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Brown, Norman W.
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Brown, Norman W.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 698-700


Norman W. Brown, who follows farming on section 35, Atlas township, was born on the old family homestead of two hundred and twenty acres, upon which his father, Isaac Brown, located in 1828. The natal day of the son was September 23, 1840, and he was reared upon the home place, acquiring his preliminary education in the old log schoolhouse of the neighborhood about one mile from his father's home. He afterward, however, attended the Summer Hill district school, from which he was graduated. All this time he was living with his parents, Isaac and Susan (Smoot) Brown, the former of Scotch ancestry and the latter of Dutch lineage. Isaac Brown was a native of Virginia and removed from the Old Dominion to Kentucky, where he was married. He made farming his life work and followed that occupation until his life's labor's were ended in death. He became a pioneer resident of this county, settling here in 1828, when much of the land was still in possession of the government and few clearings had been made. He at once began to cultivate his land in Atlas township and resided upon the old homestead farm until his death in 1850. He had served his country as a soldier in the war of 1812. His widow survived him until April, 1860, and was then buried beside her husband on the old home farm that is now the property of C. B. Dustin. The old flintlock musket which was carried by Isaac C. Brown in the war of 1812 is still in possession of the family, being now the property of Willis Brown, a brother of Norman W. Brown. In the family of Isaac and Susan Brown were thirteen children, namely: Maria, Mahala, Squire, Owen, Hardin, John, Willis, James, Isaac, Susan, Jane, Benjamin and Norman W. All are now deceased with the exception of four. Isaac died in infancy and was buried beside his parents on the old home farm, where also lie the remains of Hardin and John Brown, while Susan, Mahala and Benjamin were buried in California and Owen was buried in Kentucky near Mammoth Cave. Norman W. Brown, the youngest of his father's family, was reared upon the old homestead farm. He lost his father when but ten years of age and was reared by his older brothers and sisters with whom he lived until nineteen years of age, when, in August, 1859, in company with William and James Baxter, he started for Pikes Peak, attracted by the discovery of gold in Colorado. They traveled with ox teams a part of the way and on reaching Nebraska they met many gold-seekers who were returning and who gave them information that there was no gold to be found. This discouraged the party so that they turned back and again came to Pike county. In the spring of 1860, however, Mr. Brown once more determined to try and win a fortune from the depths of the earth, for favorable reports concerning mining operations were still being received from Colorado and California and other sections of the country. In company with about one hundred and forty others he started, the party having forty wagons, most of which were drawn by ox teams. The company was commanded by John Underwood, whom they elected captain, and slowly they wended their way across the plains, completing in safety the long trip of five months, and reached Sacramento, California, on the 5th of September, 1860. They saw many Indians en route but they kept a strict watch, each male member of the company standing guard in his turn and they were not molested. Upon reaching Sacramento they did not find the gold as plentiful as they had pictured in their minds, so the members of the company scattered and sought employment in various ways. Mr. Brown went to work on a ranch and was thus employed for four and a half years, at the end of which time he returned home on the ocean steamer, Moses Taylor, embarking at San Francisco on the 13th of November, 1865. He disembarked with six hundred others at San Juan on the coast of Panama and from there they traveled overland, crossing the mountains, Mr. Brown riding a pony. He finally reached Virginia Bay, where he with the rest of the party took a boat across the bay to the head of San Juan river, where they embarked on two small river boats, going to Walker's Rapids. They traveled around the rapids on foot and again embarked on two other boats, thus making their way to old Graytown, a small port in the Atlantic ocean, where they took the steamer Santiago de Cuba for New York, arriving safely at that port. Thence they traveled by rail to Niagara Falls, and then on to Quincy, Illinois, and from there Mr. Brown made his way home.

On again reaching Pike county he once more engaged in farming and soon afterward he secured a companion and helpmate for life's journey. He was married on the 28th of January, 1869, to Miss Ann Elizabeth Gay, a daughter of James and Amelia (Yokem) Gay, who are mentioned on another page of this volume. Unto this marriage six children, three sons and three daughters, have been born, namely: Nellie, who was born November 25, 1869, and is now the wife of N. J. Carter, of Rockport; Paul W., who was born June 19, 1871, and is now a practicing physician in Springfield, Ohio; Carrie, born October 27, 1873, who is the wife of H. D. Marion, a resident of Atlas township; Claud, who was born October 9, 1876, and is living in Carterville, Illinois, where he is employed and is part owner in a mining machinery foundry; Erma, who was born May 22, 1882, and is a stenographer with the Simmons Hardware Company of St. Louis; and Bert, who was born May 10, 1884, and resides with his parents.

Politically Mr. Brown is a republican, unfaltering in the advocacy of his party and its principles. He cast his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and is proud of the fact that his second vote, also supported the martyred president. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are now living upon the old home farm in Atlas township, where for years he has carried on general agricultural pursuits, having devoted his life to farm work since his return home from California more than forty years ago.

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