Brownell family papers  1842-1899
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Biography

Lucia Emilia DeWolf (1795-1884) was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, the daughter of Charles DeWolf and Elizabeth Rogerson. She married Pardon Brownell (1788-1846) in 1815, and had six children by him before he died in 1846. Her first four children were born in Providence, Rhode Island, and the last two in East Hartford, Connecticut. Two of her children died before the age of 16: Francis D. Brownell, her first born (1817-1833), and Emilia D. Brownell, her only daughter (1823-1838). Her surviving children were Henry Howard Brownell (1820-1872), Charles DeWolf Brownell (1822-1909), Edward Rogerson Brownell (1825-1889), and Clarence Melville Brownell (1828-1862). After her husband's death, she moved back and forth between Bristol, Rhode Island, and East Hartford, Connecticut. The 1860 Census lists her as owing $51,500 of real estate. Her son Edward, a physician, made his home with her after his divorce, c.1864.

Henry Howard Brownell (1820-1872), the second child of Lucia and Pardon Brownell, graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, studied law, and became a practicing lawyer in Connecticut for a short time, before deciding to concentrate on writing. He published his first volume, Poems, in 1847, but it was as a Civil War poet that he was best known. At his own request, he was allowed to accompany Admiral Farragut into battle, so that he could write about it firsthand. He was made an ensign and acted as Admiral Farragut's secretary. After the Civil War he accompanied Farragut on a European tour. His book, Lyrics of a Day, or Newspaper Poetry, by a Volunteer in Service, was well reviewed by Oliver Wendell Holmes in an article entitled Our Battle Laureate in the May 1865 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Holmes continued to encourage his writing efforts. Henry H. Brownell published War Lyrics and Other Poems in 1866, and is one of the people attributed with writing the lyrics for the song John Brown's Body. He also wrote two popular histories for subscription publishers: The People's Book of Ancient and Modern History in 1851, and The Discoverers, Pioneers, and Settlers of North and South America in 1853. He developed cancer of the face, and underwent surgery in Boston, resulting in the removal of only part of the tumor. His last few years were painful. He made a trip to Florida with his brother Ned (Edward) in 1871-72 where they felt the warmer climate might make Henry more comfortable. At his death, the poet Thomas Bailey Adlrich eulogized him in a short poem, (“Henry Howard Brownell,”Atlantic Monthly , May 1873).

Charles DeWolf Brownell (1822-1909), the third child of Lucia and Pardon Brownell, was a landscape artist. He spent seven consecutive winters in Cuba (1854-1861), traveled extensively throughout Europe (1871-1877), to Egypt in 1877, the Caribbean in 1888, and Jamaica in 1894, as well as to various parts of the U.S. Although trained as a lawyer, like his brother Henry, he soon decided against a law career. He took various jobs in Liberty, Virginia, from 1848-1849, and Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1850, and authored a book, The Indian Races of America in 1850, before deciding to concentrate on his painting. He studied with Julius Busch and Joseph Ropes in Hartford. His first works were exhibited at the Hartford Agricultural Society County fair in 1855, and he set up a studio in Hartford in 1857 -1858. In 1860, he moved to New York City and submitted work for sale at the National Academy of Design there in 1861-1862. He married Henrietta Knowlton Angell (1837-1897) after her divorce from Dr. George A. Pierce in 1865 (see biography of Henrietta Knowlton Angell below). When not traveling abroad, they lived in Bristol, R.I. with their four sons (Carl DeWolf Brownell born 1866, Ernest Henry Brownell born 1867, G. Edward Don Manuel Ibarra born 1870, and Roger Williams Brownell born 1876. His step daughter, Esther Pierce (b. 1860), sometimes lived with the family. His most well known painting is "The Connecticut Charter Oak.”

Edward Rogerson Brownell [Ned] (1825-1889), the fifth child of Lucia and Pardon Brownell, was a physician like his father. He attended medical school in New Orleans, and was made a visiting physician at the Charity Hospital there while still a student. He took his diploma exam in 1850, and moved to rural Plaisance, Louisiana, where he married Pamela Laysard (b. in 1838, daughter of Malafret Laysard) in 1853. Edward tried to combine his medical practice in rural Louisiana with raising cotton, but had little success in the cotton business. He and Pamela had six children before they became embroiled in a bitter separation. The oldest child, Francis (b. 1854), came back East with his father prior to 1866, and in the 1880 Census was living with a great aunt in Hartford, Connecticut. The other four living children (Lucia b. 1857, Arthur b. 1859, Clarence b. 1860, and Charles b. 1862) stayed in Louisiana with their mother. The 1910 Census lists Pamela L. Brownell as living in Rapides County, Louisiana, at age 70, with only one of her six children still alive. Edward [Ned] spent the years after his marital separation living with his mother in Bristol, Rhode Island, and is listed in the 1880 Census as an "alopathic physician".

