Brown, William Laban, 1834-1865
William Laban Brown was born in the Stock Creek community of Knox County, Tennessee on May 28, 1834. He married Nancy Colvin Brown (1834-1913) and they had five children: Martha Louisa (1856-1875), Mary Melissa (1858-1871), John Judson (1859-1877), William Henry (1861-1934), and Albert Rosecrans Brown (1863-1937).
William Laban Brown served as a private in Company B of the 3rd Tennessee Cavalry Regiment in the Union Army. He was taken prisoner by forces led by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in September 1864 near Athens, Alabama. On April 27, 1865, Brown was among a group of former Union prisoners being transferred from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Cairo, Illinois for release from service when the "Sultana", the steamboat on which they were traveling, exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis, killing Brown and over 1,800 other passengers in the worst maritime disaster in United States history. His widow was unable to care for their five young children and sent them to live at the Soldiers and Sailors Childrens' Home in Washington, D. C.