By: Jonesborough Genealogical Society   

As if the children and grandchildren of Jacob Brown of the Nolichuckey didn’t provide enough men named Jacob running around Washington County, in the early 1790s Jacob Brown (Braun) and several of his children and grandchildren (many named Jacob) came to Washington County from Rowan County, NC and settled in the Telford area. This Jacob was called “the wagonmaker” to distinguish him from the other Jacobs. This family was German in origin, the elder Jacob having been born in 1731 in Ruschberg, Germany. Their farm, now owned by Charlotte and John Howze, stayed in the Brown family until the 1940s. For further information on this family see the History of Washington County by the Watauga Association of Genealogists or The Ancestors and Descendants of Abraham (Braun) Brown, the Miller and Jacob (Braun) Brown, the Wagon Maker by John Fisher, Dorothy Brown Koller and Margaret Brown Anderson, both in the Jonesborough Library.

     The families of Jacob, wagonmaker, and Jacob of the Nolichuckey lived within a few miles of each other, so it wasn’t many generations before the lines became so tangled that few people knew which Jacob was the correct ancestor, and in many cases people are descended from both without realizing that there were two. The late Charles Bennett was the primary genealogist in getting them untangled.

     Less is known about yet another Jacob Brown who brought his family to the northeast part of Washington County near the Carter County line about 1805. He and his wife, Christina Ramey, whom he married in 1801 in the Shenadoah Valley of VA, had six children, one born after he died in 1811. This Jacob Brown family did not mix as much as the other two, but it did mean that Jacob Browns were all over the county-from South Central to Watauga.. Mr. Bennett stated that he had discovered thirteen men named Jacob Brown in Washington County in the early 1800s.

     As you can see, just knowing that you are a descendant of Jacob Brown (or whatever name your ancestor had) is not enough. In earlier times there were not movie and TV stars to name children after, so parents usually used family names – occasionally naming children for generals or presidents. Therefore, there were often several people of the same name, not only in the area but in other parts of the country. Often, one of the first mistakes a beginning family researcher makes is to think that finding someone with the correct name means that it is his/her ancestor. For example: finding a Thomas Gresham on a Pittsylvania County, VA 1765 Militia list is not proof that the Thomas Gresham who settled on Buffalo Ridge in 1775 came from Pittsylvania County, VA. Other proof must be found.

     The use of family names is not always a hindrance but can be a help to the family researcher. The first meeting of the new year for the Jonesborough Genealogical Society on September 15th will feature a program by William Gann of Independence, MO.. He will tell how he used family naming trends to find proof of the long suspected relationship between the Gann and Broyles families of Washington County. If you have been thinking about beginning a study of your family, be sure to start this new year by attending the first meeting and learning how to recognize valuable clues in the names of your ancestors used.