Annie Wood Shaw Brownell

Annie Wood Shaw Brownell

1854 – 1905

Well lived.  Well loved. – A Life in Four Newspaper Clippings

Education: Providence Conference Seminary; East Greenwich Academy

Occupation: Schoolteacher

Father: Jediah Shaw (1813-1885)

Mother: Fallee Palmer Gray (1818-1854)

Siblings: Horace Gray Shaw, Rhoda Harriet Shaw, Lydia Coe Shaw

Husband: Frank Albert Brownell (1858-1938)

Son: Harold Aubrey Brownell (1882-1933) 

10 October 1883 – Little Compton

Saturday afternoon Charles W Howland rode into Little Compton in an open buggy attached to a spirited horse, drove under a shed and left the animal unhitched. While absent, the horse backed the carriage out, turned around and started off toward home at a moderate trot. He was discovered by men who tried to stop him, but the horse dodge them and set off at a full run. Mrs. Frank A. Brownell was about half a mile further on in the road with her a little child, and seeing the animal coming, put her child into the ditch, caught the horse by the bit and kept him at a standstill until the owner arrived, who rewarded her liberally. Few women would have had the nerve to check a running horse at full speed.

Fall River Daily Evening News


20 November 1905 – Adamsville

The entire community was saddened and shocked this morning to learn of the sudden and unexpected death at her home here Saturday evening of Mrs. Annie W Brownell. Mrs. Brownell had been in her ordinary health and in better than her wonted spirits through the day, and after dinner, drove in a buggy with a friend, Mrs. Oliver H. Almy, to the latter’s residence in Little Compton, returning about 5 PM. While in the yard she was prostrated by a shock of paralysis and was soon found after by her husband, Frank A Brownell, in a helpless and unconscious condition on the ground.

Dr. Dennett, living nearby, was hastily summoned and assisted in getting Mrs. Brownell into the house. Seeing her critical state, the doctor telephoned to Dr. Hathaway at Little Compton who responded promptly. The two physicians did all that was possible to save her life, but medical skill was of no avail, and she passed away a few minutes before 11 o’clock. The deceased had been in failing health for quite a period, having experienced a number of severe attacks  of illness, the last only a few weeks ago, when her life was despaired of by her family. 

Mrs. Brownell was born in Padanaram nearly 63 years ago, the daughter of the late Jediah and Fallee  Palmer Shaw. Her mother died in her infancy, and her home till marriage was in Little Compton with her aunt, Mrs. Harriet G Butler, who reared her as tenderly and kindly as if she had been her own child. 

After attending the town schools, she took a course at the East Greenwich Academy, and then became a schoolteacher in several districts, notably the Union, where she was engaged longer than any other. She possessed an unusually strong intellect, that was in line with a family of more than ordinary mental powers. Her services as an instructor were always in demand. She had a firm will and was a strong and independent character, asserting herself fearlessly and intelligently. She was kind-hearted and generous, helping those in need in quiet, unostentatious ways. Although never a church member, she was interested in religious things, and always a helper in social work. She moved from the Commons to Adamsville about nine years ago, and since then has worshipped at The Stone Church. While living at Little Compton her church home with chiefly with the Methodists. 

Her husband and her only son, Harold, survive her, and they have the heartiest  sympathy of many relatives and friends in their deep affliction.The funeral will be solemnized at her late home, Wednesday, at 12 o’clock, and will be conducted by the Reverend Jay. H. Dickson of the Stone Church, burial following in Pleasant View Cemetery.  

Fall River Daily Evening News 


23 November 1905 – Adamsville

The funeral of Annie W Brownell, who passed away so suddenly and unexpectedly Sunday evening, was held at her late home, Wednesday at noon. The house was filled to its capacity with sorrowing relatives and friends, many of whom were from neighboring towns and cities. Mrs. Brownell’s circle of acquaintances was unusually wide, and she had endeared herself to a host of people throughout Little Compton, Tiverton and Westport by her social qualities, her generous and admirable disposition, and her fine personality. It seems not too much to say that she was the best known woman in this region of the country, for everybody knew Annie Brownell.

The services were conducted by the Reverend J. H. Dickson of the Stone Church, who founded his address on a part of Acts 9:36, “she was a good woman, and full of alms deeds.“ He alluded to her life of generous and quiet almsgiving, and to her willingness and efficiency in rendering aid to her neighbors in sickness or distress. The vacancy created by her loss among her friends on the street is hard to fill. After consolatory remarks, Mr. Dixon closed with the lines beginning, “Thus star by star declines.“

A quartet composed of Mrs. Lester Cory of Tiverton and Mr. and Mrs. Hartwell H Dunn and T. Elton Wood of Fall River sang three hymns, “One Sweetly Solemn Thought”, “ Jesus, Lover of My Soul” and Abide with Me”. 

Although friends were requested through the funeral notice not to bring flowers, there was a more than ordinary contribution of exquisite floral offerings from relatives and others who could not refrain from expressing in this manner their love and high esteem for Mrs. Brownell. Prominent among the contributions were a large mound of roses and chrysanthemums from Abraham Manchester and sisters, a bunch of very large white chrysanthemums from Mr. and Mrs. John A. Seabury, and another from  Mr. and Mrs. Pardon C. Brownell of equal beauty. Beautiful crimson roses from Brooklyn friends were among the remembrances, and there were other handsome pieces almost too numerous to mention. The whole collection was of rare loveliness. 

Immediately following the service the internment took place in Pleasant View Cemetery, the procession containing a long line of carriages. The bearers were Pardon C Brownell, Frank O Tripp, Benjamin B. Gray, George Palmer, Abraham Manchester and T. Elton Wood. The Reverend Mr. Dixon closed with a  brief burial service.

Fall River Daily Evening News 


25 November 1905 – Little Compton

The sudden death at Adamsville last Sunday night of Annie W Brownell was an event of very sad interest to the people of this town, where her home has been a greater portion of her life. For over 40 years she has filled a large place in the community as a schoolteacher, a relative of many people, a public spirited woman and a friend of almost everyone. With the exception of her father Jediah Shaw, some years deceased, who was a noted teacher, she probably held the record for length of service as an instructor to the public schools of Little Compton. It is not too much to say that she was endowed with remarkable mental powers which manifested themselves in many noticeable ways. She was very fond of working out puzzles for prizes offered by newspapers and periodicals and was unusually bright and successful in the work, and had received a good many premiums.

Fall River Daily Evening News


Juanita Goulart

April 2020

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