Eli Brown & Son 1841 - a quick look at the Brown family and their drums

There are many internet blogs and individuals posting information on the Brown family and their drums, and most agree on details, but not all, so here we'll stick with some basic sources to share that are relevant to this 1841 drum, #2163, that we have for sale in our web store.

In The Browns of Wintonbury, the author Frederick Hesketh writes regarding the Brown family of drum makers:

The mystery of when the first drum was made may never be solved. Virtually all known and verified Brown Drums have a distinctive label and date inside the drum opposite the air hole. The earliest date known to the Company of Fifers & Drummers is 1810 and bears … the name      B. E. & M. Brown. [1]

The genealogy of the Brown family is complicated, with several family members being drum makers either contemporaneously or through generations, but by 1816 (again according to Hesketh ), it starts to look a bit clearer:

Eli Brown is the most prolific name, appearing by itself beginning in 1820…until 1835, when the label "Eli Brown and Son" appears as the most common label through 1848… [2]

 We have an Eli Brown & Son drum in our own collection,pictured below, that's dated 1842 with number 2193, which tracks nicely with the information for the #2163 drum.

Our #2193 is full size, although we see many of the Brown drums that were made prior to the Civil War cut down in size to suit the preferences of that later period, as the #2163 drum was. The hooks on that drum were added later as well - the holes in the hoops are just visible in the picture.


[1] Hesketh, Frederick.The Browns of Wintonbury, Wintonbury Historical Society, 1999.

[2] Ibid.

Bazelon, Bruce and McGuinn, William F. American Military Goods Dealers and Makers 1785-1915 Combined Edition, 1999.

Clark, James. Connecticut's Fife & Drum Tradition, p 43-46, Wesleyan University Press, 2011. While only a brief description of Brown drums, Dr. Clark gives us interesting comments about their sound.









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