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The road to the Sesquicentennial: The Browns arrive in Highland County

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, Joshua Brown, the patriarch of the Brown-Roush Ohio Sesquicentennial Farm owned by Ken and Judy Roush of Highland County, was born May 6, 1807 and is my great-great-great-grandfather.

Joshua’s father was Joel Brown, who was born on July 13, 1768 in Chester Township, Pa. He married Rachel Inskeep, who was born March 14, 1768 in Burlington, New Jersey, on Dec. 10, 1794. They had another son, Elgar Brown, in 1797.

Elgar was most likely named Elgar because Joel Brown’s mother’s name was Susannah Elgar, who is my fifth-great-grandmother if you’re keeping score. Susannah was born in 1715 in Nottingham, Pa. She married Daniel Brown (1708-1791) on Sept. 11, 1736.

Daniel and Susannah had four children before she passed away March 6, 1751 at the age of 36.

But let’s get back to Joel and Rachel Inskeep Brown. According to the 1890 book, “A History of the Early Settlement of Highland County, Ohio” by Daniel Scott, Joel and Rachel left Culpepper County, Va. in the fall of 1801 and arrived at their land on the Rocky Fork in Highland County “in good season for making all the preparations for passing the winter.”

Scott and Highland County historian Elsie Johnson Ayres agreed that the Browns were the first permanent settlers in that area.

In her book, “Highland County Pioneer Sketches & Family Genealogies,” Ayres wrote, “The Browns built their cabin on the brow of a hill, on the north bank of Rocky Fork. Joel Brown spent a lot of time improving his land; he planted an extensive apple orchard and produced some of the first cider in the county.

“He was an excellent hunter, who shot a deer on the courthouse square in February 1808. He hung it on a beech tree that stood on the northeast corner of the square, so those who needed meat could partake of it. The weather was so cold that year that most of the small animals were frozen and only a few of the larger ones rarely ventured out.”

(Let’s hope we don’t have a winter like that this year.)

In 1801, Scott wrote that Joel Brown “erected his cabin on the face of the hill north of the creek, near where he afterward established his permanent residence.

Mr. Brown was the pioneer settler on that portion of the creek, none having gone higher up than where the West Union road now crosses.

He was a member of the Society of Friends, and during his long life was highly esteemed by his neighbors. He planted an apple orchard and cultivated good apples, of which he made cider, perhaps the first of that wholesome beverage made in the county. Mr. Brown has been dead many years and his quaint-looking, but pleasantly situated homestead, has long since passed out of the hands of the family and fallen into ruins.”

Rachel Inskeep Brown died Aug. 12, 1842 at the age of 74, and Joel Brown died May 11, 1845 at the age of 76. They’re buried in the Friends Meeting House Cemetery east of Hillsboro.

If you don’t know where that cemetery is located, I didn’t either, but I found it this spring. It’s located off of Worley Mill Road and is also known at the Old Stringtown Cemetery, Friends Cemetery, Lower Fall Creek Cemetery, Lower Quaker Cemetery, and Orthodox Cemetery.

I found Rachel’s monument leaning against a tree, but my fourth-great-grandfather’s monument was nowhere to be found. In fact, most of the grave markers in that little cemetery have fallen and weathered, and many have disappeared over the years.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time with more on the sons of Joel and Rachel Inskeep Brown.

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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