Ladies and gentlemen, when we paused last time along the road to the Brown-Roush Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm owned by my parents, Ken and Judy Roush of Highland County, it was the summer of 1889 and Marion Britton was on trial for the murder of his brother-in-law, John C. Brown.

But before the Britton trial continues, let’s pause for a moment to take a look at the last will and testament of John Brown, who died Aug. 21, 1888 at the age of 36 after being shot twice at the Parker House Hotel in uptown Hillsboro on Aug. 4.

The second shot which struck Brown’s neck passed through the vertebra, entirely severing the spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed, though he was “rational up to the last moments of his life.”

On Aug. 6, his will was penned, beginning with, “In the name of the benevolent Father of all, I, John C. Brown of Highland County, Ohio, being sorely wounded and uncertain of recovery from said wounds but still retaining full possession of all my mental faculties, do publish this my last will and testament.”

In the first item, Brown said he would “give and bequeath to Paul C. Fisher the sum of three hundred dollars which I direct shall be paid him by my executrix hereinafter named out of the first monies arising from the settlement of my estate.”

When I read that, I would speculate that Paul Fisher was most likely a hired hand who helped out at the Brown family farm, and my dad told me he remembered hearing about a Paul Fisher from his grandfather who was a farmhand.

John Brown’s will, which was rather simple, continued with Item 2: “All the rest and remainder of my personal and real estate of all kinds whatsoever I will and bequeath to my beloved sister, Mary M. Brown and to her and hers forever.”

In Item 3, John Brown said, “I do hereby nominate and appoint my said sister, Mary. M. Brown, as executrix of this my last will and testament hereby directed her to see that first after the payment of the legacy to Paul C. Fisher all my just debts shall be paid out of my said estate.

“I desire that no appraisement and no sale of my personal property to be made unless deemed best by my executrix and that the Probate Court direct the omission of the same in pursuance of the statute. I desire that my executrix be not required to give bond for the performance of her said trust.

“In testimony here of I being paralyzed by my wounds and hence unable to write do since and seal hereto by the hand of Ulric Sloane whom I authorize to sign and seal for me this sixth day of August, AD 1888. John C. Brown”

One of the witnesses of the will was my great-great-great uncle, Dr. Sigel Roush.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at