John Brown’s parents, Owen and Ruth Mills Brown, both could trace their Connecticut ancestry to the seventeenth century. Owen, born February 16, 1771, was the son of John and Hannah Owen Brown. Ruth Mills, born about 1772, was the eldest child of Gideon and Ruth Humphrey Mills. Owen and Ruth married in 1793 and were the parents of eight children, John Brown being the fourth child and oldest surviving son. In 1805, the Browns moved to Hudson, Ohio, where Ruth Brown died in December 1808. Owen Brown married Sally Root in 1809 and had eight more children. After Sally’s death in 1840, Owen Brown married a third time in 1841 to Lucy Hinsdale, a widow.
In the first two decades after coming to Hudson, Owen Brown prospered, becoming one of the wealthier residents of the community. Despite a speech impediment, in addition to serving as a Justice of the Peace and county commissioner, Owen Brown was a trustee of Western Reserve College for several years after its founding in Hudson in 1826 and helped oversee construction of the first college building. However, in an internal dispute over the question of colonization versus immediate emancipation, Owen Brown resigned as trustee in the 1830s. He later was a trustee of Oberlin College from 1835 to 1844. In 1842, Brown helped form the Free Congregational Church in Hudson. He died in Hudson on May 8, 1856.