BROWN, EDWARD F., son of Edward B. and Lucy (RISLEY) BROWN, was
born in Berlin, Vermont, in 1819, the seventh of a family of eleven children.
His father was a millwright and house carpenter by trade, and the marks
of his handiwork are visible in many private and public buildings in that
section. E. F. BROWN and his four brothers received only the advantages
of a common school training and assisted their father at his trade until
they became of age, when they struck out in the world for themselves.
Edward F. came to St. Johnsbury in August, 1841, at the age of twenty-one,
and entered the store of SHED & JEWETT, which stood on the site of
Colonel T. C. FLETCHER's residence, at that time, and for ten years following
the only store on St. Johnsbury Plain.
His capital consisted of a suit of homespun cloth, a Spanish milled
dollar, still in his possession, now 104 years old, good principles, willing
hands, and a stout heart. His salary was $75 per year and board, with an
addition of twenty-five dollars a year for four years. Soon after he came
to St. Johnsbury his employers sent him to Boston to buy goods for loading
a six-horse team, which made a semi-annual trip, consuming about four weeks.
The regular stage to Boston, via Concord and Nashua, was four days.
Moses KITTRIDGE was then postmaster at the Plains, where a tri-weekly
mail was received by a two-horse stage running from Danville to Littleton.
The postage was from six to twenty-five cents, according to distance sent.
In 1845 Mr. BROWN went into company with Ephraim JEWETT for five
years, but remained fifteen years. Meanwhile, in 1849, JEWETT & BROWN
built their large store on the site now occupied by BROOKS, TYLER and company.
At that time the site of the courthouse was occupied by the old village
burying ground, but the county buildings were moved here from Danville
soon after the advent of the Passumpsic railroad in 1850. Danville bank
was then the only one in Caledonia county. The same year Mr. BROWN built
his house, corner of Summer and Central streets, buying the lot, twelve
rods by six, for $100 of Thaddeus FAIRBANKS.
Mr. BROWN continued in trade successfully almost fifty years on
Main street, during the last ten years with his son, F. N. BROWN as a partner.
The latter is a popular and successful general merchant located in Brown's
block. E. F. BROWN's half century of mercantile life and that of his son
and successor covers the entire period of the active growth of St. Johnsbury.
E. F. BROWN sold goods to Joseph FAIRBANKS, grandfather of Rev. E. T. FAIRBANKS
and Professor Henry FAIRBANKS.
His benevolence and high integrity won the confidence and esteem
of all, while his industry and good judgment have been rewarded with financial
success, and he is a large real estate owner in St. Johnsbury. Mr. BROWN
has been actively interested in local affairs, was foreman of Engine company,
Deluge No. 2 and later for several years chief engineer of the fire department.
He has been a director of the Passumpsic Savings bank for more than thirty
years. In politics a Republican since the formation of the party, and in
religious belief and support an ardent Universalist, his moral influence
has ever been true and helpful. He was one of the village trustees for
In 1846 Mr. BROWN married Abbey, youngest daughter of Captain Nathaniel
PROCTOR of Montpelier, and five children were born to them, Katie R., Florence
P., Gracie, Frank Newton, and Abbey Proctor BROWN (now Mrs. A. R. BROOKS).
He married for his second wife Mrs. Lizzie ROBINSON CLARK, widow of Captain
John CLARK, of Lunenburg, at West Newton, Massachusetts, in 1871. E. F.
BROWN has not outgrown the enthusiasms of youth, speaks ably and fluently
in public when occasion calls, and carries his eighty-four years bravely.
He still is a director of the Passumpsic Savings bank and attends promptly
and well to his business affairs. He is the earliest and oldest of St.
Johnsbury's pioneer businessmen.
Source: Successful Vermonters,
William H. Jeffrey, E. Burke, Vermont, The Historical Publishing Company,
1904, page 34-35.
by Tom Dunn January 2003