S. Allen Brown

S. ALLEN BROWN. During the last forty years S. Allen Brown has busied himself with the handling of many important business interests at Independence. He is a son of the late William R. Brown, who was one of the pioneers of Montgomery County, and both father and son were closely associated in many of their business undertakings. One of the most attractive homesteads in Independence is owned and occupied by S. Allen Brown as his residence. It comprises a fine house at 515 North Second Street surrounded with fourteen acres of ground. In effect it is a piece of the country set down in the midst of a busy city. While Mr. Brown has some of the land in garden and has pasturage for his own cow, he has always taken a great deal of care in preserving and improving the grounds according to his tastes as a landscape gardener. The many trees are a notable feature of the place. There are three different kinds of oaks, and also a number of elms, hickory, pecan, walnut, besides some imported ornamental trees and a great deal of shrubbery. Because of these features it is one of the attractive spots for the wild birds in their migrations during the spring and fall, and Mr. Brown takes a great deal of pleasure in retaining all this combination of nature with the art and advantages of city life. Besides his home Mr. Brown owns a number of other improved properties in Independence, which he rents.

He was born in Meigs County, Ohio, July 26, 1851. His paternal ancestors came from England to Pennsylvania in colonial days, and his grandfather died in Pennsylvania. In the maternal line there were two Burnap brothers who were seafaring men from France, and finally located in America, one brother going to Massachusetts and another to Virginia.

William R. Brown, whose record properly belongs among those of the pioneer settlers in Southern Kansas, was born in Pennsylvania October 11, 1823. Reared in his native state, he early showed his inclination for travel, and visited Canada, drifted west to Iowa in pioneer times, went through Kansas when it was a territory, continued on south to New Orleans, and finally reached Southern Ohio. For a time he had worked as foreman of a scale plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1850 he married and then became foreman in machine shops and brass foundries. At the breaking out of the war he took forty men out of his foundry and shops at Pomeroy, Ohio, and crossing into Western Virginia enlisted there and was made captain of Company E of the Fourth Regiment of West Virginia Infantry. He was soon advanced to the rank of colonel of the Thirteenth West Virginia Regiment, and while in the Shenandoah Valley was brevetted a brigadier general, taking command of General Hayes' division in the Shenandoah Valley. Altogether he served four years, and with many of the hardest fought campaigns of the war. Several times he had horses shot from under him, and by his efficiency and bravery was promoted from time to time until he came out of the war with the shoulder straps of the brigadier.

General Brown after the war returned to Pomeroy, Ohio, and conducted machine shops there and in the adjoining Town of Middleport. After he came to Kansas in 1874 he gave most of his attention to farming. His farm was immediately adjoining the City of Independence, and he occupied it until his death on March 24, 1891. He was a democrat and at one time both democrats and republicans joined in electing him to the office of probate judge, in which he served one term. His administration as probate judge was distinguished by his strict enforcement of the Murray Law. He also served for years on the school board. In the Congregational Church he was a deacon. General Brown married Violetta R. Burnap, who was born in Meigs County, Ohio, in 1835, and died at Independence, Kansas, in 1905. A record of their children is as follows: S. Allen; Sallie, wife of Mr. Gilman, a stockman of Independence; Violetta, who was the wife of Walter I. Dallas, a retired insurance man of Omaha, Nebraska; W. P., who has been successful in the oil business and is a large property owner at Coffeyville; H. G. Brown, a lumberman at Beaumont, Texas.

S. Allen Brown secured his education in the public schools of Meigs County, Ohio, and graduated from the high school at Pomeroy. At the age of eighteen he found employment in a coal office, remaining there two years, and for the following four years managed a coal and salt manufacturing plant just over the Ohio line in West Virginia. He first came to Montgomery County, Kansas, in 1874, with his father, but soon went back to Ohio and spent three years in the insurance business at Cleveland. Returning to Montgomery County in 1877, he took up photography as a profession, and conducted one of the leading shops of that kind in Independence until 1898. In that year he established the Kansas Cracker Company, erecting a factory on Railroad Street near the Santa Fe tracks. He finally sold out his interest in that enterprise, and not long afterwards the firm went into bankruptcy. He was made its receiver, opened it a second time, but in 1915 closed it permanently. In the meantime he has invested judiciously in local real estate, and has acquired a competence.

Mr. Brown's inclinations have never turned to office holding, though he is a democrat and takes considerable interest in party affairs. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and is affiliated with Fortitude Lodge, No. 107, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Keystone Chapter, No. 22, Royal Arch Masons; St. Bernard Commandery, No. 10, Knights Templar.; Wichita Consistory No. 2 of the thirty-second degree Scottish Rite, and Abdullah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth. For a number of years he has been active in the Independence Commercial Club.

In 1888, at Independence, Mr. Brown married Miss Anna Reed. Her father, the late George R. Reed, was a lumberman. Mrs. Brown died at Independence in 1891, leaving one child, Malcolm V. This son is a graduate in optometry, receiving his certificate in that profession at Topeka, and he studied for two seasons at engraving and art in Reese's College of New York City. He is now in business at Independence as a jeweler and engraver.

In 1896, at Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Brown married for his second wife Myra W. Shields, formerly of Anderson, Indiana. She died at Independence, January 11, 1916, survived by one child, Julian, who is now in the sophomore class of the Independence High School.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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