MAJOR ADAM MERCER BROWN up to his retirement in 1903, was one of the well known members of the Allegheny county
bar, practicing at Pittsburg [sic]. He was born in Butler county, Pennsylvania, son of Joseph and Mary (Marshall)
Brown, he being one of their six children. He descends from German ancestry through the following lineage:
(I) Adam Brown, the emigrant to this country, came from Germany prior to the Revolutionary war, settling at Big
Springs, Pennsylvania, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was one of the early day tillers of the soil,
and was a soldier in the Revolutionary war under Washington. He was a very devout member of the Presbyterian church.
Among his children was a son, named after him, who was the grandfather of the subject.
(II) Adam Brown, son of the American ancestor, Adam (I), was born in Germany, and came to Butler county, Pennsylvania,
during the last years of the eighteenth century according to an account found in the History of Butler County,
published in 1905. He settled in what was later known as Middlesex township, and owned some four hundred acres
of land in that neighborhood, and near the site of Brownsdale. There he cleared up a farm, which he highly improved.
He served as one of the early constables of his township. Politically he voted the Whig ticket and in his faith
adhered to that of the Presbyterian church. He was a man fairly educated, both in English and German; he wielded
considerable influence in his county and was esteemed by all the pioneers. He was buried in the old Presbyterian
cemetery in Middlesex township. He married Agnes Holmes, of Ireland, but who resided at the time of her marriage
in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. Both she and her husband died in the nineteenth century. The children born
to them were as follows: 1. John, who died on a portion of the old farm. 2. Adam. 3. Joseph, the subject's father.
Thomas R., who died in Pittsburg. 5. Elizabeth, who married James McCandless and died in Butler county. 6. Martha,
wife of Johnson White, who died in the same county. 7. Margaret, who married William White and died in Ohio.
(III) Joseph Brown, son of Adam (II) and Agnes (Holmes) Brown, was born, reared and died in Butler county, Pennsylvania.
He was born in i8oo and died about 1884, on the farm which had been in the Brown family from the first settlement
in the country. He erected a mill and carried on milling and operated an old fashioned distillery in conjunction
with his farming operations. His place was one of the best improved in all of that section of the state. He married
Mary Marshall, born 1798, and died in 1877. She was a native of Ireland, the daughter of James and Jane Marshall,
who came to the United States after their daughter had reached womanhood, and located in Butler county. James and
Jane Marshall were the parents of eight children, several of whom became prominent in business and professional
life. One son, James Marshall, was one of Pittsburg's most enterprising and well known business men. Another son,
Thomas M. Marshall, became one of Pennsylvania's brilliant attorneys, leaving a history behind him well worthy
of record. Samuel, another son, was judge in the court of common pleas in Butler county several years, while his
brother David was a well to do merchant of the same county. Joseph and Mary (Marshall) Brown were the parents of
six children, as follows: 1. Jane, wife of David Douthett, of Brownsdale, Butler county, Pennsylvania. 2. Adam
Mercer, the subject, of whom later. 3. Esther L., widow of General William Blakeley, a brigadier in the Civil war;
she resides in Butler county with her daughter. 4. William M. Brown, still living in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, formerly
a farmer and at one time sheriff of Butler county, Pennsylvania. 5. James, deceased. 6. Sarah B., wife of D. B.
Douthett, a former member of the Pennsylvania state legislature as a member of the house of representatives from
Butler county. He is now a resident of Wilkinsburg.
(IV) Major Adam M. Brown, son of Joseph (III) and Mary (Marshall) Brown, was born in Middlesex township, Butler
County, Pennsylvania, August 3, 1829. He attended the Butler Academy, and private training was given him in Pittsburg,
to which city he was sent to complete his education. His parents from the first had intended him to become a merchant,
but after finishing his education he was prevailed upon to take up the study of medicine, so he began reading under
Dr. A. G. McQuaide, of Butler, but some time later, however, through the advice of Thomas M. Marshall, he abandoned
his medical studies and took up law instead of medicine for his profession. He entered the office of Thomas M.
