The story of Joel Weeks or Joseph Brown


Submitted by Jettie Henley Parrish & Garrett Craig

(A Historical Novel, 'A Man Called Brown' covering Joels trek from Jackson Co Tennessee to Van Buren Co Arkansas by Jettie Henley Parrish & Garrett Craig will be published May 2005.)

Joel Weeks was born in Overton County Tennessee in 1819, the son of Gamlia 'Gamblin' Weeks and Sarah Brown. He first married Mary 'Polly' Wilson in the late 1830s and had 3 daughters, Angelina, b 1839, Lucinda, b 1844, and Martha, b 1845. After Martha's birth, Polly died and about 1847-48 Joel m. Parzedia Van Zandt B. 1826, the daughter of Isiah Van Zandt and Ailcy Lee. They had 2 daughters while living in Tennessee; Savannah Luster b. April 1849 and Catherine, b 1851.

Sometime around 1850, Joel began having trouble with neighbors, there are several different stories about this that float through different family branches. Some say it had to do with the neighbors letting their hogs get into his fields, others say differences over slave issues, and some say that 2 men tried to rob him. It could be any or a combination of these issues. Whatever the cause, in 1852 things came to a head with the neighbors. Joel defended himself and again, the stories differ as to the outcome, some say Joel killed one, some say 2 men, in a knife fight, and shortly thereafter, he, Parzedia, and their children packed up and headed west to Reynolds County Missouri, where Joel's father, Gamblin, was sheriff. On the way, Joel became Joseph Brown, using his mother's maiden name. Parzedia and the children retained their given names, but changed their last name to Brown, also. They stayed in Reynolds County only a short time, and then headed on west and south to Van Buren County Arkansas, where Joel/Joseph's sister, Sarah Weeks Alread and her family had migrated a year or 2 before. They continued to use the name Brown.

They lived quietly in the hills of Van Buren County Arkansas, near what is now known as Alread, for several years, having several more children; Winfield G, born in 1853, John R, born in 1856, Joel, born in 1858, Susannah Lincoln, born 1861, and Nancy, born 1867.

In 1858, his father, Gamblin, arrived and moved just across the county line, into Pope County; their properties probably joined each other as the plat map shows Joseph's land was right on the Van Buren-Pope County Line.

When the Civil War broke out, and Arkansas became one of the states that left the Union, many men were forced into serving in the Confederate Army. Joseph, his brother in law, Solomon Alread, and his father, Gamblin Weeks joined the Union cause. Gamblin died in Cassville Missouri in August 1864 at age 69 years. Shortly afterward, Joseph tendered his resignation as 1st Lieutenant in Company E Arkansas Cavalry Volunteers due to poor vision, and came back to Van Buren County, where he lived out his life, dying December 22, 1867. He is buried in a field on the Jones farm, near Alread, I am not sure if this was the original location of his farm or not, but think it possibly may be. His original grave marker read "Stop Stranger, you are treading on a Hero". It is unknown what happened to that marker, it was removed sometime around the time that a Civil War marker was placed on his grave.

Parzedia continued to live on the mountain, after Joseph's death. She died December 04, 1898, and is buried in Pleasant Grove Alread cemetery, on one side of her grave is her daughter, Susannah Lincoln Brown Gross, and on the other side is her son, John R. Brown.

Jettie Parrish Gggrandaughter of Joel Weeks/Joseph Brown and Parzedia Van Zandt