Cattaraugus County GenWeb
The Drown Family
of Bryant Hill, Ellicottville

The Drown Family of Bryant Hill, Ellicottville

Peter Drown settled on Bryant Hill in Ellicottville in about 1827. He was born to Nathaniel and Margery (Rice) Drown on 13 Feb. 1792 in Granby, Conn. Peter was a descendant of Leonard Drowne who was a shipwright from the west of England and who was born in 1646. Leonard had come to this country "soon after the accession of Charles II" (i.e. abt. 1661) and located in Portsmouth, N.H. He later removed to Boston, MA. Peter was also probably a descendant of Leonard's son, Shem Drowne. Shem Drowne was born in about 1682 in NH. He settled in Boston, was a deacon of the church and probably also a blacksmith and/or coppersmith. In addition, the Oct., 1986 edition of Americana magazine (Vol. 14, No. 4) indicated that he was America's first recorded weathervane maker. Shem Drowne "fashioned the world-famous glass-eyed grasshopper in 1742 for Faneuil Hall. Symbol for an exchange, the grasshopper has survived an earthquake, a fire, entanglement in the flagpole halyard, and 'vanenapping' in 1974" (Americana, Vol. 14, No. 4). The grasshopper has been called America's most famous weathervane and still sits atop the renovated Boston exchange.

Peter Drown's father, Nathaniel Drown was born to Mary Fuller on 10 July 1762 in Attleboro, Bristol County, MA. Mary was the daughter of Nathaniel Fuller. Nathaniel Drown served during the Revolutionary War from Uxbridge, Mass. From Volume IV of a series of books titled Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, published 1899, it was learned that he served in the Continental Army from 6 July 1780 until his discharge on 16 Dec. 1780, for a total of 5 months and 20 days. He served in Brig. Gen. John Glover's unit at Springfield, MA. under the command of Lieutenant Jackson of the artillery. Also in this record is his description: 19 years old, 5 ft. 9 in. tall, and of a "ruddy" complexion. Following his service, Nathaniel Drown removed to Granby, Conn. where he married in about 1784, Margery Rice, daughter of Peter and Prudence (Loomis) Rice of Simsbury, CT. Margery (Rice) Drown died in Granby on 30 Apr. 1822 according to the Congregational Church records of Granby. Shortly afterwards, it appears that Nathaniel and his daughter Margery removed to Clarendon, N.Y. to be with his son Peter and his family since Peter had recently become a widower. Nathaniel Drown died in Clarendon, Orleans County, N.Y. on 20 Apr. 1825 according to family records.

From the Historical Gazetter of Cattaraugus County, N.Y., p. 589, compiled by William Adams and published in Oct., 1893, "Peter Drown ... married Eliza Green [in about 1811] and soon after [in about 1814] removed to NY State. He was employed as a sentinel at the prison in Auburn about 2 years; settled on a farm in Sweden, N.Y., and marketed his wheat in Rochester for 25¢ per bushel..." They may have settled near Clarendon, N.Y. where his father Nathaniel reportedly died since Clarendon was in Sweden, Genesee Co., N.Y. at that time. Eliza (Green) Drown died in 1821 in Sweden, N.Y. Peter married second in Sweden Township in about 1822, Sarepta Thayer (born 6 Mar. 1805 in Brookfield, Madison Co., N.Y.). She was the daughter of Oliver and Hannah (Vining) Thayer. Peter Drown's sister, Margery Drown (b. 1799; d. abt. 1875 in Lyndon, N.Y.) married in about 1823 in Sweden, N.Y., Sarepta Thayer's brother, Billings Thayer. Peter and Sarepta were possibly married by Rev. Ebenezer Vining, who was her grandfather, a Baptist minister, and who was also living in Clarendon, N.Y. Peter and Sarepta had 10 children together. Their first three children were born in Sweden.

In "about 1827 [Peter and Sarepta Drown] began anew in the woods in the northwestern part of Ellicottville, where he cleared the land and gave all his family a good education." Peter Drown settled on Bryant Hill. His house was on the northside of the present Bryant Hill Road, about a quarter of a mile west of the cemetery. Peter Drown continued to be a farmer in his new location, and he served as commissioner of highways for a period of time. His real estate was valued at $1200. in 1850 and at $2800. in 1870. Sarepta (Thayer) Drown died on 15 June 1859. Peter's will was dated 27 Feb. 1864, and he died on 11 Mar. 1875. Both are buried in Bryant Hill Cemetery.

