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Braun (or Brown), Michael

by Jo White Linn, 1979

ca. 1722–1807

Michael Braun's Old Stone House. Image courtesy of Rowan Museum. Michael Braun (or Brown), frontiersman, master builder, and entrepreneur, is said to have been born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. He stepped upon American soil at the port of Philadelphia 26 Sept. 1737, alighting from the ship St. Andrew Gally, John Stedman, master, from Rotterdam but most recently from Cowes. At that time, Braun was a lad of about sixteen; along with 140 other immigrants from the Palatinate, he took the oath of allegiance to his newly adopted country that very day. For fifteen or twenty years he stayed in Pennsylvania, having learned the trades of wheelwright and printer, and then he headed with his family and a good bit of money to the rolling hills of North Carolina. There he moved to the focus of North Carolina's pioneer history, becoming one of America's legendary frontiersmen.

He bought his first land in Rowan County from John Dunn in 1758; he and Dunn were among the first settlers of this area and were friends and neighbors. Braun bought many lots in the town of Salisbury, built several houses there, and lived there before settling a few miles south of the town by the Granite Ridge, near what is now Granite Quarry. In 1766 he laid the cornerstone to the Old Stone House, the oldest house still standing in Western North Carolina. The house is built of native stone with portholes in the gables. The lower floor contains five rooms, well finished with plaster, one of which is a kitchen with a chimney eight feet long and four feet deep. The stone over the front door is inscribed MICHAEL BRAUN MRICHREDA BRAUN IO PE ME BE MI CH DA M '1766. Tradition says the main part of the British army passed by the Stone House on the evening of 2 Feb. 1781 on the way to Alamance and that the deep gash in the old walnut facing of the door was made by a British sabre.

Braun was a rich and influential man for his time and place and a conscientious citizen. He was called esquire. In town he had a number of varied business interests: he kept an ordinary and had a tanyard, as well as renting his other houses. The year after he came to Rowan he was appointed magistrate in Captain Peter Faust's company. In 1761 the court minutes show that he was appointed constable, a position of some importance at that time. In 1765 he was overseer on the roads, and many times he served as a juror. He was appointed justice 6 Aug. 1777. The census of 1790 shows that he had fifteen slaves.

Braun and Frederick Fisher gave more than one hundred acres of land for the Dutch Pine Meeting House (now Union Evangelical Lutheran Church), and the original deed was made to them. It is safe to assume they were members of this early church.

Braun appears to have had at least three wives. From Pennsylvania he brought with him his wife Margareta, by whom he had six sons—David, Peter, Moses, James, and Jeremiah—and three daughters, who all died young. Margareta Braun died 20 July 1771, at the age of thirty-seven years, two months. She was buried in the Michael Braun Graveyard, once surrounded by a stone wall. In 1779 a wife named Rosanna signed a deed with Braun; and his wife at the time of his death was Eleanor Wakefield Reeves of Maryland, whose daughter Clementine, born after his death, later married Charles Verble.

Braun wrote his will 12 Oct. 1807 and died before 2 Feb. 1808, when it was proved in open court in Rowan County and ordered recorded in Rowan County Will Book D:17. In this will he left Eleanor the Stone House and named Montford Stokes guardian for his unborn child. His grave, presumably in the family graveyard, is unmarked, as are those of his other wives and his daughters.


Richard L. Brown, A History of the Michael Brown Family (1921).

Roscoe Brown Fisher, Michael Braun (Brown) of the Old Stone House, His Influence and Descendants (1975).

McCubbins Collection, Rowan Public Library (Salisbury).

Rowan County wills, deeds, inferior court minutes (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Jethro Rumple, A History of Rowan County (1881).

Additional Resources:

"Old Stone House." N.C. Highway Historical Marker L-79, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed July 10, 2013).

"Postcard, Accession #: H.1953.38.142." 1950-1953. North Carolina Museum of History.

Image Credits:

Michael Braun's Old Stone House. Image courtesy of Rowan Museum. Available from (accessed January 12, 2015).

Origin - location: 


I, too, am a descendent of Michael Braun. Can you tell me if he fought in the Revolutionary War. If not as a soldier, did he play a major role in some other capacity?

Judy Robinson

Hi Ms. Robinson!

Thank you for your comment! I am forwarding your inquiry to our library's Reference Team so that they can assist you further. A staff member from our library should be reaching out to you via e-mail soon.


Taylor Thompson, Government & Heritage Library

I am a descendent of Michael Braun, more specifically his grandson Nathan. I'm interested to know if the family owned slaves.

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and sharing your family’s connection to this article and your question. 

There is a mention in the article that the 1790 census showed that he owned 15 enslaved persons. You will see a “Michael Brown” with enslaved persons listed in the household.  Without conducting a full genealogical search, I cannot say for certain if this is the same Michael Brown/Braun, but the historian who wrote the NCpedia most likely assumed this. I have also replied to the email you included with your post and have also attached copies of the 1790 and 1800 census pages that show a "Michael Brown".

And I see that there may be a will held by the State Archives of North Carolina.  You could examine this to see if he named any enslaved persons in it.  Here is a link to the State Archives public services page --  You can contact them to ask about obtaining a copy of the will.  Tax records for Rowan County – also held by the State Archives – may also show whether or not he owned enslaved persons.  

The family histories that are included in the References to the NCpedia article have been digitized and are available online –

Richard L. Brown, A History of the Michael Brown Family (1921).

Jethro Rumple, A History of Rowan County (1881).

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

So glad to see all of our family history online and in such content. Proud to be a Brown.

Hi Haley,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia and sharing your connection to the content and NC history.  Please visit again!

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

The above article has some incorrect information, taken from the Fisher book of 1975.
The Michael Braun described in the article whose family eventually settled in Rowan County, NC, and who built the Stone House actually arrived in Philadelphia 9 October 1738 on the ship "Glasgow" with his parents, Stephen and Eva Braun. Michael's was baptized in Ruschberg, Germany, on 19 October 1732. For documentation, refer to John B. Fisher, Dorothy Brown Koller & Margaret Brown Anderson, "The Ancestors of Abraham (Braun) Brown, the Miller, and Jacob (Braun) Brown, the Wagonmaker," Delmar Publishers & Printers, Charlotte, NC (1983).

Hi Betty,

Thanks very much for taking the time to write to NCpedia with additional information and resources for this entry. Contributions like yours help to strengthen NCpedia and provide additional perspectives on the historical record that benefit all users of the resource, and your comments will be part of the permanent record for this entry on Michael Braun.

Keep coming back to NCpedia!

Kelly Agan, NCpedia Digital Media Librarian, Government & Heritage Library 

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