FRED BROWN is one of the real pioneers of Pawnee County. Forty-six years have come and gone since September, 1872, when he arrived with his wife and children at the crude village or hamlet of Larned.
Mr. Brown is a thorough American citizen, and his career has been marked by progressiveness and public spirit throughout his residence in Western Kansas. He is also a veteran of the German army, fought in three wars of the Fatherland, and is one of the few men in Kansas who are entitled by personal service to wear the Iron Cross bestowed by the Emperor for bravery.
Mr. Brown was born at the Town of Vernheid in the Province of West Prussia, January 26, 1844, a son of Fred and Eva (Molkentin) Brown. In the old country the family name was spelled Braun. Fred's father was a farmer. Of the nine children in the family the three to come to the United States were Fred, Herman and Albert, the two brothers being now residents of Morgan County, Illinois.
It is customary for all German children to attend the common schools until the age of fourteen. Such schools as were maintained in his part of Germany furnished all the early training Fred Brown received. He learned farming in the thorough and methodical German fashion from his father. Army service is accepted as a matter of course in the old country, and Mr. Brown was twenty years of age when in 1864 he went with his company, the Twenty-First, to war during the brief conflict with Denmark. He took part in the half dozen battles of the campaign, until the capture of the Danish capital. The war lasted only about six months. In 1866 he was again called to the colors in the war with Austria, and was again in the Twenty-First Company. Here he participated in four battles, and in neither campaign did he sustain a bullet wound.
From the close of the Austrian war until the opening of the Franco-Prussian war he followed farming. In that war he was again called into service, and again with the Twenty-First Company of Infantry he went with the German forces into France under General Von Moltke. He was with the army when it captured Strassburg, Dijon and Metz. At Metz it will be recalled the German excavated a hole under the city and when it was completed gave notice to the French that if they did not surrender by a certain time the town would be blown about their ears. The French did not long delay the surrender. In the fighting around Metz Mr. Brown fell upon a bayonet and sustained a flesh wound between the eyes. That was the only injury he received during this war. From Metz he went with the victorious German advance upon Paris, and was there when the capital of the French surrendered and the war closed. For his individual bravery in this campaign Mr. Brown was awarded the Iron Cross. He has that decoration yet, and no one is better entitled to wear it. After the close of the Franco-Prussian war he returned home to the farm, but remained only a short time until he followed his long cherished desire to come to America.
He and his little family took passage on a sailing ship at Bremen and some weeks later arrived at Castle Garden. Proceeding westward, he spent a few weeks with relatives in Illinois and then came out to Western Kansas. They traveled by train as far as Larned, which was then a railroad station with perhaps a couple of frame houses on the site. Mr. Brown entered as his claim the southeast quarter of section 16, township 22, range 17, and that has been his home for the past forty-six years. He arrived in Pawnee County with a very limited cash capital. His first work was to haul stone for the construction of a house on the homestead, and that consisted of a structure of two rooms. It is still part of his more modest and comfortable house.
Like so many of the pioneer settlers, Mr. Brown found it impossible to make a living off the land and crops, and leaving his wife and children to do what they could with the land he sought employment. He helped construct several railroads, and was employed at railroad grading in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. From the proceeds of such labor he secured the money to support his family and to buy the team and other equipment with which eventually he found himself in a position to make a living from the land. His principal enterprise as a farmer had been wheat growing. He also kept the nucleus of a herd of stock, and by good management and thrifty living has prospered beyond his early expectations. In Pawnee County he has contented himself with the ownership of his homestead, but he also owns a half section in Hodgeman County. All his land is improved and well fenced.
Mr. Brown has the credit of having drilled the first test for oil in Hodgeman County. He spent about $10,000 in prospecting on his Hodgeman County land. The first test wells showed the existence of oil sand, opened up a profitable pool of oil and indicated that the oil resources in that section of Kansas extend westward well to the boundary of Kansas.
After coming to Pawnee County Mr. Brown took out his citizenship papers and began his voting in this locality. For more than twenty years he has served as a member of the board of school district No. 21 and has done much to build up and maintain the local schools. Politically he is a democrat.
On January 2, 1863, Mr. Brown married Rosa Buelow. Five children have been born to them. Mina, the oldest, is the wife of Guy Lupfer, of Pawnee County, and their children are Fred, Nellie and Raymond. Fred is in training for a soldier. John, the oldest son, is a resident of Illinois, and by his marriage to Emma Myers has a son, Walter. Charles is a farmer near his father's place and married Mrs. Anna Sears. Louis lives in the West and has two children, Laura and Edward. August is a farmer in Hodgeman County, married Grace Koker, and has a son, John, and a daughter, Elva Margaret.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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