Biography of Miriam Brown Rowley,
wife of Martin Stephen Rowley


Ancestral Jottings on the
Carpenters, Brownells & Harrises
of Hamilton and Fulton Counties

by Lois Cunniff

The following contains excerpts from letters my grandmother Miriam Brown Rowley, then in Chicago, sent me in 1954, when I was a high school senior in Mariemont, Ohio, working on a family history assignment. 

My grandmotherís father was Charles Platt Brown, a mathematician, novelist and fine penman, who moved to New York City - I'm not sure when. (Alas, just when he had figured out a numerical system to beat the track, the governor closed down pari-mutuel betting in the state. The novel about this also failed to make his fortune, so he continued in good spirit with his tobacco concession at Abraham and Straus.)

My grandmother herself was an artist of considerable skill, a great reader and a ready correspondent, who stayed in touch with some of her New York friends and relations into the 1950's. As a very daring young woman, she traveled west to Chicago in 1892, to see the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition). In the New York State pavilion, she met Martin Stephen Rowley, a young man from Rome, New York. 

Little was known about this side of the family other than Martin's father's name - DeWitt Clinton Rowley. Thanks to the Internet I recently found him in the censuses of 1850 (printer) and 1860 (proprietor of the Rome Sentinel.) Much to research there. I would welcome mail from any distant relatives still in the area. I am in New York City, but am presently working on my own ROOTS AND ROUTES family history and heritage tourism website, which will bring me back to the Adirondacks.


My grandmother Miriam Brown Rowley was born in 1871 either in Northville or New York City. Her mother Jane Carpenter (of Northville) had married Charles Platt Brown (of Wells) and moved to New York City with him. Jane died of consumption when my grandmother was two, so Miriam was raised in Northville by her maternal grandmother, Sally Brownell Carpenter. In 1942 she wrote me about her childhood, "they gave me lovely clothes and I had crayon, painting and elocution lessons, but was never allowed to go out, to parties, to ride down hill etc without having to come home before the nicest boys, who worked in their fathers' stores, could get out. It was wicked to dance. We had a roller skating rink and I was allowed to go there, only when my Aunt Lill went along and so on and on until we began to hear about the World's Fair at Chicago in '92. And before I go on with that, Sacandaga Park was a beautiful Park and summer resort, just across the river from Northville. There were elegant large hotels, "movies", a pavilion for dancing and a little old man who took tintypes. I have many in my box of pictures." 

This letter also describes the homestead in Northville as a "two story 12 room house with acres and acres of ground on the main street. It is still there, and I hope some day you will go and see it and the lovely little village where I lived for twenty one years." [I would love to know which house it is - if it is still there.] 

My grandmother's father had returned to NYC after Jane's death, remarried, and eventually moved to Chicago. In 1892, my grandmother, then 21, went out to visit him and work at the World's Columbian Exposition, where she met my grandfather Martin Stephen Rowley of Rome, New York. They married and moved to Nebraska, where Willet Northup Rowley was born. She died in her eighties in Chicago.