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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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GARRET E. BROWNBACK is a descendant of two honored pioneer families of Pennsylvania. He was born in Vincent township, Chester county, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1846, near the old Bethel church on his father’s farm, land originally settled by his great-great-grandfather, Gerhard Brumbaugh (as formerly spelled) in 1716. He attended the public schools of the vicinity, later the Guldin School at Pughtown, and the State Normal School at Millersville. He is the son of Jesse and Elizabeth (Christman) Brownback, of Chester county. Jesse was born March 18, 1807. Elizabeth was a daughter of Jacob Christman, the family being of German descent.

Jacob Christman was a large land owner and prominent citizen. During the days of general musters he was prominent in military affairs. He was a member of the Lutheran church. His children: Jacob; Henry; Susan; Elizabeth (mother of Mr. Brownback).

Jesse Brownback was born March 18, 1807, and died at the homestead, August 3, 1899. His wife died in 1853. Jesse Brownback was a practical and successful farmer. He had ten children, nine of whom are yet living, as follows: Penrose W., of Linfield; Clementine (Mrs. S. B. Stauffer); Anna (Mrs. F. Stauffer); Garret E., subject of this sketch; Martha (Mrs. P. W. Beerbower); Frederick, residing in Montana; Jacob C., who served in the rebellion and resides in Chester county; Edith (Mrs. N. Yeager); Margaret, (Mrs. W. F. Setzeler, deceased); Lewis C., of Chester county.

Garret E. Brownback’s generation is the fifth of the family in America, the family line being Garret, Jesse, Peter, Henry and Gerhard, the last named being the immigrant. Gerhard Brumbaugh and wife were the parents of two sons and five daughters: the sons, Benjamin and Henry Brownback.

Gerhard Brumbaugh (the name being anglicized later into Garret Brownback) was born in Europe in 1662, coming from Germany to America about 1683. He settled at Germantown when only one house had been erected in that place. He married Mary Papn about 1716. She was born in 1695 and died at the homestead in Chester county. She was the daughter of Heivert (Howard) Papn, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Rittenhouse, who, came from Holland in 1688. About 1720, Gerhard Brownback removed and settled in Vincent township, Chester county, where he took up about one thousand acres of land, erecting log buildings and making permanent settlement about 1736. He had a tavern license granted him, the first in that part of the country. At that time an Indian village was within a few miles of his settlement. He made friends with the Indians and gave them provisions in exchange for labors. He was obliged to go to Valley Forge to get his plow irons sharpened, which was about ten miles from his home. He was the founder of the German Reformed church, known as Brownck’s church, giving the land on which the church is erected and also the land for burial ground. The first building was erected in 1741; the first preacher was from Germany, his name being Peter Minicus.

Gerhard (Garret) Brownback had two sons and five daughters as follows: Benjamin; Henry; Mary; Magdalene; Catharine; Elizabeth; and Anna M.

Gerhard Brownback built a saw mill in Chester county and owned a half interest in a grist mill. He died in 1757. Benjamin Brownback succeeded his father in the hotel business and later served in the war of the Revolution. He replaced the log house with a commodious stone house.

Henry (great-grandfather) married and reared a family and died in Coventry township, Chester county. Among his children was Peter Brownback (grandfather), who, on March 29, 1803, married Susan Defrain, widow of Edward Brownback, by whom he had two sons, Jesse (father) and John, both deceased.

William Rittenhouse was born 1644, near Mulheim. Later he resided in Holland, whence he came to America in 1688 and about 1690 erected the first paper mill in America, near Germantown. He died in 1708, at the age of sixty-four years, and was buried at Germantown in the Mennonite church yard. He founded this church and was the first Mennonite bishop in America. He brought with him three children, Nicholas, Gerhard and Elizabeth. By his will, Nicholas succeeded his father at the paper mill, and, by Nicholas’ will, his son William inherited the property. He died intestate, and the property wag divided equally among his children, Nicholas, William, Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, John, Mary, Susan, Margaret and Barbara. William was born at the paper mill property in 1691. The Rittenhouse forefathers had long carried on the paper manufacture business at Arnheim, Holland. Nicholas Rittenhouse succeeded to the Germantown paper mill and was the father of Matthias Rittenhouse, who was the father of David Rittenhouse, the greatest astronomical and mathematical genius of his age.

