Few people today have ever heard of Browntown, but 100 to 150 years ago, this village of the Browns was a bustling,
industrious community, with mills, houses, a black smithy, stores, hard working ambitious people and a fringe of prospering farmers with huge herds of cows.
Prickly ash cover the slopes and only the ubiquitous lilac and ancient apple trees show where once the residences of the Browns stood.
Once lordly Brown’s Creek, which had enough power to run a sawmill and a carding mill and was deep enough to drown a man, is reduced to a trickle, at points only a couple of inches wide. The creek, further to the west, expands enough to become today’s Elbe Creek, which flows through Glen Elbe.
Browntown, now completely surrounded by private property, lies a couple of miles east of Addison. It is reached via the Rocksprings Road, branching south off of No. 29 Highway. Half a mile down the road, a lane turning right, down to the Stanley Hall farmhouse, points the way to Browntown.
At the Hall Farmhouse, one must trudge half a mile through waist-deep grass and shoulder high weeds to reach Brown’s Creek. Browntown once sprawled up and down the creek, and high on a knoll to the south, rests the old Browntown Cemetery.
Browntown was a thriving community in the horse and buggy days. It had its own road, part of which consisted of the granite rocks of the Pre-Cambrian shield. Flat sections of the rock which formed this road, still exist on the higher ground.
The road itself has long been cut off by fences. Overgrown with brush, its route can still be traced through the fields but no wagon has raised the dust of its ancient ruts for 70 years or more.
The only traces of the buildings which once formed Browntown, are a few rotting timbers in what was presumably the basement of a dwelling, and the sagging cover of an old well. Not even the foundations can be found.
Maps made in 1861 show a number of buildings there, including at least three Brown dwellings.
Browntown Cemetery lies in the middle of Andras Adolf’s pasture. A rusting wire fence surrounds the small enclosure, and entry is made via an iron gate hanging on squeaking hinges. The fence keeps the cattle out, but the elements have sadly battered the headstones. Only four stones remain standing. The others lie in fragments on the graves. Genealogists of the Leeds and Grenville branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society have painstakingly pieced the stones together to record the graves for posterity, but some stones are broken and lie beneath the surface.
Founder of Browntown was United Empire Loyalist Nathaniel Brown, a British soldier who fought under General Burgoyne in the 1777 battles of Saratoga and Tinconderoga. At the end of the war, Brown and his family made their way from Bennington, VT. to Canada. For his services, Brown was granted 200 acres of land and he chose the wilderness area of Elizabethtown, 15 miles north of Brockville. His farm became the nucleus of the future community of Browntown.
Born in 1850, Brown was in his 50th year when he settled here in 1800. Nathaniel and his wife Mary, had nine children. They were James, born Oct 22,1779 and died March 12, 1859; Nancy (1780-1855) who married Jonathon Fulford, ancestor of the Fulford family of Brockville; Samuel; Michael; Anna; Philip, who married Polly Parish the daughter of Farmersville pioneer William Parish UE; Hanna; Nathaniel Jr. and Phoebe.
Nathaniel’s property was described as Lot 35 in the Ninth Concession of Elizabethtown. His son James subsequently developed the adjoining Lot 34 as well as Lot 35 in the Seventh Concession. In 1837, Nathaniel’s property passed to James. (Recorder and Times c1980, Darling Scrapbook 3 p31)
The Athen’s Reporter from Jan 31, 1889 to Dec 31, 1889
Jan 8, 1889
There was quite a commotion in the quiet village of Browntown the other evening, it being the annual ice cream social at the residence of Mr. Franklin Wiltse, composed of the elite of the village and suburbs.
Jan 29, 1889
Wood sawing is the order of the day in this section. The McLean Brothers have given Browntown quite a siege. They are up to the mark every time
Saturday March 16th, 1889
Mr. A. Church of Browntown, has purchased the celebrated horse, ‘Donnybrook’, from Mr. Albert McVeigh, and intends running Her Majesty’s mail for this season
Monday April 8th 1889
On Saturday last the wife of Mr. Lorren Brown, of Browntown, became the mother of a pair of twin girls. Unfortunately one of them died, but the mother and the other one are doing well.
Mr. A. Church, of Browntown, has been engaged for the last few days drilling a well for Mr. George Patterson, of this place. When at the depth of 90 feet a stream was struck sufficient to drive a mill.
The Athens Reporter and County of Leeds Advertiser
Tuesday Dec. 4, 1894 issue-
Glossville– Friday, Nov. 30-
Mr. and Mrs. G. Booth of Browntown are visiting friends in Carleton Place.