Spencer County, Kentucky

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By Tom Watson, historian
Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Last week, while telling the story of my first official spanking, you were slightly introduced to the Knox Brown family of Spencer County.

The real story of the family is something to behold. Follow along, the best you can, from this portion of the Brown family tree and learn the connection between Liberty Hall in Frankfort and the Brown's Spencer County home - Vaucluse.

Vaucluse, the large home and property on Yoder-Tipton Road is filled with history of early Kentucky. Historian Tom Watson suggests that if the current owners are ever in the mood to sell, the property would make for one of the state's better museums.

Mason Brown was born in Philadelphia November 10, 1799. He died Jan. 27, 1867 in Frankfort at the age of 67. He married Judith Ann Bledsoe in Fayette County March 10, 1825. Judith was born in 1803, the daughter of Jesse Bledsoe and Sarah Howard Gist. Judith died Aug. 28, 1827 in Lexington, at the age of 24. The biography of Mason Brown is from The Kentucky Encyclopedia: BROWN, MASON.

Mason Brown, jurist, son of John and Margaretta (Mason) Brown, was born on Nov. 10, 1799 in Philadelphia. He was reared at his parents' home, Liberty Hall, in Frankfort, where he received his schooling from tutors. In 1820, he was graduated from Yale University, then studied law. Brown was appointed to the Kentucky circuit bench in 1839, a position he held until 1849, when he returned to his law practice. He co-edited with Charles S. Morehead "A Digest of the Statute Laws of Kentucky," published in 1834. Brown served as secretary of state of Kentucky under Gov. Charles S. Morehead (1855-59). He was dedicated to the public interests of Frankfort, assisting in the creation of the Frankfort Cemetery in 1844. Brown married Judith A. Bledsoe of Lexington in 1825; they had one son, Benjamin Gratz Brown.

In 1835, after the death of his first wife, Brown married Mary Yoder of Spencer County. They had six children: John Mason Brown, Margaretta M. (Brown) Barrett, Mary Yoder (Brown) Scott, Yoder Brown, Knox Brown, and Eliza (Brown) Baily. Mason Brown died on January 27, 1867, and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. See Bayless Hardin, "The Brown Family of Liberty Hall," FCHQ 16 (April 1942): 75-87.

When Joe Brown, son of Knox, would invite me to Vaucluse to play (we were friends, regardless of what you may read in the paper) I wish I had been older than a fourth grader, or whatever I was. I'll never forget the winding staircase. At the top, bookshelves in the hallway were filled and many were in French, I learned later because as a child I didn't know French from Swahili. In the attic were some trunks I also learned later had come down the river (I presume the Ohio, or up the Salt River) by flatboat. The rafters of the house were held together with wooden pegs.

This is just a suggestion, but something Spencer County Fiscal Court might think about. If Joe and Mary Jane should want to sell the house and perhaps a little property that would include the family cemetery, the county should try to find a way to buy it. Vaucluse could become the best museum in Kentucky.

Keep Historic Pathways in business. Write, email or call: Tom Watson, 5225 Little Union Road, Taylorsville, Ky., 40071.


apwriternews@yahoo.com or call (502) 252-9991 before 6:30 p-m.


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