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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



SAMUEL H. BROWN, a successful farmer and stock-raiser of Dry Grove Township, owns and occupies a fine homestead on section 14. He has been a resident of the Prairie State since 1836, and an interested witness of its growth and development.

Our subject is the son of Nathaniel and Dollie (Benedict) Brown, who were both natives of Vermont. Nathaniel Brown was born in 1784, and died in 1843. He served in the War of 1812, holding a commission as Captain, and was also Captain in the Vermont State Militia. He afterward settled down to agricultural pursuits in Windsor, Vt., where he spent about forty years, and in 1838 removed to McLean County, where his death occurred.

The birth of our subject took place on the 12th of August, 1815, and he was bereft of the tender and affectionate care of his mother when a child six years of age. His earlier years were spent on his father's farm near the town of Rochester, Vt., where he pursued his primary studies at the common schools.

At the age of twenty-one years he came West, driving a team to Buffalo, whence he took a steamer to Detroit, Mich., arriving after a trip of four days, and walked from there to Chicago in company with three others. After two weeks spent in Chicago, our subject struck out for Peoria, and from there to Clermont, in Tazewell County, these wanderings taking him late into the fall of the year. He remained in Tazewell County six years, being employed most of the time as a farm laborer.

When he landed in Peoria he had but $1.50 in his pocket. At the close of his first two years of labor he found himself the possessor of $400, but the third year he met with misfortune in the loss of his health, and spent nearly the whole of these hard earnings for medicine and in the payment of doctors' bills, being disabled for a period of ten months.

As soon as able he resumed his former occupation, and soon afterward, in 1843, entered forty acres of Government land in Dry Grove Township, McLean County, and entered industriously upon its improvement and cultivation. He then became interested in a steam sawmill, which he operated for two years and sold at a loss.

In 1854 he purchased a half-section of land from the Illinois Central Railroad Company, and sold 160 acres of it at a profit of $100. The 160 acres left he has now converted into a valuable farm, and occupies a fine dwelling, in the rear of which is a good barn and all necessary out-buildings for the storing of grain and the shelter of stock.

The marriage of Samuel H. Brown and Miss Fidelia Munsell took place June 22, 1840. Mrs. Brown was a native of Vermont and remained the companion of her husband only five short years, dying on the 1st of April, 1845, leaving three children Sarah, George and Angeline.

On the 25th of December, 1850, Mr. Brown married for his second wife, Miss Mary E. Henry, and they became the parents of six children Norman E., Charles E., Fred S., John J., Lincoln H. and Truman E. Mrs. Brown was born in Butler County, Ohio, March 23, 1828, and came to Illinois with her parents when a child four years of age.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Brown has held the office of Justice of the Peace for twelve years, and was Assessor three years and School Trustee eighteen years. Politically, in former times, he affiliated with the Whig party, and now votes with the Republicans.

George Brown, the eldest son of our subject, served as a soldier in the Union army in the 94th Illinois Infantry. He was mortally wounded at the siege of Vicksburg [ed., Battle for Vicksburg] on the 16th of June, 1863, but lived until the 11th of November following. Of the children of our subject there are now only two living Fred S. and Angeline. Fred S. married Miss Ella Stevens, the daughter of Mrs. Kepner by her first husband. They carry on the home farm. Angeline married George Brown.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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