Sunday, March 26, 2017

SOLD . . . to the highest bidder . . .

William and Margaret Hendricks Brown
The last blog posting stated that William Henry Brown, the youngest son of John and Ellen Brown at the time of John’s death1, was living with his Uncle Patrick in McLean County, Illinois by November 1879.  (William Henry had likely traveled to Illinois earlier with Patrick when he returned home after Ellen’s death in April 1878.)  Although he was still a minor, he was the first of the children to leave the Columbus, Ohio area.  (See previous post for John and Ellen)  In this post, we will take a closer look at William Henry’s life.  The following information was submitted by Don, a descendant of William Henry Brown.  

William Henry Brown, son of John Brown and Ellen Burns, was born in 1868 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, USA.  There is some controversy about the date of his birth.  A letter from Bernard
Fairview Cemetery, Stanley, ND
Charles Brown, a grandson to Jack and June Brown, another grandson, from several years ago, states William Henry was born on April 2, 1864.  William’s grave marker and his obituary show 1864 as his year of birth.  (See image of tombstone)

Page four of the Brown letter of 19432, shows a “?” for his Baptism date.  Also a brother, Thomas, is listed in the same letter as being baptized on April 19, 1864 Baptism.  (See previous post for John and Peter.)  It would be impossible to have two children born on different days in April 1864.  There is no evidence of a Baptism Certificate for William Henry.  Perhaps it was lost, not registered, or just not done.

His father, John Brown, was killed in 1873 after being run over by a train he was hitching a ride on.  His mother, Ellen, died from breast cancer five years later in 1878 leaving him and his siblings orphans.  Patrick Brown, a brother of John Brown, took William Henry in after Ellen’s death.  Patrick who lived in McLean, Illinois had ten children of his own.  He also was raising two other nephews, James and David Roach, who were children of his sister Johanna.  The other siblings of William were taken in by other family members.

In the 1870 Federal Census in Ohio, William Henry was listed as two years old; and, the 1880 Federal Census in Illinois shows him as eleven years old making his year of birth 1868.  In all other Federal census records, his age is consistent with the 1870 and 1880 census. 

He may have gone to Nebraska with Patrick in the late 1880’s but there are no records of that.  It is more likely that he moved to Nobles County, Minnesota about 1888, the same time as Mary Ann Brown and James Cox, a daughter of Patrick Brown and her husband3.   (See information about Mary Ann and James Cox in the previous post, " . . . and he leaves a large family to mourn his death.")  William Henry is listed in the 1905 Minnesota State Census in Adrian, Nobles, Minnesota4.  The record shows that he had been a resident of the area for seventeen years which would put his entry into Minnesota about 1888, the same time as the Cox family.   
1905 MN state census cropped to show data on two pages.  Note highlighted sections
(click to enlarge)
While in Nobles County, he met and married Margaret Elizabeth Hendricks on January 11, 1893.  She was the daughter of James Hendricks and Margaret Brobender.  Margaret Elizabeth was born on February 22, 1869 in Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana.  Eight of their ten children were born in Adrian, Nobles, Minnesota:  John Edward “Ed”, Mary Agnes Henrietta “Ag”, Claude William, Margaret Ellen “Nellie”, Martha, James Francis “Jimmy”, Cecilia Emily, and Ann Irene.

William Henry and his growing family, four children by this time, are listed in the 1900 US Census in Olney Township, Nobles County, Minnesota where he was renting a farm5.  Based on neighbors shown on the census record, the farm was likely located just southeast of the town of Adrian, also in Olney Township.   The 1905 Minnesota State Census shows him living on Second Ave, in the town of Adrian.  (See above.)  His occupation is given as “auctioneer,” a vocation he followed the rest of his life.  The 1910 US Census shows William Henry, again a farmer, in Mountrail County, North Dakota6This location is in the very northwest corner of the state.  What prompted him to move to a seemingly out of the way place?

William Henry was raised by his Uncle Patrick, who himself and his family, seemed to travel great distances to find better opportunities.  Perhaps it was this environment that encouraged William Henry to seek alternative locations.  Events in Minnesota may have also affected his decision to move to North Dakota.  As we saw earlier, William Henry was listed as a farmer in the 1900 US Census.  In July, 1903, a devastating hail storm hit the area where his farm was located.  A long wet season followed the storm with about six inches of rain in six hours falling on September 11th alone, completely wiping out the crops for that year.  Several wet years in succession ruined many farmers7.  Perhaps this affected his decision to re-locate to North Dakota where he remained the rest of his life.

1914 Land patent sections 29 and 32
Algers Township, Mountrail County, ND
(click to enlarge)
Land was available for homesteading when William Henry moved to North Dakota, and, he took advantage of this.  (Another reason that drew him to the state?)  Bureau of Land Management records show that he had two plots of land in sections 29 and 32 of Alger Township, Mountrail, North Dakota, just southwest of Stanley, the county seat for Mountrail County.  The first was forty acres purchased in 1910 as a “cash entry.”  The other property was an “original entry” homestead finalized in 1914 consisting of 160 acres8

William Henry appears to have been one of the leaders of the Mountrail area.  The site chosen for the new county courthouse in Mountrail County was a topic for much discussion in 1913.  William Henry attended a “mass meeting” to consider its location.  He was mentioned in an article in The Stanley Sun in September 1913 under the heading “MASS MEETING ON COURT HOUSE SITE9.”  He certainly gave his opinion on the issue.  Included in the article was the following.  “ . . . The meeting was address by several of the Stanley people and W. H. Brown, who lives south of Ross, and who is the leading auctioneer of the county, spoke on the subject.  He stated that he had possibly talked to more farmers in the county than any other man in the county, as that was his business, and that he believed that 95 percent of the farmers were in favor of the half block donated by the city three years ago . . ."  William Henry was elected to the board of directors of the newly formed North Dakota Auctioneers Association in February 1920.  The same month, he was also named director from Mountrail County for the Mouse River Loop Pure Bred Livestock Association, another newly formed group.  In February 1922, he was named a director to the Northwestern North Dakota Potato Growers’ Association.  In March 1919, William Henry entered a “short-horn” Bull in the prestigious Ward County Breeders sale10; and, he was listed as the auctioneer for several livestock auctions held in the area.

