Henry Maxwell Brown was born on April 2, 1845 in Rowan County, NC, (maybe at the “Old Stone House” at Granite Quarry), the sixth of nine children born to Solomon and Amy Miller Brown, and the second to be ordained as a Lutheran minister. The family may have moved about a bit, in and around Rowan Co. during his very early childhood. At the age of about five, his family settled on the “Gold Hill Road” formerly the “Cheraw and Fayetteville Road”, about six miles from Salisbury. He came from a successful farming family. The family was also devoutly religious, so a career in the ministry was a natural progression.
Henry Maxwell Brown was baptized at Zion (Organ) Lutheran Church on June 8, 1845. Later he was confirmed there. His original certificate of confirmation signed by Rev. Samuel Rothrock on April 25, 1863 survives, has been preserved, and is in the possession of the family. His obituary states however that he was confirmed on April 23, 1859.
Henry served the Confederacy during the War Between the States, in the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee. Interestingly the record lists his enlistment date as April 10, 1863. This date was only eight days after his eighteenth birthday. It was also only seven days after the death of his father, Solomon. Also, curiously, it was fifteen days prior to the date on his certificate of confirmation. Perhaps some short time elapsed between his enlistment and his departure. Certainly there was enough to allow him to still be at home for confirmation. Henry enlisted in Rowan County and was a member of Company D, (Reilly’s, later Ramsay’s Battery), (also known as the Rowan Artillery), 1st North Carolina Artillery, (10th Regiment- North Carolina State Troops), under the Corps command of General James Longstreet, General A. P. Hill, and finally again, Longstreet. He served in this unit, along with his brother Richard L. Brown, (the other future minister), for the duration of the war. Both were Privates. During the period of their enlistment, the 1st North Carolina Artillery, or elements thereof, saw action at such places as Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, “The Wilderness,” Spotsylvania, New Market, Winchester, Cold Harbor, Trevellian Station, Ream’s Station, Drury’s Bluff, The Siege of Petersburg, The Weldon Railroad, and Bentonville. Both brothers, Henry and Richard, were taken as prisoners of war by the Union forces at Amelia Courthouse, VA, on April 5, 1865, (while engaged in a rear guard action to cover the bulk of Lee’s Army which had just evacuated Petersburg and was trying to get to Danville to link-up by transport train with General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army for a stand against Sherman in North Carolina), four days before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Henry and Richard were held in the Union prison at Point Lookout, on the Maryland western shore, near the meeting place of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay until after the cessation of hostilities. This prison, the Union’s largest, was designed to hold ten thousand soldiers, but often held twice that. It was a tough and harsh place and during it’s twenty-two months of operation, an estimated 13,000 to 17,000 of the some 52,000 Confederate soldiers imprisoned, died at Point Lookout, mainly due to disease, exposure, and malnutrition, though the documented record of Union atrocities abounds. Luckily, the brother’s confinement lasted only about three months. Henry and Richard were released upon oath of allegiance to the United States, on July 23, 1865. It would seem logical that most likely they both would have had to walk, at least most, of the nearly 300 or so miles back home to Rowan County. Afterwards, his financial situation, as was that of many at that time, was quite bleak.
Henry studied at Catawba High School, and the Reformed School, in Newton, NC, (the two may actually have been the same school). Then he studied theology at the old North Carolina College, which was located in Mt. Pleasant. He was ordained as a Lutheran minister on May 4, 1873. Also during that year he married Miss Lucetta Jane Fisher of Cabarrus Co., NC. She was the daughter of Charles Fisher and Sarah Cruse. During their life together they had ten children, five boys and five girls, likely, two of whom died in infancy. Their first daughter, Dora, died as a young child.
Henry served at many Lutheran churches during his distinguished career, from 1873 to 1912, among them, Bethel Pastorate in Rowan Co.; Reformation, Davie Co.; Christ, East Spencer; Nazereth/Shiloh, Rural Hall; Troutman Pastorate in Iredell Co.; Forsyth Mission in Forsyth Co.; Low’s Pastorate in Guilford Co.; and St. Martin’s Pastorate in Stanly Co.; all in North Carolina. In 1913, he was transferred to St. Michael’s Pastorate in South Carolina where he served for about six months. It was in Forsyth Co. that Grandfather, Jason Solomon Brown was born on May 1, 1891.
The Reverend Brown was a dynamic and engaging speaker as well as a prolific writer on theological issues. Two of his most notable treatises are The Scriptural Mode of Baptism, and Six Days of Creation. During his long and fruitful ministry, he earned the respect and admiration of countless parishioners and fellow ministers alike.
While serving at St. Michael’s, he took ill. He died, likely in a Columbia, SC hospital, on July 22, or 23, 1913, (there is conflicting documentation), at the age of sixty eight. July 22nd seems perhaps, logical since his place of burial is over one hundred miles from his place of death, and also considering the size of his funeral. His brother Richard wrote in A History of the Michael Brown Family in 1921 that indeed Henry died on the 23rd. In accordance with his wishes just before he died, The Reverend Henry Maxwell Brown was buried at his home church, Zion Lutheran, also known locally as Organ, in Rowan Co., NC on July 24, 1913. There was a huge throng of mourners at his funeral as a testament to how much he was loved. There were no less than twenty one ministers in attendance as well, a testament to how much he was respected and admired. A couple of quotes from his obituary, printed in the Lutheran Church Visitor of August 7, 1913 read, “Who can estimate the good our brother did during his long and useful ministry? Eternity can only reveal the good accomplished.” “Our brother was kind, friendly, and winning in his disposition. He was magnetic. Men naturally were drawn to him. He wound a cord around the hearts of his people by his generous spirit.”
After Rev. Henry Maxwell Brown’s death, his wife Lucetta lived in their old Rowan County home, not far from Organ Church, with son Clarence and his wife Mattie. Clarence and Mattie continued to live there for decades, until their respective deaths, and I have fond childhood memories of the old Brown family reunions at Henry Maxwell’s old homeplace. That wonderful old house with it’s large property, farm, and apple orchard is now, (as of September 2005) sadly in a state of near ruin.
Ray Swagerty- Charleston, South Carolina
C. 2001, revised August 2004, revised September 2005
Rowan County Heritage- North Carolina The Genealogical Society of Rowan County, ed. K. S. Petrucelli
Mr. Benjamin Brown of Rockwell, NC
Mrs. Dora Frances Brown Swagerty of Mooresville, NC
Life Sketches of Lutheran Ministers of the North Carolina and Tennessee Synods
Lutheran Church Visitor Obituary- August 7, 1913
Mrs. Betty Dan Spencer of Salisbury, NC
A History of the Michael Brown Family Rev. Richard L. Brown
Michael Braun of the Old Stone House Roscoe Brown Fisher
The Jacob Fisher Family 1727-1958 Vol. 1 John Burgess Fisher and Roscoe Brown Fisher
The National Park Service- Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
Civil War Handbook William H. Price
Mr. Richard A. Courtney and the Civil War Prison Research site
The Point Lookout POW Descendant’s Organization at: www.members.tripod.com/~PLPOW/plpow.htm
Mr. Andy Langdale and Sons of Confederate Veterans, Secession Camp Number 4- Charleston, SC