|Birth: ||Jun. 27, 1843|
|Death: ||Jul. 2, 1891|
Gavin R. Brownlee was born to Isabella Meek and Gavin Brownlee on June 27, 1843 in Carluke, Scotland. Gavin's father died of "consumption", which is now referred to as tuberculosis, on July 9, 1843, just days after his son was born. His mother, Isabelle, sister, Mrs. Jennette Allen and he would remain a strong Brownlee family unit until June 5, 1846, when his mom married John Littlejohn. Four daughters would be born of this union, Mary, Margaret, Isabelle and Elizabeth Littlejohn.
The Littlejohns' family journey from Scotland to the United States of America in 1858 was not without incident. According to family lore, their ship wrecked and they were on an island for a period of time. It is still unclear if they came directly to the States or if they came via Canada as there were and still are relatives living there. In the 1860 census he is shown living on Madison Avenue, in the city of Sharon, Mercer County, Pennsylvania which is currently called the "West Hill". However, it was counted by the US Census Bureau as part of Brookfield, Trumbull County, Ohio. His age was listed as 17 and he was residing with his parents and siblings.
On March 25, 1864, he enlisted as a Private in the 57th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company C and mustered in on April 4, 1864. Copies of the Volunteer Enlistment papers show it to be credited to Hickory Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 63rd Sub District, 20th Congressional District. It further sates his eyes were grey, hair brown, and his complexion light. His cousin, Thomas Alexander Thornton, was in the same unit and would also end up in Colorado.
Pvt. Brownlee fought at the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia from May 5th to May 7th, 1864 and at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia from May 8th until his capture on May 10th, 1864. Pvt. Brownlee was taken prisoner to the Andersonville Civil War Prison Camp or Camp Sumter as it was officially known in Georgia. Andersonville was originally intended to hold 13,000 but on May 24, 1864, the men incarcerated there were on about 16 acres of land, of which 2 of those acres were swamp. Deaths were about 70 a day. In June of 1864, the prison camp was extended to 26 ½ acres and housed 26,000 men. In the 14 months it operated as a Civil War Prison Camp, more than 45,000 Union Solders were confined there and of those, 12,920 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements. There were no reported hurricanes during his incarceration.
In September of 1864, all prisoners healthy enough were placed on a transport and moved to the Florence Stockade in South Carolina, about 100 miles north of Charleston. This prison was on 10 acres and held about 15,000 men. By October 12th of 1864 there were 12,362 prisoners at the stockade, with a death rate of between 20 & 30 per day. Sometime during his incarceration, Pvt. Brownlee fractured his right leg and developed scurvy.
Towards the end of November of 1864, orders came to make out parole rolls for the most severely sick and wounded prisoners. During the first half of December the prisoners who were selected for parole were sent by rail to Charleston where they would stay for a few days before boarding the flag-of-truce boats. After their parole, they were shipped to Camp Parole in Annapolis, Maryland.
Pvt. Brownlee was a prisoner from May 12th to Dec. 6th, 1864. It is a measure of this man that he survived. The Florence Stockade has not received the same notoriety as Andersonville, but the conditions were very much the same. In fact, by many accounts, Florence was worse. It must also be noted that most of the prisoners at Florence, including Brownlee, had already survived a hard summer at Andersonville and now faced going through the winter with little to no clothing or shelter for three-fourths of the prisoners were without blankets, and quite a few were close to being naked.
Pvt. Brownlee was paroled on December 6, 1864 at Charleston, South Carolina and reported at Hospital DW2, Maryland on December 10, 1864. On December 23, 1964 he was furnished transportation on furlough from Annapolis, Maryland to Columbus, Ohio. He was re-admitted to the hospital on January 22, 1865 and was honorably discharged by General Order on June 30, 1865 at Annapolis, Maryland.
On September 11 1889, a monument was dedicated to his unit at Gettysburg for their service in the Civil War, a photo was taken, however, it is unknown if he was in attendance.
Gavin married Miss Isabella Hill. and to this union were born three children; Jeanette, Isabella and Gavin Brownlee. Belle passed away in 1873 and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Hermitage, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. After her death, Gavin moved to Colorado.
Gavin met a widow by the name of Margaret Cowan Westwater who ran a boarding house in Coal Creek and they married on September 3, 1882 in Oak Creek, Colorado. Two children would be born to this union, John and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Brownlee.. However, Margaret was not happy being the wife of a miner, so she didn't stay very long. When Gavin died she changed her name back to Westwater and his property became known as "the Old Westwater Ranch". It is located on a flat above the old school in Hillside, Colorado.
Gavin filed for his military pension in September of 1890 and his address is shown as Silver Cliff, Colorado. Included in this filing are two General Affidavits from his cousins, Alexander Thornton (age 56) of Platoro, Conejos County, Colorado and Thomas Thornton (age 45) of Canon City, Fremont County, Colorado.
Gavin was killed in the Globe shaft of the Humbold mine at Rosita on July 2, 1891. He and several other workers were running a drift from the shaft, Gavin had just seen a fine showing of mineral and called to his fellow workers when some huge rocks gave way and fell, completely burying him. Help was called and everything possible was done to extricate him, however, it was believed death was to have been instantaneous.
The funeral service was conducted at the Presbyterian Church in the city by the Reverend I. W. Smith of Rosita and was largely attended by members of the Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W) and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F), as well as other citizens. Gavin was known as a man of estimable character and had many friends. At the time of his death, he was only 47 years old.
Much thanks goes to BlackRose for her help with this bio.
Silver Cliff Cemetery
Plot: Lot 44 Block I
Maintained by: joan davis
Originally Created by: Never Ending Story
Record added: Sep 14, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 15731080