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History of Brownell Hill

Submitted to The Heritage of Holmes County, Florida by John Brownell

When John and Mary Brownell immigrated to Florida from North Carolina circa 1840, they settled on a high hill just east of what is now Prosperity Cross Road. Their family consisted of a son, Anthony Hartly and a daughter, Frances (Fannie) Angelina. The hill would become known as Brownell Hill. 

Anthony would venture to Ponce de Leon to open a hotel. He later returned to the hill community now called Fairplay. He would serve as the community's postmaster. His son, Daniel Jackson would become Sheriff of Holmes County. His grand sons, great grandsons and great-great grandsons would hold political offices in the county. 

Fannie who married a Brown died in 1858 and her burial place, on top of the hill, established the Brownell Cemetery. John and Mary moved with Fannie children to South Florida. Anthony and Daniel Jackson would be interred in the cemetery. The small cemetery is a peaceful, somber and also spiritual place. It is shaded by a large live oak and interspersed with large azalea shrubs. The grounds are maintained in the old fashion raked white sand without a blade of grass. Many area families have chosen this lovely place to inter their loves ones. Some of them are Hudsons, Bowers, Colvins, Browns and Eldridges. For many years funerals and revivals were held in a temporary arbor. A permanent arbor was erected circa 1950. A small white church now stands next to the cemetery. The Florida Forestry erected a watchtower near the cemetery. The tower was dismantled after it became obsolete. 

The Hudson family acquired the property circa 1900. John M. Brownell, Daniel Jackson's son, had homesteaded another high hill just to the south. THis homestead was also called Brownell Hill. To distinguish between the two hills the original Brownell Hill became known as Hudson Hill. Many Hudson descendants still live on the hill.