From Northern Alabama Historical
and Biographical by Smith & DeLand
Chicago: Donohue &
Henneberry, Printers and Binders, 1888
JERMIAH H. BROWN, son of
an English father and English mother, was born in Darlington District,
S. C., in 1800. His father Samuel Brown , was a minister in the Baptist
Church , and a man of great wealth.
J. H. Brown graduated at
South Carolina College in 1823 with the highest honors, and soon after
studied law and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced the profession
because it had no attraction for him, and the management of his interests
on his plantations occupied his entire time. At the time of his graduation
he found himself ready to start in life with more than sixty field hands
and a very large tract of land.
He was married in 1834 to
Miss Julia, daughter of Robert Hines , and in the following year came to
Alabama, brought his slaves with him, and settled near Sumterville. In
his treatment of his slaves, he is said to have been very kind and indulgent.
He gave them every Saturday the entire day for their own, and furnished
them with good churches and white preachers on Sunday, and saw that they
had a reasonable amount of instruction and religious training. His business
increased until he found himself the master of more than a thousand slaves,
and a plantation of more than eight thousand acres in the most fertile
portion of Alabama. He was a Baptist, and more devoted to his Church than
people ordinarily are, and his enormous wealth gave him opportunity for
doing a great deal of good. For many years he donated $15,000 every year
to the missionary cause. He furnished the means to educate forty young
men in Howard College for ministry in his Church. In 1855 he endowed the
Brown Theological Chair in Howard College with $25,000; and the treatment
of the poor of his neighborhood was in a similar degree of beneficence.
In the Baptist Encyclopedia of 1881, he is called a "princely planter,
an intelligent and cultivated gentleman of vast influence, and liberal
with his money."
Probably no man in Alabama
ever did so much good with money as he. During the war he furnished the
means to equip and provide for, perhaps, more than a regiment of soldiers,
and after the emancipation, so great was his affection of his slaves, that
many of them declared that they had no desire for freedom, but preferred
to remain in his service.
Mr. Brown died at the house
of his daughter, Mrs. H. S. Lide, February 10, 1868. He left two sons and
one daughter, all of whom are now living. Laura, the elder child, was married
in 1853, to Col. H. S. Lide, a successful farmer and aide- de-camp to Governor
Shorter during the war, but he resigned that position and took one of more
active service in the army. He died in 1879. His widow was married October
5, 1880, to Dr. James G. Forster, of Livingston, where they now reside.
She had five children by the first marriage, of whom three are sons and
two are daughters. Mrs. Forster is a stanch Baptist.
Dr. Forster was born in
Clarke County, Ala., in 1826. He merchandized in his younger days, studied
medicine and graduated at the University of Louisiana at New Orleans in
1856, and has practiced medicine ever since. The Doctor was married in
1847 to Miss Eliza M. Gilmore, and had five children by that marriage,
two sons and three daughters, one of whom is dead. One of the three daughters
is married to Samuel Ruffin, Jr.; one son W. C. Forster, is practicing
medicine in Birmingham, and James M., the youngest, is with a commercial
house in Meridian. Dr. Forster is a Methodist and a Mason.