1. 1850 U.S. Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at
Ancestry.com, Image #67-68 of 542): New York City (5th Ward), New
York Co., NY, Roll M432_537, pp. 34A-34B, enumerated 5 Aug 1850, official
enumeration date 1 Jun 1850 (extracted by Diana Gale Matthiesen):
is James's father. Is Martha his mother or his aunt?
||Inspector of Lumber
||George W Brown
3. 1860 U.S. Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at
Ancestry.com, Image #47 of 95 — indexed "I.
Sidney Brown"): St. Louis P.O., City of St. Louis (Ward 6), St. Louis
Co., MO, Roll M653_655, p. 313, PN 47, 109/169, enumerated 21 Jun 1860,
official enumeration date 1 Jun 1860 (extracted by Diana Gale Matthiesen):
Living in some kind of boarding house or hotel.
|J Sidney Brown
4. 1870 U.S. Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at
Ancestry.com, Image #28-29 of 72): New York City P.O., New York City
(Ward 20, ED 15), New York Co., NY, pp. 454B-455A, PN 28-29, 83/267, enumerated
29 Jul 1870, official enumeration date 1 Jun 1870 (extracted by Diana Gale
Rogers (BROWN) CHASE is James's sister. Emma and Amelia BROWN
are the orphaned daughter's of James's brother, Isaac
|Chase Wm Henry
| " Maria R
||New York City
| " Catharine A
||going to School
|Chase Cornelia M
||going to School
||New York City
| " Wm Francis
| " Julia
|Brown Emma H
||living with Aunt
| " Amelia
| " James S
5. 1880 U.S. Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at
Ancestry.com): can't find.
6. 1890 U.S. Census: the 1890 Census Population Schedules
7. Trow's New York City Directory. The Trow City
Direcory Co., NY (online at Ancestry.com):
||Brown James S.
8. U.S. Passport Applications (online at Ancestry.com):
notarized on 1 May 1865 in NYC for James Sidney BROWN of NYC, b. 14 Apr
1819 in NYC.
9. Anon. 3 Mar 1893. "Artist Brown Very Ill." New
York Sun (New York, NY) 60(184): 7.
The "Varick Street graveyard" (a.k.a., St. John's Chapel cemetery,
Trinity Parish) no longer exists; the property is now a public park, specifically,
a baseball field.
ARTIST BROWN VERY ILL
THE OLD DAGUERREOTYPER A PUBLIC CHARGE IN BELLEVUE.
He Was Once Well Known in New York, and Was the Friend of Napoleon
Samuel F.B. Morse, and Other Famous Men.
A white-haired man, whose back was bent with
age and whose clothes had seen much wear, clambered stiffly down the narrow
stairs of the brick building at 50 Fulton street at 6 o’clock on the morning
of Washington’s birthday and tottered along in the storm that made out
of doors dismal at that hour. He slipped on the slushy crossing,
and before he had gone very far fell on his face. He was found by
a policeman lying nearly insensible, with blood flowing from two bruises
above his temple. An ambulance took him to Bellevue Hospital, where
the old man, dazed by his severe fall, could give no account of himself.
He was considered insane by the doctors, and placed in ward 26 as a patient
suffering from dementia. The doctors could find nothing in his possession
that gave any clue to his identity, and the patient refused to talk about
himself when he had recovered his speech.
Alonzo J. Drummond, a photo-engraver living
at 1601 Avenue A, went to Police Head-quarters on Feb. 23 and begged the
police to try and find the old man. Drummond said that he was James
Sidney Brown, an artist, and had lived for four years in an apartment in
the third loft of 50 Fulton street. The police tried for three days
to find out what had become of the aged artist, but failed, as there was
no record at Bellevue to show his identity. His whereabouts were discovered
on Feb. 27 through a letter from the supposed insane patient, written in
a perfectly rational style. In it the old artist said that he was
lying in the hospital at death’s door, and begged Mr. Drummond as an old
friend to see that he had a decent burial in “the Varick street graveyard,”
where, he wrote, some of his family slept. The letter said that in
return for this kindness Mr. Drummond might have the contents of two leather
trunks, fully half a century old, that were in the third loft of 50 Fulton
street. The writer said that they would be found to be valuable.
