BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BROWN, of Liberal Township, Seward County, is one of the contributions of the grand old State of Missouri to Kansas citizenship. He came not with the original Missourians of the '50s and '60s, but some twenty or thirty years later, when some questions had been forever settled, but at a time when Kansas still enjoyed a notorious reputation for high winds and corroding mortgages. Thus his efforts and experiences form at least a modest chapter in the life of this great commonwealth.
The Missouri locality where he first saw the light of day on April 12, 1847, was in Pike County between Bowling Green and Louisiana, the country from which the present speaker of the House of Representatives hails. He was of the old-time element there, and almost necessarily one might say his people came from Kentucky. But his grandfather, Patrick Brown, had the distinction of being a native Irishman. Among his children were James, Archibald, Thomas, John and Sarah, who married Josiah Jackson.
Of these James Brown, father of Benjamin F., was born in Kentucky in 1803, but went to Missouri in 1829 from Tennessee. He was one of three brothers to settle in Pike County, and when they passed St. Louis they found few evidences that a great and populous city would one day stand on the banks of the Mississippi. In Pike County James Brown married Abbie Lindsey, daughter of John Lindsey, who also went to that county from Kentucky and was a farmer. James Brown died in 1887 and his wife in 1880. Their children were: John L., who for a year followed the flag of the Union with the Tenth Missouri Infantry, but otherwise was a quiet farmer of Pike County until he died; Harriet A., wife of Philip Mabry, resides in Polk County, Missouri; William Archibald, who saw service in the Third Missouri Infantry during the war, and is now a farmer in St. Clair County, that state; James Hamilton, also in the Third Missouri Regiment, died at Montgomery City, Missouri; Benjamin F.; and Martha Elizabeth, living at St. Louis, widow of Elijah G. DeHart.
The boyhood of Benjamin Franklin Brown was spent in rural environment and his schooling came from the country schools when the nation was engaged in war. He got his start in life as a farmer, and has always been his own employer, except when he was engaged for a mortgage company trying to keep up his interest and repay the principal, an achievement he accomplished, though many good men that he knew went down under the burden. His early years in this state were among the hard ones, when the fruits of labor and fertile soil were cheap and money scarce and hard to geta condition that will probably never he known again in the history of the world. Fortunately there was never a time when the Brown family did not know where its next meal would come from, though it required ingenuity, imagination and an appetite to devise a variety. Those embarrassing and trying years almost convinced Mr. Brown, he says, that he "wasn't fit for anything but a farmer and almost persuaded him that he was hardly fit for that."
It was in 1884 that Mr. Brown traveled over the railroad from Missouri to Reno County and established himself on a farm five miles northwest of Hutchinson. He brought with him hardly enough capital to pay for his quarter section, and the dozen years he spent plowing and tending crops brought little financial improvement to his condition.
But he was able to sell his Reno County farm at a profit, and about 1896 came west, not stopping until close up under the Colorado border, on the west line of Seward County. It was an era when land in this locality was begging for purchasers at from $150 to $300 a quarter section. For $1,400 he acquired five quarters, chiefly in section 8, township 34, range 35. His home is in the northeast quarter of that section, and a number of permanent and substantial improvements have grown up there under his direction, including a house of nine rooms, a barn 28 by 28 feet and stock sheds. His farm comprises all of section 8, with 350 acres in cultivation, the crops being chiefly feed, broom corn and wheat. Of the flour cereal his best yield has been twenty bushels to the acre, with one total failure to his experience and another almost total in 1917. In the line of stock, besides work animals he has cultivated the high-grade Durhams.
Mr. Brown's only public service has been rendered as a member of school board in district No. 10. He has always been willing to do his duty as a citizen, has been on election boards when occasion demanded, and has the welfare of the community at heart. His politics has been independent, evidenced by the fact that his first manhood suffrage was given to General Grant and his last presidential ballot was one of the figures in the Kansas total for Woodrow Wilson. He was reared a republican, and grew up in a Baptist home but is now a Methodist.
In Lincoln County, Missouri, November 12, 1873, Mr. Brown married Nancy H. Williams, who was born in that county, daughter of John Cross and Margaret (Cox) Williams, the latter a daughter of John Cox. Her father was a Kentuckian before he went to Missouri, developed a small plantation near Louisville, in Lincoln County, and had a few slaves before the war. He was a democrat and an old-school Baptist. He died May 14, 1900, aged seventy-seven, while Mrs. Brown's mother passed away in March, 1868. The Williams children were: Celestia, who married A. B. South and was killed in an automobile accident in Californa;[sic] Paulina, who married James Blackburn and died in Lincoln County, Missouri; Mary, who married David Shaw, of Columbia, Missouri; Mrs. Brown, who was born August 27, 1854; John B. of Silex, Missouri; Laura, who died in childhood; Anna, wife of W. B. West, of Columbia, Missouri; and America, who married Henry Kimbler, of Silex.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown as they grow old not only have the comforting presence of some of their children, but have at this time twenty-three grandchildren. The oldest of their family is Laura, wife of Frank Jones, of Rolla, Missouri, and her children are Sibyl, Ray, Frank, John and Howard. Margaret is the wife of Shilo Edwards, a Seward County farmer, her children being Fountain, Nicholas, Gladys, Ben, Hugh, Lester and Lula May. Herbert B. Brown, of Seward County, by his marriage to Alta Sessler has Margaret, Helen, Edna, Marlin and Carmen. Lula, wife of Harry Dunlap, of Seward County, is the mother of Josephine and Pearl. Celestia, the youngest, married Earl Davis, of Seward County, and is the mother of five, Marie, Anna, Arthur, Ruth and Earline.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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