WILLIAM G. BROWN - William G. Brown was born in Jefferson county, Illinois, January 25, 1849, and is a son of James R. and Hannah D. (Donahoo) Brown. The father was a mechanic in early life and in later years engaged in mining, but is now living retired in Grants Pass, Oregon. His wife departed this life in October, 1888. Their son, William G. Brown, was educated in the public schools and from 1868 until 1878, he engaged in teaching in the district schools of Christian, Sangamon and Jefferson counties, being very successful in this work. His greatest desire in youth was to obtain a good education and he has always had great appreciation for mental development. In early life he engaged in editing a newspaper in Christian county, known as the Farmers Journal. He acted as its editor for six months, taking this step with the belief that it would assist him in gaining an education. This was in 1876. Later he became connected with the lumber business in Sheldon county, Illinois, where he remained for a year and during that time he was married. His wife, who had been reared on a farm, believed that they could gain prosperity more rapidly by following agricultural pursuits and in 1878 they took up their abode on the Lewis farm in Cooper township, there remaining long enough to pay twentytwo thousand dollars rent. Mr. Brown was engaged in general farming until 1900 and then entered into partnership in the banking business under the firm style of Brown, Bell & Company in Rochester. He has since been connected with financial interests in this way and the enterprise founded by the firm has become one of importance to the community, affording an excellent medium for the transaction of business in this place. The owners of the bank are well known and reliable men and the reputation which the house sustains is unassailable. While upon the farm Mr. Brown made a specialty of the cultivation of clover and from this fact his farm became known as the clover leaf farm. He frequently exhibited the prodducts of his farm at county fairs, winning many premiums above all other competitors. This is indicative of the character of work that Mr. Brown has ever done. He is always thorough and progressive, accomplishing whatever he undertakes.
While engaged in agricultural pursuits Mr. Brown served as school trustee for twelve years. He was also justice of the peace for six years and commissioner for nine years and a school director for several years. Deeply interested in the welfare and progress of his township, county and state, he put forth every effort in his power to promote the general welfare and in the discharge of his duties he was always prompt and faithful. His political support is given to the Democracy and on a number of occasions he has served as a delegate to the conventions of his party. He has also been a member of the Edinburg board of education and he is one of the organizers and a director of the Mutual County Fire Insurance Company. Of the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association he was elected secretary for the Sangamon county assembly and thus served during its existence. He is also resident agent for the Hartford Fire Insurance agency of North America.
On the 18th of August, 1876, in Taylorville, Christian county, Illinois, Mr. Brown was united in marriage to Miss Maria Adaline Lewis, a daughter of Elder Alfred and Eliza Jane (Abel) Lewis, who were pioneer settlers of this portion of the state. Mrs. Lewis was a daughter of Dr. J. R. and Julia Ann Abel and a granddaughter of Adam Barger. She was born in Sangamon county, October 28, 1802, her father having located in this county in early pioneer times and was a practicing physician, riding many miles over the country to alleviate human suffering. He died in Taylorville, May 11, 1881, in his seventy-fifth year. His father, the Rev. Jeremiah Abel, was a pioneer minister of the Methodist church and died in Macomb, Illinois. Mr. Lewis, the father of Mrs. Brown, was born in St. Francis county, Missouri, March 26, 1823, a son of Samuel and Sarah (Fluery) Lewis, the former born near Philadelphia, while the latter was a native of Virginia. Five times Samuel Lewis, the grandfather, crossed the Allegheny mountain and for sixteen years he lived in Missouri. In 1830 he removed to Sangamon county, Illinois, and in 1846, accompanied by his wife, be took up his abode in Delaware county, Iowa, where he spent his remaining days, passing away in his one hundred and first year. He came of a family noted for longevity, his mother living to the very advanced age of one hundred and fourteen years. His wife died at the age of sixty, but her mother survived to the age of one hundred and six years. In the family of Samuel Lewis were eight sons and seven daughters, of whom one son, also bearing the name of Samuel, was burned to death in a hotel fire in Centerville, Iowa, 1893. Alfred Lewis, the father of Mrs. Brown, was a local preacher of the Christian church, taking up the work of the ministry in that way in 1860. He was married March 14, 1850, in Sangamon county and, becoming a wealthy man, he left his children well provided for. Of the nine children born unto him and his wife four died in childhood. Those who reached years of maturity were Sarah Sophia, the wife of James White of Springfield; Maria Adaline, Mrs. Brown; John S., who married Minnie McDonald and resides in Springfield; Louisa Theresa, who became the wife of W. E. Barber and died leaving a son Clarence; and Cornelia E., the wife of J. B. Colgrove. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Brown was blessed with four children, but Alfred has passed away. The living are Esther E., Dora H. and Harold W., all of whom have received liberal educational advantages.
Fraternally Mr. Brown is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America and served as clerk of his camp for a number of years. He also belongs to the Yeomen of America, and he and his family hold membership in the Christian church, in which he is now serving as an elder and trustee. There is much in the life history of William J. Brown that commands the highest commendation and wakens unqualified respect. In his business he has manifested the typical spirit of the west, putting forth every effort in his power to accomplish what he has undertaken. In matters of citizenship he has always been loyal and his fidelity to the duties of home and friendship is unquestioned. His integrity stands as an indisputable fact in his career and as one of the leading citizens of Rochester he well deserves mention in this volume.