Joseph R. Brown

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Joseph R. Brown, c. 1853.
Joseph Brown's Monument in Brown Cemetery

Joseph Renshaw Brown (1805–1870) was politician, pioneer, trader, businessman, inventor, speculator, and Indian agent.


He was born in Harford County, Maryland, on January 5, 1805 and was married to Susan Freniere (circa 1816-1904), a member of the Sisseton tribe of Dakota Indians.[1] He died on November 9, 1870, in New York City and was buried in Brown Cemetery, Henderson, Minnesota.[2]

Brown served in the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature: the Wisconsin Territorial House of Representatives 1840-1842. He also served in the Minnesota Territorial Legislature: Territorial Council 1854-55 (District 6); Territorial House of Representatives 1857 (District 10); Minnesota Democratic Constitutional Convention 1857 (District 10).[3] Brown came to Minnesota in 1820 when the land was Michigan Territory. When the Dakota Conflict of 1862 broke out, his family was captured but were not killed due to his wife's Dakota heritage. Joseph was away at the time and returned and was a participant in the Battle of Birch Coulee.


Brown County,[4] Browns Valley in Minnesota, and Brown's Creek near Stillwater, Washington County, Minnesota are named after him.


Joseph R. Brown State Wayside Reststop is located on Renville County Highway 15, south of Sacred Heart, Minnesota, which displays the granite ruins of Brown's home from 1862. The house was destroyed on August 19, 1862 during the Dakota War of 1862, the three story home was a mansion compared to normal pioneer homes. Brown's family, his wife and 12 children, were spared because of his wife's Native American heritage.


  1. ^ Joseph R. and Samel J. Brown and family papers
  2. ^ "Sibley County Grave Finder". Archived from the original on 2009-04-01.
  3. ^ Joseph Renshaw Brown, Minnesota Legislators Past and Present
  4. ^ History of the Origin of the Place Names in Nine Northwestern States. 1908. p. 12.

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