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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Frank V. Brownell, M. D.

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 429-430 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The state of New York with its many industrial activities and rapid development has within its confines many men of marked ability and high character in its various professional lines. Among this number may be included Dr. Frank V. Brownell, who has gained recognition as one of the able physicians of the state. He was born in Schenectady, New York, November 20, 1856, his parents being James and Margaret (Tinning) Brownell. James Brownell was born in Fulton county, New York, November 15, 1824, the son of John and Millicent (Gilbert) Brownell. John Brownell died at the age of eighty-three years. Thomas Brownell was the first to come to America from England; he settled in Connecticut in the year 1619, and Frank V. Brownell is one of the descendants. The names Brownell and Gilbert are of English descent. Margaret (Tinning) Brownell, mother of the subject of this sketch, was born in Montgomery county, New York, January 18, 1829, and died in Schenectady, March 4, 1895. She was the daughter of James Tinning, who was born in Scotland and came to America unmarried. His wife's maiden name was Bradt. Tinning is a Scotch name and Bradt is Holland Dutch.

Frank V. Brownell graduated from the high school in Schenectady in 1874, then from Union College in the same city in 1877, with the degree of C. E., but never practiced engineering. Preferring the study of medicine, he entered the Albany Medical College, from which he was graduated in 1882 with the degree of M. D., and following that he was an interne at Albany State Hospital for one and one-half years. He then located in Fort Plain, and practiced medicine there for six years, after which he moved to Schenectady, where he remained for a period of six years. In 1896 Dr. Brownell came to Canajoharie, where he has been engaged in general practice ever since. During the World war he was medical examiner in Canajoharie, for the recruits and also took an active interest in the Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives. For the period of one year Dr. Brownell was a member of the staff of Schenectady hospital and was health officer in Schenectady and has held the same office in Canajoharie for eight years. He is a member of Hamilton Lodge, Number 79, A. F. & A. M., of Canajoharie, and of the Fort Rensselaer Club. His chief diversion is automobiling and he holds memberships in the State, County and Canajoharie Automobile Clubs. Dr. Brownell is a deacon in the Reformed church of Canajoharie.

On the 24th of January, 1888, Dr. Frank V. Brownell was married in Fort Plain, New York, to Miss Mary L. Don, daughter of Alexander and Susan Edwards Don. She was born March 1, 1866, in St. Johnsville, New York. Alexander Don was born March 21, 1837, in Amsterdam, and died January 23, 1870, in St. Johnsville, where he was a druggist. The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Brownell, William Don, of Amsterdam, was born in Scotland and came to America. His wife was Diana (Cline) Don. Susan (Edwards) Don, mother of Mrs. Brownell, was born in Montgomery county, New York, August 2, 1835, and died in Canajoharie, November 1, 1916. She was the daughter of John Y. and Mary (Cook) Edwards. John Y. Edwards was born in Ephratah, New York, November 29, 1799, and died in St. Johnsville, on September 25, 1873. His occupation was farming and he was also in the lumber business. Mary (Cook) Edwards was born in Ephratah, March 2, 1811, and died in St. Johnsville, March 30, 1894. John Edwards, father of John Y. Edwards, maternal great-grandfather of Mrs. Brownell, died in Ephratah. While living in Johnstown he achieved much prominence, being elected to congress in 1837. His wife was Margaret (Yauney) Edwards, the eldest daughter of Henry and Margaret Elizabeth (Cline) Yauney. Henry Yauney was one of the first to enlist and help establish American independence, while acting in the capacity of corporal and sergeant under Captain John Fisher and Colonel Fred Fisher of the Third Regiment of the Tryon County Militia.

At the close of the Revolution, Henry Yauney resumed the avocation of a farmer until 1795. when he built the noted Black Horse Tavern. which at times was inadequate to accommodate the travel to and fro through what was then the only artery of travel to the Mohawk valley. It was here that the great four-horse stages came and stopped by the sign that was suspended from an upright, depicting upon its metal or wooden face the picture of a black horse — going or coming:

"They have all passed under the tavern door,
The youth and his bride and the gray threescore,
Their eyes are weary with dust and gleam,
The day had gone like an empty dream.
Soft may they slumber and trouble no more,
For their eager journey, its jolt and roar
In the old coach over the mountain."

Dr. and Mrs. Brownell are the parents of two children: Gilbert Smith Brownell, born in Schenectady, December 21, 1892, attended the high school in Canajoharie, and the Dean Academy in Massachusetts for one and one-half years, graduating in 1911. In 1915 he was graduated from West Point, and is now a captain at Fort Benning, Georgia, school of infantry. He was overseas during the World war. He was married November 16, 1916, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Laura B. Wishart, daughter of Rev. Alfred and Marie (Feathers) Wishart. The Rev. Alfred Wishart, D. D., is a prominent Baptist clergyman of Grand Rapids. Mrs. Laura (Wishart) Brownell is a graduate of Vassar College of the class of 1916. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Smith Brownell have four children: Mary Don Brownell, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, February 16, 1918; Alfred Wishart Brownell, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 26, 1920; Laura Adams Brownell, born in Fort Benning, Georgia, January 10, 1923; and John Gilbert Brownell, born June 17, 1924.

Catherine Brooman Brownell, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Brownell, was born in Canajoharie, September 8, 1895. She attended the Canajoharie high school and Miss Fuller's well known school in Ossining, New York, graduating in 1915. She then became a student at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, for one year, after which she took a two-year course in the Kindergarten School of the Froebel League, New York city, graduating in 1918. For one year she taught at Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, Connecticut. On June 24, 1922, she married William Arthur Pidgeon, son of William Pidgeon. He was born April 10, 1896, and is a graduate of Washington, D. C., high school. During the World war he spent two years in the service and is now associated with Jackson & Curtis, a stock and bond house of New York city.

Dr. Frank V. Brownell is a republican in his political views and efforts and by his high professional attainments and sterling characteristics has justified the respect and confidence in which he is held by the medical fraternity and the local public.

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