Sumter County Alabama

Sumter County
Jeremiah H. Brown Biography

Contributed by Mary Hoit Abbe

From Northern Alabama Historical and Biographical by Smith & DeLand
Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, Printers and Binders, 1888
p. 219

JERMIAH H. BROWN, son of an English father and English mother, was born in Darlington District, S. C., in 1800. His father Samuel Brown , was a minister in the Baptist Church , and a man of great wealth.

J. H. Brown graduated at South Carolina College in 1823 with the highest honors, and soon after studied law and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced the profession because it had no attraction for him, and the management of his interests on his plantations occupied his entire time. At the time of his graduation he found himself ready to start in life with more than sixty field hands and a very large tract of land.

He was married in 1834 to Miss Julia, daughter of Robert Hines , and in the following year came to Alabama, brought his slaves with him, and settled near Sumterville. In his treatment of his slaves, he is said to have been very kind and indulgent. He gave them every Saturday the entire day for their own, and furnished them with good churches and white preachers on Sunday, and saw that they had a reasonable amount of instruction and religious training. His business increased until he found himself the master of more than a thousand slaves, and a plantation of more than eight thousand acres in the most fertile portion of Alabama. He was a Baptist, and more devoted to his Church than people ordinarily are, and his enormous wealth gave him opportunity for doing a great deal of good. For many years he donated $15,000 every year to the missionary cause. He furnished the means to educate forty young men in Howard College for ministry in his Church. In 1855 he endowed the Brown Theological Chair in Howard College with $25,000; and the treatment of the poor of his neighborhood was in a similar degree of beneficence. In the Baptist Encyclopedia of 1881, he is called a "princely planter, an intelligent and cultivated gentleman of vast influence, and liberal with his money."

Probably no man in Alabama ever did so much good with money as he. During the war he furnished the means to equip and provide for, perhaps, more than a regiment of soldiers, and after the emancipation, so great was his affection of his slaves, that many of them declared that they had no desire for freedom, but preferred to remain in his service.

Mr. Brown died at the house of his daughter, Mrs. H. S. Lide, February 10, 1868. He left two sons and one daughter, all of whom are now living. Laura, the elder child, was married in 1853, to Col. H. S. Lide, a successful farmer and aide- de-camp to Governor Shorter during the war, but he resigned that position and took one of more active service in the army. He died in 1879. His widow was married October 5, 1880, to Dr. James G. Forster, of Livingston, where they now reside. She had five children by the first marriage, of whom three are sons and two are daughters. Mrs. Forster is a stanch Baptist.

Dr. Forster was born in Clarke County, Ala., in 1826. He merchandized in his younger days, studied medicine and graduated at the University of Louisiana at New Orleans in 1856, and has practiced medicine ever since. The Doctor was married in 1847 to Miss Eliza M. Gilmore, and had five children by that marriage, two sons and three daughters, one of whom is dead. One of the three daughters is married to Samuel Ruffin, Jr.; one son W. C. Forster, is practicing medicine in Birmingham, and James M., the youngest, is with a commercial house in Meridian. Dr. Forster is a Methodist and a Mason.

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