Adam Brown

Adam Brown, Sr., was a white man who was captured about 1755 or 1756 in what is now West Virginia, but was then Virginia.  Some say he was about eight years of age, but since he could read and write by then with some skill, many believe that he must have been 12 or 13.   He was taken to Detroit where he was adopted by Wyandots and given the name Ta-Haw-Na-Haw-Wie-Te (sometimes spelled Tohunehowetu).  He grew to manhood in the tribe and married a Wyandot woman.  Together they raised a large family.

Brownstown, Michigan, was named for Brown and was a city of some importance from about 1809 to 1819.   Brownstown was located near the present town of Gibraltar in Wayne County, Michigan, at the junction of the Huron and Detroit Rivers.

In Detroit, Brown begged a British officer for a Bible which he read regularly. When the cover wore out, he re-covered it himself in spotted fawn skin. Brown also respected Wyandot religion and tradition. Because of his deep faith, Brownstown was made the place of the “Sacred Fire.” Brown achieved the status of ‘village’ chief but was not a chief because he was white. Brown was placed in charge of the tribal archives, consisting of treaty belts, parchments and records of importance to other tribes in the area as well.  Brown kept them all in a special trunk that was later lost with all its contents.

Brown had been adopted into the Wyandot Deer Clan. The woman he married was part French and was a member of the Wyandot Turtle Clan, thus making all their children of the Turtle Clan.  Their oldest son was named Samuel, and he also had the Wyandot name Ta-Sa-Tee.

Adam Brown, Sr., arranged for the Wyandots to purchase a captive from the Delawares named William Walker, Sr. Brown took that white boy into his own lodge and raised him.  William Walker, Sr., subsequently married Catherine Rankin of the Big Turtle Clan and had a son, William Walker, Jr., on March 5, 1799 or 1800, who became the Provisional Governor of the Kansas-Nebraska Territory.  (William Walker lists his birth year as 1800, but other written records show 1799.)

There is some disagreement over Adam Brown’s service to the British during the War of 1812.  He was said to have opposed the Wyandots serving as scouts for the British, but he himself was said to have accompanied war parties alongside the British.  Brown’s signature is on the Treaty of July 4, 1805, and on the Treaty of 1808.  It is known that Brown’s adopted son, William Walker, took the side of the Americans in the War of 1812.  Walker was later an Indian sub-agent for the Ohio tribes, and it was under his administration that Methodism was introduced into the Wyandot Nation.  William Walker, Sr., died on Feb. 13, 1874.

Adam Brown was a man of considerable influence.  One of his daughters married George I. Clarke, who was chief of the Wyandots for a time after the move to Kansas.  George I. Clarke joined John Armstrong in opposing slavery, saying, “it was wholly foreign to ancient Wyandot customs and usage.”  Clarke was a good farmer, pious and gentle.  Another daughter of Adam Brown married a man named Hunt.  Another daughter married Russia Mudeater, and was the mother of Matthew Mudeater who was chief during the move to Oklahoma.  One of Brown’s grandchildren was Peter D. Clarke, who wrote at length about the tribe and published a book in 1870 by Hunter, Rose & Co. of Toronto.  Peter D. Clarke had 1,000 books printed; they cost Clarke 33 cents per copy.

Another ‘Samuel’ intersects the Adam Brown story.  Samuel Sanders, a Jewish boy, was arrested in London on a false charge of thievery.  He was convicted and sent to Virginia as a slave in about 1760, but he escaped.  He went to North Carolina, met Daniel Boone, and went to Kentucky with him.  The Shawnees captured and adopted Samuel Sanders.  He later married a Shawnee woman and had a daughter.  Samuel Sanders’ daughter married Adam Brown, Jr., and their daughter – Quindaro Nancy Brown – married Abelard Guthrie.  Quindaro was of the Big Turtle Clan of the Wyandot and the Turtle Clan of the Shawnee.  At the time of her marriage in Kansas, she was said to be the most beautiful girl in the Wyandot Nation.  William Walker, Jr., recorded in his journal that, “she was tall and of faultless form, a faithful wife, a devoted Christian mother.”  She died on April 13, 1886, and is buried in the cemetery at Chetopa, Kansas.

Adam Brown, Sr., died about 1817, at or near the age of 75.  His life was important to our history.

*Excerpted from the C. A. Buser files and the book, The Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory and The Journals of William Walker, Provisional Governor of Nebraska Territory – Edited by William E. Connelley

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