Mr. Drummond hurried to Bellevue and found
his old pensioner lying very ill, in charge of Dr. Douglass. Tears
came into the old man’s eyes, and he seized Drummond’s hand feebly.
“It’s the same old Jimmie Lenney,” he said,
“will you see that I get a Christian burial when I go?”
Mr. Drummond resolved, if possible, to secure
the removal of the patient to a home where his surroundings might be more
Yesterday morning he opened the two trunks
in the Fulton street loft, and found a multitudinous array of oil paintings,
water colors, and wood engravings, pencil sketches, boxes of paints, books
on art, and hundreds of letters. There were scores and scores of
daguerreotypes in excellent preservation. Artist Brown would never
permit any one to see these and would lock himself in the loft whenever
he had occasion to open the trunks. With the aid of the letters and other
memoranda, Mr. Drummond was able to trace out the story of his old pensioner’s
“Mr. Brown,” he said, “was born at the corner
of Morris and Greenwich streets on April 15, 1820. His father was
a Greenwich street fruit merchant of some means. He apprenticed young
James to a silversmith at Fulton and Dutch street, but the boy was fonder
of making sketches than fussing over silverware. His catechism issued
in 1829 by the Sunday school attached to old Trinity shows this.
His brother, Charles Brown, who was a brother-in-law of “Billy” Moloney,
the Reading Clerk of the Board of Aldermen, was able, through Clerk Moloney’s
influence, to get young Brown admitted to the antique school of the National
Academy of Design, and he became a student in 1841. He was a proficient
student, and, after graduation he set up a portrait studio at 181 Broadway.
He was skilled at painting in water colors, and was one of the founders
of the American Society of Water Color Artists.
“When the art of daguerreotype making was
introduced it interfered seriously with portrait painting, and Mr. Brown
accepted an engagement from Mathew Brady, a noted photographer, whose studio
in Broadway, below St. Paul’s Church, is pictured in old woodcuts of antebellum
days. He had, previous to this, declined an invitation from Commodore
Perry to accompany the Japan treaty exhibition. Perry wanted him
to make photographs of this historic trip. Mr. Brown’s knowledge
of chemistry and art enabled him to turn out exceptionally fine daguerreotypes.
He excelled in the art of posing his subject. Some specimens of his
work were sent to the London Exposition of 1851, and won the gold medal
over competitors from other countries.
“He went back to his painting of portraits
and landscapes after winning this medal and founded the Ruskin life class
of the National Academy, where the students worked exclusively with the
brush instead of the pencil. He went to St. Louis later, still as
a photographer and portrait painter, and his letters show that he made
the acquaintance of Gen. Beauregard and other distinguished Southerners,
and painted portraits and took daguerreotypes of them. The outbreak
of the war compelled him to sell out his photographic business at a sacrifice,
and with the money he received he went to Paris and studied with Thomas
Conture, the French painter, who highly commended his ability as an artist
in water color.
“He returned to New York after the war, but
found business rather dull, and was obliged to live frugally. His
last employment was as assistant to R. A. Lewis, a photographer in old
Chatham street. Lewis’s death left him practically penniless.
He had been a wood engraver for the Bible Society and for the Harpers and
Frank Leslie, but he always lived up to his means. He belonged to
the Seventh Regiment for four years. I have discovered from his correspondence
that he was acquainted with the Emperor Napoleon III., Samuel F. B. Morse,
Charlotte Cushman, Edwin Forrest, Gen. McClellan, and a number of other
Mr. Drummond spent an hour yesterday afternoon
showing some of the treasures in the battered trunks that the old artist
guarded so zealously. There were many daguerreotypes of Mr.
