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Charles and Julia Brown

Willowdale Farm


Submitted by Sherry Brown from the New Examiner, April 25, 2012, page 11


Charles Houston Brown was born in Aberdeen Scotland and immigrated to Utah with his mother Isabella Hogg Brown and three siblings when he was 11.  His father James, who stayed in Scotland to earn more money, immigrated the following year.

Crossing the plains is where Charles no doubt picked up his great love for and skill in handling horses and other animals. He trained a pair of fine colts to enter the house and sit on chairs and do other stunts at his word of command.  Each of his horses knew and answered to his individual whistle for each animal.

His wife Julia was born in Salt Lake City to James and Lucy Ferguson.  They were married in 1870 in Salt Lake.  Charles worked on a large horse ranch in Skull Valley Utah and that's were they spent the first years of their marriage.  In 1875 they moved to Liberty with their first two children-seven more children were born to his family while in Liberty.  By the time they arrived in Liberty all of the choice land had been spoken for and Charles had to homestead 160 acres, which were mostly covered with willows.  Thus Charles named his farm Willowdale.

Charles loved the place.  The view of the mountain and valley from his home was a perfect replica of his native Scotland.  His father, James loaned him $200 to buy purebred dairy stock.  Charles imported 11 registered Holsteins from Holland; some of the very first Holsteins imported west of the Mississippi River.  This was in 1890, four months before Idaho became a state.  One of his cows has a registration number of 798 and is listed in Volume I of the Holstein-Friesian Association of America record book.  Today, Holstein registrations are numbered in the millions. Charles was a successful farmer taking pride in his fine herd of Holstein cows along with a few beef cattle and sheep.

He was very exacting and advanced in his farming methods.  At one time he sold 80 lbs of butter.  A dog on a treadmill churned it.  The butter was then worked by hand, packed in ice and taken to Montpelier for shipment.  In his later years (1916) Charles turned his farm over to his sons, Wallace and Frank.  He then traveled throughout Idaho selling farm equipment for the Consolidated Wagon and Machine Company in Montpelier.  Upon retirement Charles and Julia moved to Salt Lake where Charles died in 1921.  He is buried in the Liberty Cemetery which overlooks his beloved farm.

The years since 1875 have seen two Class A barns replace the old frame barn erected by Charles almost a century and a half before.  The sagebrush and willows have been replaced by lush meadows and alfalfa fields.  Today due to clearing of the willows over the past 137 years, Willowdale Farm has some of the choicest farm land in the Bear Lake Valley.  A lot can be said about the dream started by a Skull Valley horse breaker, when he unloaded 11 cattle from Holland well over a century ago in a territory which was soon to be the State of Idaho.

The following information comes from the History of Bear Lake Pioneers, page 94, by Isabelle McKenzie

The second son of James Brown and Isabelle Hogg was named Charles Houston Brown and was born in Aberdeen Scotland, 1 Nov 1851.  In 1868 he left Scotland with his mother and three other children for Utah, arriving in America after six weeks on the ocean.  Another week was spent in crossing the plains to St Joseph Missouri, where an immigrant train was forming for Utah.  This journey took another nine weeks. Charles, not yet twelve years of age, his brother, his two sisters and his mother, soon expecting another little one, walked most of the miles.  They reached the Salt Lake Valley in October 1863 and Charles soon found work as a "printer's devil" at the Deseret News Press. His only schooling consisted of a few months of night school at Roger's College in Salt Lake and he was able to play any instrument he saw, though he never had any music lessons.

Before his marriage to Julia Ferguson 17 Oct 1970, he was employed by Capt. Hooper on a big horst and cattle ranch in Skull Valley, Utah.  There he became an expert in breaking wild horses.  It was there he built a one room cabin as a house for his bride.  In 1875 the Brown family moved to Liberty where he engaged in farming.

Children of Charles Houston Brown and Julia Ferguson

1. James Ferguson Brown b-Sep 1871 in Skull Valley Utah
2. Bessie Rea Brown b-1874 in Skull Valley Utah
3. Julia Brown b-Feb 1876 in Liberty
4. Lucy Brown b-3 Mar 1878 in Liberty; d-7 Oct 1880 in Liberty; br-Liberty Cemetery
5. Charles Houston Brown b-June 1879 in Liberty
6. Fergus Brown b-18 Oct 1882 in Liberty; d-11 Mar 1961 in Fresno California
7. William Wallace Brown b-13 Dec 1883 in Liberty; d-20 Nov 1964 in Liberty; br-Liberty Cemetery
8. Robert Bruce Brown b-31 Aug 1885 in Liberty; d-1911; br-Liberty Cemetery
9. Frank Martin Brown b-12 Oct 1887 in Liberty; d-20 Dec 1975; br-Liberty Cemetery

Charles Brown died 13 Mar 1921 in Salt Lake City.  Julia died 9 Oct 1922 at the home of her daughter in Blackfoot Idaho.  Both are buried in the Liberty Cemetery.


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