Biography of Thomas M. Brown
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





THOMAS M. BROWN. - From the earliest colonization of the Atlantic seaboard to the pioneer development of the extreme west successive generations of the Brown family bore a part in the transformation of the frontier into fertile fields and productive farms. The first to take up the westward march, Josiah Brown, was born, reared and married in South Carolina, but became a pioneer of Kentucky during 1806. Daniel Boone and a few sturdy frontiersmen had preceded him and were endeavoring to hold their ground in the midst of savage Indians. Driven by fear of the Indians, he took his family to Tennessee in 1808 and remained there for twenty years, engaged in pioneer agriculture. When he took up government land in Illinois in 1828 McLean county, where he settled, was still in its infancy as an agricultural center, its resources undeveloped and its riches of soil unknown. There Josiah Brown died at the age of fifty years.

During the brief sojourn of the family in Kentucky, John W., son of Josiah Brown, was born in 1807, but practically all of his young life was passed in Tennessee, where he married Rachel Allen, a native of Overton county, that state. Accompanied by his family, in 1829 he joined his father in Illinois and two years later enlisted in the army for the Black Hawk war. At the close of that struggle he returned to his McLean county homestead, but in 1841 he moved his family to Missouri and settled in what is now Harrison county. Upon the organization of the county in 1846 he was elected the first sheriff For twenty successive years he held the offices of county and circuit clerk. When the little town of Bethany (the county seat) was started a mile from his farm he was chosen the first postmaster, and with the help of his son, Thomas M., cut down the timber on what was to be the main street of the village. During the Civil war so many people were in financial trouble that, with customary generosity, he aided them by buying their land or becoming security on their notes, and as a result he became encumbered himself and never retrieved his fortunes. In 1847 his wife had died, leaving him with a large family, of whom the eldest, Thomas M., was born in Overton county, Tenn., January 26, 1829, and was eighteen at the death of the mother. The family were earnest members of the Christian Church and possessed the moral and religious stability characteristic of practically the entire pioneer element of our country. When the father died in 1873 at the age of sixty six he was mourned throughout the entire county of his residence.

Two years after the death of his mother Thomas M. Brown left home in company with five other young men bound for California. They traveled by the old Sublett cutoff and the Truckee route. On the 22d of September they arrived at Steep Hollow, Nevada county, Cal., and the next month they camped near Sacramento, whence Mr. Brown went to Stockton and thence to Jamestown, Tuolumne county. No success rewarded his efforts as a miner. In February, 1850, still in company with his friends, he bought four yoke of oxen and a wagon and drove to Trinity county, where their oxen were wounded by arrows shot by the Indians and injured so seriously that it was necessary to kill them. Next Mr. Brown joined a company of sixteen men who tried to dam the river at Ounce bar, for the purpose of working the bed of the stream, but the plan failed and those interested lost all they had. As an example of the prices of that period, it may be stated that Mr. Brown paid $4 for a paper of common tacks. In October, 1850, he moved to Weaverville, where he and another man took a contract to build a log cabin. Afterward he drove oxen, then bought an outfit of his own and also mined to some extent. In the fall of 1851 he went to Oregon gulch. A few months later he had a disastrous mining experience on French corral in Nevada county. Buying a store and hotel on the east fork of Salmon river in Klamath county, he spent several years there. In May, 1857, he was appointed deputy sheriff of Klamath county, his duty being to collect taxes from foreign miners.

After an absence from Missouri of eight years Mr. Brown returned home in the fall of 1858, traveling on the steamer Sonora to Panama, on the Aspinwall to Havana and on the Philadelphia to New Orleans, where he took a river boat to Cairo, III., and from there finished the journey by stage. In 1860 he came across the plains accompanied by his family and worked at Orleans bar during the winter of 1860-61. In the fall of 1861 he was elected sheriff and continued as such until Klamath was disorganized, a part of it being absorbed by Humboldt county. In 1869 he again became interested in mining and was the sole owner of a large property on which he built a five mile ditch and a sawmill, but the enterprise proved his financial ruin. After three years of vacation from the office of sheriff, in 1877 he was elected sheriff of Humboldt county. Eleven elections were held from that time until his death in 1907 and each time he was chosen to the same office, in which he proved exceedingly efficient, fearless and acceptable. In addition he served for eleven years as tax collector. His wife, Surrilda J. (Poynter) Brown, was born in Kentucky in 1831, and was reared in Illinois. Their marriage occurred in Missouri in 1847. The wife died about a year before the husband, and they are survived by a daughter, Martha Jane, wife of Henry B. Hatchings, of Eureka. Fraternally he was a Mason, Odd Fellow and Elk.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Humboldt County, CA
Biographies

California
Biographies

Online
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012