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Laura H. Brown


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At a Glance

Laura H. Brown was one of 15 children (one public member trees indicates 12) of William Henry Brown (1809-1865) and Mary Louisa Vasseur (1813-1868). Her parents were married in 1830 in Halifax, Halifax County, NC but in 1840 they moved to Hillsborough, Orange County, NC [1].


Laura H. Brown (1840-1915) attended the Burwell School in the late 1840s or early 1850s. The 1870 and 1880 US Federal Censuses list her occupation as  "at home."  At the time of these censuses, she was living with her sister Arabella William Brown Dickson (1848-1880) and her family in Hillsborough, Orange County, NC. In the 1910 US Federal Census she was living with her younger brother Edwin Louis Brown Sr. (1850-1919) and his family in Asheville, Buncombe County, NC. She remained single.

Her maternal grandmother was Charlotte Ann Layssard (1789-1856) who was born in the West Indies and immigrated to the United States. At one time, she was living in the Petersburg, VA area where she may have met her husband Toussaint Vasseur (died ca. 1815). However, very little could be found about him so where they met remains unclear. indicates he immigrated to the Louisiana Territory from the Caribbean area in 1795 and later settled in the Petersburg, VA area. By 1830, Toussaint Vasseur was deceased and Charlotte Ann Layssard Vasseur was living in Halifax County, NC where her daughter Mary Louisa Vasseur (1843-1868) married William Henry Brown (1809-1865). Charlotte Ann Layssard Vasseur moved to Hillsborough where she ran a candy shop which was frequented by Burwell School students.

Laura's paternal great grandfather Augustine Brown (birth ca. 1745) and her paternal great grandmother Mary Richardson (1750-1823) were born in Sussex County, VA. Her paternal grandfather, Thomas Brown (1785-1862) was born in Virginia but died in Alamance County, NC. The 1860 US Federal Census lists his occupation as farmer. He was married to Nancy Ann Brown (1781-1862), who was born in NC. Thomas and Mary Ann Brown are buried in Brown's Chapel Cemetery in Burlington, Alamance County, NC.

Laura's parents moved to Hillsborough, NC in 1840 where her father William Henry Brown was a tanner and shoemaker. The 1850 and 1860 US Federal Censuses give his occupation as farmer. According to the History of the Churches of Hillsborough, NC by Allen and Pauline Lloyd, his house was on Churton Street near the NW corner of Churton Street and East Tryon Street in Hillsborough. He also owned property near the corner of King and Churton Street. His tannery was in West Hillsborough where he also owned Dimmock's Mill, a saw and grist mill on the Eno River. The property, where the tannery and mill were located, was sold to Brown in November 1847.

The public member trees differ as to how many children were born to Mary Louisa Vasseur Brown and William Henry Brown. One lists 12 children, while another lists 15 children. The researcher speculates that children who died in infancy might not have been included in some of the public member trees.

One of Laura's brothers Henry Nicholas  "Nate"  Brown Sr. (1831-1908) had a general mercantile business in Hillsborough during the post Civil War years, Brown, Parks and Company (1866-1867), Brown and Company (1867-1869), and Henry N. Brown (1870-1872). The NC State Archives in Raleigh holds a single volume (blotter book) in which Brown made rough entries of store transactions from January-September 1872. The transactions listed include groceries, oil, ready made clothing, piece goods, notions, powder, shot, shoes, coffin trimmings, and so forth that made up his stock in trade. Previously the volume had belonged to the Orange County Common School Board where it had been used as a ledger (Ledger B) by Brown's father, William H. Brown, who had been chairman of the Orange County common school system.

One of Laura's sisters, Charlotte Ann Brown (1838-1880), also attended the Burwell School in the late 1840s or early 1850s. She also remained single. Their sister-in-law Margaret Parthenia Evelyn Hooker (1839-1923) was a Burwell School student in the late 1840s or early 1850s. She was married to their brother Henry Nicholas  "Nate"  Brown Sr. (1831-1908).

There are several photographs of the Brown Family in the  "Hillsborough NC Lynch Family Tree."  While there are no photographs of Charlotte and Laura Brown, there are photographs of their parents William Henry Brown and Mary Louisa Vasseur Brown and of their maternal grandmother, Charlotte Ann Layssard Vasseur. There are other photographs of Charlotte and Laura's siblings and of their siblings' children.

Living descendents of Laura H. Brown were found in North Carolina and Oregon [2] [1] [3]. Online description of the Henry N. Brown blotter [4].

Biographical Data

Important Dates

Laura H. Brown was born on September 6, 1840, in North Carolina. She died September 22, 1915, and was buried in Asheville, NC.

Places of Residence

  • Hillsborough, NC, from 1840. Laura Brown was born in 1840 around the time the family moved to Hillsborough where her father took up work as a tanner and shoemaker [2].
  • Asheville, NC, between 1910 and 1915. She lived in Asheville from about 1910 to her death in 1915.

Schools Attended

  • Burwell School, from 1850. Although the exact dates of her attendance at the Burwell School are unknown, she is thought to have attended with her older sister Charlotte sometime in the late 1840s or early 1850s. Both girls would have been day students at the school since their family lived in Hillsborough [2].


  • At Home. According to the 1870 and 1880 US Federal Censuses, her occupation was listed as  "at home."



  2. Mary Claire Engstrom. The Book of Burwell Students: Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South. (Hillsborough: Hillsborough Historic Commission, 2007).
  4. NC State Archives.
  5. Vasseur-Brown Family Chart. From the Vasseur-Brown Bible. Information donated by Mrs. H. E. Hayes.