John Brown, the subject of this sketch, living just over the line in Ottawa county is considered a factor of the Glasco community. He is a patron of long standing of their town and connected with them socially, hence the name of this worthy man would be conspicuous by its absence among the highly esteemed citizens of that vicinity.
Mr. Brown is a native of Lanarkshire, Scotland, born in the town of Airdrie in 1839. Her parents were John and Christina (Thompson) Brown. His father was born June 13, 1808, in Linlithgow Parish, Scotland. He enlisted in the English army early in life, but his father objected to his becoming a soldier and bought him off. He then learned the tinner's trade and later turned his attention to mining. He died February 21, 1860. Mr. Brown's mother was born in Sterlingshire Parish, Scotland, February 7, 1806, and died in July, 1889, at the age of eighty-three years. Mr. Brown is the fourth of a family of nine children, all were born in Scotland; five of that number are living.
Mr. Brown received a common school education in his native town and when he attained the age of twenty-one years, he emigrated to America, landing in Humboldt county, California on the 13th day of October, 1861, where he found employment in the Vance saw mill located at Eureka. Four months later he enlisted in Company A, Third California Infantry under Captain Thomas E. Ketchum and Colonel Pollick, spending four and one-half years scouting through California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Dakota.
He is the original "John Brown and his 'little Injun'." Their company was divided into three squads of twenty-five men each; one company remaining in the temporary camp while the other three scouted and were relieved alternately by those in camp. Mr. Brown was with Ketchum's men who were the first to make an attack bringing in a dozen and a half prisoners, among them squaws and papooses. Their guide, Joe Bartlett, in advance, entered the red-woods and came on the "Ranchee." All were surprised Indians and soldiers alike, for they were not aware of being in such close proximity to each other. As the Indians were on a narrow trail traveling single file, the guide fired killing one of their number. The Captain stood at the "Ranchee" until every man was stationed according to orders. Mr. Brown was the last man to come in line and he was ordered to fix bayonets and stand guard over the squaws and papooses, while many of the Indian braves were wounded and dying. He walked to and fro that none might escape and while doing so discovered a fish basket moving away and upon examination found a little Indian boy concealed underneath it and brought him away captive. His father was dead and the mother dying. The little fellow was making his escape under an eel basket. The boy's parents were killed by the same bullet. The savage was running before his squaw that her body might serve as a shield to save him, but the same bullet dealt death to both. In this attack fourteen bucks and one squaw were killed.
The haversacks contained but a few day's rations but they shared them among their captives. The prisoners were divided among the men to take into camp, making seven to each man. The "little Injun," who was about ten years of age, was among those allotted to David L. Christ, and the little fellow would keep falling back among Mr. Brown's company, seemingly thinking he would find protection with him. Mr. Brown, touched by the child's preference, suggested an exchange of prisoners, which was granted, and he clung to Mr. Brown in an affectionate manner and seemed to enjoy a feeling of security under his care.
When the regiment arrived at their camp, Fort Baker, Mr. Brown took his little captive down to the VanDusen river, cut his hair, gave him a bath, and dressed him in an old fatigue dress altered for the purpose, providing him with bedding in a bell tent, and in a short time a remarkable attachment grew up between them. The "little Injun" evidently looked upon Mr. Brown as his benefactor and would follow him like an affectionate dog, ready to do his least bidding.
Frank W. Cole and Hank McHirwon (the latter now of Pender, Nebraska) each took an Indian boy, who were domiciled together. They brought them to Stockton where the troops were ordered to meet for a march to Salt Lake City. Mr. Cole gave his boy to a friend at Stockton; Mr. McHirwon and Mr. Brown took theirs with them via Captain Ketchum's ranch to San Francisco. They took them upon the boat for something to eat and the Indians were spell bound by the glitter of the interior. It was like the "Tale of the Arabian Knights" to them and they could not eat. The next morning Captain Ketchum, called, and ordered these boys left for the reason that they could not stand the march. There was nothing to do but obey orders though Mr. Brown's intentions were to keep his protege. He was already being civilized and could send him to the markets for fruit, etc. When the boy found they were to be separated he clasped Mr. Brown around the thighs, wept and wailed in a piteous manner and Mr. Brown was deeply grieved to leave him, and from this incident came the verse, "John Brown had a 'little Injun'," which was attached to the song, "John Brown's body," etc.
Mr. Brown experienced many hardships on this expedition and he often awoke to find several inches of snow on his blanket. This company established the noted Fort Douglas, near Salt Lake City, which has since become one of the famous forts of the country. Mr. Brown visited Fort Douglas in 1896, and remarked a great change.
After the war he was recommended by his Colonel and a comrade of his company to Ellis & Brothers, wholesale liquor dealers of Salt Lake City, also dry goods, groceries, etc., where he received employment, remaining one year. He then engaged in mining in the silver mines of the Little Cottonwood Canyon. In 1868, during the excitement at Stillwater, he visited that locality but finding no inducements he entered the Green River country of Wyoming, where he opened a coal mine at Rock Springs station, nineteen miles distant, recorded it, but did not have the means to open the mine and returned to Green River, formed a company and manufactured adobe brick.
His next venture was at Fort Bridger, where he sunk oil wells at Quaking Asp Springs, and from there he engaged on the contract given by Brigham Young for the running of a tunnel through the Weber Canyon. In 1869, he located in Sand Springs, a station in Dickinson county, Kansas, and in 1870 homesteaded government land on Mortimer Creek, and one year subsequently removed to Ohio, where he worked in an iron factory at Salineville five years, and two years in an iron factory in Cleveland. He came to Ottawa county, in 1878, and bought the filing of a timber claim of Henry Sheets. There were no improvements and only two or three acres of ground broken. Mr. Brown improved this claim and has built for himself a comfortable home. He owns one hundred and twenty acres of land. His chief products are wheat, corn and alfalfa.
Mr. Brown was married June 19, 1867, to Elizabeth Hillhouse, a sister of Robert and John Hillhouse. She died February 15, 1897, at the age of forty-seven years. They were the parents of nine children, seven of whom are living. Margaret, the eldest daughter, is an intelligent and excellent young woman and since her mother's death she has been housekeeper for her father and brothers. Christina is the wife of Moses Bucy, a farmer of Cloud county; they are the parents of one little daughter, Myrtle Elizabeth. John and William, the two sons, operate the farm, Mr. Brown having retired from active farm life. Nellie, married Thomas Stratton, a prosperous farmer and stockman of Ottawa county; they are the parents of one child, a little son, Dean. Jeanette and Effie, the two youngest daughters live at home.
Mr. Brown is a Republican in politics. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic of Glasco. The sons, William and John, are members of the order of Woodmen of Glasco.
Mr. Brown has just completed one of the most beautiful and unique caves the writer has ever seen. It is an excavation in the hill side - a perfect arch chiseled out of the solid and vari-colored rock which forms the ceiling, walls and floor. The stone of various hues and quality is formed in layers or strata which are made more pleasing by the markings of the workmen's chisel. This cave is a gem in its way and it is doubtful if its equal could be found in any locality.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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