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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Brown Gibson Family Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1822-1944
Creator: Brown Gibson Family (1776-1847)
Extent: 30.00 items.
Collection Number: MSC0381
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Letters, documents, and a booklet on Major Hugh G. Brown.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


Preferred Citation: Brown Gibson Family Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

The earliest letters in this collection were written by Hugh Brown (1776-1847), a native of Ayr, Scotland. Brown immigrated to the United States about 1820 and settled on a farm in New York. Subsequently, he was employed as an overseer by the Delaware & Hudson Canal and Railroad Company. His wife Mary Gibson (1798-1877), in Iowa, joined him in New York in 1823.

Several of this couple's children were born in Scotland; several were born in the United States. The best-known son was Major Hugh G. Brown (1835-1901), born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and died at Keosauqua, Iowa. With his brothers and widowed mother, he settled in Iowa in the late 1840's. He was a member of Company E, 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, rose through the ranks to a commission, and became an aide on the staff of Major General E.O.C. Ord. Major Brown's brothers include James A. Brown of Vinton, Iowa, and Alex Brown (also a major) of Keosauqua. Both of these men were in service with Iowa regiments during the Civil War, and both were still living at the towns mentioned above when their brother Hugh died in 1901.

(Most of the information in the two preceeding paragraphs comes from the correspondence offered here. Some facts were gained from the booklet cited below.

