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Owen Brown (college founder)

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Title: Owen Brown (college founder)  
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Subject: John Brown (abolitionist), Underground Railroad, 1771 births, 1856 deaths
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Owen Brown (college founder)

Owen Brown
Born February 16th, 1771
Torrington, Connecticut, U.S.A
Died May 8th, 1856 (aged 85)
Hudson, Connecticut Western Reserve, U.S.A
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place Old Hudson Township Burying Ground
Residence Hudson, Connecticut Western Reserve, U.S.A
Nationality American
Other names Squire Brown
Religion Calvinist
Spouse(s) Ruth Mills (1793–1808)
Sally Root (1809–1840)
Lucy Hinsdale (1841–1865)
Children John Brown
Parent(s) John Brown
Hanna Owen

Owen Brown (February 16, 1771 – May 8, 1856), father of Abolitionist John Brown, was himself a noted abolitionist and civil servant. Brown was a founder of multiple institutions including the Western Reserve Anti-Slavery Society, Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University), and the Free Congressional Church. Brown gave speeches advocating the immediate abolition of slavery and facilitated the Underground Railroad.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Life in Hudson and the Abolitionist Movement 2
  • Colleges 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

One of 10 children, Owen Brown was born on February 16, 1771 to Revolutionary War Lieutenant John Brown and Hanna Owen Brown in Torrington Connecticut. A lifetime admirer of the Founding Fathers, Owen's first memory was of the departure of his father's militia company to engage the British in New York during the summer of 1776.[1]

Life in Hudson and the Abolitionist Movement

A wealthy tanner, cattle breeder and land speculator, Brown was a dedicated civil servant and was integral to Hudson, Ohio's growth and success.[2] Famed for his resourcefulness and energy, he was known locally as Squire Brown.[3] Brown served in a multitude of positions in the community including County Commissioner and Justice of the Peace.[4] Owen was deeply rooted in the abolitionist movement. He was personal friends with leaders such as Frederick Douglass who often stayed with the Brown family when he was lecturing in the area.[5] Owen, in collaboration with David Hudson was integral in establishing one of the earliest way stations along the Underground Railroad and personally arranged passage into Canada for many escaped slaves.[6][7]


Owen was a founding trustee of Western Reserve College and is credited for securing its location in Hudson as well as overseeing the construction of its first building.[8][9][10][11] During Brown tenure (1825-1835), Western Reserve College became known as a hotbed of abolitionist ideals.[12] After the death of the institutions first president, Charles Backus Storrs, in 1833 the university elected a more conservative president, George E. Pierce in an attempt to distance itself from the politics of slavery.[13][14] In 1835 Brown resigned his position and joined a large contingency of faculty, staff, and students of Western Reserve College who moved to Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College) where he served as Trustee from 1835 to 1844. Brown and others were successful in making Oberlin the first institution of higher learning to admit women and black students. Owen's own Daughter, Florilla Brown, graduated from Oberlin in 1839.

See also


  1. ^ Carlton, 22
  2. ^ Carlton, 23
  3. ^ Carlton, 23
  4. ^ Carlton, 23
  5. ^ Carlton 145
  6. ^ Carlton 145
  7. ^ Carlton 30
  8. ^ Carlton, 23
  9. ^ Carlton, 73
  10. ^ Cutler, 13
  11. ^ Du Bois, 66
  12. ^ Carlton, 73
  13. ^ Carlton, 73
  14. ^ Cutler, 26


  • Carlton, Evan (2006). Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America. New York, NY: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-7136-X.
  • Cutler, Carroll (1876). "A History of Western Reserve College During its First Half Century 1826-1876." Cleveland, OH: Crocker's Publishing House.
  • Du Bois, W.E.B.(1972). "John Brown." New York, NY: International Publishers. ISBN 0-7178-0375-9.

External links

Owen Brown at Find a Grave

  • Owen and Ruth Brown, from the West Virginia Archives and History
  • A History of Western Reserve College During its First Half Century 1826-1876
  • John Brown and the Oberlin Lands, from the West Virginia Archives and History
  • A Walking Tour of Historic Hudson, from Hudson Library and Historical Society
  • Underground Railroad and Anti-Slavery Movement in Hudson Ohio, from Hudson Library and Historical Society
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