My Georgia History

Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown, the name can bring cold shivers.  Thomas Brown was born  May 27, 1750 in Whitley of Yorkshire.  His dad was Jonas Brown, and his mother, was Margaret Jackson Brown.  Jonas Brown was a ship owner. He conducted business around the world.   Thomas had the chance to meet adventurer James Cook in 1771.  Thomas Brown transacted business for his father in Nova Scotia, New England, the Carolinas and Barbados.

In 1774, Thomas moved to Georgia and became the next door neighbor to Daniel Marshall, the great pioneer preacher of the “Separate Baptist Movement.”  Marshall had arrived in what is today called Appling, then known as Brownsboro. He erected the first Baptist church building in Georgia.

Now Brown came to Georgia when the back country was all upset.  In fact, on August 02, 1775, Thomas Brown was made an object lesson by the “Sons of Liberty.”  Brown was staying at a friend’s house, James Gordon, in Richmond County.  About 100 Liberty Boys called on him asking him to sign a document upholding the Association.  Thomas Brown came out on the porch. He said “no.” He was an Englishman who stood behind King George.  With guns drawn he fired.  The first pistol misfired, but the second pistol didn’t.  He shot the leader of the mob, Chesley Bostick, through his foot.  About that time Brown was hit in the head with a rifle butt.  In a semi-conscious state, he was carried off to Augusta.  Later in a letter to his dad he said he was tied to a tree and fire branded.  They took branches, set them on fire and held them under his feet. He was then tar and feathered.  Thomas said he could not walk properly for several months and that he lost two toes that night. He was mad, he’d make them pay.

The year was 1780. Thomas Brown, of Fort Cornwallis, that was the name of the new fort which stood where Fort Augusta had stood before, was on his way back with his troops.  Elijah Clark was waiting for him. He attacked Brown, along with his men and 300 Indians. They fought the best they could.  Finally they took cover in the old McKay Trading post, not the Ezekiel Harris house.  Elijah Clark could not over power them and Thomas Brown couldn’t fight his way out. A British soldier escaped and went over to 96, South Carolina, to the British Fort.   Oh things were bad. Water had been cut off and the only thing the British had to eat were raw pumpkins. Why even the Indians had dug in and were fighting like white men. After five days, with no food or water, about the time the British were becoming weak, word came.   British reinforcements were seen crossing the river. Elijah Clark and his men quickly broke camp and started leaving. They fought   the British all the way up Battle Row.

Meanwhile, back in Augusta, some of Clark’s men didn’t know what was happening.  But, it was too late, they were captured. Thomas Brown ordered thirteen of the men hung from the stairwell so that he could lie in his bed and watch them die. Brown had been wounded in the fight. The rest of the men the British caught, were turned over to the Indians to be killed. That’s why the name, Thomas Brown, brings cold shivers, to Augustans.

Written by Mark Woodard

Research resources:

  • The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
  • Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia. Jones, Charles C. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Publishers. (1890)
  • The King’s Ranger. Cashin, Edward J. (1990)

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