Tamarack District Library Lakeview, Michigan

Growing Minds~Building Communities

Harrison James Brown, b. 1835 , d. 1913

Excerpt from “Portrait and biographical album, Mecosta county, Mich., containing portraits and biographical sketches of … citizens … [and] a complete history of the county, from its earliest settlement to the present time.”  Chicago: Chapman brothers, 1883.

Harrison J. Brown, miller at Altona, Hinton Tp., was born in Warren Co., PA., Nov. 11, 1835.  His parents, Peter and Mary (Libby) Brown, were natives respectively of Connecticut and New York. The father died in Pennsylvania, in 1855; the mother is still living with her son at Altona. Mr. Brown was a lumberman in Warren County until 32 years of age; two years he was owner and operator of a steam saw mill.  When 18 years old he commenced to labor in the woods, putting in timber in the winter and rafting it down, in which business he continued for three years. In the spring of 1865, he was drafted for the Union service and procured a substitute, to whom he paid $1,000.  Nine days later Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court-House. Mr. Brown came to Michigan in the spring of 1867, and spent some months in prospecting in Flint, Chesaning and Greenville; and then came to Saginaw Co. and bought a farm of 100 acres. The summer following he built a house and labored in clearing and improving his land. This place he owned two years, when he settled in Mecosta Co., in 1868.  In the summer of that year he built a flouring-mill on the Little Muskegon river, the first in the township.  In later years he bought a saw-mill of Wm. Egbert, and is now operating both and employing 12 men. He has recently refitted his shingle-mill, its capacity being now 35,000 per diem. The full product of the flour mill is 20 barrels daily, besides feed grinding. Mr. Brown was married in New York, June 9, 1865, to Maryette E., daughter of Thomas and Susannah (Stewart) Thomas. Mrs. Brown’s father was born in Pennsylvania, and her mother in Canada. The daughter was born March 26, 1842, and is a member of the M. E. Church. Mr. Brown is a Republican, and comes of patriotic ancestry, his grandfather Libby having been a soldier of 1812.

 

Obituaries from the Lakeview Enterprise for Harrison Brown and his wife

Altona lost one of it’s greatest benefactors and most esteemed citizens when H. J. Brown expired early Tuesday morning of last week. Harrison J. Brown was born in Warren county, Pa Nov. 11, 1835. He was a lumberman in that county until 32 years of age; two years he was owner and operator of a steam saw mill. When 18 years old he commenced to labor in the woods, putting in timber in the winter and rafting it down, in which buriness he continued for three years. In the spring of 1865 he was drafted for the Union service and procured a substitute to whom he paid $1000. He came to Michigan in the spring of 1867 and spent some months in prospecting in Flint, Chesaning and Greenville and then went to Saginaw county and bought a farm of 100 acres, thich he improved and owned for two years, when he settled in Mecosta county in 1868. In the summer of that year he built the flouring mill here, the first in the township, which he still owned. In later years he bought a saw mill of Wm. Egbert and later built a shingle mill. In time of panic in 1873, when all other work ceased, he kept his mills running to give to the men of the vicinity labor to keep them and their families. He has always been a kind, sympathetic friend and a helper in time of need. Mr. Brown was married in New York June 9, 1865 to Maryette E. Thomas. He leaves to mourn his loss a wife, one brother, Benson, two sisters, Mrs. Walter Streeter, and one in Pa, besides a host of friends. Those from out of town who attended the funeral were: Leonard Stuart, of Detroit, Mrs. Eva Jarvis, of Eau Claire, Wis, Mrs. Stephen Brown, of Grand Rapids, Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Rice, of Portland, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Willett, of Big Rapids.~~~~ Lakeview Enterprise January 2, 1914

 

Margaret E. Brown born in Canada March 26th, 1841, died at Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on May 11th, 1920. Her early life was spent in Canada. She was married to Harrison J. Brown on June 9th, 1865, in New York State. They came to Michigan in 1867, living for a short time at Chesaning and at Greenville; then moved to Altona, Mecosta County in 1868, where she lived until February 1915, her husband having died December 1913. Finding life too lonesome, she sold her home and spent the remainder of her days visiting her children, as she called them, as she had no children of her own, but by the death of Mr. Brown’s sister, five little children were left orphans, the father having died four months previous. Mrs. and Mrs. Brown took them all as their own children and they never knew what a calamity had befallen them. Mrs. Brown was a member of the M. E. church from childhood and was always interested in anything for the betterment of the people. She leaves to mourn their loss, her sister, Ester J. Brown, Park Lake, Michigan, her four adopted children, Marvin L. Stewart, Seattle, Washington; Leonard M. Stewart, Detroit,Michigan; Mrs. C. M. Carpenter, Muskegon, Michigan; and Mrs. D. Jarvis, EauClaire, Wisconsin, at whose home she was at the time of her death; and also many nephews and neices(sp). ~~~Lakeview Enterprise June 10, 1920

 

An unsourced obituary for Mr. Brown (given to the library by Peggy Gilmore)

Harrison J. Brown was born in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, November 11, 1835 and died at Altona, Mich., December 16, 1913. By the death of his father he had the responsibility of caring for his mother and several younger children in  the family. This duty he assumed cheerfully and gladly. For several years he was engaged in farming, lumbering and putting down oil wells. In 1865 he was married to Margaret E. Thompson, and in 1868 they came to Michigan, living for a short time at Chesaning and at Greenville, then moved to Altona. Here Mr. Brown built a grist mill, which he owned and operated until his health failed in 1913. He was not only a successful business man but he was good, kind and helpful to his fellow men. He was honorable, upright, just, true and beloved by all.  He was always interested in the uplift and betterment of the people. While not a member of the church he was intensely interested in its welfare and success. He gave largely of his means to support it and stood faithfully by his wife in all her efforts to carry on church interests and to live a true Christian life. In his last sickness he confessed his love to God and said he was ready to go. For more than forty years their home was the home of the itinerant preachers, who always found a hearty welcome. The church and the community at Altona will miss him. A large gathering of people attended his funeral at his residence December 18, conducted by Rev. N. L. Bray, assisted by Rev. A. T Goslin.

Pictures of the Harrison Brown Home and Altona Mill also given by Peggy Gilmore:

Harrison James and Margaret Brown's  Home -  Altona, Mecosta Cnty, Michigan

Grist Mill , Altona, Mecosta Cnty, Hinton twp, Mi.