The article below was published in Rhode Island Roots, A publication of the RI Genealogical Society, Volume 9, pages 91-92. The article unravels some of the errors and confusion in the DAR listing for Jonathan Brown. The DAR erroneously shows Jonathan Brown having been married to Acsah Arnold rather than Ann Douglass. The problem is that the DAR listing confuses our Jonathan Brown with Jonathan Brown of Foster, RI, who was born in 1765 rather than 1760.


by David W. Dumas


The Rhode Island Historical Society Library has in its collection a small pamphlet entitled Caleb Arnold, Patriot--His Family of Patriots which seeks to verify a family legend, namely that Caleb Arnold (Joseph3, Eleazar2, Thomas1) of Glocester, RI, had eight sons and three sons-in-law, all of whom served in the Revolution, as did Caleb himself, and that his wife Patience (Brown) Arnold and the daughters "attended to the farms during the absence of the 'The author of the pamphlet' reported the "skepticism of James Newell Arnold, but stated with smug satisfaction that with "patient work, and solely relying upon the records", he had verified the story.

Unfortunately, the author in his zeal to confirm a tradition made a convenient but false identification. Working from an instrument (Glocester RI Land Evidence Book 11, pages 189-191) signed by Caleb Arnold's heirs, among them Achsa Brown and her husband Jonathan Brown, he identified Jonathan as the one who served in Col. John Topham's regiment. This error has been perpetuated in several sources (see, e.g., National Register Sons of the American Revolution (1902), p.599, where Clarence Archie Brown, great-grandson of Jonathan and Achsa (Arnold) Brown, is shown as an S.A.R. member in right of that Jonathan. However, the Jonathan Brown of Topham's Regiment, as pension filed 5.12312 makes clear, was born 30 January 1760 in North Kingstown, RI, removed after the war to Exeter, RI and in 1794 to Granville, NY where he was living in 1832. He appears to have been the son of Charles4 (Charles3, Beriah2, Charles1) Brown, if the identification in Rhode Island Genealogical Register (1981) 4:70 is correct.

Achsa's real husband Jonathan, whom she married 26 May 1786 in Foster RI, was Jonathan7 Brown, b. 4 Apr. 1765 in Swansea MA, son of James6 Brown (James5, John4, John3, John2, John1 of Wannamoisett) and his wife Mary (Anthony) Brown. This Jonathan was rather young to have served in the Revolution (although this is not impossible). In any event, he was not Caleb's son-in-law during the Revolution (or indeed in Caleb's lifetime, as Caleb died in 1784).

Carl Boyer's excellent Bristol Browns - Brown Families of Bristol Counties, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Newhall (CA 1973), p.49, in its discussion of the family of James and Mary (Anthony) Brown, states: "Further documentation establishing relationships in this group should be developed", and as it happens, he assigns to Jonathan Brown the wrong wife, namely Patience Arnold, but correctly states that he had "descendants in Chesterfield and Granville, N.Y." Note that the Jonathan Brown of North Kingstown, misidentified earlier as Achsa Arnold's husband, also removed to Granville NY but then so did many other Rhode Islanders.

As noted, our Jonathan's family was from the Swansea/Rehoboth area, but he had had real estate interests in Foster for some time, as numerous deeds attest, some involving both James Brown and his wife Mary and Jonathan Brown and his wife Achsa (or Achsah/Acsa), for a sure identification. From these deeds we learn that Jonathan was of Foster as late as April 1806, but that in 1809 he called himself "of Providence". He appears in the 1790 Foster census with 2 males of 16 and upwards, 1 male under 16 and 4 females. The 1800 census shows him still in Foster with the following: 2 males under 10, 1 male 10-16, 1 male 26-45; 1 female under 10, 2 females 10-16 and 1 female 26-45. In the 1800 census, his entry is followed immediately by that of his brother-in-law Ephraim Williams, who had married Achsa's sister Patience.

The 1810 census of providence (West District) shows Jonathan with the following family: 2 males under 10, 1 male 10-16, 1 male 16-26, 1 male 26-45; 1 female under 10, 3 females 16-26, 1 female 26-45. Jonathan's parents, James and Mary (Anthony) Brown, removed ca. 1800 to Hartford, Washington Co. NY; Jonathan probably followed not long after 1810, and indeed his older brother Amasa was already serving as minister of a Baptist Church in that vicinity.

Jonathan died, according to family notes, in Dec. 1827, and Achsa on 25 May 1849. The same notes provide the following list of their children, which I have given verbatim:







September 25


March 15



June 5th

1789 (88)

Sept. 20


Cynthia A.

July 8th





March 12



Feb. 19




Jonathan A.

Apr. 15




Dec. 30





Aug. 18




Nov. 6



Esek A.

Oct. 15



James A.

Feb. 22


Aug. 1

1864 (?)

Alice A.

April 30




The organization of the above list is such that I suspect it derives from a family Bible. The middle initials A. could be either Arnold or Anthony in particular cases; indeed, notes made by the descendants of this family show William as "William A.", and confirm that James' middle name was Anthony.

For one line of descendants, see National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York 1927) XVII: 285-86.