LEMUEL BROWN

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 81-82

LEMUEL BROWN, an early settler of Cook County, who had formerly been a pioneer in Michigan, was born September 15, 1815, at Berkshire, Tioga County, New York, and died at his home in Lemont, Illinois, August 15, 1894.   His father, Daniel Brown, was a canal contractor and farmer, and gave his son better educational opportunities than fall to the lot of the average framer’s son.  In 1826 the family moved from Chestnut Ridge, near Niagara Falls, New York, to Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Here he attended the famous university of that state four years, and started out at the age of seventeen well equipped for the battle of life.

He spent a year in selling goods for his brother, N. J. Brown, in Ionia County, Michigan, and then opened a trading establishment of his own in Clinton County, Michigan, the first store kept by a white man in that county.  Most of his customers were Indians, and he did a thriving business in exchanging blankets, tobacco and other commodities for furs, skins and game.  At this time speculation in western lands was very active, and Mr. Brown entered into several land deals which yielded him a handsome profit.  After remaining in Clinton County a year, he went to Shiawassee County, in the same state, where he continued to deal in lands.  He became the first Recorder of that county, as well as the first Postmaster within its borders.  The first court for Shiawassee County was held in the ballroom of the tavern of which he was proprietor.   In a corner of this building he maintained a bank and kept his Recorder’s office.  He engaged in farming here, and was a friend and assistant of the young man who afterward became Governor Parsons, of Michigan.

Mr. Brown came to Cook County in 1838, remaining in Chicago two years and settling at Lemont in 1840.  For twelve consecutive years he held the offices of Postmaster and Justice of the Peace of Lemont, being the second Postmaster at that place.  He was appointed, in 1846, one of the commissioners to secure the organization of every township in Cook County, but declined to serve.  He was, however, Chairman of the meeting in his home town, and suggested the name which was adopted–La Mont, since corrupted to Lemont.  The name of Athens, first adopted by this place, was abandoned because another town in the state had prior claim to that name.

In 1853 Mr. Brown moved to Clinton County, Iowa, where he served as Justice of the Peace three years and Sheriff two years.  For fifteen years preceding the year 1873 he was engaged in farming in that county, and removed thence to Kansas, where he was engaged in farming and stock-raising for ten years.  In this he was very successful, and produced in a single year eighteen hundred bushels of wheat and fifteen hundred bushels each of corn and oats.  In one year he produced four thousand bushels of corn.

In 1883 he returned to Lemont to pass the balance of his years in quiet retirement, and enjoyed for eleven years the fruits of a long life of honest toil, approaching close to the age of seventy-nine years.  He was married in Shiawassee County, Michigan, February 11, 1838, to Miss Catharine Lyman, a native of North Branford, Massachusetts, who still survives.  Six of their eight children grew to maturity and are now living, filling places of usefulness.  Belle, the eldest, is the wife of Volney Chapman.  Daniel L., who married Alvesta Scott, is the author of Scott Brown’s system of shorthand writing, and is well known as a publisher in New York.   Ida is the wife of William Lambertson.   Katharine A. married David S. Geer, an attorney of Chicago.  Lemuel L. married Ida E. Derby, and is a business man in Chicago.  Frank Lyman Brown married Harriet Readshaw, and resides in New York City.

Mr. Brown adhered to the Democratic party from his youth until the administration of President Buchanan.  He was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln, and continued from 1860 until his death to affiliate with the Republicans.  He sympathized with the abolition movement, and was an advocate of temperance, never using liquor except when prescribed by a physician.  Throughout his life he was active in the labors of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and wherever he lived was regarded as one of the most useful members of that body.

                                -- Submitted on 11/8/99 by Sherri Hessick ( slhessick@crosswinds.net )