Sam (b. 1830) and Lucy (b. 1840) Brown lived at or near Hampden-Sydney and raised five children: Bettie (b. 1862), Anna (b. 1864), Eliza (b. 1866), Julia (b. 1866), and Nannie (b. 1873); and four grandchildren: Lucy (b. 1880), Bessie (b. 1882), Sam (b. 1885), and Annie (b. 1895). Lucy and Bessie were active members of the Mercy Seat community their entire lives, as was Sam. The younger Sam Brown worked as a janitor and bell ringer for Hampden-Sydney for decades. Brown’s former neighbor, William Paige
, remembers seeing Sam walk to work through the woods carrying a lantern because he left so early it was still dark outside. (Paige also worked at Hampden-Sydney for years as a janitor and painter.) Frances Scott
, who recently retired from running Hampden-Sydney’s “Log Cabin” daycare, remembers that her family purchased their land from Mr. Sam, and remembers visiting with he and Mamie as a child. Sam and Mamie had five children: Egarbeth (b. 1902), Sallie (b. 1903), Roberta (b. 1907), Willie Herman (b. 1920), and James (b. 1924). Willie Herman married Martha Austen, and they had two children: Samuel and Altamae. Sam and Lucy, Sam and Mamie, Lucy, Bessie, Egarbeth, and Willie Herman are all buried in the Mercy Seat Baptist Church cemetery.
Of Brown, Dr. Graves Thompson explained, “…one of Sam Hines‘ predecessors, Sam Brown, was known for ringing the bell a long time to let students get up to the third floor of Morton; professors were then known to lock their doors at the end of the bell. Brown was also known for his irregular timing, and was presented with a good watch when he retired.” (“The Tiger,” February 1978)
Sam Brown rings the bell in the campus bell tower
Brown smiles for the camera
*Photos courtesy Bortz Library, Hampden-Sydney College