Born in Buck County, Pennsylvania, Jacob Brown eventually settled along the Black River in Northern New York. As a leading citizen in the region, he was appointed captain of the 108th Regiment of the New York State Militia. Brown commanded American forces during the Battle of Sacket's Harbor.
He also served along the Niagara Frontier and was wounded twice at the Battle of Lundy's Lane. For his service at Sacket's Harbor, Brown received a commission in the Regular Army. Following the war, he rose to the rank of General of the Army, a position he held until his death.