Children by his first wife, Eliza (Green) Drown:

  1. Calvin, b. abt. 1812 in Granby, Conn.; prob. m. Janette Baxter. Settled in the village of Cattaraugus, New Albion Township, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. Had at least one child, William Peter Drown (b. 10 Oct. 1834). Either removed from the area shortly after William's birth or Calvin may have died. (For a long time thought to have died young)
  2. Julia, b. 20 Jan. 1814 in Granby; m. Ebenezer Vining Thayer (b. 11 Oct. 1802 in Goshen, MA.; d. 15 Sept. 1886 in Garrettsville, Ohio; son of Oliver and Hannah [Vining] Thayer). He was the brother of Julia's step-mother, Sarepta. They settled in Garrettsville, Ohio.
  3. Louisa, m. ________ Taylor and settled in Parkman, Geauga Co., Ohio.
  4. Fidelia, m. ________ Brown and settled in Spring Valley, Fillmore Co., Minn.
  5. Elbridge M., b. 5 Nov. 1819 in Sweden, N.Y.

Children by his second wife, Sarepta (Thayer) Drown:

  1. Nathaniel Peter, b. 26 Dec. 1822 in Sweden, N.Y.; d. 1916; m. 9 Oct. 1845 by A. Storrs, Esq. in Ellicottville, Sarah Louise Ingalls of Ellicottville. They settled initially in Franklinville, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. but removed to Marengo, Iowa Co., Iowa. They were still in Franklinville in 1849 when their daughter Marie Sarepta Drown was born on 30 Mar. of that year.
  2. Oliver T., b. 1 Aug. 1824 in Sweden; d. 20 Oct. 1870 in Ellicottville; m. 3 Sept. 1849, Harriet Huff (b. abt. 1825; dau. of Jacob Huff of East Otto, N.Y.). Removed to Spartansburg, Penn. in abt. 1854 where he engaged in a mercantile business. Returned to Ellicottville in 1865 and he opened a general store. He ran this store until his death. Oliver lived on Elisabeth St., across from Monroe St. in the village of Ellicottville.
  3. Lydia, b. 17 July 1825 in Sweden; d. 3 Nov. 1825.
  4. Hannah, b. Aug., 1826 in Ellicottville; d. 1882; m. (1) Albert Knapp; m. (2) John Kimey. Settled in Spartansburg, Crawford Co., Penn.
  5. Chester R., b. 24 Dec. 1827 in Ellicottville; d. 31 Jan. 1918; m. Deborah Vankinsburg. They removed to Spartansburg, Penn.
  6. Mary Ann, b. 17 Feb. 1830 in Ellicottville; d. 7 July 1913 in Spartansburg, PA.; m. abt. 1863, Volney Batts (b. 1828; d. 18 Mar. 1897). Volney was a farmer. They removed to Spartansburg after 1880.
  7. Adaline E., b. 3 Feb. 1832 in Ellicottville; d. 4 Apr. 1907; m. Jedruthan Grey. They removed to Concord, Erie Co., Penn. where she died.
  8. Janette H., b. 2 July 1833 in Ellicottville; d. 31 July 1868 in Ellicottville; m. 3 Jan. 1855, Hiram G. Bryant (b. 1830; d. 1901; son of Samuel and Anne [Staunton] Bryant). Hiram was a farmer and they lived on Bryant Hill. Both are buried in Bryant Hill Cemetery.
  9. Augusta D., b. 14 Dec. 1838 in Ellicottville; d. 1917 in Baker, Ore.; m. abt. 1863, Alonzo N. Kingsley (b. 1836; d. 1884; son of Nathan Kingsley). Alonzo was a farmer, and they, too, lived on Bryant Hill, on the present day Simmons Rd. Alonzo is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Ellicottville.
  10. Alphonso Robert, b. 10 Jan. 1841 in Ellicottville; d. 4 Dec. 1918 in Machias, N.Y.; m. abt. 1861, Nancy Batt (b. 1841; d. 1902; dau. of Collins and Amanda [Walker] Batt of New Albion, N.Y.). He was listed in his father's will as the Petitioner, and was left the family homestead in that will. He was an elder of the First Presbyterion Church of Ellicottville for many years. Alphonso resided for a long time in the old family homestead but removed to Machias by 1900 and was listed as a laborer in an ice house at that time in the 1900 U.S. Census. He was listed in the 1910 Census as a widower, as living in Machias, but as working as a farmer on his small farm. Both Alphonso and Nancy were buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Machias, N.Y.

