The Browns of Brown's Mill
by Dr. David Evans
Real estate records show that on October 2, 1838, Robery Y. Brown purchased land lots 76, 85, 108, and 109 (810 acres) in the Second District of Coweta County for $1,700. This price included a saw mill that had been established at least 2 years earlier on the banks of Sandy Creek.
A year later, in 1839, Brown married Margaret A. Russell. He bacame one of the first members of Coweta Lodge Number 60 of the Masonic Order and continued to acquire land and property. By 1861, he had 1,112 acres of alnd and 29 slaves. With property and real estate valued at $33,750, he was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in Coweta County. Beginning in 1841, he served several terms as judge of the Inferior Court.
The Brown house stood on Land Lot 108, at the northwest corner of the present-day intersection of Old Corinth and Earl North Roads. The house no longer stands, but a well-defined road that led from the house to the mill is still plainly visible. There is reason to believe that a column of Union cavalry, led by Brigadier General Edward M. McCook, passed the house shortly before noon on July 30, 1864. The Browns may have been in mourning at that time, bacause the second-youngest son, 17-year-old George, had passed away on July 27th. George was old enough to be serving with the Georgia militia, so there is some question if he died at home or while serving with the Confederate army in the trenches around Atlanta.
Shortly afterward, McCook's column blundered into an ambush laid by Confederage Major General Joseph Wheeler. After 5 hours of sharp fighting just northwest of Brown's Mill, most of the Yankee column fled toward the Chattahoochee River, but not before Wheeler had captured upwards of 1000 prisoners, two pieces of artillery, and 11 ambulances.
The summer of 1864 was a season of tragedy for the Browns. A daughter, 12 year old Mary Elizabeth, died on September 7. Five days later, her mother, Margaret Ann Brown, passed away on September 12. Robery Y. Brown survived the war and all its upheaval and died on November 3, 1872. His property was divided between his children, with Erasmus Y. Brown acquiring a third interest in the mill, which by now was a combination saw mill and grist mill.
A spring flood severly damaged the mill in March of 1882, and the following August Erasmus Brown put his interest in the mill and 500 adjoining acres up for sale. Apparently, there were no takers, and in April of 1883 another flood breached the mill dam. In the face of these hardships, on November 11, 1884, Erasmus announced in the Newnan Herald, "I desire to move West." He put 600 acres, his interest in the mill, and his house and lot in Newnan up for sale, adding, "I will also sell, on the first Tuesday in December, seven good young mules, one good young horse, two wagons, two buggies, farming implements and household and kitchen furniture, at public outcry before the Court House door in Newnan."
Apparently, the sale proceeded as planned, and on December 23, 1884, the editor of the Newnan Herald noted, "Mr. E. Y. Brown left this morning with his family en-route to Texas. We hope they will have a pleasant trip."
Pleasant or not, the trip proved to be of short duration. Two weeks later, on January 6, 1885, the Herald reported, "Mr. E. Y. Brown and family returned from Texas last Saturday. From the early return, we judge they were not very well pleased with that country. At any rate, we welcome them home."
This proved to be the beginning of a pattern that would span the next several years. On December 1, 1885, the Herald noted, "Mr. E. Y. Brown left Thursday with his family for Bell County, Texas. He purchased a farm ther on the previous trip. We regret to lose such valuable citizens from our county."
But less than two weeks later, the Browns were back. "Mr. E. Y. Brown returned with his family from Texas yesterday," the Herald reported, "after an absence of twelve days. He sold his land out there at a good profit and has come back here to stay."
That might have been their intent at the time, but within three years the peripatetic Browns were on the move again. "Mr. E. Y. Brown and family left last week for Ennis, Texas," noted the editor of the Herald, "where they will reside in (the) future. We regret to lose this excellent family from our midst, and hope they may yet find it to their interest to return to old Georgia and abide with us permanently."
Apparently the editor got his wish, because two weeks later, on June 1, 1888, the Herald reported, "Mr. E. Y. Brown and family arrived last Saturday morning and from now on may be considered permanent residents of Newnan. Thkey have been accorded a warm welcome by their many friends."
Summer passed, and then the fall rains came, perhaps blown in by a hurricane. During the first week of September, the freshet completely destroyed Brown's Mill, now owned by I. J. Jackson.
At some point, after many abortive attempts, Erasmus Brown and his family finally pulled up roots and did move to Texas, but by that time the Herald took no notice of their departure. On November 14, 1890, the paper did report, "Mrs. E. Y. Brown, of Ennis, Texas, has been visiting relatives and friends in this vicinity for two or three weeks past. She is stopping at present with the family of Col. P. S. Whatley, on Greenville Street."
However, old hapits die hard, and this same issue of the Herald also noted, "It is understood that Mr. E. Y. Brown, who removed from Newnan to Ennis, Texas, something over a year ago, has disposed of his property there and may return to Georgia. He would be most cordially welcomed."