27. Ann French Brown, ca. 1860. From a carte de visite (source undiscovered).
Ann Caroline French Brown—wife of Simon Brown, sister of Henry Flagg French, aunt of Daniel Chester French, mother-in-law of George Keyes (see #5)—was a valued member of the Concord community in the mid-19th century and a vital contributor to her family's quality of life until she died.
Born in New Hampshire, in 1828 Ann French married Simon Brown—over the course of his life a printer, publisher, librarian of the United States House of Representatives, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, editor of the New England Farmer, founder of the Concord Farmers' Club, officer of the Concord Lyceum, and member of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, the Middlesex Agricultural Society, and the Social Circle in Concord.
The Browns had two children—a son who died in early childhood and a daughter, Mary. Simon, Ann, and Mary Brown moved to Concord in 1848, to River Cottage on Liberty Street (now 49 Liberty), where they lived for the rest of their lives.
Ann Brown was skilled in all aspects of domestic economy. Moreover, she was—in the judgment of her granddaughter Bessie Keyes Hudson (see #9)—an intelligent, affectionate, practical, optimistic, and sympathetic woman, sustained by liberal religion and a good sense of humor. She was hospitable to family, friends, neighbors, and her husband's associates alike. She was active in the Concord Female Charitable Society and the Bible Society, attended Concord Lyceum lectures and sessions of the singing school, and served as president of the Soldiers' Aid Society.
After their marriage in 1854, Mary and George Keyes made their home in River Cottage, eventually taking over the management of household and farm. Grandma Brown was a great help in caring for her grandchildren when they were young, in teaching them to read, and in passing on the enduring values of her own generation as they grew older. Simon Brown died in 1873, his wife in 1898, just short of her ninetieth birthday.
This photograph of Ann Brown in her early fifties captures her intelligence and sense of humor as well as the youthful vitality which she retained into old age.