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The road to the Sesquicentennial: Another tragic death

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, when we paused in the summer of 1889 on the long and winding road to the Brown-Roush Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm owned by my parents, Ken and Judy Roush of Highland County, Marion DeCalb Britton was convicted of fatally shooting his brother-in-law John Brown at the Parker House Hotel a year earlier, but the judge tossed the verdict and ordered a new trial upon the ground of juror misconduct.

The case was reassigned for a hearing, and an effort was made to impanel a jury. During this process, a motion for a change of venue was made by the defense.

That motion was sustained, and the case was sent to the Ross County Court of Common Pleas for trial. However, it would be more than three years before the Britton case would come up for a hearing in Chillicothe.

But back in 1889, one Brown who was most likely in the courtroom for the first Marion Britton trial would not get a chance to see the next one.

Which one, you ask? It’s sad to say, but the family matriarch and the mother of John Brown, Jeannette Brown. And like John Brown, his mother didn’t meet a pleasant end.

Jeannette Brown, my great-great-great-grandmother, was 74 years old when she died in the home the Browns built, the same home where I grew up. I’ve been told that roughly a dozen days into November of 1889, she was most likely tending to a fire in a fireplace in the parlor, which today is my folks’ dining room, when her clothing caught on fire. She died less than a day later.

Her obituary appeared in the local newspaper on Nov. 21, the newspaper owned and operated by her son-in-law, George Washington Barrere: Mrs. Jeanette Inskeep Brown was born in Brown County, Ohio, January 5th, 1815, and died at her home November 12th, 1889. She was married to Joshua Brown, March 10th, 1839. He died in 1867. Of their nine children, all living at the death of Mr. Brown, five survive their mother – Wm. and James Brown, Mrs. G.W. Barrere, Mrs. W.T. Roush and Miss Mary Brown.

Mrs. Brown was a woman of native force of character. Her judgment was clear and her insight acute. As the wise woman of Scripture, she “looked well to the ways of her household,” and their large family was raised in thrift and competence. The home was known to the “stranger in the gate,” and a generous hospitality was extended to a large circle of friends.

Mrs. Brown was a consistent member of the M.E. Church for 40 years. Until age, with its limitation was upon her, her feet were familiar with the courts of Zion, and her home afforded a pleasant rest to the weary itinerant. Her mother-heart was largely bound up in her children, and the death of those who preceded her a severe trial; but the tragic fate of her youngest son, John, in August 1888, precipitated the feeble condition that made her the easy prey of one of death’s most painful emissaries.

Despite the tender care and constant watchfulness of her daughters, on Monday evening, November 11th, her clothing ignited, and although help was immediate, she survived the accident but 22 hours.

Thus passes away another of the older citizens whose knowledge of the early settlers of the county and its history will remain in but meager record. The battle fought, the victory won, they rest.

She was buried in the Hillsboro Cemetery beside her husband, Joshua, and her son, Joel, and just a few feet away from her youngest son, John.

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

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