Biographies Header

Capt. William J. Brown

     Capt. W. J. Brown. A brave soldier and a very successful man in business claims our notice in this short sketch, which can give only outlines. W. J. Brown, M. D., a native of New York City, and a graduate of Louisville Medical College, was the father of the gentleman whose name opens this biography. The mother of our subject was Mary F. (Dickson) Brown, and came from Ireland to America when thirteen years of age. The parents were married at Lansingburgh, N. Y., after which event Dr. Brown went into business at Rochester, N. Y., but afterward moved to Louisville, Ky., where he practiced medicine seven years. After a short time spent at Cincinnati, he went to St. Louis, Mo., and then settled at La Grange, Me., (Mo.), afterward at Keokuk, Iowa, and then, in 1848, he removed to Quincy, Ill., and in the winter of 1850 he moved to Mendon, where his life ended in 1871. The mother of our subject still survives, aged seventy-four, and lives in Mendon. She was at one time a member of the Baptist Church, but now is a communicant at the Congregational Church. Dr. Brown was a very well-known man in politics, and was elected from this county as a Democrat member of the State Legislature in 1862.
     Our subject is the oldest living child of his parents, and was born in Rochester, N. Y., August 29, 1840. He was brought by his parents to Mendon when but eight years of age, and is now living in the same house in which he passed his ninth birthday. He attended the public schools in Mendon, and at the age of seventeen, he became a clerk in the employ of Hon. S. R. Chittenden, of this place, and continued there for twenty years. He then took a vacation, which he spent in Cincinnati, and remained one year. April 21, 1861, he enlisted in Company E, Tenth Illinois infantry. He belonged to the first company that reported to Gov. Yates at Springfield, and the first to reach Cairo. They started at the call of their country with the weapons of their pioneer fathers, with flint-lock muskets and no ammunition. He remained at or near Cairo during the three months service for which he at first enlisted, and assisted in the building of the first fort built between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and in the capture of many steamers. He was discharged in August, 1861, having served a month over time. He re-enlisted in Company K, One Hundred and Eighteenth Illinois Infantry. In July 1862. He was sent to Memphis, Tenn., and went with Gen. Sherman to Vicksburg, Miss., and then to the Yazoo River, and took part in the battle of Chickasaw Bluff, Miss. He then was sent to Arkansas Post and took part in the battle there, and then went to Young's Point, La., and thence to Milliken's Bend, until April 2, 1863. He took part in the expedition against Vicksburg, as a part also in the battles of Thompson's Hill, Port Gibson, Champion Hill, Black River Bridge, and the siege of Vicksburg. June 10, the regiment was mounted by order of Gen. Grant, and went with Sherman to Jackson, Miss., on the raid to Brook Haven, and thence to Vicksburg. August 4, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Gulf, and they turned over their horses and became infantry again. Our subject was not through with active service yet, for he was in the battles of Port Hudson, of Carrollton (La.), of Bayou Boeuff (La.), and of Bradshaw City, September 11, and crossed the Bayou to Camp Bisland October 7, and at Algiers, La., was again re-mounted. From Bradshaw City they marched to Vermillionville, and were in the battle near Washington, la., October 24, and at Grand Coteau, near Vermillionville, at Vermillionville Bayou. Then they marched to Donaldsville, La., and were sent to Port Hudson by boat, and had sharp skirmishes almost daily. They captured many Confederate prisoners, and at the battle of Grasse Tete they had a hand-to-hand sabre fight. He was part of a small force which was surrounded at Plain;s Store, La., and after a desperate fight escaped and was removed to Baton Rouge in July, 1864. He afterward took part in the engagements at Redwood, at Comic Bridge, at Clinton (La.), in the raid to Liberty, Brook Haven (Miss.), and the fight at Liberty. He again went to New Orleans, and after doing some scouting, on May 22 the horses of the regiment were again returned except those of Company D, which were kept for scouting purposes. This brave soldier was promoted from a private to be a First Lieutenant of Company D in November, 1862, and was again promoted to Captain of the same company in 1863. He was then in command until the regiment was mustered out. He was detailed for over a year as a special scout with picked men. He was mustered out with the regiment, in October, 1865, after a service of three and one-half years. Wonderful to relate, he escaped without wound or capture, and, except for the effects of a partial sun-stroke, he enjoys good health.
     After one year of quiet home life, Captain Brown went to Memphis, Tenn., and there, in 1867, he was married to Elizabeth C. Hyatt, whom he had met during the war, at Baton Rouge, La., and to whom he became engaged to be married. She was the daughter of Sylvester Hyatt, who was a native of Ohio, but resided in Baton Rouge, La., during the war. He was a Union man, and occupied a very unpleasant position during the long struggle. His wife was a native of Baton Rouge, and there their daughter was born in 1845. Mrs. Hyatt still survives.
     Following our subject's marriage, he came home and bought a farm, and then had to hire a man to teach him to hitch up a two-horse vehicle. He only farmed for one year, and then sold out and returned to Mendon and built and opened a drug store, but sold that in 1874, and purchased a general stock of goods. He has been engaged in merchandizing (sic) for the last eighteen years, and queensware. He has a large and lucrative trade, and was first in business under the firm name of Brown Brothers, but for the past three years the firm name has been W. J. Brown.
     Our subject has been the father of seven children, five of whom are living, as follows: M. E., a daughter; A. S., a son; Beulah B., Clarence S., Harry L., and those deceased are W. J. and Charles L. They have all been well educated, and this family stands high in the estimation of the citizens of Mendon. Capt. Brown is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and in his political preference is a Democrat. He has been honored with the office of Supervisor of Mendon Township, and has been Constable and Collector. He has also been a member of the Village Council, and has been the efficient President of the Board of Education.
     If Capt. Brown had no other claim to the high regard of the citizens of Adams County, his record during the Civil War should assure him their lasting regard.

[Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Adams County, Illinois containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Chicago: Chapman Bros. 1892, Page 115, transcribed by Debbie Gibson]

Mendon Cemetery
Old Section
Lot 5
William J. Brown 1840-1900, Capt. Co D 118 Reg ILL Vol Inf.
Elizabeth C. Brown 1845-1925
Alexander S. Brown 1868-1914
Sarah E. Brown 1869-1911
Mary E. (Brown) Rust Aug. 24, 1867 – Dec. 12, 1958
George E. Rust Sep.21, 1863 – Jan. 29,1932
Edith L. Rust Nov. 6, 1897 – Jul. 31, 1913
Lot 6
Dr. Wm. J. Brown Sep. 1, 1811 – Dec. 1, 1873
Mary F. (Dickson) Brown Aug. 16, 1816 – Sep. 8, 1899

[Source: Cemeteries of Adams County, Vol III, transcribed by Debbie Gibson]

Alexander S. Brown married Sarah E. Shaffer Sep 9, 1889 (code 84 A. C. Byerly MG) Cert#6214
Charles L. Brown married Lizzie P. Daugherty Jun 25, 1889 (code 239 R. Marshall Harrison MG) Cert#6124

[Source: Marriages of Adams County, Illinois, 1876-1890, transcribed by Debbie Gibson]

 Copyright Genealogy Trails 2009 All Rights Reserved
with Full Rights Reserved for Original Contributor