By 1920, William Henry was living in Stanley City, Mountrail, North Dakota and again listed his occupation in the census of that year11 as an auctioneer.  The two youngest children of William and
The Ward County Independent, May 26, 1921
Margaret, Lucille and William Joseph “Pat”, born in Ross and Stanley, were included in this census. During late May, 1921, the house they were living in was struck by lightning, but, no one was injured.  (See newsclipping right.)

 While William Henry continued to maintain his residence in Stanley throughout the rest of his life, he also maintained the homestead, and, according to another grandson, always had livestock on the property, cattle and horses, which the family bought and sold as part of their auction and cattle business.  His oldest son, John Edward “Ed’, was also an auctioneer.  His youngest son, William Joseph “Pat”, was a cattle buyer, buying and selling as a family business.  Pat was named “Cattle Buyer of the Year” for a number of years.  
Advertisement appearing in the Ward County Independent on October 2, 1919
Obituary for William
Henry Brown, 1947
(click to enlarge)
Obituary for Margaret
Hendricks Brown, 1935
(click to enlarge)
William Henry was active in the business until a few months before his death from colon cancer.  He died July 6, 1947 in a hospital in Fargo, North Dakota.  He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Stanley, ND.  Margaret, his wife, preceded him in death September 26, 1935. See the attached obituaries from The Stanley Sun.

In the next post, we will continue looking at the children of John and Ellen Burns Brown.

1.       From the last post, we learned that Ellen was pregnant with their last child at the time of John’s tragic death.  Peter Brown was born posthumously on October 14, 1873.  He was baptized December 6, 1873 at St. Patrick’s Church in Columbus, Ohio.  Catholic Record Society, Baptismal Register, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Columbus, Ohio

2.       Brown, David, Kewanee, IL, 11 May 1943, Letter to Esther _______, Columbus, OH.  Records from the Catholic Record Society also confirm Thomas’ baptismal date as May 7, 1864.

3.       The Petition for Letters of Administration in the estate file for Patrick Brown identifies three children living in Adrian, Minnesota at the time of his death in 1891; Mary Ann Cox, age 34, James E. Brown, age 25, and Hannah K. Brown, age 21.  Since the original research on Patrick’s children was done, I have discovered a marriage record for James E. Brown in Box Butte County, Nebraska to Jennie Phillips.  Witnesses were David Brown (a brother of James or perhaps a cousin, a son of John Brown and Ellen Burns) and John Phillips.  The record is dated August 26, 1888 and definitely shows his parents as Patrick Brown and Ann Burns.  Alliance in Box Butte County, Nebraska was identified in the same Petition for Letters of Administration as the residence of Emily Julia Brown Betebenner, another daughter of Patrick Brown.  The original research showed that James E. Brown married Jennie Barney about 1893.  Perhaps this was an earlier marriage for James E. Brown and James had moved back to Minnesota by 1891, the time of his father’s death.  Additional research is needed to follow up on this new information. 

4.       Minnesota State Census, 1905, database with images, William H Brown, Adrian, Nobles, Minnesota; citing p. 169, line 39, State Library and Records Service, St. Paul; FHL microfilm 9328,798. : 15 November 2014. 

5.       United States Census, 1900, database with images, , William Brown, Olney & Westside Townships Adrian village, Nobles, Minnesota, United States; (ED) 221, sheet 5A, family 71, NARA microbilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972): FHL microfilm 1,240,778. FamilySearch ( MR)

6.       United States Census, 1910, database with images, William H Brown, Alger, Mountrail, North Dakota, Unites States; ED 106, sheet 12B, family 291, NARA microfilm publication Y624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982) roll 1143; FHL microfilm 1,375,156. FamilySearch (

7.       Rose, Arthur P, An Illustrated History of Nobles County, Minnesota, Northern History Publishing Company, Worthington, Minnesota, 1908, p. 120

8.       Bureau of Land Management, “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records ( : accessed 23 March 2017), William H. Brown (Mountrail County, North Dakota), homestead patent no. 06864 and no. 05119

9.       Mountrail County Historical Society, Tales of Mighty Mountrail , A History of Mountrail County, North Dakota, Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas, 1979, p. 14.  The rest of the quote is as follows, “. . . He also stated that the farmers were under the impression that the matter had long ago been settled and that they were satisfied.  He further stated that he did not believe that the taxpayers wanted their money spent at this time on unnecessary grounds.  He urged the people of Stanley to get together on the question and stated that the way things were going now, was disgusting to the farmers and would work to the detriment of Stanley. . .”

10.   Information concerning his membership, and leadership, in many of the associations concerned with farming and raising livestock in the area was taken from The Ward County Independent, a newspaper located in Minot, Ward County, North Dakota, just east of Mountrail County where William Henry lived.  Online information, through the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site, is only available until 1922. I’m sure that a review of The Stanley Sun (sadly not available online) in Stanley, Mountrail County, and The Ward County Independent through 1947, the year of William’s death, would reveal additional information about his social and business dealings in the community. 

11.   United States Census, 1920, database with images, William H Brown, Stanley, Mountrail, North Dakota, United States; ED 163, sheet 1B, line 64, family 15, NARA microfilm publication Y625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1337; FHL microfilm 1,821,337. FamilySearch (

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy continuing to learn about the family. Thanks for your efforts.