Saturday, June 29, 2013


© Kathy Duncan, 2013

James Brown was born 1818 in Missouri. He is a brother to Phoebe (Holcomb) Pool born c. 1810 and Hannah (Holcomb) Skaggs born c. 1812. It is not known how many of the Holcomb siblings he connected to by blood. He is probably the son of Benjamin C. Brown and a Holcomb widow since his half-sister Phoebe Holcomb married in the home of Benjamin C. Brown in 1824 in Ste. Genieve County, Missouri.

On the 1830 census of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, Benajah or Benaja C. Brown's household is comprised of  one male age ten to fifteen, one male age fifty to sixty, and one female age fifty to sixty. If James Brown is the male age ten to fifteen, his estimated birth year is between 1815 and 1820, which is in keeping with the profile of James Brown. The older female in the household is likely to be his mother, and her age of fifty to sixtey makes her old enough to be the mother of all of the Holcomb siblings. Living next door to this Brown family is that of the newlyweds James and Hannah Skaggs. Also listed on the same page is the household of Nathaniel Holcomb.

In 1838 James Brown was working as a striker for James Pool the blacksmith. He would be about 20 years old at this time. At this time period James Pool is the blacksmith for the Senecas.

In 1840, a James Brown is living in Elk Over Township of Newton County, Missouri. His household is sandwiched between that of Nathan Holcomb and James Skaggs. James Brown's household is comprised of  one male under age 5, two males ages 20 - 30, one male age 60 - 70, and one female age 20 - 30. These ages are consistent with the James Brown that I have pinpointed on the 1850 census. Could the elder man, age 60 - 70, be Benajah C. Brown? If so, then his wife is probably desceased, and he may have died in Newton County, Missouri.

Later, James Brown was named in the Jackson County, Missouri lawsuit of Samuel H. Woodson vs. Heirs of James Pool, 1853 as the brother of Phoebe Pool. He was acting as trustee for her property and that of her children. In one the lawsuit documents dated September 1851 is the statement that James Brown had been absent from the state for several years and had neglected to perform his duty as trustee. The purpose of this statement was so that the minor Pool children could request that their older brother George Pool take over the duties as their trustee. Had he been gone for years or months? This lawsuit is Box 195, Folder 18, Location 16A 5/9 in the Missouri State Archives.

1850, McDonald Co., Missouri:
Brown, James - 32 M Farmer $120 MO
----, Nancy - 22 F TN
----, Thomas H. - 12 M MO
----, Henry S. - 10 M MO
----, unnamed - 2/12 F MO

The James Brown above has been pinpointed because he is living next to Azariah Holcomb in McDonald County. Plus, his age is consistent with previous census years.

Thomas Brown b. MO, age 21 is next door to Nathaniel Holcomb in Soquel Twp., Santa Cruz Co., CA. Is this James Brown's son Thomas H. Brown?

2 June 1880, Dist. 258, Gilroy Twp (outside of town), Santa Clara Co., California:
Griffin, R. M. [married] - W M 53 Keeping store b. Indiana  fb. MD mb. VA
Brown, J. [married] - W M 62 Works in mine b. MO fb. KY mb. OH
Skaggs, Anna [widowed] sister - W F 68 Keeping house b. MO fb. KY mb. OH
Simmons, Lenora [single] ? - W F 12 At home b. CA mb. MO
Simmons, William [married] uncle - W M 44 Works in mine b. Iowa

In the above census, siblings J. Brown and Anna Skaggs are in the same boarding house. J. Brown states that he is married, but where is his wife? Even more frustrating, where is he in 1860 and 1870?

4 July 1887, Hollister, San Benito Co., CA:
Died - BROWN - In Hollister, July 4, 1887, at the residence of Mrs. J.A. Owens, James Brown, aged 62 years.
[Source: The Hollister Free Lance, 8 July 1887, San Benito Co., CA]

Mrs. J.A. Owens is Phebe (Holcomb) Owens, the daughter of Nathaniel and Sarah Holcomb, and is therefore the niece of James Brown. This Nathaniel Holcomb is Azariah's brother.


  1. From the above, "On the 1830 census of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, Benajah or Benaja C. Holcomb's household is comprised of one male age ten to fifteen, one male age fifty to sixty..."

    From the context it appears you are describing Benja BROWN's household rather than a Holcomb household.

    1. Karen, thank you for pointing this out. I have made the necessary correction. I intended to describe Benaja Brown's household. We'll have to start calling you eagle eyes.