Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
W. A. G. BROWN
(pages 75 - 77)
Prof. W. A. G. Brown was born in Blount County, Tennessee, May 23, 1830. He was the son of Deacon Jonathan Brown and Rebecca (Bowers) Brown. When he was 12 years old his father moved to Sevier County. No church being convenient, he threw open his own house to church services, which soon resulted in the organization of what is now Sugar Loaf Church. Professor Brown was converted at the age of 12 years and united with Nails' Creek Baptist Church. He graduated from Mossy Creek College in 1856. Soon after his graduation he married Margaret Amanda Pattison, who was a direct descendant of the Newman family, who have played such a large part in the establishment of Carson-Newman College. To them were born five boys and two girls, one boy and one girl dying in infancy, the others growing to manhood and womanhood. While Professor Brown was not a preacher, he was the father of preachers. Three of the four boys who grew to manhood became ministers of the gospel. One of these, H. Dudley Brown, who was always of delicate health, lived only a few months after leaving the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Another son, Rev. T. L. Brown, a graduate of the Theological Seminary, is pastor at Lewistown, North Carolina. The third of the preacher boys is Rev. A. E. Brown, D.D. who is the founder of the great Baptist Mountain School System under the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The oldest son, F. A. Brown, is a teacher of large experience and splendid ability. The only daughter living, Mrs. Sallie A. Walker, is also a teacher.
Professor Brown was of a modest, retiring disposition. Had he not been so timid he would have taken rank among the great mathematicians of his day, for he was noted as a mathematician. He was a man of very broad culture. A thirst for knowledge was born in him. The first money he ever made was spent for a book, and I suspect, if the facts were known, the last money he ever earned went for a book. He had a very large private library, and was so thoroughly familiar with it that on the darkest night he could place his hand upon any book he desired in any of the numerous book shelves.
He had a very large sympathy for struggling boys and girls, and surrendered opportunities of benefiting himself financially in order to give his life to the education of the poor and deserving. Immediately after he graduated he was elected president of Mars Hill College, in North Carolina. A few years later he was called back to Tennessee to become professor of mathematics in the halls of his alma mater, and occupied that position till the Civil War broke out. He served four years in the Confederate Army, and was wounded at the battle of Chickamauga. After the close of the war, with his brother-in-law, Dr. N. B. Goforth, he established Riceville Institute. From this institution went out such men as the lamented Prof. W. T. Russell. When, Mary Sharp College was the leading school for girls in the South, Professor Brown was chosen professor of mathematics in that school. Ill health caused him to give up this position and return to upper East Tennessee. He became president of the Masonic Female Institute at Mossy Creek. It was while under his management that this school reached its pinnacle of usefulness, and among the most cultured women of East Tennessee will be found students of this institution, among them the wife of Bishop James Atkins. In 1879 he returned to North Carolina and became president of Judson College, with which institution he remained until a growing deafness caused him to give up teaching. During the last years, on account of this affliction, he was largely shut off from fellowship with his fellowmen, but through it all he was a regular attendant at church, even though he could rarely hear a word, but by taking the text and outline of his preacher-son, he would be able to work out the sermon for himself. His death occurred on August 25, 1906. He is buried at Fairview, North Carolina, beside his wife and preacher-son.
(As a rule the subjects here sketched are preachers. The notable exceptions are President Z. C. Graves, Prof. R. R. Bryan, and Prof. W. A. G. Brown, Pioneer of higher education for women in Tennessee and the South).
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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