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Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company

Page 347

GEORGE ASBURY BROWN. There are few men in Macoupin county who are better informed from personal experience as to pioneer life in this section of the state than George A. Brown, who was born at Brighton October 18, 1839, and has made his home in this city during the greater part of his life. As a young man he witnessed many stirring scenes in various parts of the Mississippi valley and also on the great plains and in the early mining camps of the Rocky Mountains, and his reminiscences are more interesting than any tale of fiction.

He is a son of Michael and Sarah E. (Peter) Brown and under the parental roof he grew to manhood, his early education being secured in the public schools of his native town. At the age of eighteen he began to work at the carpenter's trade but his plans were interfered with by the gold excitement which followed the discovery of the yellow metal at Cherry Creek, near the base of the Rocky Mountains, where Denver is now located. Early in 1861 he started with William Loveland and drove an ox team across the plains to golden, Colorado, where Mr. Loveland engaged in the mercantile business. The young man, however, went into the diggings of Clear Creek and Gilpin counties and spent eight months in an eager search for gold in Eureka gulch, the Twelve-Mile Diggins and Pine Gulch, devoting the remainder of the year to prospecting. He also spent eight months in the general store of Mr. Loveland at golden.

In January, 1863, Mr. Brown returned east, traveling as far as Poughkeepsie, New York, where he attended the Eastman Business College. Having completed a course at that noted institution he came back home and enlisted for the one hundred day service in Company E, One Hundred and Thirty-third Illinois Volunteers, under Captain Dugan. He was stationed with his company at Rock Island, Illinois, and assigned to guard Confederate prisoners. After receiving his discharge he went to Alton, Illinois, and secured employment as clerk in the store of Hathaway & Wade, with whom he continued for a year. He then engaged as clerk in a clothing store for six or eight months and spent the following summer at his trade as a carpenter in southeastern Missouri. He next associated with his brother, James McKendire Brown, in cultivating a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in McLean county, Illinois, which was owned by their parents, and in February, 1869, returned to Macoupin county and for one year cultivated a portion of the home farm. He then entered the grain business at Brighton, in which he was engaged for many years with marked success, and sold out to his son Russell in 1910. He was one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Brighton and was honored by being elected vice president, a position he has filled to the entire satisfaction of officers, directors and depositors of this growing institution.

In 1869 Mr. Brown was married to Miss Mary Lapsely, who was born in Ohio, of Irish descent, and died in 1886. They were the parents of three children, two of whom survive: Russell S., who is engaged in the grain business at Brighton; and Mary E., the wife of John F. Garber, teacher of botany and physiology in the Yateman high school at St. Louis, Missouri. On the 26th of October, 1892, mr. Brown was again married, his second union being with Miss Martha R. Fry, a native of Brighton and a daughter of James and Mary E. Fry, who were pioneer settlers of that place.

The name of Mr. Brown is not upon the register of any religious denomination but his wife is an earnest member of the Presbyterian church. Politically he adheres to the republican party whose candidates and principles he has supported for many years. He served as a member of the board of supervisors five years and also as school trustee. For more than four decades he was actively connected with the mercantile interests of Brighton and as a financier ranks among the far-seeing men in this part of the state, his opinion often being sought by persons desiring to make safe and profitable investments. As a result of his good business judgment he occupies a place of large responsibility and is justly held in high esteem.

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