James Archibald Brownlee

An account of James Archibald Brownlee, a farmer in Mahoning County, born in Scotland on 4th February 1825 and died 18 June 1918 in Mahoning County.


James Archibald Brownlee was descended from John Brownlee, (1665-1747) the third Laird of Torfoot through his son Thomas (1694-1773) the fourth Laird.

James is an enterprising farmer whose tract of land of two hundred and thirty-five acres annually yields to him good returns. His property is the visible evidence of his life of thrift and industry, for all that he possesses has been acquired through his own labors, and he may well be called a self-made man. His home is situated in the northeastern part of Boardman township, Mahoning county, and in this portion of the state he has resided since his boyhood days. He was born in Scotland on the 4th of February, 1825, and his father, John Brownlee, was a freehold farmer who died in that country at the age of sixty years, passing away in 1832. The paternal grandfather of our subject came to America and locating first in Washington county, Pennsylvania, whence in 1812 he removed to Trumbull county, Ohio, and he now sleeps in the Mahoning churchyard, having passed away at an advanced age.  He reared a family of five or six sons. David Brownlee, an uncle of James A., came with the grandfather to America in 1830, but had previously visited this country in 1812.  He became the owner of four hundred and sixty acres of land in Poland and Coitsville township.

John Brownlee had disposed of his possession in Scotland preparatory to coming to the new world when his death occurred, and the widowed mother, carrying out the intentions of the husband and father, brought their children to America and established a home in Mahoning county. She bore the maiden name of Margaret Wilson, and by her marriage became the mother of five sons, all of whom came with her to the United States, were here married and reared families of their own, but James A. Brownlee is the only one now living. The mother’s death occurred in 1865, when she had reached the advanced age of eighty-one years.

James A. Brownlee was but seven years of age when he crossed the broad Atlantic, and in the schools of Mahoning county he acquired his education.  He was early taught to work, and industry and integrity have ever remained two of the strongest characteristics of his career. He was married on the 16th of March 1854, to Miss Rebecca Gilchrist, who was born in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, November 16, 1832, a daughter of James and Grace (McGraw) Gilchrist, who were natives of Scotland but were married after coming to this country. The father was a carpenter by trade and for some time engaged in contracting and building, but later turned his attention to farming in Coitsville township, where he settled in 1834.  He was twice married and had five daughter and one son by the first union, Mrs. Brownlee being of this number and the only one living. The father died in 1853 at the age of seventy-one years, and his wife died in 1876 at the age of eighty-four years. Mr. And Mrs. Brownlee have lost two children in infancy, and have five living sons and three daughters, namely: Mary, at home; James H.; Edwin, a practicing physician; John, at home; Irvin, who is engaged in the real estate business in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Ralph, who is with the American Bridge Company at Haselton; Ena, at home; and Grace, the wife of George W. Hunter, who is a member of the American Bridge Company and lives in Haselton.

Mr. Brownlee carries on general farming and has had a successful career as the result of his earnest labor and careful management.  He is the owner of a valuable property of two hundred and thirty-five acres and handle beef cattle, buying and selling for the home and other markets.  They make shipments to Pittsburg and Buffalo and are doing a good business. Mr. Brownlee has given his entire attention to his business interests, tur(n)ing aside very seldom to take part in other affairs. He served twice, however, as assessor of his township, and he is always found true to every trust reposed in him. In his political views he is a Republican, and his wife belongs to the Presbyterian church. Both are people who possess many sterling traits of character, and Mr. Brownlee has long been ranked among the reliable and successful business men of his community. In his life he has manifested many of the leading characteristics of the Scotch people, the perseverance, indefatigable industry and honesty, and these have commanded for him respect and admiration.

Genealogical and Family History of Eastern Ohio. New York, Lewis Pub. Co., 1903.
Page 160-161. Information supplied by Betty Rudolph.

More on James Archibald Brownlee from Betty Rudolph

James Archibald Brownlee, one of Boardman township’s most venerable and highly respected citizens, resides on his valuable farm of 172 acres and owns also 60 acres situated just across the highway, but in Poland township. Mr. Brownlee has been an American citizen for many years, but this is not the land of his birth, that having taken place on Turfoot (sic - Torfoot) Farm, near the village of Strethhaven (sic - Strathaven), 12 miles from the city of Glasgow, Scotland, February 4, 1825. 

His parents, John and Margaret (Wilson) Brownlee, were natives of Scotland, quiet, virtuous people whose main object in life became a wise provision for their five children. It was this desire that caused John Brownlee to make arrangements to follow the example of his two brothers, Alexander and David, who had emigrated to America previously, and who had both become possessed of valuable farms, Alexander owning 400 acres in Mahoning County, and David an equally large tract. Still another brother, William, had emigrated and settled in New York, as early as 1812, and subsequently become a minister in the Reformed Church.  In 1832, John Brownlee had about completed his arrangements to sail for America with his family, when he was stricken with and died before the time arrived.

The mother of James Brownlee was a woman of great resolution and of admirable character. When left a widow, with the future welfare of her children subject to her sole guidance, she resolved to carry out the plans of their late father and when the appointed time came, took passage with them on the sailing vessel which landed them all safely in the port of New York after a voyage of some eight weeks. By canal and lake they reached Ashtabula County, and, thence came in Wagons to Mahoning County, finally reaching the farm now owned by Mr. Brownlee, which had probably been selected by one of his uncles.  The land had been partially cleared and a six-room stone house was standing and thus immediate shelter was found. The surrounding country was better settled than in some other localities although considerable small game still remained. In spite of the many pioneer hardships to which Mrs. Brownlee was necessarily subjected, she lived a widow for thirty-three years after coming to American, dying on this farm in 1865 at the age of 84.  Her children were: Alexander, Thomas, William, David and James Archibald.

James Archibald Brownlee, the youngest member of the above family, is also its only survivor. He was but seven years of age when he accompanied his mother from his native land, but is able to recall many events of that long journey. He grew to manhood on the present farm and obtained his education in a little log school house which stood near his home. He remembers the rough slab benches and the big fireplace in which it was the duty of the boys to take turns in lighting a fire and also in procuring fuel from the nearby forest.  He grew up industrious and obedient to his mother, and remained on the farm with her after the other boys went out into the world to shift for themselves.

Note: James Archibald Brownlee died 18 June 1918 in Mahoning County, OHIO. On 16 March 1854 he married Rebecca Gilchrist. Their children were: Mary A., born 21 January 1855, died in December 1931; James H., born 1 April 1856, died 26 April 1945; Edwin Alexander born 18 September 1858, died 1915; John C. born 18 September 1859, died 8 February 1942; William born 24 Dec 1860; Eva; Ralph born 3 March 1872, died 29 March 1943; Grace; Irwin W. - Information supplied by Betty Rudolph.

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