Marshall and in 1854 was admitted to the bar in the Pennsylvania. courts and became a law partner with Mr. Marshall,
continuing until 1865, when he severed his connection with him and opened an office for himself on Fifth avenue,
Pittsburg, where he was located up to his retirement in 1903. Early in life he became much interested in military
matters, and for several years was major of the Washington battalion of the Pennsylvania Guards.
Almost from the beginning of his professional career Mr. Brown interested himself in politics, being a staunch
defender of the general principles of the Republican party, although purely on principle, as.he never cared for
political preferment in the way of office holding. But few, if indeed any, have contributed more to the success
of the Republican cause in western Pennsylvania. He was a member of the select council of Pittsburg three years,
and was a delegate to the national convention which nominated President Lincoln in 1864, and Grant and Colfax in
1868. By his earnestness in those two great conventions - the one in the very darkest days of the Civil war and
the other juàt after it had closed - he acquired a reputation even throughout the nation. At the outbreak
of the war he devoted himself with all of his energies in aiding and maintaining the union; his efforts to encourage
enlistments and volunteers for the army from his section of the commonwealth were very marked. He was frequently
urged by his legion of admirers to become a candidate for congress, also for a place on the judiciary, both of
which he declined. In 1874. he was sought out for a candidate for mayor of Pittsburg, but declined the honors.
In 1873 he was one of the chief organizers of the Anchor Savings Bank of Pittsburg, of which he was made president.
He has also been a director in the Cash Insurance Company and the Odd Fellows Saving Bank. He achieved general
popularity on account of his conceded patriotism and public spirit, and enjoys the respect and full confidence
of all who have so long known him as friend and valuable citizen.
His legal practice has been nearly all in civil cases, but on important criminal actions he has appeared as counsel.
He has ever been able to hold the attention and command the respect of judge and jury, where on more than one occasion
he has achieved positive forensic triumphs. In a celebrated trial, in the case of James Nutt, charged with the
murder of Captain Dukes, in 1884, he defended, and by his extraordinary skill and eloquence combined he succeeded
in obtaining an acquittal.
Mr. Brown is a member of the United Presbyterian church, where he has for forty odd years served on the official
board. He is a man whose perception of the justice and propriety of things make him unbending to the wishes and
offers made by designing men. In 1902, after retiring from the legal practice, he was appointed by the governor
of Pennsylvania to the office of recorder of Pittsburg, so called by the provisional act of assembly, but really
to assume the office of mayor, which officer had been removed. Subsequently he was removed from said office by
the same governor, which removal resulted in a political revolution that swept from power the political organization
which had had absolute control of the city and county for over twenty five years.
Mr. Brown was married in 1854 to Lucetta Turney, daughter of Adam and Hannah (Weber) Turney, of Greensburg, Westmoreland
county, Pennsylvania. Her mother was a daughter of Rev. John William Weber, founder of the German Reformed United
Evangelical church, at the corner of Sixth avenue and Smithfield street, Pittsburg, the earliest church in the
city. Mr. Tumey was of Scotch Irish lineage. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are the parents of the following children, who
are living: Judge Marshall, of the court of common pleas of Allegheny county; John, an attorney, of Pittsburg [sic];
Thomas M., an attorney, of the same city; Sarah B., widow of Dr. Herron, residing at Pittsburg; Caroline, wife
of John H. Herron, of Pittsburg; William J., of Dalton, Pennsylvania.
John Dean Brown, youngest son of Adam M. Brown and wife, was born in Pittsburg [sic]. He finished his education
at Harvard University and was admitted to the bar in 1889, since which time he has been in constant practice in
Pittsburg. Politically Mr. Brown is a supporter of the Republican party and in religious faith a United Presbyterian.
He was united in marriage June 2, 1898, to Helen Dorothy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Otis Shepard. By this union
the issue is Dorothy Westlake Brown, born June 26, 1900.
A Century and a half of
Pittsburg and her people.
By: John Newton Boucher
The Lewis Publishing Company
Allegheny County Pennsylvania Biographies
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