Brown was born in the eastern portion of Charles City County sometime between 1767 and 1774, the son of Abram Brown and Sarah Brown. The family had been free for at least two generations before Brown's birth. Brown's paternal grandmother, identified in local records as being of mixed racial background, bound out his father and two uncles as apprentices during the 1740s. By 1769 Brown's father had purchased two farms containing a total of 273 acres. The elder Abram Brown acquired additional land and at least three slaves, and as a respectable property owner he joined a large number of county residents in signing a petition to the General Assembly in 1780.
Following his father's death about 1790, Abram Brown inherited 130 acres, on which he raised wheat and corn and enjoyed a comfortable existence rare for African Americans in Virginia during the early republic. By the time of his death he had acquired books, silver spoons, a brass candleholder and snuffers, a mantle clock, and a considerable quantity of household kitchen furniture. One of the wealthiest men in Charles City County's black community, Brown was paying taxes on a gig, or pleasure carriage, by 1828.
Comparatively little is known about the family and personal life of Abram Brown, but he was a central figure in the history of a family that was for generations before and after Emancipation a pillar of one of the state's largest, most prosperous, and most stable black communities. Brown wrote his will on April 12, 1836, and died sometime in August 1840. He was "decently and plainly interred" as specified in his will, probably at his home or in the graveyard of Elam Baptist Church in Charles City County.
1767–1774 - Sometime between these dates Abram Brown is born in eastern Charles City County.
1769 - By this year the elder Abram Brown has purchased two farms in Charles City County containing a total of 273 acres.
ca. 1790 - Abram Brown inherits 130 acres in Charles City County after his father's death.
1809 or 1810 - Abram Brown joins the First Baptist Church in Petersburg.
1813 - By this date the Baptist Church in Charles City County, founded in part by Abram Brown, comes to be known as Elam Baptist Church.
November 20, 1818 - Abram Brown deeds to Elam Baptist Church the small tract of land on which its meetinghouse stands.
1819 - Abram Brown serves on a biracial committee that visits and reports on conditions at Hanover Baptist Church.
April 12, 1836 - Abram Brown writes his will.
August 1840 - Abram Brown dies and is buried either at his home or in the graveyard of Elam Baptist Church in Charles City County.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Coski, J. M., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Abram Brown (d. 1840). (2017, October 9). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Brown_Abram_d_1840.
- MLA Citation:
Coski, John M. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Abram Brown (d. 1840)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 9 Oct. 2017. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: January 6, 2017 | Last modified: October 9, 2017