Clarence Melville Brownell, the youngest child of Lucia and Pardon Brownell, was born May 2, 1828, in East Harford, Connecticut, and died in May 1862, on the White Nile River in Central Africa [Lat. 8 N.] at the age of 34. He never married. Despite being trained as a physician and having built up a thriving medical practice in East Hartford (1853-1859), he had a strong desire to travel to remote areas. In November 1859, he left for Callao, Peru, and made a trip down the Amazon. In 1860, he traveled to St. Thomas and Cuba. In 1861 he visited his brother Ned in rural Cloutierville, Louisiana, and then left for Alexandria, Egypt, via Marseille, expecting to be gone two years. In late October a letter was forwarded to him in Marseille offering him a captaincy in a Connecticut Regiment, which he had been most eager to have. But, because he had already begun his trip to Egypt, he decided to go on. In Khartoum he met John Pethernick and joined his expedition to the source of the White Nile, agreeing to make botanical collections for them. Brownell kept a diary from January 1, 1862, to May 13, 1862 [typescript at the Univeristy of Durham, England], describing his travels, as well as the flora and fauna he encountered. The diary ended about a week before his death when he became too ill to write. John Pethernick's wife wrote an account of his death in Travels in Central Africa, published 1869, in London.

Henrietta Knowlton Angell (1837-1897) was the daughter of Henry Angell and Rebecca Knowlton of Rhode Island. She married Dr. George A. Pierce in February 1859. They had two children, Esther H. Pierce (b. 1860) and Henry A. Pierce (1863-1867), before divorcing. In 1865, Henretta married the artist Charles DeWolf Brownell, by whom she had four sons (Carl D. Brownell - 1866, Ernest Henry Brownell - 1867, G. Edward Don Manuel Ibarra D. Brownell - 1870, and Roger Williams Brownell - 1876). She and the children accompanied Charles to Europe in the 1870's. At some point she converted to Catholicism, and published two long stories in serial form in the journal Catholic World. One was called Donna Quizote (1882) and the other Out of the West (1883). She also wrote God's Way, Man's Way - A History of Bristol, Rhode Island, and submitted articles to the Phoenix. It was at her request and with her financial support that four Sisters of Mercy from Providence, R.I. were sent across to Newfoundland's west coast to found the first Sisters of Mercy house there in 1893.

Procer Wright was probably an Englishman. He seems to have met Charles and Henrietta Brownell in San Raphael, France, in 1876. He and Henrietta Brownell became friends and corresponded between 1876 and 1884, when Wright was traveling through Europe.

Don Manuel Ibarra was a Spaniard married to a Cuban woman. He worked at the San Martin sugar refinery ("ingenio") near Cardenas, Cuba. He was probably the refinery manager, but could have been a partial owner. He worked in Cuba from 1855-1870, returning to Barcelona, Spain, by 1871, perhaps because of the unrest caused by the Cuban "Ten-Year War" which started in October of 1868 and involved bloody clashes between Cuban independence seekers and Spanish troops. Ibarra met Charles Brownell in Cuba, They became such close friends that Brownell named his third son born in 1870, after Ibarra (G. Edward Don Manuel Ibarra D. Brownell).

Lucy Larcom (1824-1893) was a poet, author and editor. She was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, to Benjamin Larcom and Lois Barrett. After her father's death, the family moved to Lowell, where her mother kept a boarding house, and Lucy worked in the mills for ten years. Through a literary club at the mills, she met John G. Whittier who encouraged her to write. She accompanied a married sister to Illinois where she taught school for three years before attending Monticello Female Seminary in Godfrey, Illinois, for three years. She returned to Beverly, Massachusetts, and taught for six years at Wheaton Female Seminary, where she met Henrietta Angell [Brownell]. When her health began to fail, she resigned and took a position editing the children's magazine Our Young Folks. She continued to write and publish her own poetry and prose. She never married.

Henrietta Silliman Dana (1823-1907) was the daughter of Benjamin Silliman, a professor at Yale, and Harriet Trumbell. In 1844, she married James Dwight Dana who became a renown professor of geology at Yale. He accompanied the Charles Wilkes Expedition to the Pacific in the early 1840's, and then became Silliman Professor of Natural History and Geology at Yale until several years before he died in 1895. He wrote classical works on geology and mineralogy. The Danas had six children, but lost two of them to diphtheria in 1861. Their son, Edward (b. 1849), also became a professor at Yale.