Brown, Richard (1808–1893)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: February 19, 2013

Richard Brown, soldier of the Republic of Texas, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 16, 1808, the son of William Brown, a prominent Philadelphia physician. While Richard was one, the family moved to Charleston, South Carolina, in a vain attempt to improve his mother's health. She soon died, however, and Richard's father lived only until the boy was three years old. Thereafter Brown lived with his father's sister, Mrs. William McKee, of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Upon hearing of the war in Texas, Brown sold his small farm, his cotton gin, and his two slaves and moved west. At New Orleans he joined the Texas army on October 19, 1836, by enlisting in Capt. David Sample's Company E of the First Regiment of Texas Infantry. The unit arrived in Texas on November 10. According to his enlistment papers Brown was then twenty-six years old and had light skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. He served through January 1, 1837. For his service he received a bounty warrant for 1,280 acres of land that he sold to N. H. Watrous.

Upon the expiration of his enlistment period Brown returned briefly to North Carolina but by 1838 was back in Texas, where he settled in Robertson County. During the next few years he was a member of what was said to be the first surveying crew on Galveston Island and taught school for a time in Walker County. In response to the incursion of Adrián Woll, however, Brown enlisted at San Antonio as a private in Capt. William M. Barrett's company of Col. Joseph L. Bennett's First Regiment of the Southwestern Army on October 1, 1842. As a member of the Somervell expedition he marched to the Rio Grande. When Alexander Somervell ordered the expedition to disband, Brown chose with the majority of his comrades to continue the campaign under the leadership of William S. Fisher. He saw action at the subsequent battle of Mier and was imprisoned with the rest of the Texans who were captured there. After drawing a white bean in the notorious Black Bean Episode, Brown was chained to A. B. Hanna and forced to work on the streets of Mexico City. He was subsequently removed to Perote Prison and incarcerated until September 16, 1844, when he and Hanna were released, having been manacled together for sixteen months, according to family sources. The two returned to Texas together by way of Veracruz and New Orleans, and together they settled on Murval Creek in Rusk County, where Brown was employed as overseer on the Reasonover plantation.

In 1849 he married seventeen-year-old Nancy Jane Cook. They had twelve children. In 1850 Brown's real estate was valued at $400. In 1852 he bought a farm six miles east of Henderson, where he lived the rest of his life. On April 21, 1879, he became a founding member of the Mier Prisoners Association at Belton. He was also a Mason. Brown died on his farm on August 24, 1893, and was buried some ten miles east of Henderson at the Pine Grove Presbyterian Church, which he had helped to found. In 1971 the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker at his gravesite.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Thomas L. Miller, The Public Lands of Texas, 1519–1970 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Brown, Richard,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 19, 2013