John William Brown was a lawyer, merchant, planter, and businessman, born in Tennessee and educated at Louisville, Kentucky. Brown moved to Arkansas after living for a time in Memphis, Tennessee, and practicing law there. He tried running a plantation in Dallas County for a while, but then moved to Camden in the 1850s. Brown married Clara Walker Coleman in 1832, in Hernando, Mississippi. The couple had seven children.
When the Civil War broke out, Brown remained in Camden and recorded his observations about daily activities and the community, including the Federal occupation of the town in April of 1864. Brown's diary has been quoted many times in various articles and books, but has never been published in its entirety. The original diary belongs to the Arkansas History Commission.
This journal records John Brown's observations from 1821-1822, before he moved to Arkansas, as well as from 1852-1865, when Brown lived in Dallas and Ouachita counties. He also included transcripts of letters he wrote to his brother William in the 1820s. The original diary may be viewed on microfilm produced by the Arkansas History Commission. A separate transcription includes explanatory notes and drawings added by a descendant.
John Brown Journal. Riley-Hickingbotham Library Archives and Special Collections, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.