The tombstones of Marion and Susannah Britton.
The tombstones of Marion and Susannah Britton.
Ladies and gentlemen, when my great-great-great-grandfather Joshua Brown, the patriarch of the Brown-Roush Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm owned by Ken and Judy Roush of Highland County, passed away in 1867 at the age of 59, it was noted that his eight children were still living at the time of his death.

His wife, Jeannette Inskeep Brown, wouldn’t be so lucky.

Well, lucky might not be the right word, since she lived well past the 59 years her husband lived, but she’d witness the passing of half her children in less than a 10-year span.

As we detailed earlier, her oldest son, Joel, died on Christmas Eve 1880 at the Athens Asylum after being deemed by the Highland County court to be insane a month or two earlier. He was just 40 years old.

A Civil War veteran, and considering he was eulogized as a “prominent citizen of Paint Township,” who died of “some brain disease,” one can only wonder if maybe he had some sort of PTSD due to his time in the war.

A few years later, Jeannette Brown saw two of her daughters pass away.

Her oldest daughter, Rachel, was born April 29, 1837 and married Jonah Britton on Dec. 9, 1855. Jonah, a farmer by trade, was born nearly a decade earlier than Rachel on Dec. 15, 1827. Jonah and Rachel had 11 children in 24 years.

Rachel would pass away Nov. 11, 1885 at the age of 48 and is buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery off of Mad River Road. Jonah went on to marry Annie C. Kibler Britton, who was born in 1857 and died in 1946 at the age of 89. Annie was the daughter of Henry and Nancy Jane Sparks Kibler of Taylorsville. Jonah, the son of Jonah and Martha Jane Locke Britton, lived to be 86 and died July 22, 1914.

Rachel’s sister, Susannah Elizabeth “Betty” Brown, was born March 21, 1844 and married Civil War veteran and farmer Marion DeCalb Britton, the brother of Jonah Britton, on Aug. 26, 1868 in Highland County. Marion was born March 3, 1845.

They had eight children together, but after giving birth to her eighth child, Bettie Bea Britton, on Nov. 5, 1886, Susannah died Nov. 13, 1886 at the age of 42 and was buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery.

Roughly a year after Susannah died, Marion Britton became engaged to the youngest Brown daughter, Mary, but Mary broke off the engagement in 1888 after the youngest Brown brother, John, and Marion developed a bitter feud.

According to the book “Lynchburg, Ohio: A Large Story About a Small Town,” written by Hugh Isma Troth, the great-grandson of Marion Britton and Susannah E. “Betty” Brown Britton, John Brown “objected strenuously to the marriage between Britton and his second sister. He made accusations against Britton, to his face and to others, saying Britton had killed his first wife by working her to death.”

According to Troth’s book, John Brown, a young bachelor who ran the Brown family farm, talked long and loudly against his “hated brother-in-law” and even filed an affidavit of lunacy against Britton. The case was reportedly heard, and Britton was found to be sane.

“This added to the ill-feeling between the two men,” Troth wrote.

On that note, 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 roush_steve@msn.com.