Historical collections of Ohio in two volumes, an encyclopedia of the state, Vol. 2
by Henry Howe     Published 1907

3 Feb 1801 - 20 Jan 1879

Judge James Brownlee, of Poland [township], was born February, 1801, at the family homestead of Torfoot, near Glasgow, Scotland, where for many generation had resided his ancestors, who on both sides distinguished themselves in the ranks of the White Flag of the Covenant. He inherited from them a vigorous constitution, a clear, strong, well-balanced mind, a buoyant temperament, a kindly, affable manner, and inflexible will, strict integrity, and that rare appreciation of the humorous, with large hope, which ever blunts the strings of adversity. His physical endowments were equally commanding, with fine, clear-cut features, dark, expressive eye, so that when he appeared at Youngstown in the fall of 1827, the young Scotchman met with a most cordial welcome from the pioneers of Mahoning.

Developing when at school into a youth of unusual ability, his father had designed him for a professional career; but that was not his choice. In 1830 his father and family followed him to America, when his father bought the beautiful tract of land at the junction of Yellow creek and Mahoning, building a handsome homestead thereon, where all the family resided until 1840, when Judge Brownlee was married to Miss Rebecca Mullin, of Bedford Springs, Pa. Shortly after his father died, and the judge built a new residence on the hilltop overlooking the river, where his three children were born, the first now Mrs. Kate Brownlee Sherwood.

For his first thirty years in this country Judge Brownlee was engaged chiefly in the buying and selling of Cattle, purchasing yearly thousands and thousands of cows and beeves for the great markets of the West and East. He was always active in politics, an enthusiastic and ardent Whig; but while acting with the Whigs, he astonished the Abolitionists by attending an indignation meeting held at Canfield against the passage of the fugitive slave law, when he drew up a resolution so audacious that the others of the committee feared to adopt it, it seeming treasonable. He offered it personally, and it was carried in a whirl of enthusiasm. It was:

RESOLVED, That come life, come death, come fine or imprisonment, we will neither aid nor abet the capture of a fugitive slave; but on the contrary will harbor and feed, clothe and assist, and give him a practical God-speed toward liberty.


In the stirring times of the war he was so active in the forming of companies and recruiting without commission or remuneration, that Governor TOD sent him a "squirrel hunter's" discharge, as an appreciation of hearty services.

Judge BROWNLEE held many positions of public and private trust, among others that of Assessor of Internal Revenue at Youngstown. For years he held his life in jeopardy, having repeatedly heard the bullets whistling around his head when obliged to visit certain localities-still remembered for their opposition to the war and the operations of the revenue system.

He died January 20, 1879. He was a staunch Presbyterian, and his friends were numbered among the rich and the poor, who found in him that faith and charity which make the whole world kin.