Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

William F. Brown

WILLIAM F. BROWN is one of the oldest residents of Pratt County, having lived there since pioneer times, and his ability and resourcefulness have made his affairs prosper in every direction and undertaking. He is a large land owner and farmer, and for a number of years has been the leading merchant of Byers. His name has also been worthily impressed upon the history of the state through his several terms of service in the Legislature during the early '90s, when much legislating was done that was productive of the later and better prosperity of Kansas.

Mr. Brown was born at Bath, Illinois, February 25, 1860, son of Isaac and Maria M. (Putnam) Brown. He is of old and substantial American ancestry. His great-grandfather settled in Scoharie County, New York, prior to the time of the Revolutionary war. His grandfather, Stephen Brown, spent all his life in Scoharie County as a farmer. On his mother's side Mr. Brown is descended from a pioneer Putnam who came to this country about the same time as Hendrik Hudson, 1608, and settled on the Island of Manhattan, he and his family being among the founders of New York.

Isaac Brown, father of William F. Brown, was born in Scoharie County, New York, in 1830. He grew up there and later moved to Bath, Illinois, where he was a merchant and where he married. About 1870 he established a home on the prairies of northeastern Kansas, in Doniphan County, and broke many acres of sod there. That country was not altogether to his liking, and in 1878 he moved to practically the very edge of civilization in the Kansas of that time and homesteaded a quarter section in Pratt County. He was a man of great energy, lived a blameless life, and kept his home on his farm in Pratt County until 1895, when he retired and moved to Stoutland, Missouri, where he died in 1907. In matters of politics he always followed the choice of an independent judgment. His wife, Maria M. Putnam, was born in Amsterdam, New York, in 1828, and died at Bath, Illinois, in 1865, the mother of W. F. Brown.

William F. Brown was about nine years old when his father moved to Doniphan County, Kansas, and in that locality he acquired most of his education in the rural schools. At the age of eighteen he went to Pratt County and three years later, in 1881, homesteaded a quarter section, proved up his claim, and from that as a nucleus steadily progressed in farming and other business affairs. He now owns 1,000 acres in Pratt County, and lived on his farm until 1897, when he established a store in the community then known as Naron, which has since become the Village of Byers. His business has grown steadily, and particularly through the building of the railroad it has claimed a large share of the trade in that section of Pratt County. Mr. Brown is also a director in the Farmers Elevator Company at Byers and in the Farmers Commission Company of Hutchinson. He owns his store building and also a modern home built in 1918.

For a number of years Mr. Brown has exercised an independent elective franchise, but was a populist in the stirring political days of the early '90s. It was on that ticket that he was elected to the Legislature in 1892 and re-elected in 1894 and 1896. He was regarded as one of the strong men in the Legislature of those years, and in the session of 1897 was appointed chairman of the important committee on railroads. He made a close study of railroads as affecting the general welfare, and is well known as the author of the Brown Maximum Freight Rate Law. For the past thirty-five years he has been a director of his home school board and has also held other township offices, including justice of the peace, in which he is still serving. He is a licensed local minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is affiliated with the local camp of the Modern Woodmen of the World, Byers Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and, for the past twenty years has been clerk of Byers Camp of the Modern Woodmen.

In 1882, at Byers, Mr. Brown married Miss Leeann Naron, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Naron, now deceased. L. H. Naron was the pioneer farmer and homesteader in Pratt County after whom the vicinity of Naron was named. To Mr. and Mrs. Brown were born the following children: Emma is the wife of Charles M. Miles, an automobile dealer at Macksville, Kansas; Don is a farmer at Byers; Mary married John Gereke, a farmer near Byers; Bert is also a farmer in the home community; Annie is the wife of William Gereke, a farmer at Byers; William has a farm nearby; and Jerry Simpson, named in honor of the noted Kansas congressman, is also one of the progressive members of the agricultural community around Byers.

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