Christopher Brown

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Christopher Brown assisted runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad in Ohio.

Brown was born in Maryland in 1806. His father was Elias Brown, a free African American. Brown's mother was Honor Mundel, a former slave, who was freed by her owner upon his death. In 1813, the Brown family left Maryland and settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Here, Christopher Brown found employment as a servant to relatives of South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun. He also learned to read and write.

In 1820, Christopher Brown and his father traveled to Pigeon Roost in Jackson County, Ohio, where Elias Brown purchased some Congress Lands from the federal government. Elias Brown returned to Pennsylvania to retrieve the remaining family members, leaving Christopher Brown with his maternal grandfather, Robert Mundel, along Big Run Creek, in Jackson Township, in Pike County, Ohio.

The family was reunited in 1821. Christopher Brown remained with his family until 1828, when he sought employment. Brown first worked for Joseph Foster, caring for livestock and a corn crop. For the next decade, he found employment as a farm laborer and as a worker on various boats on the Ohio and Scioto Rivers.

In 1837, Brown purchased fifty acres of land along the Scioto River in Pike County. He married Nancy Jane Lucas in 1838, and the newlyweds farmed Brown's property for the next seventeen years. The Browns prospered, and in 1855, they sold their farm. That same year, Brown purchased more than one hundred acres along Straight Creek in Pike County.

Besides farming, Brown became active in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1843, he was formally ordained as a minister and began to minister to a church in Pike County. Brown also served as conductor on the Underground Railroad, opening his home to fugitive slaves. Slave catchers routinely watched Brown and his family, hoping to prevent these African Americans from assisting runaway slaves. Despite being watched, Brown routinely succeeded in helping slaves escape.

Brown illustrates the prejudice that existed in Ohio during the years before the American Civil War. Ohio was a state that did not allow slavery. Nevertheless, that did not mean that whites were open to granting African Americans equal rights. Free African Americans found that it was difficult to get fair treatment, but some, like Brown, were able to lead successful lives.

See Also


  1. "Life Among the Lowly," Pike County Republican, 20 November 1873