Virginia Born – Idaho Bound… with a stop, or two, along the way

May 15, 2016 0 Comments

James William Brown and Martha Jane Carper

A bit of background on the Brown lines.  There are two different Brown lines in my family and both have ties to the Clearwater Valley.  In an attempt to avoid confusion I will categorize this and future posts as either West Virginia Brown, or Pennsylvania Brown.  James William and Martha Jane (Carper) Brown are part of the West Virginia Brown line.

The Twice-Weekly Spokesman Review - December 9, 1910 l-r: Martha J. (Carper) Brown, Guy O. Brown, Donald Brown, Samuel L. Brown
The Twice-Weekly Spokesman Review – December 9, 1910
l-r: Martha J. (Carper) Brown, Guy O. Brown, Donald Brown, Samuel L. Brown

James William Brown

James William Brown was born in Eastern Virginia in 1828, it is not known who his parents were and there is conflicting information as to his birth date.  His headstone reads 1828 and census records state several different ages.  It is impossible to know for sure where and when J. William was born, birth certificates didn’t exist at the time of his birth, for Virginia.

Martha Jane Carper

Martha Jane Carper was born September 21, 1834 in Washington County, Maryland to Samuel and Margaret “Peggy” (Hite) Carper. Martha was the great-granddaughter of  Frederick Carper, who served in the Revolutionary War (DAR Ancestor # A019557).


James William Brown and Martha Jane Carper were married on October 23, 1849, in Berkeley County Virginia, which is now West Virginia.  The service was performed by a minister by the name of W. Love.  One of the marriage records shows James William Brown and the other simply states William Brown.

J. William and Martha set up housekeeping with Martha’s parents Samuel and Margaret “Peggy” (Hite) Carper.  The 1850 census shows they were living is District  9, Berkeley County, with Martha’s parents and their young son Joseph.  Joseph being the first of 13 children born to J. William and Martha, three of those children being born in Berkeley County.

J. William, Martha, Samuel and Peggy Carper, along with their families relocated to Henry County Iowa, in 1855.  According to an account by Samuel L. Brown the families settled near Merrimac, which is in Jefferson County, Iowa.  The 1860 census shows the family living in Trenton Township, Henry County and Martha’s parents living close by.   The families would settle here for the next 25 years and J. William and Martha would have ten more children, three of whom died very young and are buried at Green Mound Cemetery.  The three oldest children, Joseph, Hannah and Samuel would grow to adulthood in Henry County and marry there.  Joseph married Elizabeth Moorehead, Hannah married Ephraim Ross and Samuel would marry Lucy E. Ives.  Both Joseph and Hannah spent the rest of their lives in Iowa but Samuel, with his young wife in tow, would continue Westward to the Almota country, in the Washington Territory.

Samuel and Lucy

According to Samuel, the young couple were encouraged to come West by Lucy’s uncle, Johnny Young.  Samuel and Lucy began the journey West in May of 1881, via the Emigrant Train.  In those days the rail lines did not run into the Washington Territory and Samuel and Lucy traveled to San Francisco by train and continued their journey by ocean steamer to the Columbia River and finished it by River Boat on the Snake River.  Samuel and Lucy arrived at their destination sometime in June of 1881, settling on a quarter section of land near Lucy’s uncle.

J. William and Martha Come West

By 1881, Martha’s parents had passed away, J. William and Martha, with eight of their children, soon joined Samuel and Lucy in the Palouse area.  J. William and Martha settled in Leland, on the Big Potlatch, for a time but eventually settled near Southwick, Idaho. This transition must have happened quickly, due to the fact that J. William would die in June of 1882, giving him the distinction of being the first white settler buried in the region.  His death left Martha a widow, with four children under the age of eighteen.  Martha would live another 37 years, dying in July of 1919, at the home of her son George.

There were eight children who came West in 1881 and of those eight; three remained in the Clearwater Valley all of their lives.  These three all married and had large families of their own, including my GG grandfather William Luther Brown.  This accounts for the large number of descendants, many of them still living within close proximity to where their ancestors originally settled the area.

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