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Special Collections: Guide to Brown Family Letters

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves

Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department

December 2003

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: Brown Family Letters.
Dates of the Collection: 1860-1997 (inclusive); 1860-1874 (bulk).
Provenance: The Brown family letters came to the Special Collections Department, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine, as a gift from Roderick Bunnell in 1998(?).
Collection Number: MS 75.
Box Numbers: 1 (formerly Cage Box 75).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of 1 archival document box (6 folders).
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders.
Preferred Citation: Brown Family Letters, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval. Users considering publication should consult the foreword to the document “The Linneus Letters” in the collection for restrictions by the donor.


The collection contains personal correspondence of members of the Brown family, who lived in Burton, New Brunswick and Linneus, Maine in the last half of the 19th century.  According to family tradition, the land in New Brunswick had been granted to Zachariah Barnard Brown, born in England and sent to America to fight in the American Revolution.  This collection centers primarily on seven Brown brothers:  Josiah S., Henry P., Joshua C., David A., William C., John S., and Zachariah B. Brown.  Letters of Josiah and Zachariah are best represented in the papers.  The family seems to have moved frequently between northern Maine and New Brunswick, perhaps to avail themselves of changing economic opportunities in each place.

Josiah S. Brown was born March 6, 1845, at Burton, New Brunswick and came to Maine in 1854. In 1861, he enlisted in the 7th Regiment, Maine Volunteer Militia, at Houlton, Maine. He served in Virginia and as a recruiter in Maine and was mustered out in June, 1865. After the Civil War he left for the West and by 1874 had re-joined the Army and was serving as Quartermaster Sergeant at Fort Walla Walla, Washington Territory. He later left the Army and settled in Spokane County and then Lewis County in western Washington. He served in the Washington Constitutional Convention in 1887 and in the Washington House of Representatives in 1915.

Zachariah B. Brown was born February 26, 1850, in Oramuzto, New Brunswick. He worked for a while as a logger in Maine until he too moved to the West. He lived first in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California where he was a constable. In 1880 he moved to Washington Territory, settling in Pacific County, where he served for a total of 18 years as deputy sheriff, county sheriff, assessor, and county clerk. He died in May, 1941. The other five brothers remained in the East, working as loggers and farmers.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains 47 letters from members of the Brown family written primarily between 1860 and 1875. The letters are arranged chronologically. Most were written by Josiah S. Brown and Zachariah B. Brown, Jr. to their father and their five brothers in Burton, New Brunswick. Several of Josiah’s letters describe his experiences in the Civil War, his reaction to the death of Abraham Lincoln, and his migration to the West after being mustered out of the Army. Information assembled by family members about his military record is also included. The letters from Zachariah touch on his life in a logging camp and his work in the woods; he often mentions how much he is being paid. He too sent letters home after his arrival in the West. The letters from the other brothers also talk of their work in the woods, especially in Linneus, Maine, as well as family matters.

Included with the letters is a document assembled in 1997 by Roderick Bunnell, a grandson of Zachariah Brown. Entitled “The Linneus letters: correspondence between members of the Zachariah Barnard Brown family of Burton, Sunbury County, New Brunswick, 1860-1932,” it contains a detailed list of the letters, as well as a transcription and photocopy of each. Additional information about the family has been added by Mr. Bunnell.

Box List

Box 1


1                      Letters 1-12, 1860-1862

2                      Letters 13-24, 1862-1868

3                      Letters 25-38, 1868-1869

4                      Letters 39-48, 1869-1932

5-6                   The Linneus letters, assembled by Roderick Bunnell, 1997

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/17/2015
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