M. SPENCER BROWN, for thirteen years past postmaster of Brighton, is a native son of that city. He was born March 20, 1841, and has there made his home for more than seventy years, during a large part of which time he has been prominently identified with its development. His parents were Michael and Sarah E. (Peter) Brown, the former of whom was born near Mechanicsburg, Ohio, June 4, 1810. The father came to Upper Alton, Illinois, in 1825, and in 1830 arrived at Brighton and associated with his brother in locating eighty acres of government land in this region. He became one of the leading men of Macoupin county and acquired five hundred and fifty acres of valuable farm land, part of it being in McLean and Madison counties. He was married November 15, 1836, to Sarah E. Peter and to this union seven children were born, namely: James McKendrie, George A., M. Spencer, Emily J., Thomas C., Charles W. and Edward B. The mother of these children died July 15, 1851, and in March, 1853, Mr. Brown was married to Mrs. M. A. Sumner, who was a native of New York. By his second marriage he became the father of two children, William H. and Allen R. He took a prominent part in public affairs and gave his adherence to the republican party, being one of its most earnest supporters. He was also actively interested in the promotion of education and was a strong advocate of temperance. In religious faith he was a Methodist.
In the common schools M. Spencer Brown received his preliminary education and under his father he was made acquainted with the best known methods of agriculture and stock-raising. He arrived at manhood shortly after the Civil war opened and on August 10, 1862, responded to his country's call and enlisted under Captain L. P. Peebles in Company D, One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois Infantry. This was the Macoupin county regiment, which entered service under Colonel John I. Rinaker, who afterward became a brigadier general in the Union army. An interesting record of General Rinaker is presented elsewhere in this work. In December of the year following his enlistment Private Brown was transferred to the commissary department of the Fifteenth Division, Tenth Army Corps, and was made clerk in the department. He served in this capacity during the remainder of the war and participated in many important movements, among which was Sherman's march to the sea. After receiving his honorable discharge July 15, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky, he came to Bloomington, Illinois, and assisted in drawing up the official report of the department with which he had been connected and received one hundred dollars per month from July 15, to October 1.
After his return home Mr. Brown reentered the store of Eleazer Butler, of Brighton, with which he had been identified as clerk before enlistment in the army. At the end of a year he purchased one-half interest in the business, the firm becoming Butler & Brown. Under competent management the patronage largely increased and later the firm opened a branch house at Medora. However, Mr. Brown found his health giving way on account of over application and confinement within doors and he disposed of his interest and retired for a year or two to his farm in this vicinity. His usual strength being restored, he accepted a position with a dry-goods firm at Alton and continued with this house for eight years, during which time, however, he retained his residence in Brighton and traveled back and forth each day on the railway. After resigning from his position he assisted in organizing the Grain Dealers Association of Brighton for the purpose of diverting grain from the warehouses to the three large mills at Alton. He was made secretary of the association and in this capacity traveled widely throughout this part of the state for about eight years, being one of the largest producers of grain for home consumption. The association finally passed out of existence on account of changes in manner of conducting business and in 1898 Mr. Brown was appointed postmaster of Brighton, a position which he has since filled to the entire satisfaction of patrons and officials at Washington. He and his wife own about two hundred and thirty-five acres of land, which includes his undivided interest in the Brown estate, and he is recognized as one of the thoroughly reliable and substantial business men of the community.
On the 22d of October, 1867, Mr. Brown was married to Miss Mary Frances Gilson, a daughter of James W. Gilson, who was one of the pioneers of Macoupin county. Three children have been born to this union, two of whom survive. Leila Marion is the widow of F. J. Fritchie and makes her home with her parents. Spencer Gilson is a graduate of Blackburn College and Princeton University and received the degree of LL. B. from Yale University. He is now actively engaged in the practice of law at Brighton and has gained an enviable position as one of the most promising young attorneys in Macoupin county.
Politically Mr. Brown, whose name stands at the head of this sketch, adheres to the republican party and has served as member of the county board of supervisors. Fraternally he is connected with Hibbard Lodge, No. 249, A.F. & A.M.; Alton chapter, No. 8, R.A.M.; and Belvidere Commandery, No. 2, K.T., this being the second oldest commandery in the state. He is one of the active workers in the Methodist Episcopal church and from 1875 to 1910 with the exception of one year served as superintendent of the Sunday school at Brighton. Mrs. Brown and the son and daughter are members of the Presbyterian church. By a life of unusual activity and effectiveness in promoting worthy undertakings mr. Brown has earned the high regard in which he is held by the people of this city, and is recognized as one of its foremost citizens - a man whose greatest delight has been found in promoting the comfort and happiness of others.