The Brummetts of Brown County

by Julia Pearson
photo courtesy Brown County Historical Society

The Banner Brummett log cabin at Johnson and Gould Streets is one of the architectural treasures in Nashville, Indiana. It was built in 1830 and remodeled with board and batten sections in 1871. There are 4 inch square gun ports on three sides. It’s reported to be the oldest log house in town and stories of the Brummett family can be traced before and after its construction.

The Brummett family has roots in Franklin County of colonial Virginia, where James Brummett I was born in 1746. It’s an accepted tradition that members of the Brummett family seemed to migrate whenever the population of the area in which they lived had grown to the point that “smoke could be seen rising from another resident’s chimney on a clear morning.”

From a treasure trove of government and Brummett family records, including family Bibles, are gleaned some of the highlights through the years of some of the members of this well-known Brown County family:

Brummetts are listed in the Monroe County 1820 Census, and the marriage record of James Brummett III is recorded in Monroe County in 1819. The family settled on Brummetts Creek Road, which runs from State Road 46 to State Road 45 in Unionville.

All the children of George Brummett were among the first settlers in Brown County. When the county of Brown was created by an Act of the State Legislature, brothers Banner Brummett Sr. and Pierson Brummett were already living in the area. They were named county commissioners along with James Huff, William Dowson, John Followell, and Henry Jackson. The Brummett brothers also donated land for the county seat along with six other men.

Banner Brummett, Sr. was the first county agent. He is credited with choosing the sites of the jail and courthouse. Banner Sr. also suggested the name of Jacksonburg for the name of the county seat in honor of General Jackson, the hero of New Orleans.

Businesses were built soon after the town’s boundaries were established. By 1837, Banner Brummett, Sr. was selling groceries and liquor. There must have been a thriving market for liquor, because records indicate Pierson Brummett was also in the business, as well as four others. But Pierson must have seen his neighbor’s chimney smoke too close to his house, and he left his Brown County home. The family Bible of his son, Lloyd, who is in the 1850 Brown County Census, records that Pierson died in Missouri on April 4, 1846.

Early Land Entries in Jackson Township list Lewis, 1835 and 1837; Banner, 1835; and Joshua, 1835. Land was entered in Washington Township by Brummetts as well: George, 1836; and Banner, 1836. Within the list of the Toll Tax Payers in 1848 were Banner Sr. and his son, Joseph; as well as Joab, Robert, and Solomon, sons of George Brummett.

Hiram Brummett served in the Union Army during the Civil War. When news reached Brown County that the President of the United States was calling for troops to carry on the War with Mexico, Joshua and Reice Brummett, sons of Banner, Sr. were among the first to respond. They became part of the Third Regiment. Joshua Brummett was just one of the troops that died during a measles epidemic. Reice died while crossing the Gulf and was buried at sea.
Brummetts were performing officially within the Brown County government from its earliest days. Banner was one of the nine justices of the peace appointed in 1836. R.S. Brummett served several terms as sheriff, from 1839–41, 1848–52, and a last term from 1868–70. William Enoch Brummett, known to all as Nick, was active in local politics all his life in the Bean Blossom area. He served one term as county commissioner and a one-year term as county assessor. For many years he was the President of the Old Settlers Association, as was serving in that capacity when he died in 1947.
In 1915–16, a Brummett was once again in the position of County Clerk—Christopher, Robert’s son. It was Chris and his brother Felix who were photographed by Frank Hohenberger as they stood by the mailbox of their neighbor, Jim Fry, on August 10, 1925. They are both immortalized in Dillon Bustin’s well-loved volume If You Don’t Outdie Me: The Legacy of Brown County. It’s recorded in Bustin’s book that Banner Brummett, Jr. lived to be 113 years old. It’s interesting to note that in other records, George Brummett is recorded as living 111 years.

Readers of Our Brown County will note the absence of Brummett women—that is another story yet to be written. However, it is comforting to find Brummetts in the current phonebook and know their line continues.