Benjamin Franklin Brown


Benjamin Franklin Brown’s parents came to Rush, Livingston, (now Monroe County), New York from Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts. William’s progenitors on his father’s side, go back to Rev. Chad Brown, an emigrant from England, who was the first Baptist minister in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother, Diantha, was a descendant of early settlers in Connecticut. Her father, Frederick Loveland, fought in the Revolutionary War. William Brown fought in the war of 1812, and after his marriage to Diantha in Pownal, Bennington, Vermont, the couple moved to Rush.

William and Diantha had a family of five daughters and four sons, all born in Rush, New York except the youngest daughter, Emeline, who was born in Burton, Geauga, Ohio. Franklin was the third son and seventh child.


In 1830, the family moved to Burton, Geauga, Ohio, about fifteen miles from Kirtland. William purchased two hundred acres of forest land. Seventy-five acres were cleared to farm and build a house, using lumber from a sawmill about a half mile away. They passed through all the privations of pioneer life. The forest was wild and primitive where were found many animals of prey such as lions, lynx and large wolves, as well as plenty of wild turkeys, deer and other edible game which was an important food source for them. Their cows gave them milk and butter, and the potatoes and other vegetables they grew added to their diet. Benjamin’s brother, Philander, related their excitement when the father came home with a half bushel of cornmeal he had brought on horseback from Cleveland. They enjoyed the cornbread they were able to make from it.


It was in this home on the western frontier that Diantha died on April 19, 1833. Her death brought sorrow to her husband and a great loss to her children. The three older daughters married, and Hiram. the older son, sought employment away from home, leaving the father with three young children to care for. John and Lucy Rowell Leavitt came to the aid of William Brown. Especially helpful were daughters, Lucinda and Orilla Leavitt.


In 1845, some members of the Leavitt and Brown families moved to Cambria, Hillsdale. Michigan, the Leavitt family going first. At Cambria, Franklin married Lucinda on February 12, 1848, and his brother, Philander married OriIIa later that year. Franklin and Philander affiliated themselves with the Michigan Southern Railroad, working for them in the summer and following the trade of shoemaker in the winter. In later life, Franklin would be the first shoemaker in Ogden, Utah.

It was in Michigan that their first three children were born: Charles Albert, Barney Alfred, and Lucy Adell. Barney Alfred is not included in all records. He was born and died in the same year, 1853. William Brown died October 23, 1852 after being kicked by a horse. His sons returned to Ohio to settle their father’s estate. Lucinda’s father, John Leavitt, died on February 17, 1852, at Cambria, Michigan.


At Burton, the Brown family became acquainted with the LDS Church, having hired Mormon men to help clear their land. Their closest neighbors, John and Lucy Rowell Leavitt, had left Canada with John’s mother, Sarah Shannon, and other family members seeking the religion they had heard of from missionaries there. The Browns and Leavitts were not members of any church at the time, but the religion of the Latter-day Saints would play an important role in their later lives. While at Cambria, Franklin and Lucinda were taught the church’s teachings. They embraced the gospel wholeheartedly and left Michigan in 1854 to join relatives who were gathering at Council Bluffs, Iowa to prepare for the journey west. Franklin and Lucinda were baptized members of the church by Elder William Folsom on May 21, 1858 at Council Bluffs.


Being comfortably situated for those times, the families were able to organize an independent company for the trek. They left Florence, Nebraska on June 9,1860. On their first night out they camped near a small stream and found wild gooseberries nearby. They left camp the next morning in a driving rain, but the downpour did not dampen their spirits.


A week later, on the Loup Fork of the Platte River near Genoa, the Brown company had their first encounter with Indians. They had found the ferry broken down and out of running order. As the wagons gathered in a circle to camp, they were surrounded by a horde of Pawnee Indians, who had come looking for food. Philander Brown wrote of the trek west: “...the Indians were fighting among themselves, and although they frequently came into camp, we had no trouble with them. Herds of buffalo came near us, so near as to put a panic in our cattle. But we kept them under control and avoided a stampede.”


On June 22, near the Wood River, the Brown company met a group of freight wagons and forty-two missionaries from Salt Lake City on their way east.  They camped together for a night. Joseph A. Young, son of Brigham Young, called the companies together for singing and prayer, giving notice they would hold a meeting the next morning.


Rachel Seamons Hancey, a member of the Brown company, wrote in her history, “At 10:00 we had a lovely meeting out in the open prairie at which Joseph Young organized our company. Our captain was Franklin Brown with Philander Brown and John Leavitt as counselors and Josiah Leavitt as assistant captain.” Charles R. Savage was chosen chaplain and secretary.

