Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago Co., IL, C. A. Church. Chicago: Clarke Publishing Company, 1905, pp 328-9
William BROWN, well known in Pecatonica and other sections of Winnebago County [IL], was born in Northampton County, England, 22 May 1831. His father, Richard BROWN, worked for an English company for about 60 years and aided in building the Prince Albert canal. He cut big limbs from the trees in the Wittleboro forest about 50 miles from London, and they were used in the construction of the canal. The forest was about six miles square, and there were about 3,000 deer running wild there. These they caught in nets, and many were put in Queen's Park, in London. In his old age Mr. BROWN was a pensioner of the English government, having practically spent his entire life at work on the canal in one portion and another. Both he and his wife lived to be more than 80 years of age.
Their son, William BROWN, had little opportunity to attend school, and is practically a self-educated as well as self-made man. In his early youth he peddled fruit, worked in a brickyard, and was also employed on the Prince Albert canal, tending locks in the city of London, for the canal extended 12 miles through the city and on to the basin at the opening. His duty was to close and open the gates when the boats came in from the east at floodtide. Mr. BROWN also worked at farming in England, but at length becoming convinced that he would have better business opportunities in the new world, he bade adieu to friends and native land and completed his arrangements to seek a home in America.
Taking passage on a sailing vessel at Liverpool bound for NY City, Mr. BROWN was 6-7 weeks in crossing the Atlantic. He then went up the Hudson River by boat to Albany [Albany County, NY], and from there made his way into the country, where he secured work as a farm hand. One of his early experiences, however, was being poisoned by ivy. Later he went to Utica [Oneida County], NY, by stage and on into the pine woods of Madison County, NY. He worked as a farm hand for $13 per month through the summer season, and in the following winter worked for his board. In the spring he was paid $16 per month in a hop yard, but yet not content with his location, because he believed he could do better elsewhere, he came in the fall of that year to Winnebago County, going first to Rockford and later to Pecatonica, where he secured employment in a butcher shop. Soon afterward he began conducting a meat market of his own, and for many years he has been one of the heaviest buyers and shippers of stock at this point, a fact which indicates a consecutive progress and success in his business career. He has bought and sold many hundred acres of land and at the present time owns 65 acres within the city limits of Pecatonica, and is also owner of the stockyards at this place.
Mr. BROWN was united in marriage here to Miss Matilda PETERSON, a native of Sweden. Her father, Charles Magnus PETERSON, was born in Sweden 13 May 1817, and was married in that country. With his wife, Johanna, he came to America in 1854, and they were therefore among the early settlers of the county. The father bought the land that he now owns at Twelve Mile Corner on the state road. Some of the farm has since been laid out in town lots, and it was thought that a village would be built thereon, but this hope was not realized. The mother died 08 Oct 1891. In the family were six children, who came with their parents to America. (1) Mrs. Matilda BROWN, born 28 May 1832, died in 1900; (2) Orphia, born 30 May 1877, is the widow of Peter LINDOLF and resides in MN; (3) Emily, who is the wife of S. A. JOHNSON, of Rockford; (4) Anna S., the wife of L. COLLINS; (5) Augusta Albertina, born 02 Nov 1847, now caring for her father. She learned the millinery trade and conducted a store in Rockford for 25 years, and employed from 5-8 girls, during which time she bought most of her goods from D. B. FISK, of Chicago, and she is now keeping house for her father. (6) John, born 03 Aug 1850, died in Rockford 24 Aug 1854.
Mr. and Mrs. BROWN have become the parents of nine sons and three daughters. Six of the sons are yet living, and are actively engaged in business. Charles R., a resident of Clark [County], NE, is married and has one daughter, Florence. John, who is also married, is the owner of an extensive ranch in CO, on which he has about 800 head of cattle, mules and horses. Fred, living in Clark, NE, married Maud McCLAIN and they have two children. William W and Edwin, who is now buying and feeding stock and is also conducting a store at Clark. Alfred I., extensively engaged in buying and selling horses and also in merchandising in Clark, NE, married Sophia MORGAN, and has one daughter, Mildred. Joseph is engaged in buying, feeding, and shipping cattle at Seward [Seward County], NE, and shipped 250 head from that place to NY City and thence by the Ohio steamship on the Wilson line. Mr. Wilson also shipped 250 head at the same time, and thus they sent out 28 carloads from Seward on that occasion. William Henry, living a Seward, NE, is conducting a meat market and is feeding cattle and horses. He was interested with his brother, Joseph, in the shipment of cattle to Deadford docks, at London, England. Mr. BROWN of this review went with that shipment of cattle from Seward to NY City, but threre took passage ona steamer of the White Star line, from which he landed in Liverpool and thence made his wa by train to London. He afterward went to Yardley, where he spent several days with his brothers and friends, returning thence to Deadford docks, where he remained until the cattle shipped by his sons had been sold. He left Seward 27 May 1903, and returned home on 02 July.
The daughters of the BROWN family are all deceased, and the mother has likewise passed away, her birth occurring 28 Mar 1832, and her death on 12 May 1900. The daughter Hannah, born 25 Sep 1864, died 10 May 1886. One son, George W., born 08 Mar 1866, died on 29 Apr of that year. George O., born 16 May 1867, died 20 Sep 1867. Cora M. and Nora M., twins, were born 15 Dec 1872, and the former died on 23 Dec 1872, and the latter on 31 Dec 1872. Mr. BROWN has never sought or desired public office. His first presidential vote was cast for Abraham Lincoln, and he has always supported the candidates whom he has believed best qualified for office.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.