This is a collection of 23 letters, 3 documents, 1 printed item, and 3 miscellaneous pieces by Hugh Brown, his wife Mary Gibson Brown, their children and family, written from New York, Iowa, and other places in the United States, and from Scotland.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • [Hugh Brown], Palatine, [New York], to Mary Brown (his wife), care of John Gibson, "Farmer in Crawfordston by Ayr, Scotland." 3 pages. Brown writes concerning plans to work a farm in New York on shares; describes its situation near the Mohawk River, his arrangements with the family of a Major Fry, and his plans for his wife and children to join him. With an additional 3pp. of additional material overwritten in very light brown ink.Brown writes concerning plans to work a farm in New York on shares; describes its situation near the Mohawk River, his arrangements with teh family of a Major Fry, and his plans for his wife and children to join him. With an additional 3 pages of additional material overwritten in very light brown ink. December 19 - 1822
  • Robert Brown, Kirkhill, [Scotland], to (his brother) Hugh Brown, "America." 3 pages. There is economic distress at home, Robert writes. Family is unable to send Hugh a bull as promised. "You appear to have a very favorable oppinion of America, that land in which I would like to dwell, altho' I am of the notion I will never see it...." Hugh's creditors may follow him to the United States, Robert warns. April 24 - 1823
  • James Brown, Ayr, to Hugh Brown, Albany, New York. More than 3 pages. Mentions his interest in immigrating to the United States; discusses neighborhood affairs. September 6 - 1825
  • Mary Dunsmore, Pungannon Park, [Northern Ireland], to Mary Gibson Brown, Albany, New York. 3pages. Mary writes her sister various family news, including an account of their trip to Pungannon Park and their attractive situation there. March 13 - 1826
  • Eben. Wilsonson, North Sherbrooke by Perth, Upper Canada, to Hugh Brown, Delaware Canal, New York. 2 pages. Wilsonson recalls their earlier acquaintanceship at Albany and complains that derogatory remarks on his character are being circulated by "a worthless vagabond" named G. Henderson. January 6 - 1829
  • Jno. B. Jervis and James Archbald, Clarkstown, [New York?], 1 page. These men, engineers, certify that Hugh Brown "has been the last three years employed on the Delaware & Hudson Canal and Railroad as an overseer for the Company." They praise his character and the work done by him and recommend him highly. December 20 - 1830
  • M. A. Archbald, Auresville, [New York], to Mrs. Hugh Brown (Mary Gibson), Albany. 1 page. Returns shoes sent by Mrs. Brown and sends family news. June 21 - 1831
  • Hugh Brown, Canaan, [New York?], to wife at Albany. 3pp. Describes his work as overseer of railroad construction; trouble with other foremen. Gives his opinion of his wife's desire to rent a house in Albany; comments on his plans for the education of his children. March 24 - 1833
  • John Gibson, Black Rock, New York, to Hugh Brown, c/o James Archbald, Carbondale, PA. 3 pages. Concerning health, visitors, and news from Scotland. January 12 - 1836
  • John Gibson, Canajoharie, [New York], to Hugh Brown, Carbondale. 2 pages. Writes on financial matters. April 4 - 1838
  • Same, Medina, New York, to Hugh Brown, Carbondale. 1.5 pages. Concerning family news; has not heard from Scotland in two years, but has not written during that time, either. Hard times are everywhere. "I am not in a fit state at present to discuss your project of going to the west...." June 16 - 1840
  • Same, Medina, to Hugh Brown. 1.5 pages. News from Scotland of rents, political attitudes there; importation of grain from Ireland. April 14 - 1841
  • Annie Brown, Keosauqua, Iowa, to (her brother) Hugh G. Brown, Fairfield, IA. 2 pages. Family news content; glad to hear that brother likes his new home. June 10 - 1849
  • James A. Brown, Council Grove, Kansas Territory, to Hugh G. Brown. 1 page. June 17 - 1857
  • Alex Brown, Savannah, Tennessee, to mother at Keosauqua. Exciting letter describing his participation in the battle of Shiloh. "...We immediately formed in line of battle where the bullets were flying like Hail and advanced upon the enemy who fell back behind some fallen timber. We held them back for about 2 hours in the most galling fire that has ever been known. The force opposing us was about 15 or 20 thousand. Our force was the 15th & 16 Iowa and the Illinois Regiment. Our Regt. was in the hottest of the fire and was the last to yield, but we had to retreat or all be taken prisoners. Hugh & Ben escaped uninjured...I am wounded in the hip slightly, I was wounded just as we started to retreat. I had loaded my gun and turned to fire when a ball struck me. It was a spurt [?] ball, or I presume I would have been killed. It just went in and lodged on my hip bone...." April 10 - 1862
  • James A. Brown, Pleasant Park, to mother at Keosauqua. Loses on the battle field at Pittsburgh Landing. July 13 - 1862
  • Alex Brown to John Brown, Corinth, Mississippi. 3 pages. Alex condemns the war policy of the government as too soft and ineffective. Demands the "niggers" be armed and trained. Sends news of various Iowans in service. July 20 - 1862
  • Alex Brown to John Brown, Camp near Bolivar, Tennessee. 2 pages. His mail has been cut off by the Rebel's destruction of the railroad between Bolivar and Jackson. Skirmishing in the area; Rebels suffered badly at Jackson. Expectation of an attack by General Price and 30,000 men. September 6 - 1862
  • Hugh Brown to mother, Corinth, Miss., 3.5 pages. Describes his activities since the battle of Shiloh. He is now on the staff of Major General Ord and likes it very much. High opinion of Ord. Ord's staff members identified. Brother Alex is sick and in poor condition, forced to sleep on the ground without a tent in the rain. September 26 - 1862
  • Alex Brown to John Brown, Corinth, one page. Account of the battle of Corinth, October 3-4. Wounded in the shoulder; doctor describes it as a bad wound. "The Iowa troops covered themselves with glory"' in the battle, he writes. October 6 - 1862
  • Sarah [Johnston], Keosauqua, to her brother, Hugh Brown. 2.5 pages. Writes concerning the death of their mother; sends other family news. February 8 - 1878
  • James A. Brown, Vinton, to Hugh Brown. 2 pages. Concerning news of his family. March 28 - 1876
  • Copy of a letter from Montgomery Jameson, Ayr, Scotland, to his cousin Craig, Keosauqua, ten pages, torn. A letter filled with genealogical detail on the generation of Hugh Brown the immigrant, his wife, and their parents. December 8 - 1902
  • Series 2: DOCUMENTS
  • Box 1:
  • Joseph Foster, ADS, as Judge of Probate, Keosauqua. Appoints Mary Brown guardian of the minor heirs of her late husband, who died April 12, 1847. (Children named.) 1 page. February 7 - 1848
  • Hugh Brown, certificate of naturalization, Bethany, PA, signed for L. Graves, prothonotary, by J. K. Woodward. Partly printed form, accomplished in manuscript. September 3 - 1841
  • Printed "General Orders No. 83," Headquarters, District of West Tennessee, Corinth, Mississippi. In part, appoints General Ord to command the 2nd Division of the District and gives its boundaries. Ink markings; trimmed. September 24 - 1862
  • Box 1:
  • Booklet, MAJ. HUGH G. BROWN, U.S.A. (n.p., n.d.). 13 pages. Pamphlet of biographical and personal information on Major Brown. Pages are loose, but present. - 1901
  • Two miscellaneous pieces and 1 fragment of a letter.

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Brown, Hugh G., 1835-1901
Brown, Mary Gibson, 1798-1877

American Civil War, 1861-1865

Geographic Names:
United States -- Iowa
United States -- Iowa -- Scots

Genre/Form of Materials:
Family papers