Rachel Hancey’s history continues, “There being so many persons to each wagon that all could not ride and we had to walk most of the way.  I had to carry my baby a good deal and he was growing heavier every day. Sometimes we would travel through wind and dust and then through heavy rains and thunderstorms until we were wet through. It was a long tedious journey, nearly four months from Omaha to Salt Lake City, but we had no sickness to speak of and no deaths. As we went to camp at night and had supper and got rested up; oh the good times we had singing songs, telling each other our experiences and expectations, and then we would kneel down and thank the Lord for his kindness and mercies unto us.”


On Independence Day, Charles R. Savage noted in his diary: “Grand celebration of the Fourth of July, firing of one rifle and a pistol. Traveled about six or seven miles and camped by the side of the Platte. Tremendously hot. Laid over for the remainder of the day. Dancing and singing in the evening.”


On July 21, several men traveled to Fort Laramie to purchase shoes and nails for their oxen; the cattle having developed sore feet from the rocky trail. But the men came back empty-handed because the prices were too high. A handcart company that had traveled near the wagon train since June ran out of flour near Fort Laramie and turned to the Brown company for help. They were given seventeen sacks of flour and other provisions. It was observed that there were many sick in the handcart company. Lydia Seamons (Crowther) wrote in her history: “They would have starved had it not been for our company’s helping them. My mother gave flour and bacon from our supplies.”


Charles R. Savage also noted that the handcart pioneers and others received help from the Brown company along the way.  Near the end of the journey, Savage recorded an incident when Brother Brown’s oxen was bitten by a rattlesnake and they treated it with a whiskey and tobacco poultice.

As the Brown company neared the mouth of Echo Canyon, it was debated as to which was the better way to enter the settlements.  Franklin favored following the Weber River to Ogden while others favored going down Parley’s Canyon to Salt Lake City.  On August 25, a meeting was held and Franklin Brown was released as captain.  He and others were free to travel to Ogden and the remainder of the company traveled to Salt Lake City and Provo.


Franklin and Lucinda took up land where the Union Pacific Depot now stands. They built a comfortable home of adobe at this site, one having two or three rooms.


Two more children were born to the family in Ogden. Benjamin Franklin was born September 16, 1861 and Orilla was born January 19, 1866. Franklin helped with the construction of the first railroad in that vicinity. The family was there when the first train came in and the puffing and roaring of the engine made the children run for their lives.  Benjamin Franklin, Jr. was present, as a lad of seven, for the driving of the Golden Spike at Corinne. Franklin followed the pattern set in his life in Michigan, combining railroading and shoemaking as his way of supporting his family. His and Lucinda’s relatives had settled at Farmington and they continued to get together, always having a good time singing and dancing. Franklin and his brother, Philander played the violin and provided the music for family get togethers as well as playing in the evening as they camped crossing the plains.


Franklin died of pneumonia on December 7, 1868 at the age of forty-five years. Franklin Brown was a good husband and father. He provided well for his family and taught his children the value of work. He had strong relationships with his relatives and enjoyed associating with them. Most of all, he was a faithful Latter-day Saint, who followed his dream to make a better life for his family and posterity. His wife, Lucinda, would later go with her children and other relatives on the Muddy Mission, and eventually moved to Loa, Wayne, Utah and is buried in the Loa Cemetery. Their children, Charles Albert, Benjamin Franklin and Orilla are also buried there. Lucy Adell Kimball is buried in the cemetery at Kanosh, Utah.


Benjamin Franklin Brown
Born:     22 Feb 1823, Rush, Monroe, New York
Died:      7 Dec 1868, Ogden, Weber, Utah
Parents: William Brown, Diantha Loveland
Spouse: Lucinda Leavitt
Married:  12 Feb 1848, Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan
Children:  Charles Albert Brown, B. 15 Aug 1850, Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan.
M. 28 Aug 1872, Pauline Grover, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut.
D. 7 Oct 1924, Loa, Wayne, Ut.
Barney Alfred Brown, B. and D. 1853, Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan.
Lucy Adell Brown, B. 15 Aug 1856, Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan.
M. 5 Jan. 1856, Abraham Alonzo Kimball, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut,
D. 27 Dec.1904, Kanosh, Millard, Ut.
Benjamin Franklin Brown, B. 17 Sept 1861. Ogden, Weber, Ut.
M. 12 Mar 1890, Phylotte Greene Pack, Logan, Cache, Ut.
D. 8 Nov 1911, Loa, Wayne, Ut.
Orilla Brown,                      B. 19 Jan 1866, Ogden, Weber, Ut.
M. 13 Jun 1894, Nicklas Longworth Sheffield, Kaysville, Davis, Ut.
D. 24 Nov 1935,Kanosh, Millard, Ut. Bur. Loa, Wayne, Ut.



Add to your Favorites