Biography of James A. Brownlee
Mahoning County, OH Biographies

JAMES A. BROWNLEE, one of Boardman township's most venerable and highly respected citizens, resides on his valuable farm of 172 acres and owns also 60 acres situated just across the highway, but in Poland township. Mr. Brownlee has been an American citizen for many years, but this is not the land of his birth, that having taken place on Turf oot Farm, near the village of Strethhaven, 12 miles from the city of Glasgow, Scotland, February 4, 1825.

His parents, John and Margaret (Wilson) Brownlee, were natives of Scotland, quiet, virtuous people whose main object in life became a wise provision for their five children. It was this desire that caused John Brownlee to make arrangements to follow the example of his two brothers, Alexander and David, who had emigrated to America previously, and who had both become possessed of valuable farms, Alexander owning 400 acres in Mahoning County, and David an equally large tract. Still another brother, William, had emigrated and settled in New York, as early as 1812, and subsequently become a minister in the Reformed Church. In 1832, John Brownlee had about completed his arrangements to sail for America with his family, when he was stricken with illness and died before the time arrived.

The mother of James Brownlee was a woman of great resolution and of admirable character. When left a widow, with the future welfare of her children subject to her sole guidance, she resolved to carry out the plans of their late father and when the appointed time came, took passage with them on the sailing vessel which landed them all safely in the port of New York after a voyage of some eight weeks. By canal and lake they reached Ashtabula County, and, thence came in wagons to Mahoning County, finally reaching the farm now owned by Mr. Brownlee, which had probably been selected by one of his uncles. The land had been partially cleared and a six room stone house was standing and thus immediate shelter was found. The surrounding country was better settled than in some other localities although considerable small game still remained. In spite. of the many pioneer hardships to which Mrs. Brownlee was necessarily subjected, she lived a widow for thirty three years after coming to America, dying on this farm in 1865 at the age of 84. Her children were: Alexander, Thomas, William, David and James Archibald.

James Archibald Brownlee, the youngest member of the above family, is also its only survivor. He was but seven years of age when he accompanied his mother from his native land, but is able to recall many events of that long journey. He grew to manhood on the present farm and obtained his education in a little log school house which stood near his home. He remembers the rough slab benches and the big fireplace in which it was the duty of the boys to take turns in lighting a fire and also in procuring fuel from the nearby forest. He grew up industrious and obedient to his mother, and remained on the farm with her after the other boys went out into the world to shift for themselves.

On March 16, 1855, Mr. Brownlee was married to Rebecca Gilchrist, who was born November 16, 1832, at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and was a daughter of James and Grace (McGraw) Gilchrist. Her father was a well known carpenter and contractor. Her mother was the widow of a Mr. McGraw, her maiden name being McClelland. Eight children were born to this marriage, as follows: Mary and James H., who both reside at home; John and Edward, twins, the former residing at home, the. latter a physician practicing at Struthers, a graduate of Poland Union College and of Dartmouth College, who married Ella Geddes; Eva, who married David Blunt, and resides on Loveland Hill; Irvin, residing near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, who married Minnie Lormer, of Detroit, and has four children - Lormer, Ruth, Irvin and Robert; Ralph, of whom there is no special mention; and Grace, the wife of George Hunter, residing near Pittsburg, who has two children - Margaret and Wallace. Mr. Brownlee and family belong to the Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Brownlee has always followed farming and stock raising as his occupations, and at one time he supplied almost all the meat used in Youngstown. He obtained a part of his land from his mother's estate (it having been purchased from the heirs of John Zedeger), and 53 acres from Peter Webber, on which tract stands his comfortable 11 room house. Coal has been found on Mr. Brownlee's property, two veins having been developed from which many tons of fine fuel have been secured and doubtless many more will be mined.

Politically, Mr. Brownlee is a Republican; he has, held a number of township offices, serving as township trustee, assessor and for two terms as land appraiser. Both he and his wife are widely known, and have long been noted for their hospitality. Mrs. Brownlee, like her husband, is the youngest member and only survivor of a large family. Her parents died at Coitsville. Her brothers and sisters were: Isabella, who married Robert Morris; Jane, who married Samuel Shaffer; Nancy, who married William Cooper; Margaret, who married James Harvey; Ellen, who married Thomas Kirk; Mary, who married James D. Shields; James, Alexander, and Elizabeth.

Also see William W. Brownlee.

20th Century History of Youngstown
and Mahoning County, Ohio and
Representative Citizens,
Edited and compiled by Gen. Thos. W. Sanderson
Youngstown, Ohio
Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1897

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