The Kemp Sketch
BROWN, OLIVER T. -- Born in Brownington, Butler County, Pennsylvania, a son of John Brown. He left home in 1835 to enter the army of Texas. Arriving at Cincinnati, Ohio, he learned that Captain Sidney Sherman was raising a company for the Army or Texas at Newport, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati and he immediately joined it.
The last authentic record of the whereabouts of Mr. Brown is a letter from him to his mother and father written from the San Jacinto battlefield May 4, 1836. He evidently died before the opening of the Land Office in Houston in the fall of 1837 for he applied for none of the land due him. He indicated in his letter to his parents that it was his intentions to get all the land possible and make Texas his permanent home.
In 1850 Mr. John Brown, the only surviving heir of Oliver T. Brown, wrote to Colonel Sidney Sherman about his son. After making inquiries concerning him Colonel Sherman wrote to Mr. Brown that in all probability Oliver was dead. He offered to aid Mr. Brown in securing the land due him. The offer was accepted and Colonel Sherman applied for the lands to the Commissioner of Claims. The commissioner took many depositions which may be seen in Court of Claims Files No. 349, General Land Office, Austin.
In his deposition made December 22, 1858, Edward Miles of San Antonio stated that he was of the opinion that Captain William Woods' Company, of which Mr. Brown was a member, disbanded at the home of Lorenzo de Zavala, just across Buffalo Bayou, from the battlefield, a few days after the battle. He stated that the Mexican prisoners were placed under the charge of Lieutenant Samuel B. Raymond and that when he last saw Mr. Brown he was one of the guards.
General Sidney Sherman in his deposition submitted the following letter which he had written from Harrisburg December 20, 1850 to Mr. John Brown, Oliver's father: "In my answer to yours of August 10th, I stated I would cause the records to be examined at the seat of government and ascertain if your son Oliver had drawn his pay as a soldier, or the Land to he would be entitled - thinking he had drawn his pay and received his certificate for his lands, it would be reasonable in presuming him to be alive; but on the contrary if he had not done so, it would be extremely doubtful.
"The result of my investigation so far will be painful to you and his friends. Altho it must be remembered that it is envolved in some doubt - I believe from a note I have received from the Adjat General on the subject, that he has not drawn either his pay nor his lands. His name stands on the Rolls as Oliver S. Brown - his name was entered at San Jacinto as Oliver T. Brown, which I believe is correct.
"I have also learned since I wrote you, that a gentleman on removing his wife's remains from a cemetery in the City of New Orleans, notices the name of Oliver P. Brown on a vault next to his wife's, and having known your son, he presumed it was his.
"My informant thinks it may possibly have been Oliver T. in place of P. Not having the person myself, I am unable to inform you which cemetery it was - as they have several in that city.
"Taking all things into consideration we must, I think, come to the conclusion that your son is dead. Should you be of this opinion, and would wish to have his affairs with the government attended to, you can forward me a power of attorney, with authority to substitute another (as I shall not be able to attend to it in person) and it shall be attended to....." Mr. John Brown with his deposition submitted an original letter from his son. The following is the letter in full:
Texas San Jacinto River May 4, 1836 Dear father and mother: After my love to you and all my relatives I embrace this opportunity of informing you that I am in good health at present hoping these few lines may find you in the same state, I shall in the first place give you the outlines of my travels etd. After I left Mr. Townsend in Percysville I arrived at Mr. Welsh's in Pittsburg. Mr. Welch encouraged me very much to go to Texas which I am very much pleased with at present.
In the first place at Pittsburg I engaged with Capt. Scott of New Orleans on the Lady Madison and arrived at Cincinnati landed and went to view the city - went into Hollins boarding house there met Wm. Thompson who had kept Bar for Mr. Welch in Pittsburg - told him I was going to Texas to fight the Mexicans.
I have been in two battles, one on the 20th of April the other on the 21st. You will find in print after some time. The most victorious battle ever fought in the known (torn) __________ to be done in the space of 18 minutes. £ shall now before I go further state to you what great luck I had about getting to Texas. Thompson stated to me there was a Capt. Sherman of Newport, Kentucky making up a company of volunteers for Texas and he insisted on me going over and joining his company getting at the rate of Twenty Dollars per month. I settled off with Scott and got my money and went over to Newport, Kentucky just opposite Cincinnati and joined Capt Sherman's Company of Newport, Kentucky Riflemen and was furnished with a rifle and uniform. We had our company organized on the 18th Dec. - started for Texas on the 29th Dec. arrived at Louisville 30th. I stepped out with a number of my companions to take a view of Louisville and lo and behold who stepped up but Archibald Davidson that formerly lived with us. We rambled around until dark and we all stepped into a coffee house and lo and behold who was sitting by the fire but John Riddle and a Mr. Dickey from Harmony. We spent that night and New Year's Morning with Mr. Riddle and Mr. Dickey in great splendor and then we embarked on the Augusta for Nachitoches on Red River. We sailed to the mouth of Red River 250 miles above New Orleans and then we sailed up Red River 300 miles to Nachitoches then took land - I shall not give you particulars about our travels. We travelled 1000 miles on foot in Texas before we got in gunshot of the enemy, but then we gave them hell on the 20th of April. The great general Santa Anna at the head of 600 choice Mexican troops and a number of his bravest generals. I shall state to you that we elected Capt Sherman Col. of the 2nd Regt. he selected 70 horsemen out of the different regiments to make the attack, I being 3rd Sergeant in our Company I was selected as one of the horsemen on the 20th at 4 o'clock we attack the enemy. We killed about 20 and only had two men wounded on the first day. Then we retreated to our camp - waited for them to make an attack until 4 o'clock on the 21st. Genl. Houston commanded the troops to form in the battle array which was done in less than 15 minutes. There were only about 680 of us against 1100 mexicans. We attacked them on open prairies we had two 6 pounders they only 9. We killed 600 took 530 prisoners 500 mules 200 horses $16000 in gold and silver and sundries emounting to 2000. We took Genl. Santa Anna, Gen. Cos and their staff. Santa Anna is about making a treaty with Genl Houston then we will get our discharge. The recompense from the Government of Texas $20 per month from the time we enrolled 1/4 of a league of land which is 1111 acres 2/3 of a league of land which is 2900 acres will in all make about 4000 acres which is supposed in less than two years will be worth at least $2000. General Houston says we may rely upon it every man who was in the battle shall have two leagues of land but the above we are sure of. We had but 2 men killed and 10 wounded. Such a battle has not to this time been recorded.
As to the country it is a warm pleasant country. In the month of Jany. peach trees in full bloom - land very level tolerably well watered - prairie very extensive rich as can be. I think it is the best place in the world for a young man commencing on nothing to get rich.
I wish you to direct your letters to Oliver T. Brown 3 sergt of Newport Kentucky Rifleman Care of General Houston Commander in Chief of the Texas Armies Yours - Oliver T. Brown"
John Brown of Oliver"
Mr. Brown on March 9, 1860 was issued Bounty Certificate No. 216 for 1280 acres of land in compliance with an Act of the Legislature approved February 13, 1860.
Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.
- Died in Battle: No
- Rank: Third Sergeant
- Company: Capt. William Wood
- Battle Account: Letter to parents, 1836 May 4, quoted in Kemp biography.
- Birthplace: Pennsylvania, Brownington
- Came to Texas: 1836 Jan
- Date of Death: 1837?
- Bounty Certificate: 216