In March we celebrated Women's History Month. To conclude the celebrations, we have selected as our next Greene County VIP, the renowned, Hallie Q. Brown (See Fig. 1). Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to two former slaves in 1845, Brown was influenced by her parents’ involvement with the Underground Railroad. Their heroic activism empowered Hallie to commit her life to advocating for the rights of African Americans and women.
Fig. 1 Hallie Quinn Brown photographed by F.S. Biddle between 1875 and 1888. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, loc.gov)
In 1873, Brown graduated from Wilberforce University and taught all over the United States including, a plantation in Mississippi; the Columbia (South Carolina) City School District; Allen University, where she held the position as Dean; Tuskegee Institute, where she held the position of Dean of Women; the Dayton (Ohio) Public School District; Wilberforce University; and Central State University. Throughout her teaching career, Brown emphasized the importance of improving literacy levels for minority children and adults.
In addition, Brown helped establish the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1893; served as the NACW’s President from 1920-1924 (See Fig. 2); and served as President of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women’s Club from 1905-1912. Brown also was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Ohio State Republican Campaign Committee.
Fig. 2 Xenia Evening Gazette, February 12, 1921 (courtesy of NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Brown was a gifted elocutionist and writer. She published several books including, Pen Pictures of Pioneers of Wilberforce
in 1937 (See Fig. 3). Twelve years later, at the age of one hundred and four, Hallie Q. Brown died on September 16, 1949 in Wilberforce. Here at the Archives, we have Brown’s will record. According to her will, which was written and signed on the day of her death (you can see her signature at the bottom), she intended to pay off all her debts and bequeath one hundred dollars to her niece, Martha Cloyd, of Muncie, Indiana (See Fig. 4). A suitable monument was to be purchased and placed for Brown at her family’s cemetery lot. Her home, “Homewood Cottage,” located in Xenia Township, was to be sold to the highest bidder and the proceeds were to be divided between her nephew, Henry, and her nieces, Frances and Lois. The "highest bidder" turned out to be Central State University. The University paid $12,000 to Brown's family for the property.
Fig. 3 The Greene County Archives' copy of Pen Pictures of Wilberforce
Fig. 4 Hallie Q. Brown's Will Record, Box 1059, Case 6030
An inventory of her personal goods and chattles were recorded ( See Fig. 5). Her unfinished autobiography, As the Mantle Falls
, was appraised at $500.00 in 1949. Brown's executrix, Frances Hughes, was unable to secure an offer for more than one hundred dollars. In 1951, the Librarian at Central State University purchased the book for the University's library for one hundred dollars. In addition, value appraisals were determined for the other books she had written; her stocks, securities, and household goods; and the property she owned. In 1949, the total appraised value for Brown's estate amounted to $19,521.15 (See Fig. 6) The equivalent of this total today is $215,361.57.
A sale of Hallie Q. Brown’s personal property occurred on May 19, 1951 (See Fig. 7). Notice in the newspaper advertisement, it states, “many of the items listed are antiques.” I would think that these items that were owned and used by such a remarkable woman, would most certainly had/have historical significance and meaning. If you would like to see Hallie Q. Brown’s entire will record, please visit our website.
Fig. 5 Hallie Q. Brown's Will Record, Box 1059, Case 6030
Fig. 6 Hallie Q. Brown's Will Record, Box 1059, Case 6030
Fig. 7 Hallie Q. Brown's Will Record, Box 1059, Case 6030
Until Next Time!
Greene County Archives – Hallie Q. Brown Will Record, Box 1059, Case 6030
Greene County Archives online exhibit via our Flickr page - “Votes for Women: Greene County Suffragists and the 19th Amendment
Robinson, George F., History of Greene County, Ohio, Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1902