Brown, showing him as an intellectually handsome man, with flowing black
hair and a full beard. His forehead was high, and the expression
of his face kindly. There were studies in oil made in the Tuileries
and the Louvre, and many water colors of children at play, resembling the
work of J.G. Brown. These things show that the old artist was particularly
fond of gamin life.
Among the first things found in the trunks
were copies of the famous wood engraving of Actor F.S. Chanfrau as Mose,
for which Chanfrau posed to Mr. Brown. There were wood engravings
of scenes from other local plays of old New York life, and sketch books,
in the pages of which the artist had jotted down characters whom he saw
in walks in the Battery, along Broadway, and in City Hall Park. They
included all sorts of street gamins and peddlers, and the sketches were
One of the curios was a tin box of Windsor
& Newton colors made to order, with the colors in triangular pockets
instead of square spaces. The triangular pockets permitted a larger
stroke of the brush and save time in getting the color in the camel’s hair.
There were numerous charts showing that Mr. Brown had been at work on a
system of charts intended to teach beginners the principles of color blending.
The charts were ingenious, and made up of sunshine and shadow hues, and
the effects of running water, still water, and the like. Other charts
showed that he had been experimenting to improve the method of taking daguerreotypes.
“These things,” said Mr. Drummond, “ought
to bring in enough money when sold to keep Mr. Brown in comfort during
the short time that he will live. I have eight children and a wife
to support or I would undertake to keep him unaided. He needs medical
attendance, and a man with such a career certainly deserves to spend his
last days somewhere besides on a cot in Bellevue.”
Lith. & Published by E. & J. Brown
140 Fulton St. N.Y.
10. Anon. Sunday, 5 Mar 1893. "Will Never Be Himself
Again." The World (New York, NY), p. 24:
11. Anon. Sunday, 12 Mar 1893. "Artist
Brown's Pictures." The World (New York, NY), p. 24.
There's no evidence that he was born on "Varick Street."
12. Chas. F. Chandler & Arthur H. Elliott, eds. 1893.
"Obituary." Anthony's Photographic Bulletin (New York City, NY)
24(1): 282 (online at books.google.com):
We are under the painful necessity of recording
the demise of James Sidney Brown, an old-time painter, engraver and daguerrerotyper...
Mr. Brown was born April 14, 1819. His
father was a Greenwich street fruit merchant of some means, and apprenticed
young James to a silversmith; but the boy was fonder of making sketches
than of working over silverware. His brother finally got him admitted
to the antique school of the National Academy of Design in 1841.
He was a proficient student, and after graduation set up a portrait studio
at 181 Broadway. He was one of the founders of the American Society
of Water-Color Artists. When the art of daguerreotyping was introduced
Mr. Brown took it up, and was very successful in it. He subsequently
went back to painting again, however, and went to St. Louis, from which
place he returned to New York after the War, but found business rather
dull. His last position was with R.A. Lewis, a photographer in Chatham
street. Lewis' death left him practically penniless. He had
been a wood engraver for the Bible Society and Harpers for some years.
13. Brown, James Sidney (online at craigcamera.com/dag/bo_table.htm;
extracts by DGM):
|(1819-1893), daguerreian, artist and engraver. States he was
"probably" born in Newburyport. Apprenticed
as a silversmith. Was M.B. Brady's principal operator by 1843.
In 1846, in partnership with brother, E.S.
14. Peter E. Palmquist & Thomas R. Kailbourn. 2005.
Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide:
A Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865. Stanford University Press,
Stanford, CA. Pp. 130-131.
15. LDS. Family Search: Family Trees (online
at familysearch.org): not found, as of 13 Aug 2015.
16. Public Member Trees (online at Ancestry.com):
not found, as of 13 Aug 2015.
17. WorldConnect / Ancestry World Trees (online at RootsWeb.com/Ancestry.com):
not found, as of 13 Aug 2015.