Biography of William F. Drown
Bristol County, MA Biographies

WILLIAM FREDERICK DROWN, who died at his home on County street, New Bedford, in the seventy sixth year of his age, on February 18, 1891, was one of the leading business men of that city. He was born in Rehoboth, December 4, 1815, only son of Ezra and Sally (Lindsey) Drown. The family is of good old Puritan stock, its advent in America dating back to early in the seventeenth century. Mr. Drown's father was born in Rehoboth, February 1, 1788, and was by occupation a farmer. His mother was also a native of Rehoboth, born February 20, 1789. They had seven children, six daughters and a son. Mr. Drown's grandfather, Colonel Frederick Drown, also of Rehoboth, was a prominent man in his generation, a soldier of the Revolution, and a man much esteemed by his fellow citizens. For twenty years he held commissions in the military. He served the town of Rehoboth as selectman and overseer of the poor twenty three years and as assessor fourteen years. He also represented the town in the General Court for eleven years, viz., 1787-1791, and 1799-1804. He died in the latter year of typhoid fever, having reached the age of sixty.two years.

William Frederick Drown spent the earlier years of his life in Attleborough, whither his parents had removed shortly after his birth. Here he was educated in the public schools, and in 1838 removed to Middleborough and engaged in the cotton business. Mr. Drown came to New Bedford in 1843 and opened a retail grocery store, which he conducted alone successfully for five years and then formed a copartnership with his brother-in-law, Sylvanus Thomas, under the firm name of William F. Drown & Company. They branched out into a wholesale business and met with abundant and merited success, for both were men of the highest qualities and natural ability. In 1861 Mr. Thomas withdrew from the firm and the business was conducted by Mr. Drown until 1868, when he retired from active service and during the remainder of his life enjoyed a well earned freedom from the cares and responsibilities of active business.

Mr. Drown was one of those men who inspire every one with whom they come in contact with trust, and there was not a particle of trickery or deceit in his composition. By his own energy, thrift, perseverance and good management he built up a competency. He never inherited a single dollar and was entirely the architect of his own fortunes. He had the gift of successful executive management to a large degree and this, combined with sterling good judgment and fine acumen, made him an unusually competent merchant.

Mr. Drown was always ready to aid any cause which he thought would contribute to the intellectual and moral advancement and to the material progress of his adopted city. In politics he affiliated with the Republican party, but being of quiet and retiring disposition, never sought political preferment. He was a prominent member of the North Congregational Church, and liberal in his support of its interests. He was one of the first members of the New Bedford Young Men's Christian Association. His character was based upon principles of uprightness, business honor and sterling integrity, and in all things his influence was to be found on the side of humanity and justice. To a marked degree Mr. Drown won the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens and maintained an enviable position as a high minded and honorable man throughout his entire life.

Mr. Drown was a man of extremely modest tastes. His chief pleasure he found at the domestic fireside, which possessed for him the most sacred and delightful associations. He was a devoted husband and the tenderest of fathers. His wife, who survives him, was Harriet Jackson Smith, of Rehoboth. They were married October 14, 1839, and three children were born to them: Harriet Jackson, born May 19, 1845; died August 20 of the same year; William Frederick, born July 6, 1852; died October 18, 1856; and Harriet Maria, born March 17, 1847, now the wife of Charles E. Benton, of Sharon, Conn. They have one child, Harriet Jackson Benton, born December 8, 1885.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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