Dr. Clarence Stafford Gee (1884 – 1975), a Congregational Minister from Ohio, was also a highly respected John Brown historian. He specialized in the genealogy of the Browns and once said of his collection, “My interest is not that of a collector, save a collector of facts.” This dedication to the facts helped to establish his credibility in the numerous articles he wrote about John Brown and items related to John Brown.
Dr. Gee’s introduction into the intriguing world of John Brown occurred in 1921, while he was reviewing parish records at the Hudson (Ohio) Congregational church. He discovered that, as a youth, John Brown had been a member of the Hudson Congregational Church, which at the time met in a small hand-hewed log church on the green. His further research revealed that the wedding of John Brown to Dianethe Lusk, in June of 1820, was one of the earliest events to take place in the newly built and larger church building located at East Main and Church Street.
During his daily interaction with church members, Dr. Gee learned that there were old-timers in town who had personally known both John and his father Owen, as well as younger parishioners who had grown up hearing stories about the abolitionist family from their parents. He began interviewing the townsfolk and documenting their memories. He continued to study Brown and his descendants for the next 54 years.
His most valuable contribution to the history of John Brown was his detailed study of the family lines from John Brown’s father, Owen, through the 1950s. He carefully documented his findings on “genealogy sheets,” which now reside in the Hudson Library and Historical Society, in Hudson, Ohio.
Dr. Gee regularly corresponded with numerous members of the Brown family and attended nearly all of the Brown Family Reunions that were held every year from 1921 to 1965 (excluding the three years of World War II). He often presented charts, histories, and updated information on the many branches of the family. His contributions were so highly regarded within the family that during the 1932 meeting the following resolution was passed:
Whereas, the Rev. Clarence S. Gee has shown such an interest in and devotion to the study of the life and activity of John Brown; and because of his faithful attendance upon the annual meetings of our family; and because of his valuable and willing contribution to our reunion meetings,
Therefore, be it resolved that Rev. Gee and family be admitted as honorary members of this family, and,
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be transmitted by the Secretary to the Rev. Clarence Gee and family, and that a copy be written into the minutes of this meeting.
Signed Committee on Resolutions
In May of 2009, I visited the Hudson Library and Historical Society to prowl through the archives. I too have been interested in the genealogy of John Brown and his descendants and wanted to review Dr. Gee’s work for myself. What I found fascinated me, and I eagerly stood at the copy machine and copied all of the pages in the 6-inch binder. Once home I set about the momentous task of comparing Dr. Gee’s mountain of data against my large database (Legacy 7.0). Some additions here, some corrections there, more research needed over there, and I finally completed merging the two sets of information into one database. For some of the family lines I had more information than Dr. Gee had, on other lines Dr. Gee’s information far surpassed my information. I am now ready to continue collecting and updating the family history.
I am looking forward to many more years of research and communication with other Brown family members.