BROWN THURSTON was born on a farm one mile east of Winthrop Village, Me., October
6, 1814. He was a son of Rev. David Thurston, for more than forty years pastor of the Congregational Church in
Winthrop. His mother was Prudence Brown, sister to Pres. Francis Brown of Dartmouth College. His education was
limited to the district schools of those days and such instruction as he gained at home, where his father took
students to prepare for college and to instruct in theology for the ministry.
From the age of seven to fifteen his health was not good, and he lived a year in Bucksport with his aunt, Mrs.
Blodget, and spent a season in coasting from Bangor and Searsport to Boston; lived a year with Deacon Eaton on
Harpswell Neck and a year in the family of Doctor Hubbard of Winthrop.
Having regained his health, in the spring of 1831 he went to Lowell, Mass., starting on runners and ending on wheels,
after three long days' travel. Here he served an apprenticeship at the printing business in the Observer office,
a new Congregational paper, Allen & Shattuck, proprietors. From Lowell he went to New York, and worked, as
opportunity offered, about six months, when, lured by large promises, he shipped for a whaling voyage, to sail
from Nantucket in the ship Statira, Captain Cannon. He visited the Azores and Cape Verd Islands in the Atlantic,
sailed around Cape Horn, stopping at Valparaiso, Callao, Atacames in South America, and many of the Society, Friendly,
and other Islands in the Pacific Ocean, arriving home after a voyage of just four years, having been promoted to
boat-steerer for nearly half the voyage, and was paid off with $62.25.
The sea did not suit his tastes, and though offered the position of mate of a large ship to go again, he declined.
He then returned to the printing-office and worked in Brunswick, Hallowell, and Bangor as journeyman till 1840,
when he went to Boston, purchased an outfit for a small paper and job office, shipped it on board a sloop, sailed
up the Kennebec River May 1, 1840, in a snow storm, and established himself in business in Augusta. In November,
1841, he removed to Portland, where he has since lived.
Mr. Thurston has carried on the printing business in Portland for more than half a century Beginning in a small
way, his business has constantly grown until now he has one of the largest, if not the largest, and bestequipped
printing establishments in the State. His office has an enviable reputation for turning out artistic work, while
its great facilities enable him to execute with promptness every and any kind of printing, however large the order.
During the fifty years he has been in active business he has had a partner about ten years. The business is now
under the name of the Brown Thurston Company, Mr. Thurston and his sons being the stockholders.
During his long business career he has printed many papers and books for various publishers, among the former being
the Anti-Slavery Standard, edited by that enthusiastic Abolitionist, Rev. A. Willey, and among the latter being
Willis' History of Portland, many volumes of the Maine Historical Society's Collections, etc. He has published
the Portland Directory since 1844, ten volumes of the York Deeds, History of Anti-Slavery, History of Norway, Me.,
Abbott's History of Maine Revised and Enlarged by E. H. Elwell, and other works. He introduced the first power
press into a job office in Maine, and was the first to establish a stereotype foundry, electrotyping, and wood
engraving in Portland. He stereotyped Town's full series of school books, Rev. Edward Payson's works in three volumes,
a Pearl Bible, and many other books.
In the literary world Mr. Thurston has not been an idler. He has been a frequent contributor to the various papers
that he has printed, especially during the anti-slavery times when he was printing the Standard. In his later years
he has devoted considerable time to the compilation of the Genealogy of the Thurston Family, for which work he
has a natural taste and talent. This book was pritited in 1880, and included the period from 1635 to that date.
In 1892 a second edition was published, containing much new matter. He was one of the originators of the Maine
Press Association, and has been its county historian for many years.
Mr. Thurston was very prominent in the anti-slavery movement. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law he was
one of the leaders in his city in helping fugitive slaves to escape by the "under-ground railway." On
one memorable occasion he had thirty slaves here at one time to help on their way to Canada, either by the Grand
Trunk or by coasting vessels. The necessary funds for their passage and maintenance were easily obtained, though
many of the donors did not wish their names to be known.
He was in the City Council in 1863-4, and is an active and valuable member of the Maine Historical Society, the
Genealogical Society, the Sons of Temperance, the Rechabites, the Young Men's Chistian Association, the Mechanics'
Association, and many other societies. Mr. Thurston became a member of the High Street Congregational Church, Portland,
in 1842, and has been a Deacon since 1856.
It would be difficult indeed to say too much in favor of Mr. Thurston, who is recognized, wherever known, as an
honest man. His life has been singularly pure and upright, and in all his varied relations he has ever maintained
an honorable and most commendable course. He has a gentle, kindly and lovable nature, which has endeared him to
all with whom he has had to deal and won him hosts of warm friends. In his declining years he can look back with
just pride over a long and useful life, well filled with good deeds and kindly acts, and with the assurance that
he has the respect and esteem of the community in which he has lived for more than fifty years.