William S. Brown was born at Montreal, February 12, 1812.  He was the third son of James Brown, and Lydia Slater.

James Brown was the founder and publisher of The Canadian Gazette in 1807, which he later renamed The Montreal Gazette. He sold The Montreal Gazette in 1822 and that company has continued to publish to the present day. James Brown went on to invest in a paper mill, saw mill and extensive farming operations at St. Andrews East Quebec, but in 1834 his businesses failed at St. Andrews and he returned to Montreal. 

His four sons were left to attempt to establish their own careers, and William S. Brown left Montreal for New York with a letter of recommendation from his employer. While in New York he undoubtedly saw posters offering, “Free passage and equipment and a fortune in land to all those who remain in Texas during the war.” He arrived in Texas in September of 1835, and by October 16 was enlisted in the Army Of The Republic Of Texas, thereby joining in the war with Mexico for an independent Texas.

He first saw action on December 5th in a successful attack on San Antonio de Béxar, in which town stood the mission fortress called the Alamo.  Under the command of Col. Fannin, he camped at the Alamo along with future legends such as Davy Crockett, Will Travis and Jim Bowie.  Col. Fannin grew tired of the inaction at the Alamo and on February 12, 1836 he moved the 400 men under his command to another fortress at Goliad. The Mexican army under the command of General Santa Anna arrived at the Alamo on February 23, and leaving total death in its wake turned toward to Goliad.  The Mexican army caught Fannin’s group on the open plains, and after imprisoning them for a week at Goliad, marched them out on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, in the pretence of  providing them with transport to New Orleans and freedom. Instead at a given signal they obeyed Santa Anna’s order and methodically slaughtered nearly 400 men. Some of the Mexican soldiers made sport of the event, killing the men with sabres instead of shooting them.  The corpses were stripped, partly burned, and left unburied.  Among the dead was William S. Brown. 

After finally defeating the Mexican army, General Rusk and the Texas Army marched to the site of the massacre and  gathered the bones for a ceremonial burial. A large monument now stands on the site with the name of each soldier engraved upon it.

Documents, photographs, letters and full story in "James Brown, Family History, Volume Two": 1995, by Alan O. Brown.

*Researching William Silvan Brown................Alan O. Brown  (gg nephew)
Return to Montreal Roll of Honour

Back to the homepage

Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
Patty Brown
coordinator of the MontréalGenWeb