SOURCE: History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties. (Chicago, IL: Lewis, 1893), p. 455-457.
John G. Brown of Rockdale, Milam county, Texas, is a son of John and Fannie (Griffin) Brown, both natives of Alabama, in which State the subject of this sketch was also born. The father was born there in 1808, was reared and married there, his marriage occurring in 1834, when he was united to a daughter of one of the first settlers of the State, John Griffin.
John Griffin and John Brown, the grandfathers of the subject of this review, were both natives of North Carolina, and moved, within the latter part of the last century or early in the present one, to Alabama, where for many years thereafter they resided, being extensive land owners. Both died in their adopted State and left numerous descendants, who have since scattered through the new Southwest.
The Browns came originally from England, the Griffins from Ireland. Both took up their residence in this country in colonial times, settling in the southeast Atlantic sea-coast States, whence they drifted toward the Gulf as the Indians were removed and the country was opened to settlement. It is a tradition of the family that they were in the main sturdy yoemen and patriotic citizens, rendering good service in time of war and living honorable and industrious lives in time of peace.
The grandfathers of our subject were both soldiers in the Revolution. John Brown, father of John G. Brown of this article, migrated in 1842 from Alabama to Arkansas, where he resided for about three years, coming thence to Texas and settling in Washington county, where, with the exception of three years, he continued to reside until his death. He was a farmer, merchant, and trader, and, in the course of a somewhat long and active life, succeeded in accumulating a considerable amount of property.
He went in 1869 to California, where, through some unfortunate investments, he lost heavily. While a resident of Washington county he was for many years Deputy Sheriff of the county and filled other local positions, being a man of much public spirit and devoted to the best interests of the community where he lived. He was a life long Democrat and greatly devoted to the interests of his party. He died in Washington county in 1876, aged sixty-eight years.
His wife, mother of our subject, died in 1847, the year after the removal to Texas. The issue of their marriage was six children, four of whom attained maturity; Marion Brown, John G. Brown, Thomas J. Brown, and James M. Brown, all of whom entered the Confederate army at the opening of the late war, enlisting in company F, Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers. Marion Brown died from injuries received in the service. Each of the others was wounded. Thomas J. Brown lost his life in 1868 in New Mexico, being killed by the Indians while on his way to California. James M. Brown is now a resident of San Patricio county, this State, where he is engaged in fruit growing.
John G. Brown, the subject of this sketch, was born in what was then Benton, now Calhoun, county, Alabama, July 26, 1839. He was thus in his sixth year when his parents came to Texas in 1845. After the death of his mother, the year following, he went, in 1848, to live with a Mr. Connell, of Washington county, with whom he made his home for four years, after which, in 1852, he was taken into the family of a Mrs. Pearson of that county. He remained with this lady for about five years, during which time he secured such limited educational advantages as were afforded at the time, being indebted to her for the same. He was also indebted to her for excellent training in other ways and for much encouragement and kindly counsel. On this account he retains pleasant recollections of her and his stay at her house, and he gratefully makes this acknowledgment and pays her memory this public tribute. Working for her, for his father and occasionally for others, on the farm and at the stock business, his time was passed like that of most boys of his age until he reached his majority.
Having married and, just as he was laying his plans for life, surveying his surroundings for an opportunity to begin consecutive operations, the war came on and he subordinated all his personal projects to meet the more pressing duties that called him to the field of action.
He entered the Confederate army early in 1861, enlisting in Company F, Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Tom Green. With this company he was assigned to duty on the Texas frontier and began his service in the well remembered campaign into New Mexico. He was identified with the entire campaign, in which was fought the battle of Val Verde, and, returning, was in the expedition along the Gulf coast, participating in the fight at Galveston, in which he assisted in the capture of “Harriet Lane”, being wounded in this exploit by a minie ball. On account of this wound he was disabled and temporarily incapacitated for further service, spending the interim at home on a furlough. He soon recovered and returned to his command, with which he served until the close of the war, receiving his discharge at Houston in May 1865.
For three years following that date he worked on his father’s farm in Washington county, and in 1868 started with his father for California, but after reaching the Rio Grande river, decided to remain in Texas, and, returning to Washington county, there engaged in the mercantile business at Sand Town. After a year’s successful pursuit of this business at that place, he embarked in the liquor business at points along the line of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, which was then building west towards Austin.
He retained these interests until 1876, when he settled at Rockdale, where he opened a saloon, which he has since conducted. He is thus one of Rockdale’s oldest business men, and it may be added without exaggeration, is one of her successful ones. A business in Rockdale, averaging from $15,000 to $18,000 annually, a half interest in a business worth $6,000 in Corpus Christi, a fruit farm of 300 acres, worth $10,000, in San Patricio county, and an interest in a farm of 300 acres in Milam county, besides other investments, show that he has not been idle during the last two decades; for it must be remembered that he came out of the war without a dollar and had to struggle for several years for a bare subsistence for himself and his family.
That he has been diligent and watchful of his interests it is needless to say. He has devoted himself strictly to business, has always lived within his means, has been careful of his investments and conservative in all things. For nine years he has served as Alderman of the town of Rockdale, and it is doing no injustice to others to say that Rockdale has never had on its board of Common Council a man more solicitous for the general welfare of the place, and more active in the support of every measure looking to that end, than Mr. Brown.
His means, ability and progressive spirit make him a valuable man in a new and enterprising place like Rockdale, and his support is always confidently relied upon in any undertaking of a public nature. He is not a partisan politician , but being a strong Democrat he generally interests himself in political matters to the extent of voting, and also, when occasion demands, is ever ready to turn out and work for the success of any man or cause whose interests he espouses.
February 15, 1861, Mr. Brown married Miss Myra Wray, then of Washington county, this State, but a native of Tennessee. Of this marriage four children have been born, of whom but two attained mature years: John T. Brown and William M. Brown, both of whom are farmers in Milam county.
We must say a special thank you to Doug Kirk of Waynesboro, TN, for typing the above biographical sketch for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.
Created on 29 June 2005 and last revised on ____________