Wm. H. Brown & Son are building a three story solid brick building on Third street, between Kittson and DeMers avenue. It has twenty-five feet frontage and a depth of eighty feet. The first floor will be used for a hardware store, the second for offices, and the third for a Masonic hall. It will be built in a most substantial manner and will cost $6,000. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Wednesday, August 23, 1882, Page 1)
W. H. Brown & Son, hardware dealers. The pioneer hardware man of Grand Forks is Mr. W. H. Brown, who engaged in trade here in 1877, and has been identified with the interests of the city, supporting all commendable enterprises for its advancement. He was the first Mayor, and has otherwise been officially connected. Mr. Brown is a native of Vermont, and came to Dakota from New York State. (Andreas Historical Atlas of Dakota, A. T. Andreas, Chicago, The Lakeside Press, 1884, Page 254)
PROMINENT BUSINESS MEN. Our First Mayor. Intimately identified with the growth of Grand Forks, one of its leading citizens and business men, the first to rear a three story brick structure as a monument of “I came here to stay,” its first mayor by a unanimous vote, for three years past president of the chamber of commerce, the youngest sire of all, Col. William H. Brown, the senior member of the Pioneer hardware firm of W. H. Brown & Son, is a citizen to whom honor is due. He was indeed a pioneer and a typical one. Born of old New England stock, reared within the circuit of “the minute men” of the revolutionary war, he took up his gun when Fort Sumter was fired upon and as a private in the 10th Massachusetts, Co. B., went to the front, and being later transferred to Co. A., 61st Massachusetts, as first lieutenant, served under McClellan through the Peninsular campaign, being honorably discharged from service. He came west to St. Paul with the eager tide and in 1876, when this royal Red river region first offered its tempting riches to settlement, he brought a stock of hardware here and thus became one of the pioneers. By indomitable pluck and intiring elasticity of spirit, he built up a trade in the whole valley, which, when the great boom period of 1881-83 was bearing fruit, induced him to build his present three story brick hardware store, with Masonic hall on the third floor.
To illustrate the characteristic push of the man, it might be stated that the cellar was dug, the building put up and he had moved in his goods and commenced selling in 65 days from the time spade was struck into the ground. And thus his whole career, which seems to run in the family, is marked with that buoyancy and dash which means active enterprise and good results. About four years ago his son Frank became a member of the firm and has given the closest attention to the business, especially while the Colonel spends his summers on the farm in Minco Valley, raising No. 1 hard wheat and “squaw” corn. The firm have a reputation for square dealing and strict attention to the demands of their customers. The extensive ware rooms are filled with the best quality of hardware, cutlery, tin and Japan ware, iron implements of utility for farm and house, the celebrated Charter Oak stoves, William Reaser coal stoves, Peninsular range, oil stoves and other indispensible articles. Lieutenant Brandt, who speaks Scandinavian and German, is one of the assistants, and in the extensive tinner’s department, A. Clavette has charge. They make a specialty of tin roofing and manufacturing sheet iron and all similar work in a superior manner. Orders are filled to any part of North Dakota and Minnesota. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Sunday, December 19, 1886, Page 2)
W. H. Brown. Mr. Brown traveled in this country for C. D. Strong & Co., wholesale hardware dealers of St. Paul. He finally moved here late with his family. The colonel is full of reminiscences of the old stage line days. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, December 11, 1891, Volume XXI, Number 35, Page 2)
Col. W. H. Brown, of Grand Forks, is spending a few days in St. Paul, looking after his business interests. Col. Brown is a member of Gov. Burke’s staff and the leading candidate for the Grand Forks postmastership. He was one of the first settlers in Grand Forks and has been prominent in North Dakota politics from the earliest times. “I located on the site of Grand Forks,” he said, when there were but two or three ‘shacks’ there, and I have stuck to the place ever since. I expect to be appointed postmaster, of course, although I have a pretty strong opponent in John Bray, the state auditor. Of course it is a friendly fight, for I like Johnnie and he is a friend of mine. I think, however, that he ought not to get in my way this time. He is young and popular, and can get something better – the United States senatorship, for example. The boys all say that he ought to let the old man have the postoffice, and I think he will.” Col. Brown is strongly opposed to the prohibitory law in North Dakota, and will take off his coat in the fight for its repeal at the coming election. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Tuesday Morning, March 15, 1892, Volume XIV, Number 75, Page 4)
Col. Brown Chosen Judge. Special to the Globe. Grand Forks, N. D., Feb. 17. – At the special city election today for a successor to Judge Devoy as municipal justice, Col. W. H. Brown was elected by a majority of 116 over Judge R. W. Cutts, who was city justice for several years before Judge Devoy. The new judge was the first mayor of the city. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Sunday Morning, February 18, 1894, Volume XVI, Number 49, Page 9)
