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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Brown, John

12 Aug. 1772–12 Oct. 1845

John Brown, congressman and land speculator, was born in Kishacoquilla Valley and later lived in Lewistown, Pa., where he attended local common schools. In 1800 in Lewistown he began grist and sawmill businesses. He served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1809 to 1813 and represented the state in Congress from 4 Mar. 1821 until 3 Mar. 1825. In 1827 he moved to the community of Limestone in south central Buncombe County, N.C. (near the present community of Skyland), to engage in agriculture and the real estate business. The Browns eventually owned about a million acres of land in Haywood, Buncombe, and Mitchell counties.

Brown died in Limestone and was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville. His wife, Ann (1777–1848), of Lewiston, survived, as did a son, William John (1803–84), and a grandson, John Evans (1827–95). An obituary notice in the Asheville Highland Messenger, 17 Oct. 1845, said, "Having died in a strange land, he was buried amongst strangers." Nevertheless, Brown's son and a number of grandsons lived in North Carolina. One grandson, Samuel Smith Brown, served with a North Carolina regiment during the Civil War and died in camp; another, William Caleb Brown, was a law partner of Zebulon B. Vance, served under Vance early in the war, and like his brother, died in camp from disease.


Biog. Dir. Am. Cong. (1971).

Frontis Johnston, ed., The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance, vol. 1 (1963).

Additional Resources:

"Brown, John, (1772 - 1845)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed April 17, 2013).

Rowe, Ellen M. John Brown of the Old Stone House, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. [Slippery Rock, Pa.: Slippery Rock University, 1987].