Herbert Gardner "Egg" Brown was a founding father of Eastpoint.
Born on Christmas day 1883 near Winchester, Virginia, he was 14 years old when his family traveled down the Chattahoochee River in 1898 to settle in Franklin County.
Egg Brown’s parents, Quakers David H. Brown and his wife Rebecca Wood Brown, migrated to Nebraska with 3-month-old Herbert in 1884. In 1896, they traveled by mule drawn wagon to Muscogee County, Georgia, with several families and organized as the Christian Commonwealth on a 4,000 acre plantation.
Social reformers, the colony sought to form a cooperative and share the wealth among its members. Two years later, discouraged and disillusioned, the Browns and five other families left Georgia and traveled down the Chattahoochee River to Apalachicola where they settled across the Apalachicola Bay on the strip of land called Eastpoint.
Herbert Brown spent his life in Eastpoint where became a revered and beloved member of the community. In 1983, the former Brown Elementary School was named for him at the request of the Eastpoint Lions Club. Brown died a year later, August 1, 1984, at 100 years of age.
Over the years, Brown was a farmer, school board member, water and soil conservation district member, prison mail clerk and school teacher.
He shared the job of postmaster with his sister Elizabeth, with the two siblings having inherited the position from their mother, Eastpoint’s first postmaster. When she died in 1938, Brown took on the task of sorting mail unofficially.
“It was kind of peculiar,” he later said. “I was the oldest child and I didn’t know what else to do.”
Around 1940, the postal service appointed him fourth class postmaster. After his father’s death the same year, Brown remodeled the post office adding a separate entrance and lock boxes. Prior to the change, people walked through the living room to pick up mail.
In the late 1940s, when the growing seafood industry necessitated a bigger space for handling mail, Brown built a block house east of his home. He worked there until his retirement in 1954 at age 70.
Brown earned the nickname Egg for peddling eggs in Eastpoint and Apalachicola.
Every Friday, first by ferry and later by bridge, Brown crossed the river to Apalachicola in a canopied truck, loaded with eggs. Before leaving Eastpoint, he would collect shopping lists from his neighbors. He carried his eggs door-to-door in Apalachicola. Delores Roux remembers her mother bought two dozen each week. When the eggs were sold, Brown picked up the items on his shopping lists and carried them home.
Preshia Crum, another Eastpoint centenarian who is currently the community’s oldest resident, said Brown owned the first car in Eastpoint and his car was the first to cross the Gorrie Bridge from Eastpoint to Apalachicola at the grand opening celebration.
The evening of her wedding in Apalachicola, Brown met Miss Preshia and husband Lucius at the ferry and gave them a ride part way home.
Charles Moore remembers Brown’s chicken farm on what is now Patton Drive. He said Brown kept a flock of several hundred white leghorns, and often took area children on tours of his chicken house. He had a croquet set, which he shared with the children of the community. Fond of youngsters, Brown founded Eastpoint’s first Boy Scout troop and a scoutmaster for many years.
Moore later knew Brown when they were both members of the Lions Club. Together they traveled to meetings as far away as Pensacola. Brown was proud of his record of perfect attendance at Eastpoint Lions Club meetings.
When he celebrated his 100th birthday, he was the second oldest member of Lions Club International.
Brown was a diminutive man with brown hair and blue eyes. He was intelligent, a musician and an avid reader. He was fond of studying foreign languages and often corresponded with his family in Esperanto, the “hoping language,” constructed for international use in 1887 but never officially adopted by any country.
Brown clearly remembered his family’s journey to Florida and, in 1962, wrote an account that was published in the Times.
The story began, “In the spring of 1898 my father, David H. Brown, with family of five boys and three girls, ranging in age from 14 years down to five months, led a band of settlers from Georgia to Florida and founded the settlement of Eastpoint.”
Traveling with the Browns were John and Lottie Griswold with two boys and two girls; The Andrew Allens with three boys and one girl, the Mackenzies with a son and daughter and the Earnest Thompsons with one son. There was also a civil war veteran Grandpa Wells and a man named John Sarsfield. David Brown had already made a trip to Franklin County to purchase land for a settlement from Captain S. E. Rice.
The group planned to earn a living farming and harvesting seafood. They traveled south on three barges lashed together, one they purchased and two 30-foot house barges they constructed from wood. The contraption was steered by two long oars one on each end. The cries “Georgia” or “Alabama” indicated which bank to steer towards.
The barges were loaded with chickens, ducks, turkeys, two farm horses, a pony and farm machinery as well as household goods. The fowl were actually transported on a sort of floating coop attached to one side of the rafts.
The travelers set off on April 4, 1898, at probably the worst possible time, when the river was running very high after heavy rains. In his account, Brown commented that, if they had had any experience with the river, they would have waited.
“Everything went well that day,” he wrote, “until late in the afternoon when the high wind carried the boats to the shore where overhanging branches tore a corner of the roof off of the smaller boat of the Brown’s right over the stove where their supper was cooking, and the boat with the poultry was overturned, drowning most of the chickens and the turkeys. Tom Allen finally managed to get a line ashore but was unable to stop the boats in the strong current, and was left to catch up as best he could. Considering the situation dangerous, Mr. Griswold with the large skiff took the women and children ashore on the Georgia side where they spent a cold quite uncomfortable night in a Negro’s cabin.”
Will Frye of Apalachicola, an officer on the steamboat Queen City, put out a bateau with a couple of roustabouts and a heavy cable and finally got the boats tied up a short distance from a railroad bridge.
The travelers spent April 6 getting reorganized. The next day, a market trip was made to Eufaula to purchase lumber to replace the oars, which had been broken during the mishap. While there, they hired an African American pilot to join them on rest of the trip. Over the next four days, little progress was made.
“On April 12,” wrote Brown, “River Junction was passed and as they were in a safe part of the river, they kept on all night, only stopping the next day on account of wind. As usual, when tied up during the day, someone went fishing. When the wind abated later they went on until after dark, passing Devil’s Elbow, a great bend in the river.”
Below Brick Yard, they were met by Capt. Rice, with a small tug. He towed them to the bay where the tug left them because it didn’t operate in saltwater. On April 16, they poled and paddled the flotilla across the bay with some help from a small sailboat belonging to Rice.
The lumber from the barges was used to build the first houses in Eastpoint. The Browns at first lived in a little house near the site of the old toll booth. A few years later, they built the wooden house where Egg Brown spent his life.
On July 16, 1898, the first mail was delivered to Eastpoint by Capt. Andy Wing piloting the Crescent City. A schoolhouse was also erected that year, and a church was built soon afterwards.
Initially, the group had little success harvesting seafood because they were inexperienced. They experimented with growing crops including citrus, strawberries and sugar cane.
Egg Brown never married, although most of his siblings did. He remained in the house where he was born with two unmarried sisters.
Brown lies at rest in the Eastpoint cemetery at the heart of the town he helped to found.