Garret E. Brownback was reared in Chester county, near the old Brownback’s church. After receiving a liberal education he entered on a business career. He was employed one year as clerk in Jesse Reinhart’s store and formed a partnership with his brother, Penrose, in 1867, becoming a dealer in general merchandise at Linfield. After three years of successful experience, he built a commodious block for store purposes, where Penrose remains in business. The firm continued until 1876, when Garret carried on business alone, but later closed out to Penrose, retiring from mercantile business in 1887, engaging in what has led to his present occupation. He commenced attending Philadelphia market in a small way, with butter made by himself and bought from his neighbors. In 1888, to make himself master of the business, he took a course in pharmacy, in Philadelphia, with special reference to the analysis of milk, and thus prepared himself for the work he has since done in his creamery. Mr. Brownback having made himself master of the butter business, erected his first creamery at Linfield in 1888, since which time he has added to his holdings from time to time until he owns ten creameries, his daily output of butter being thirty-two hundred pounds, while he buys a thousand or more of other manufacturers. He finds a ready market for his product in Philadelphia, where he sells mostly to consumers and to the grocery trade. To facilitate trade in butter he has eight stalls in Ridge Avenue Market, using a dozen delivery wagons for the purpose of supplying customers with butter, chickens, eggs, and other produce. He also has two teams at Atlantic City, which are engaged in supplying his trade. He offers to his patrons the purest creamery products on the market, and delivers orders to all parts of Philadelphia, selling more butter than any other retail dealer; Mr. Brownback’s creameries are fitted out with the most improved facilities for butter-making, including separators and other machinery, all operated by steam, and all being the best of their kind, and combining the latest results of progress in butter-making. He also operates an extensive ice plant, using the product in his business.

In his business management, Mr. Brownback is thoroughly progressive, employing every attainable improvement. His offices are equipped with the best typewriters, desks, safes, and other appliances, and telephone connection supplies facilities for the prompt and successful transaction of business. He is the recognized authority on all matters connected with the operation and management of creameries. In addition to his creamery holdings, Mr. Brownback owns five fine farms: comprising in all five hundred acres. Two Chester county farms contain two hundred and twenty acres of land that has not been out of the Brownback name since the time of William Penn, there being only one deed between the present owner and the proprietor of Pennsylvania. Mr. Brownback is a stockholder and treasurer of the cold storage plant at Linfield; he is also a director of the Industrial Savings Fund, of Royersford; vice president of the Home National Bank of Royersford; vice president of the Royersford Trust Company; and a director of the Ridge Avenue Market Company; treasurer of the Linfield Plough Company; and owns and operates the Linfield Steam Grist Mill.

In 1897 Mr. Brownback erected a palatial residence at Linfield, constructed of stone of modern architecture. The grounds are extensive and all the surroundings beautiful. He also owns much other Linfield property.

On January 20, 1874, Mr. Brownback married Miss Emma Evans, who was born August 30, 1848. Mrs. Brownback is the daughter of Thomas B. and Mary A. (Schwenk) Evans. Thomas was a son of Owen Evans, and he a son of David, whose ancestor came from Wales to Pennsylvania several generations ago. The family have long been prominent in that section in Montgomery county. Owen Evans reared the following family: Robert; Mathew; David; John and Thomas B.

Thomas B. Evans received a good elementary education and was a successful business man, filling many positions of honor and trust in his community. He was commissioners’ clerk for ten years, and was also clerk of the board of poor directors a number of years. He was justice of the peace for several terms. Politically he was a Democrat. He retired from active business and lived generally at Linfield, where he died at the age of fifty-fours years. The Evans family were Lutherans. Thomas B. Evans’s wife survived him and died August 12, 1899, at the age of eighty-seven years. She was the daughter of Daniel Schwenk, Daniel being a son of John Schwenk. John Schwenk came with five brothers to America from Germany at an early date, all settling in Pennsylvania. Daniel Schwenk was reared in Frederick. He was a tanner by trade and also a farmer, and was well known and highly respected. His children were: Mary (Mrs. Thomas B. Evans); Harriet, died unmarried; Amelia (Mrs. William Herb); Elizabeth (Mrs. I. Stetter); Charlotte, died unmarried; Ephraim, died unmarried. The parents and family were Lutherans.

The children of Thomas B. and Mary Ann Evans: R. Brooke, a well known business man, now deceased; Mary E. (Mrs. B. F. Saylor); Charlotte, deceased; Emma E., wife of Mr. Brownback; Montgomery, one of the best known and most prominent members of the Norristown bar.

The children of Garret E. and Emma Brownback: Mary Elizabeth; Caroline; Charlotte Evans; Garrett Arthur; Jesse Evans, and John Kenneth. The daughters are all highly educated, being graduates of college and highly accomplished in music and art, also in languages. Garrett A. is a graduate of Yale College (1904), where he stood well in his class. He is a member of the Psi Beta Kappa Society; Jesse attended the Hill School at Pottstown and entered Yale Sheffield School, in September, 1904; John K. is attending the Hill School in Pottstown.

Mr. and Mrs. Brownback are church members; he of the Reformed church and she of the Lutheran. He is a Republican in politics.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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