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Pike County ILTidbits : 1906 Past and Present of Pike County

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Brown, William M.
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Brown, William M.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 232-233


The history of commercial progress in Milton would be incomplete without mention of William M. Brown, a leading and prominent merchant of that city. He was born November 29, 1840, in Carrollton, Greene county, Illinois, his parents being Isaac S. and Catharine (Hay) Brown, who became early residents of Pike county, where they took up their abode in March, 1850. The father purchased a farm a mile and a half south and a half mile east of Milton and upon that place William M. Brown was reared, having been a youth of nine years at the time of the removal to the old homestead. He acquired his education in the district schools near by and he still owns the farm, which comprises one hundred and twenty acres of as rich soil as can be found in the state of Illinois. During the periods of vacation he aided in the work of the fields and remained upon the old homestead until nineteen years of age, when he went to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. The journey consumed twenty-four days from the time he left New York city until his arrival at San Francisco in March, 1859. He remained upon the Pacific coast for three years engaged in mining and ranching and he was fairly successful in his work, but lost much of what he possessed in his first mining ventures in prospecting for greater results at a later date. In 1863 he returned to the old homestead near Milton, Illinois, and leased the farm from his father in connection with his brother, James A. The father went to the war, becoming a member of a company of the Ninety-ninth Illinois Regiment commanded by Captain J. G. Johnson. He served for three years as wagon master and was killed in the siege of Vicksburg on the 22d of May, 1863. There was a very sad incident in connection with his death. In the heat of battle he heard the Masonic cry for help from one of his comrades and, facing almost certain death amidst a hail of bullets, he picked up his comrade and while carrying him off the field away from danger a bullet passed through his comrade's body, killing him, and entered Mr. Brown's thumb, passing out through the hand. This occasioned blood poisoning, which caused Mr. Brown's death a few days later. At his request his remains were interred upon the battlefield but were afterward removed to the National Soldiers' Cemetery at Vicksburg. In March, 1869, William M. Brown, accompanied by his mother, made a pilgrimage to Vicksburg to discover his father's grave and place a monument over it. They had no trouble in finding the place of interment, which was on the topmost circle, he being the eighth soldier buried in the beautiful Union Soldiers' National Cemetery at that place. The monument was erected according to the plans and after performing this act of love and duty over the grave of husband and father they returned home.

On the 2d of December, 1868, Mr. Brown was married to Miss Alice Strawn, a daughter of Alvis and Joanna Strawn. Unto them were born three children, two sons and a daughter. William Edmund, born December 13, 1869, died March 26, 1870. Fred S., born in Milton, April 2, 1873, is now a physician and druggist of Wichita, Kansas. Helen A., born December 25, 1887, in Milton, is at home.

Mr. Brown is a member of the Modern Woodmen camp, No. 922, and in his political views he is a liberal republican. He has been associated with business interests in Milton through a long period and is a self-made man, whose prosperity has resulted entirely from his enterprise and capable efforts.

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