Lee County Biography

Abram Brown
South Dixon Township


Abram Brown who is widely known and greatly respected as a man of enlightened views, of great intelligence and marked force of charactcr, is distinguished in the annals of Northern Illinois as one of its early pioneers who has long been variously identified with the interests of this section of the country. He was for many years in the postal Service at different points, and was atone time connected with the mercantile business of this portion of the state, but for the last twenty-five or thirty years he has devoted himself principally to farming in this county. He is located on a pleasant spot on section 13, South Dixon Township, where he owns a fine farm, complete in its appointments, comprising one hundred and thirty-four acres of land of exceptional fertility.

Our subject was born November 17, 1816, in the Canadian village of Temperance (on Talbert Street), in the township of Yarmouth, nine miles east of St. Thomas. His father's name was George Brown, and he was born in the State of New York, being a kinsman of Gen. Brown, who fought the celebrated battle of Lundy's Lane with Gen. Scott. George Brown grew to manhood in the state of his nativity, and then crossed the border into Canada, where he was married to Elsie Merritt, whose brother, Hamilton Merritt, was the engineer of the Wellington Canal. The Merritts were a prominent English family that lived in Canada for some years. The Browns were a Colonial family of New York, and some of the old stock were prominent millers at Rochester for years. They were of the Netherland Dutch blood.

After their marriage, the parents of our subject began their wedded life on a two-hundred acre tract of wild land, which later became the seat of the village of Temperance. They lived on their farm at that place for many years, and not till after all their children were born did they come to the States, removing to Michigan during the McKinzie Rebellion in Canada. They settled in St. Clair County, and there George Brown died at the age of seventy-five. He had become a prominent man in that region, and was held in high estimation. His wife, the faithful companion of his ear1y manhood, had passed out of his life while the family dwelt in Canada, her death occurring when she was in the very prune of womanhood. They were both devoted members of the Baptist Church.

In 1837 Abram Brown, who was then on the threshold of a vigorous manhood, with a splendid equipment of intellect and physique to enable him to cope with the difficulties that lay before him in the pioneer life upon which he was about to enter, came to Northern Illinois. He located at Grand Detour, Ogle County, establishing himself as a pioneer merchant of that place, and soon after he was appointed Postmaster of the little village by President Van Buren. He had charge of the postoffice at that point five years, and at the expiration of that time came to Dixon in the year 1842. he was made postmaster of that city, and retained the position under the administration of Tyler and Polk. He was subsequently Postmaster at Franklin Grove br some years during his residence in China Township. After leaving Dixon, he took up a piece of wild land adjoining Franklin Grove, and for two years spent his time in improving and cultivating it. He raised corn, for which the market Price near home was eight cents, and he could obtain forty cents a bushel for it when he took it to Chicago. The markets were poor, and he sold cows as low as $5 a piece, and a yoke of oxen brought him $20. He has lived to see the wondrous changes wrought by the band of man in Lee and Ogle Counties, which he saw in all their primeval wildness; and he has noted with great interest the historical events of the past fifty or sixty years, whereby the world has been revolutionized, and these United States have grown into one of the most powerful republics on earth. He has watched closely the advance made in the arts, sciences and inventions, regarding the latter as re-discoveries of old laws, and has given much thought and study to what he calls "the greatest study on earth: man, his progress and destiny." In so doing he has freed himself from all creeds and their dictates, and from all political parties, considering their fallacies in both eases as against reason, and, in the latter case, as unpatriotic.

Mr. Brown was married in Franklin Grove, at the bride's home, to Miss Correlia, a daughter of the late Col. Nathan Whitney, who was known and honored far and wide as an early and prominent pioneer of Lee County, whose many friends and acquaintances always spoke of him affectionately as "Father `Whitney, who lived to he over 100 hundred years old. He is represented elsewhere in this volume. Miss. Brown was born April 10, 1818, in the township of Barry, Orleans County, N. Y. She came to Illinois with her mother and other members of the family in 1838, her father having come hither prospecting two years before, and finally settling in Franklin Grove, where his wife and children joined him in the Primitive pioneer home that he had prepared for them.

Our subject and his wife are the parents of six children, one of whom, Charles A., died at the age of three years. The surviving children areas follows: Virginia, who was highly educated, and for several years was a teacher, but is now the comfort and stay of her parents in their borne; Olga, who is also finely educated and living at home; Mary, A., who was educated at the Champaign, (Ill.) State College, was for a time railway postal clerk, and is now a Photographic artist at Dixon, and who married Jennie Johnson; and George M., a practical machinist and inventor, who runs a large furnace and maclime shop at Van Buren, Ark.

A due regard for the laws of health, and strict temperance in eating and drinking, including the non-use of tobacco or liquor in any form, have bc en the means of preserving our subject's bodily and mental faculties in an unusual degree, when it is considered that three quarters of a century has rolled by since he first took up the burden of life in that distant village in the forest of Canada. He has been blessed in his wedded life by a true wife, who is a woman of rare intelligence, and both hold a warm Place in the hearts of the people among whom their lot has been cast for many years.

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