. John Johnston, at Piqua. Brown remained active in this business until his death in 1823.

Signature of Henry Brown, 1820, Dayton, Ohio by Dayton Metro Library Local History, on Flickr

Signature of Henry Brown, 1820, Dayton, Ohio by Dayton Metro Library Local History, on Flickr (From Dayton Metro Library, MS-015, Box 1, Folder 6)

Henry Brown married Catharine “Kitty” Patterson, daughter of Col. Robert Patterson, on February 19, 1811, at Rubicon Farm. Kitty, born in 1793, was much younger than Henry.

Henry and Kitty Brown had three children:

  1. Robert Patterson (1811-1879), who married Sarah Galloway; he was a lawyer and judge and eventually moved to Kansas City, Missouri.
  2. Henry L. (1814-1878), who married Sarah Belle Browning, and engaged in the merchant business in Dayton.
  3. Eliza Jane (1816-1901), who married Col. Charles Anderson, a Dayton lawyer who later served one year as Governor of Ohio from 1865-1866; both died in Kentucky.

Henry Brown became ill and was bedridden near the end of the year 1822; he died on May 19, 1823, and was buried at the old graveyard on Fifth Street. His remains were later moved to Woodland Cemetery.

Henry’s widow, Catharine Patterson Brown, remarried to Andrew Irwin and had a son, A. Barr Irwin, who married Jane F. Schenck (daughter of Admiral James F. Schenck), and became a judge; he also engaged in the merchant business in partnership with his half-brother Henry for many years. Andrew Irwin died about 1827. In 1836, Catharine married Horatio Gates Phillips, another local merchant, who died in 1859. Catharine Patterson Brown Irwin Phillips died August 12, 1864, in Dayton.

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This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in May 2010 for the Brown-Patterson Papers (MS-015) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654. Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection and in the citations below. Please contact the library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

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Bibliography & Further Reading

Conover, Charlotte Reeve, Builders in New Fields (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1939). Dayton B P318C 1939.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve, Concerning the Forefathers (New York: Winthrop Press, 1902). Dayton B92 P318C.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve, Dayton and Montgomery County Resources and People (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1932), vol. 3: 11, 84. Dayton 977.173 C753D 1932.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve, Dayton, Ohio: An Intimate History (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1932), 28-30, 58-59. Dayton 977.173 C753DAY 1932.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve, The Patterson Log Cabin (Dayton: The Press of the N.C.R., 1906). Dayton B P318CP.

Conover, Frank, Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., 1897), 913. Dayton 977.172 C753C 1897.

Drury, Augustus Waldo, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago and Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909), vol. 1: 109-10, 119-23, vol. 2: 912-36. Dayton 977.173 D796.

Edgar, John F., Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton: U. B. Publishing House, 1896), 88-91, 94-99, 172. Dayton 977.173 E23.

History of Dayton, Ohio (Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889), 77-78, 132-33, 697-98. Dayton 977.173 H673.

History of Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882), 370-84, 560-63. Dayton 977.172 H673.

History of the Patterson Log Cabin (S.l.: s.n., 19–). Dayton T77173 H673.

Hover, John C., and Joseph D. Barnes, Memoirs of the Miami Valley (Chicago: Robert O. Law Company, 1919), vol. 3: 476. Dayton 977.1 M618.

Steele, Robert W., and Mary Davies Steele, Early Dayton (Dayton: U. B. Publishing House, 1896), 32, 82-83, 96-97. Dayton 977.173 S814E 1896.

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