Biographical Profile: Pastor Audley Browne, Chaplain of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 100th Regiment
Transcribed by Tami McConahy, 2nd great-grandniece of Corp. Thomas John Martin, Co. F. from available historical sources
History of Lawrence County, 1887 by Wick Wood
Robert Audley Browne.
"He has been a citizen of New Castle most of the last 40 years. To this place he came directly upon his marriage, September 3, 1846, to Mary, eldest daughter of Wm. Eichbaum, Esq., one of the oldest and most honored citizens of Pittsburgh. Mr. and Mrs. Browne’s domestic and social life has thus been identified with the city many years; here their children were born, while here in Greenwood Cemetery their dead are buried. The ties, therefore, are tender and strong that bind them to this community. When the young men of this and neighboring counties were organized at the 100th P.V., August 28th, 1861, Mr. Browne, with a leave of absence from the patriotic congregation of which he was pastor, went with the regiment to the front, as their chaplain, sharing the varied services, hardships and dangers of their campaigns, from South Carolina round to Mississippi; when, after the siege of Knoxville, which closed two years and four months of remarkable experience, having received an honorable discharge, he returned to his home duties, January, 1864. A few days later he resigned his pastorate under strong urgency to become President of Westminster College; but returned to his congregation upon a new call, October 1873. He here remained until now, pastor of the First United Presbyterian Church, of New Castle. Mr. Browne had organized this congregation in 1849 out of the country charge of which he was at that time pastor, New Castle, his home being from the first inside his pastoral boundary. No pastor has had so many longtime pastoral relationships; nor is there one who has been longer or more widely known in city or county. During these years he has been an exponent in the pulpit and platform of all great moral interests, always asserting his convictions on questions where morals and politics touch on one another. He is an advocate of all the Christian features of our laws, and insists on a constitutional amendment for their protection. He has always been outspoken in religious, moral and political antagonism to slavery and later the liquor traffic. He was one of the founders of the Republican party, speaking many times in its interest during its first national campaign. Yielding to the wishes of friends, he represented Lawrence, Butler and Armstrong districts in the Senate of Pennsylvania 1866-7-8, and gave his voice and vote for every advanced position taken by his party in the reconstruction measures of that period, including ratification of the 14th Amendment to the constitution of the United States.
His Alma Mater, the Western University of Pennsylvania, conferred on him the degree of D.D., about the year 1865.
The relationships Mr. Browne has held in greatest esteem outside his own family have been those he has held as minister of the Gospel to his congregation and the soldiers to whom he was spiritual counsellor and friend.
Mr. Browne was born in Stubenville, Ohio, December 3d, 1821. He was nearly four months old when his parents, who had before lived in Pittsburgh returned to that place, and here their son was educated and lived until at twenty-one years of age he was licensed to preach the gospel.
Mr. Browne voted consecutively the Abolition Free Soil, Republican and Prohibition tickets. The repeal of the Local Option law by Republican and Democratic votes in the Senate and House in 1875, made him a Prohibitionist, and Prohibitionists nominated him as their candidate for Governor in the fall of that year. There were three candidates, Mr. Browne received 13, 244 votes. Hartranft was elected by a plurality.
Mr. Browne’s speeches in the Senate are to be found in the Legislative Record. A few only of his addresses and sermons have been given to the press. He has spoken in the pulpit and on the platform constantly, but that very fact with a multiplicity of pastoral and other public labors prevented his writing for the press to any large extent."
History of Lawrence County, 1877
Hon. Robert Audley Browne, D. D.
“This gentleman has, for upwards of thirty years, been prominently identified with the interests of Lawrence county. His parents, David L. Browne and Sarah Miller, were born in Northern Ireland; the former in 1793, and the latter in 1794, and embarked with their respective families for America upon the opening of the war of 1812, but did not reach this country for three years, as the following statement will explain: The vessel was an American one - the William P. Johnson, and the Captain having received private information that war had been declared, stealthily slipped out of port at Londonderry, and hastened to his own country. He was captured on the banks of Newfoundland by the British frigate, Bellerophon. The active young men of the passengers of the American vessel were impressed as sailors, including Mr. Browne’s father. He carried his flute and book of navigation with him to the frigate, where he was enrolled as seaman before the mast. The British vessel was cruising around in search of the Essex, under Commodore Porter, then playing havoc on the British commerce. In a short time, however, the vessel had a full roll of seamen, and these young Irishmen were sent ashore and were detained with their fellow passengers in Newfoundland till the close of the war - a period of three years - when they were able to come to the United States.
