Lee County Biography


Franklin Grove

Thomas W. Brown, an old and honored citizen of Lee County, and one of its pioneers, is one of the wealthy residents of Franklin Grove, where he has a beautiful home, and is conducting good business as a grower of small fruits. His native place is the fine old city of Newport, R. I., and the date of his birth, August 14, 1820, His parents, Thomas W. and Rebecca (Vial) Brown, were also natives of Rhode Island, and were life-long residents of that State. They reared a family of six children, as follows: Louisa, who died unmarried; Mary, who became the wife of Thomas H. Kirtly, a banker of Philadelphia, in which city she died; Harriet, the wife of R. P. Lee, cashier in a bank at Newport, R. I.; Clarlotte, now Mrs. Richard E. Hamlin, of Providence, R. I.; Elizabeth B., wife of William M. Steadman, a wholesale merchant, of Boston, Mass.; and our subject, the only son.

He of whom we write learned the trade of a merchant tailor under his father's instruction in his youth, and at nineteen years of age started Westward to grow up with the country in some pioneer settlement, where he would have a broader field for the exercise of his energies, as be did not by any means propose to confine himself to his trade if he found that he could do better in another direction. After his arrival in Lee Connty he took up and improved a claim, although the land was not then in the market, and subsequently selling it at a good price, he removed to Inlet, a village now defunct, and did business as a merchant tailor and as a daguerrean. It is worthy of note in connection with the latter that he made daguerreon types of many of the early settlers, which are now probably preserved in many households as precious heirlooms.

In 1856 Mr. Brown removed to Franklin Grove, and in 1860 he settled where he now resides, which place had been purchased that year by his brother­in-law. He continued in the same business as before until 1871, when he sold medicine for three years. In 1875 he began to engage in the culture of small fruits, and in 1885 purchased the place on which he resided. He then erected his handsome residence, which is finely located at the head of Main Street in the south part of the village of Franklin Grove, where he has a home replete with all the comforts and luxuries necessary to the best social life. His dwelling is a large brick house, second to none in the village in beauty of architecture and the convenience of its interior arrangements. It is supplied with the model improvements, heated by a furnace, and has hot and cold water in all parts of the house, besides a well appointed bathroom. Among the most pleasant features of this elegant home is the good cheer always to be found within its walls, its inmates understanding well the art of true hospitality that welcomes the cming and speeds the parting guest.

Although Mr. Brown is a man of wealth his active temperment is intolerant of a life of leisure, and, as before mentioned, he devotes his time to the culture of small fruits, for which his forty acres of land is well adapted. He is well versed the best methods of fruit culture, having made a careful study both from observation and from the perusal of the works of the best authorities on the subject, and he has a large and constantly growing business under his supervision, as he has acquired a wide reputation for the superior quality of the fruit that he raises, which always finds a market and sells at good prices. I

On April 10, 1841, in his native city, Newport, R. I., Mr. Brown and Ruth F. Simpson were united in mal'riage. She, too, was born in that beautiful, seaside resort her birth occuring February 12, 1819, and she is a daughter of Samuel and Harriet Simpson. For fifty years she and our subject have shared the vicissitudes of life together, and the joys and sorrow that have fallen to their lot during that half century of time have but strengthened the tie that binds them. Nine children have been born to them, of whom these four have passed from life to death: Matilda, who died at the age of sixteen; Ella, who died when six years old; and two who died in infancy. The five children living are Thomas W., a resident of Franklin Grove; Robert, a resident of Sioux Rapids, Iowa; Mary E; Harriet, now Mrs. Blair; and Lottie; the three daughters live at home with their parents,

Mr. Brown was in early life a Whig, but he was heartily in sympathy with the movement that led to the formation of the Republican party, and from its birth he has been one of the most stanch supporters of its principles. He was the first Town Clerk of Lee Centre Township, and his record as a citizen shows that he has always contributed to local improvements, and all measures to advance the growth and well-being of his adopted county have met with his cordial approval and material support.

Lee County Portraits & Biographical Pg 281

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