Page:The life and letters of John Brown (Sanborn).djvu/22

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family, and was the earliest of these Browns who seems to have left any written memoirs. He migrated from Connecticut to Ohio, among the first of those who settled on the Western Reserve, early in the century, and when nearly eighty years old, while living at Hudson, Ohio, wrote an autobiography for his children's perusal, which gives some characteristic details of the state of society where he lived, and where his renowned son was born.


"My life has been of little worth, mostly filled up with vanity. I was born at West Simsbury (now Canton), Connecticut, Feb. 16, 1771. I have but little recollection of what took place until the years '75 and '76. I remember the beginning of war, and some things that took place in 1775; but only a little until '76, when my father went into the army.[1] He was captain in the militia of Connecticut, and died in New York, with the dysentery, a few weeks after leaving home. My mother had ten children at the time of my father's death, and one born soon after, making eleven of us all. The first five were daughters, the oldest about eighteen;[2] the next three were sons; then two daughters, and the youngest a son. The care and support of this family fell mostly on my mother. The laboring men were mostly in the army. She was one of the best of mothers; active and sensible. She did all that could be expected of a mother; yet for want of help we lost our crops, then our cattle, and so became poor. I very well remember the dreadful hard winter of 1778–79. The snow began to fall in November, when the water was very low in the streams; and while the snow was very deep, one after another of our hogs and sheep would get buried up, and we had to dig them out. Wood could not be drawn with teams, and was brought on men's shoulders, they going on snow-shoes until paths were made hard enough to draw wood on hand-sleds. The snow was said to be five feet deep in the woods. Milling of grain could not be had, only by going a great distance; and our family were driven to the necessity of pounding corn for food. We lost that winter almost all of our cattle, hogs, and sheep, and were reduced very low by the spring of 1779.

  1. He entered the army of Washington in the summer of 1776, and died shortly before the battle of Long Island, in which his regiment took part.
  2. John Brown married Hannah Owen in 1758, and his eldest daughter was little more than seventeen at his death in 1776.