Mr. Browne and Miss Miller were married in Washington, Pa., and shortly afterwards became residents of Pittsburgh, where for many years, Mr. Browne, an intelligent and educated gentleman, occupied positions, first in the United States Branch Bank, and subsequently in the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Bank.
The family consisted of six sons and three daughters. One daughter only survives, who is the wife of Amos Finkbine, Esq., now of Winchester, Va. Two sons only survive. The eldest of the family, James M. Browne, Esq., has long been a book-keeper in the Exchange Bank, of Pittsburgh.
The subject of this sketch is the third son. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio, where the family were temporarily residing, on December 3, 1821. He was reared in Pittsburgh, and graduated with honor from the Western University there, in 1840, at the age of nineteen. His preceptors in the University were the admirable scholar, Dr. Robert Bruce, President, and the since distinguished men, Hon. Thos. Mellon, Judge of Allegheny county court, and Rev. Alexander Young, D.D., L. L. D., late of Monmouth College, Illinois, now Professor in the Theological Seminary in Allegheny. He was brought up in the first Associate Reformed (now Second United Presbyterian) Church, in which his father was a ruling elder, and, after the completion of his University course, entered the Theological Seminary of this denomination in Allegheny, where he was under the training of the venerable John T. Presly, D. D., and the refined gentleman and scholar Rev. J. L. Dinwiddie, D. D. Being a devoted student, he stood high in his classes and secured and afterwards maintained life long relations of the most cordial nature with these eminent men. In 1866, his Alma Mater conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
At the age of twenty-one he was licensed to preach, and at twenty-three ordained to the Gospel Ministry. After a brief period as stated supply or Pastor pro tem in the Second Associate Reformed (now Third United Presbyterian) Church of Pittsburgh, where he rendered material service in the rebuilding of the church edifice, which was destroyed by fire in 1845, Mr. Browne became Pastor of the churches of Eastbrook and Shenango, in Lawrence county. This was in 1846. In 1850 he was installed pastor of United Presbyterian Church of New Castle, then a new and feeble interest, the organization of which he was largely instrumental in effecting. The church now enrolls upwards of three hundred members. His relations as pastor continued during his two years and four months as chaplain in the Union army, and part of his term, later, in the Senate, being served only in 1867, when he accepted the position of President of Westminster College.
On September 3, 1846, Mr. Browne was married to Miss Mary, eldest daughter of William Eichbaum, an early settler and leading business man of Pittsburgh, and whose history is inseparably blended with that of the development and growth of that thriving city.
Dr. Browne has had a family of five sons and two daughters, three of the former now deceased. The oldest son, William E. Browne, is an energetic business man of Mercer, Pa., and belongs to the hardware firm of Browne and Logan.
The second son, David L. Browne, died November 21, 1876, at the age of twenty-six. He was educated principally at Westminster College. He was a young man of rare intellectual endowments, and possessed great powers of investigation. His chosen profession, in which he was very enthusiastic, was that of the Apiarian, to which the necessities of his health, requiring outdoor life, seemed to compel him. In this he became very proficient, and had before him a future large with promise in this most interesting and important department of scientific research, as well as kindred fields of professional life.
Dr. Browne has for many years been prominent, not only in church and educational interests, but also in the political world. He is one of those decided, independent and thoroughly conscientious men, who believe, not in carrying politics into religion, but in carrying religion, not into politics only, but into all the everyday affairs of life.
His participation in political agitations, in the first instance, grew out of his deep convictions, early formed, of duty to the slave. When the Fugitive Slave Bill became a law, he denounced that measure, in the pulpit and elsewhere. He felt that the irrepressible conflict between the antagonistic interests of freedom and slavery had even then commenced. He felt this yet more when, at a later date, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise brought on the struggle in Kansas; and, following his convictions, he called and addressed meetings, and urged the sending of aid, including Sharp’s rifles, to the brave Free State settlers. The next year, 1856, came the Fremont campaign, and he threw himself into it, and at conventions and in churches and school houses, spoke ably for freedom in his own and adjoining counties, accepting freely the responsibility and odium attached to his conduct. The prominent secular leaders of the reform declared no services were more efficient than his.
After this campaign the republican party had plenty of leaders, and he was not needed till the first shot was fired on Fort Sumter, in April, 1861. He then came forward promptly, and by speeches, sermons and prayers became one of the foremost exponents of the ardent and intelligent loyalty of his country, assisting in the raising of troops and the uniting of parties in defence of the old flag. When the 100th regiment, known as the Pennsylvania “Roundheads,” was organized, he was nominated to the chaplaincy, and promptly accepted the position, his patriotic congregation voting him a leave of absence, and afterward extended it to two years and four months, till he could be spared from the army. He represented a class of men true to the Scottish Covenanter endurance and the courage of Cromwell’s Roundheads - a noble set of men.