COL. W. H. BROWN. Col. W. H. Brown is a native of Vermont; enlisted in the immortal 10th Massachusetts infantry; reenlisted as first lieutenant of the 61st Massachusetts, was at Williamsburg, seven days at Wilderness, Malvern Hill, White Oak Swamp, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg and several other memorable points. He came to North Dakota in 1877; has been department commander of the G. A. R. of the state, member of the legislature; has served on five governors’ staffs and is now police magistrate of the city of Grand Forks. (Grand Forks Herald, Tuesday Morning, June 27, 1899, Volume 18, Number 205, Page 28)
Page 983. General William H. Brown. Probably no one stands higher in the estimation of every one in the Red River valley than our esteemed citizen, William H. Brown, first mayor of Grand Forks. As a pioneer of the place, he was one of the early residents to blaze the way for others, and to him and his contemporaries the people of this city owe a debt of gratitude. General Brown is a native of North Hampton, Mass., where he was born seventy-seven years ago, dating the event from the thirteenth of November, 1907. His father, Joseph S. Brown, was a carpenter, but at one time, served as a stage coach superintendent, in the early days of stage driving; also taking charge of a supply barn of 150 horses. His duties were similar to those of a division superintendent, but the salary was not so munificent, as he received only $12.00 per month and board. He died at the age of eighty-three years, in Grand Forks. General Brown’s mother, was a Miss Lucinda Jones. She was a native of Deerfield, Mass. She died at the age of ninety-eight, in Grand Forks.
At fourteen years of age, young Brown left North Hampton for Pittsfield, Mass., where he entered a hardware store and where he thoroughly mastered the principles of that line of trade, and which subsequently brought him into prominence with the commercial world. General Brown’s patriotism was never a question of doubt. At the breaking out of the Civil War, he entered the contest enlisting as a private soldier on July 21, 1861, in Company B, 10th Massachusetts Regiment, serving until the close of the war, and was mustered out as first lieutenant in 1865, in Company A, 61st Massachusetts, at Arlington, Va., near General Lee’s old home. Following the war period, Mr. Brown went to St. Paul, Minn., where he carried on the hardware business for twelve years. In 1877, he came to Grand Forks, and continued his business in the hardware line. The store stood on the corner of Third Street and DeMers Avenue; it was destroyed by fire in 1880. General Brown was appointed mayor of Grand Forks, and served two terms. No salary was allowed at that time, but the
Page 984. strenuous administration of his duties while holding that office brought him honors to be coveted by any one in preference to a salary. The General also served one term in the legislature. He accepted the nomination for this high position with the express understanding that no string-tied-requirements were to be made in case of his election. And he served his state as he had done his city to the best of his ability and best interests of his constituency. General Brown received his title, as Colonel, from service on the governor’s staff, and that of general in consequence of a refusal of the governor to accept his resignation as colonel in honor of his distinguished services. He was appointed on the governor’s staff by Governor Church, the first governor of North Dakota. At the close of the gubernatorial term of that office, he resigned the position to give the younger men their chance in the race of military honors, but was always appointed again, notwithstanding his resignations from that time to the present. The last governor of North Dakota, however, accepted his resignation and bestowed upon him the title of general, an honor richly deserved and which has met with general approval.
The general resides at the old homestead place, south Fifth street, where he located when he first came to Grand Forks. His son, F. A. Brown, now holding a responsible position in the “Evening Times” office, was recorder of the city of Grand Forks for a number of years. W. H. Brown was sergeant-at-arms of the senate of North Dakota, for three terms, was chief engineer and ordnance officer with rank of colonel; was also register of the United States land office located at Grand Forks, was police magistrate of the city of Grand Forks for eight years, and resigned to accept the appointment of register of land office. Colonel W. H. Brown served as department commander of North Dakota Grand Army of the Republic, and always attended all the national and state encampments, and took active part in G. A. R. matters. He was a delegate of the state on General Porter’s staff, to attend the inauguration of President McKinley’s second term. (History of The Red River Valley Past and Present, Volume II, C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago, 1909)
GENERAL BROWN ANSWERS CALL. Pioneer Resident and First Mayor of Grand Forks Died Yesterday. General W. H. Brown, Better Known as Col. Brown, Died Yesterday Afternoon at the Home of His Sister, Mrs. Johns, at Sacramento, Cal. – Funeral Services Will Be Held Next Week in This City. Death claimed one of the pioneer residents of Grand Forks, General W. H. Brown, at Sacramento, Cal., yesterday afternoon (October 20, 1910) at 1:15 o’clock, the news of his death being received by his son, F. A. Brown of this city, late yesterday afternoon. General Brown, better known to Grand Forks people as Col. Brown, was 80 years of age, and until he moved to Sacramento, Cal., where he lived with his sister. Mrs. H. T. Johns was one of the familiar figures in the city. He is survived by F. A. Brown of this city, his only child, and by two sisters, Mrs. Johns of Sacramento, Cal., and Miss Annie E. Brown of this city. Col. Brown’s last visit to Grand Forks took place last fall and the aged veteran and resident was given a real reception. The Grand Forks Military band of which he was drum major for several years turned out to greet him and several hundred people gathered at the Great Northern depot and marched to the band stand where Col. Brown spoke a few words before the band concert was given.
