JOHN H. BROWN, who was for many years one of the leading farmers of this county, and is still connected with its agricultural interests as the proprietor of one of its large and finely improved farms, is now living somewhat retired from active business in one of the many attractive homes in Carlinville. He is by birth a native of Tennessee, born near the city of Knoxville, May 6, 1826. His father, Francis G. Brown, was born in West Virginia, and was young when his father died. His mother then removed with her family to Tennessee, and there he was reared and married. Ambitious to avail himself of the advantages offered by the cheap lands and the rich virgin soil of this State, in 1837 he visited Macoupin County, and entered a tract of Government land in what is now Western Mound Township, on section 23. He returned to Tennessee after that transaction, and the following year came back here with his wife and six children to settle in this county permanently. The journey was made hither on a flat boat on the waters of the Holston, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi rivers to within fifty miles of Paducah, then by steamer to Alton, and thence by team to their destination. They arrived here in April, and Mr. Brown rented a log house on section 4, Bird Township, in which the family lived until November, and in the meantime he bought a quarter of section 18, of the same township, fifty acres of which were improved and two log cabins stood on the place. He paid about $5 an acre for the land, and while it was in his possession he placed it under excellent cultivation and greatly increased its value. He was one of the pioneer settlers of this section of the State, which was then but sparsely inhabited, the surrounding country being in a wild condition, with deer, wolves and other wild animals roaming at will over the prairies and through the timber. There were no railways, and the principal market was at Alton, thirty-three miles distant, and the nearest at Chesterfield.
In 1851 the father of our subject sold his farm in Bird Township, and removing to Chesterfield, engaged in the merchandising business in that village and also kept a hotel. He was thus occupied a few years, and then retired. At his death in October, 1878, at a ripe old age, this county lost one of its venerated pioneers who had aided in its upbuilding, and had been in every way a desirable citizen. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Bell, preceded him in death, dying at Chesterfield in July, 1864. She was a native of Knox County, Tenn. Those worthy people were the parents of nine children, as follows: Elizabeth N., married George S. Huskey; John H.; Melinda, wife of Joseph Rafferty; William A.; Matilda C., wife of Elisha Harbour; Leonidas M.; Mary J., wife of Jacob Dohn; Laura and Hattie (twins), the former of whom married Charles Saunders, and the latter J. J. Leach.
John H. Brown was in his twelfth year when he came to this county with his parents, and his education was gained here in the primitive pioneer schools of the early years of the settlement of this region. The schoolhouse was built of logs; the seats were made of split saplings, that were hewn smooth on one side, had wooden pins for legs, and had neither backs or desks. Our subject received a good training in farm work, for as soon as he was large enough he had to do his share of it, and he afforded his father valuable assistance in his agricultural operations, continuing to live with his parents until he was twenty-one when he married and established a home of his own in a log cabin, sixteen feet square, with an earth and stick chimney, located on section 5, Bird Township. He resided on that place two years, and then sold and bought one hundred and twenty acres of land on section 17, of the same township. It was a tract of wild prairie, for which he paid $5 an acre. He built a small frame house and frame barn, and during the two years that he lived there he made many improvements. He then sold that place and bought his father's old homestead of two hundred and twenty acres, and devoted himself assiduously to its cultivation. he met with more than ordinary success in his undertakings, as he was practical, energetic and sharp sighted, and at the same time prudent and cautious in his transactions, and in the course of time he accumulated a valuable property, which includes nearly six hundred acres of land.
In 1881 Mr. Brown came to Carlinville and bought the place where he now resides, a commodious residence of a modern style of architecture, pleasantly located on North Broad Street. To the estimable lady who presides over this beautiful home, he was united in marriage September 22, 1847, and their household is completed by their two children, Samuel N. and Daisy.
Mrs. Brown was formerly Miss Martha E. Huskey, and she was born in Dallas County, near Selma, Ala., April 13, 1831. Her father, James Huskey was a native of East Tennessee, and was a son of one of its early pioneers, Isaac Huskey. James Huskey was reared in Tennessee, and went from there to Alabama soon after marriage, locating in what is now Dallas County, of which he was a pioneer. He bought a tract of Government land as soon as it came into the market, and resided there until 1834, when, with his wife and ten children, he started for Illinois, journeying with ox-teams and camping and cooking by the wayside at night. He was six weeks on his way, and after his arrival in this county he entered Government land on sections 5, 6, 7 and 8 Bird Township, and on sections 31 and 32, South Palmyra Township, and on section 5, of the first named township he built a dwelling, and was a resident there until his death in August, 1845, deprived that township of one of its foremost pioneers. The maiden name of his wife was Rhoda Reagan. She was born in East Tennessee, and was a daughter of Richard and Elizabeth (Trigg) Reagan. She died on the old homestead in the fall of 1855. She was the mother of eleven children, namely: Elizabeth, Jane, George, Sarah, Mary, Matilda, Pinina, Millie, Martha, Harkey and Zerilda.
A man of Mr. Brown's mental calibre, sound and incorruptible character and general trustworthiness is necessarily influential in his community, and we find that he has borne an important part in the management of public affairs as an incumbent of various responsible offices. He has represented Bird Township as a member of the County Board of Supervisors; he has served as Township Treasurer and as School Director, and he is an active member of the Macoupin County Agricultural Board. Politically, he is a Democrat. Religiously, both he and his wife are members of the Baptist Church, and it may be said of them that they lead consistent Christian lives, and are universally respected and esteemed.