Mr. Browne’s influence fitted him specially for the recruiting service, and he was accordingly detailed for that purpose. But as soon as his regiment was ordered into active service, he joined it without waiting for orders, sharing thereafter, of choice, in all its hardships and perils, by land and sea, march and battle fields, during the Hilton Head, Beaufort, and James Island occupation and battles, and the Pope campaign, with its painful results. Officers and men recognized his steady discharge of duty on the battle-field, or in the services of religion each evening, when the regimental psalm of praise rose over camp or bivouac, and as was frequently the case floated into the rebel lines. They had jokes pointed with reference to the chaplain’s bravery, and reminiscences of his coolness. Some of them remembered, for instance, how brave it made them feel to hear him say, “Boys, trust God, and keep your powder dry!” amidst the heavy fall of rain, with thunder and lightning, and rebel bullets whizzing above their heads, with the battle of Chantilly opened.
At the termination of this action, the closing one of the Second Bull Run campaign, Mr. Browne voluntarily remained with the wounded, to render them attention, thus subjecting himself to capture by the rebel troops. From this captivity he returned to his regiment and the 9th corps, to which he was then attached, he participated in the battles of Fredericksburg, in the clearing of Kentucky of guerrillas, in the campaign of Mississippi, assisting in East Tennessee in the fierce assault and bloody repulses of Longstreet at Knoxville.
The backbone of the rebellion was now broken, and Mr. Browne resigned and returned home to his pastoral duties, carrying with him, however, the effect of hard service and of southern malaria, as shown by several severe attacks of illness since.
IN THE STATE SENATE
Soon after he was out of the service he was earnestly urged for the use of his name for the State Senate. Though surprised at the request, after some deliberation he consented, and received the unanimous vote of the republicans of his county, and was nominated in the district and was elected. In the Senate his position was never a doubtful one. Whenever honor and popular rights, as against the exactions of monopolies, or the cause of order and good morals were involved, his advocacy could always be counted on. The question of giving the ballot to the newly emancipated colored population arose during his first session in the Senate (1866) and that measure received his ardent support, though there were then many conservatives even among the republicans. Hence he was glad to have a chance to vote for the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, as a measure of justice and wisdom, but he pointed out the defect in the second section, giving States the right to grant or withhold the ballot, and accompanied his vote with a declaration of those views which were afterwards embodied in the Fifteenth Amendment.
In these measures Senator Browne was among the foremost advocates of reform. As such he had the rare satisfaction to see the country compel cautious leaders either to get out of the way, or adopt principles pioneered for them by those who had more faith in God and man.
In 1867 Dr. Browne accepted the presidency of Westminster College, a position he retained till 1870. In 1873 he resumed charge of his old congregation, a large and influential one, which he still serves.
In 1875, Dr. Browne was brought forward as the nominee of the Prohibition party of Pennsylvania for Governor. His letter of acceptance is full of “Thoughts that breathe and words that burn.” Among other things he says:
“I am happy to be a public representative of the deep moral and religious convictions of thousands of the purest citizens of the commonwealth, who are painfully impressed with the need of a general reform in politics and deliverance form the rule of unscrupulous party leaders, and who now feel this need with new force, since the rights of the people have been recklessly sacrificed by these leaders to the demands of the liquor traffic. These party leaders are upon one side and conscience upon the other, and the contrast between them is the pressing issue of the times. The position assigned me in the contest is one I could not have sought; yet it is one from which when thus assigned I cannot shrink. The cause is unmistakably God’s; his providence works out the way, and me are of small account, except as instruments to do his will and accomplish his work.
“Our party represents the spirit of reform demanded by the times. It is no artificial production of political chicanery, but a creation of God and as outgrowth of the convictions of a great Christian people who will never cease their protest at the ballot-box while the cause of God and humanity require it.”
In figure, Mr. Browne is tall and slender, and of commanding personal appearance. His habits of thought and study have made him a ripe scholar, and he is a vigorous writer and an impressive, eloquent speaker. He is in the prime of ripe manhood, and possessed a rich and varied experience, gathered from the pulpit, the army and the Senate. He has been a lifelong advocate of the best interests of humanity, and is a Christian gentleman of unquestioned honor and purity.”
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