Rock Island County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Mrs. P. R. Brown


MRS. P. R. BROWN, another pioneer woman of Rock Island county, was born at Bath, Steuben county, N.Y., October 27, 1825. In the spring of 1837, when she was twelve years old, the family left their happy home among the New York hills to found a new one in the west. They went to a point on the Allegeny river, built a little house large enough to serve as an eating and sleeping room on a large raft of sawed lumber, and floated down to Cincinnati. From thence they went by boat to Rockingham, four miles below Davenport, Ia. At that time there was no settlement at what later became Davenport, and after spending a few weeks in Rockingham, the family decided to locate in Scott county, Iowa.

Then pioneer life began for them in earnest. There were no mills but those called corn crackers. They had no flour except what was brought from St. Louis. There was no fruit at any price except what had been dried, and practically no variety, as apples were all that were thus preserved. The neighbors were few and far between. The principal and prevailing disease was ague from which all suffered, the entire family sometimes coming down with it at one time. The family had frequent visits from Indians, some traveling up and down the river in their canoes, others crossing the prairies on their ponies, always begging for something to eat, harmless and good-natured when sober, but when under the influence of drink, quarrelsome and to be feared.

Educational opportunities were few in those days, the only schools being private ones which were carried on, at uncertain intervals, usually by some young man or woman from the East. From the time she was eleven years old until she was sixteen, Mrs. Brown was only able to attend school three months in the year, but she was so fond of study that she made good use of her time, and when only sixteen years old, began teaching, receiving $8 per month and her board as remuneration. This was considered ample in those days, and she was happy.

The only religious services were those held in the log cabins whenever a missionary happened that way. The Methodist circuit rider was also early in the field. On April 7, 1847, she was married and her first experiences at housekeeping were at Hampton, Ill., from whence she and her husband moved to Port Byron, and continued to make Rock Island county their home the remainder of her life, with the exception of a few years spent in Colorado.

She was a woman of strong convictions and fearless of her expression of them. During the Civil War her constant thought was how to relieve the wants and needs of the Union soldiers in every way possible. A zealous worker in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, she was also an ardent believer in the ballot for women. Because of much reading she had a trained, well balanced mind, and wrote many articles for newspapers and magazines which were published. The last article, written a few weeks before her death, and published in the "Christian Herald." was worthy of her. Mrs. Brown died September 2, 1900, exchanging her earthly life for the heavenly one.

Pgs. 647 - 651
Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Rock Island County, 1914
Submitted by Mary Lou Schaechter


Rock Island County, Illinois
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