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The road to the Sesquicentennial: The last will of the patriarch

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, back in the days 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, walked this earth, it wasn’t uncommon for parents to lose children at a young age.

As we mentioned last time, Joshua and Jeanette Brown had nine children between 1837 and 1851. All were still living when the Browns bought an additional 112 acres of property that adjoined his land from the Strange family in January of 1860 when Joshua was 52 years old.

As it would turn out, Joshua Brown only owned the land for about seven years, as he would end up passing away April 13, 1867 at the age of 59 years, 10 months and 27 days. He must have known he was dying, as he penned his will on April 8, 1867, less than a week before he passed away. April 8 of that year was a Monday, April 13 was on Saturday.

Joshua Brown wrote on that day, “In the name of the beloved Father of all, I, Joshua Brown of the county of Highland and the state of Ohio do make and publish this, my last will and testament.”

He listed five items, the first being, “I hereby will that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be fully paid,” the second, “I hereby will and bequeath to my beloved wife, Jeannette Brown, all my personal property of every description including moneys and credit to dispose of as she may think best, also the entire proceeds of all my real estate until the 29th day of December 1872 – she having entire control of the same until then. She upon her part to furnish or in lieu thereof pay to the following named heirs the following named articles or money, whichever she may choose any time between now and the 29th day of December 1872, to Joel H. Brown, James F. Brown, William E. Brown, Arminda J. Brown – each one cow, one bedstead and bedding or in lieu, to each fifty dollars. To Susan E. Brown, Amanda Brown, Mary Brown and John C. Brown each one horse saddle and bridle, one cow, one bedstead and bedding, or in lieu thereof to each two hundred dollars in money which will make my children all equal with the portion given to my daughter, Rachel E. Britton.”

In item three, he wrote, “I hereby will and empower my wife, Jeanette Brown, if her and my heirs think it best to their interest to sell all my real estate on the north side of the railroad together with a strip on the south side on the east line of my farm extending from the railroad to the pike, not more than ten, nor less than one acre of land, the proceeds of said realty if they should be needed to go to assist to pay up above named legacies, the balance of one third to my wife and he remainder divided equally between my nine children – Joel H. Brown, James F. Brown, William E. Brown, John C. Brown, Rachel E. Britton, Arminda J. Brown, Susan E. Brown, Amanda Brown and Mary Brown.” (Note: The land north of the railroad is the property that would lead to my parents’ Sesquicentennial Farm designation.)

In item four, he wrote, “I hereby will that on the 29th day of December 1872 my wife have her legal portion of my real estate and my nine children have the remainder of my real estate to be equally divided among them or their legal representative.”

In the fifth and final item he wrote, “I hereby appoint my beloved wife, Jeanette Brown, to be the sole executor of this my last will and testament hereby authorizing and empowering her to do all that may be necessary to carry the same into execution.”

He finished by writing, “In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 8th day of April A.D. 1867,” and signed his name, with Fredrick Roush and Gary Duckwall signing as witnesses.

Joshua Brown would die just five days later and was buried in the Hillsboro Cemetery. Three times in his will he mentioned the date, Dec. 19, 1872, and I often wonder why he chose that day for the aforementioned items, money and property to be divided, other than it was five years down the road.

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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