Elbridge M. Drown

Elbridge M. Drown was born to Peter and Eliza (Green) Drown on 5 Nov. 1819 in Sweden, N.Y. From the Historical Gazetter of Cattaraugus County, N.Y., p. 589, compiled by William Adams and published in Oct., 1893, "Elbridge, the youngest by the first wife [of Peter and Eliza (Green) Drown] was born Nov. 5, 1819, began life as a jobber clearing land and taught school nine winter terms. He has been a farmer, and also a dealer in real estate & cattle. He married Frances, granddaughter of Rickertson Burlingame." Elbridge Drown married in Ellicottville to Frances M. Burlingame on 17 July 1845 by Israel Day, Esq. Frances was born in Ellicottville on 23 Jan. 1828 to Victor Monroe and Lydia (Thayer) Burlingame. Her mother Lydia was the daughter of Oliver and Hannah (Vining) Thayer, and a sister of Billings Thayer, Ebenezer Vining Thayer, and Sarepta (Thayer) Drown (Elbridge's step-mother). Elbridge and Frances (Burlingame) Drown settled in Ellicottville and owned at least two tracts of land in the valley along Great Valley Creek, as well as most of Bryant Hill. Their real estate was valued at $4000. in 1860, and at $6000. in 1870.

Elbridge Drown's will was dated 2 Feb. 1897, and in it he left "To Francis (wife) entire use and income of all (his) property both real and personal, during her life time. After her death, as follows: To Mary Phillips (his daughter), 200 acres of (his) farm being and laying on the southerly side of the highway leading from Ellicottville to Ashford; To daughter Flora's (McPherson's) children, the balance of land on the southerly side of the highway and T.M. Fitch's farm; To daughter Emma Graham, all the land laying between the Franklinville and Machias roads, known as part of the Vinton and Oakes lots." His farming tools and one horse were also left to his daughter, Mary Phillips. " my executor (his son, Peter M. Drown) shall care and manage the farm and personal property during my wife's lifetime in such a manner as he may think proper, and the proceeds and income to be paid by him to her."

Elbridge M. Drown died on 2 Sept. 1904 according to the settlement of his estate. Frances, his widow, died on 22 Mar. 1907. Both are buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Ellicottville.


  1. Alice L., b. 1849 in Ellicottville; d. 13 Mar. 1870; m. Eugene Whitlock (b. abt. 1851) who was a last turner in a last mill. He lived on Adams St. in Ellicottville in 1910. He m. 2.) Hattie L. ________.
  2. Emma C., b. June, 1851 in Ellicottville; m. abt. 1874, James Graham (b. Mar., 1851 in Ireland). They settled in Machias, N.Y. where he was a farmer. Both died after 1910.
  3. * Peter M., b. 22 Jan. 1854 in Ellicottville; d. 2:00 p.m. on 14 Dec. 1919 in Ellicottville of valvular heart disease; m. 11 Oct. 1879, Flora Day (b. 23 Apr. 1860 in Machias, N.Y.; d. 5 July 1936 in the Gowanda State Homeopathic Hospital of general arteriosclerosis and brocho-pneumonia; dau. of Salmon and Mary [Rollins] Day). From the Historical Gazetter of Cattaraugus County, N.Y., p. 589, compiled by William Adams and published in Oct., 1893, Peter "received a good English education ... He settled on Bryant hill, where, when he took possession in 1872, his crop of hay was only eight tons; he has so improved his farm that in 1890 he harvested about 160 tons. Mr. Drown is a progressive farmer and gives his influence for the cause of temperance. Both are members of the Presbyterian church. Meetings of Bryant Hill Lodge, No. 808, I.O.G..T., are held at his house. Of this body he was its first templar."
  4. Albert Milow, b. 17 Aug. 1858 in Ellicottville; d. 8 Oct. 1861 in Ellicottville.
  5. Mary F., b. Feb., 1862 in Ellicottville; d. 1929; m. abt. 1884, Charles B. Phillips (b. Jan., 1864; d. 1944) who was a farmer. They moved onto the property in Ellicottville left to Mary in her father's will. Both are buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Ellicottville, N.Y.
  6. Flora D., b. 1868 in Ellicottville, N.Y.; d. 1895; m. abt. 1889, Wallace S. McPherson (b. 1865) who was a farmer. They lived in the Buffalo area, although he returned to Ellicottville in about 1905. He m. 2.) Nellie F. ________ in about 1898. Flora is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery.


* My wife, Susan (Pawlowski) Ladwig is a descendant of Peter M. Drown (b. 1854).

Some information in this story was first learned from a letter written in 1954 by Hazel Spencer Howard and mailed to the Historian of Cattaraugus County, N.Y. Some additional information comes from the book, The Vining Family, written by Dorothea Vining Barnes and printed by the Beacon Herald Fine Printing Division of Stratford, Ontario, Canada in 1980.

Contributed by John W. Ladwig