Funeral Will Be Here. Funeral arrangements have not yet been completed, but the funeral services will take place in this city, probably next Wednesday afternoon. Frank Brown wired yesterday orders regarding the shipment of the remains, but it will take about four days for the body to reach this city. Col. Brown was one of the men who made Grand Forks what it is today and by his untiring efforts and never failing enthusiasm he spurred the laggards on to accomplishing more than they ever dreamed could be accomplished. The honorary title of general was conferred on Col. Brown by Governor Sarles in recognition of his long service on the governor’s staff and in the state militia. General Brown was first lieutenant in the Civil war and will be remembered well by the school children of the city for on the day set apart in the schools for recognition of Memorial day, Col. Brown was always on hand to inspire the younger citizens with patriotism by his stories of the Civil war and what it meant to the Union. The news of his death will be received with real regret by hosts of people in this city and throughout the state, for his genial disposition and whole-souled manner won for him a host of friends.
Story of His Life. General Brown was a native of North Hampton, Mass., where he was born Nov. 3, 1830. His father, Joseph S. Brown, was a carpenter, but at one time served as a stage coach superintendent in the early days of stage driving; also taking charge of a supply barn of 150 horses. His duties were similar to those of a division superintendent but the salary was not so munificent, as he received only $12 per month and board. He died at the age of 83 years, in Grand Forks. General Brown’s mother was a Miss Lucinda Jones. She was a native of Deerfield, Mass. She died at the age of 98, in Grand Forks. At 14 years of age, young Brown left North Hampton for Pittsfield, Mass., where he entered a hardware store and where he thoroughly mastered the principles of that line of trade. General Brown’s patriotism was never a question of doubt. At the breaking out of the Civil war he entered the contest, enlisting as a private soldier on July 21, 1861, in Company B, Tenth Massachusetts regiment serving until the close of the war, and was mustered out as first lieutenant in 1865, in Company A, Sixty-first Massachusetts, at Arlington Va., near General Lee’s old home. Following the war period Mr. Brown went to St. Paul, Minn., where he carried on the hardware business for 12 years. In 1877 he came to Grand Forks and continued his business in the hardware line. The store stood on the corner of Third street and DeMers avenue; it was destroyed by fire in 1880.
Was City’s First Mayor. General Brown was appointed mayor of Grand Forks when the town was organized in February, 1881, and served two terms. No salary was allowed at that time, but the strenuous administration of his duties while holding that office brought him honors to be coveted by any one in preference to a salary. The general also served one term in the legislature. General Brown received his title, as colonel, from service on the governor’s staff, and that of general in consequence of a refusal of the governor to accept his resignation as colonel in honor of his distinguished services. He was appointed on the governor’s staff by Governor Church, the first governor of North Dakota. W. H. Brown was sergeant-at-arms of the senate of North Dakota for three terms, was chief engineer and ordnance officer with rank of colonel; was also register of the United States land office located at Grand Forks; was police magistrate of the city of Grand Forks for eight years, and resigned to accept the appointment of register of land office. Colonel W. H. Brown served as department commander of North Dakota Grand Army of the Republic, and always attended all the national and state encampments, and took active part in G. A. R. matters. He was a delegate of the state on General Porter’s staff, to attend the inauguration of President McKinley’s second term. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, October 21, 1910, Volume XXIX, Number 302, Page 8).
FUNERAL SERVICES DUE TOMORROW. Grand Forks Will Pay Tribute to the Memory of First Mayor During Funeral Services. PROCLAMATION. Whereas, Almighty God, the ruler of the universe, has called from our midst one of our oldest and most respected citizens, General W. H. Brown, the first mayor of our city, and, Whereas, the funeral services will take place on Wednesday afternoon, October 26, 1910, at 2:30 o’clock, I respectfully urge that the business houses of the city close during the funeral hour, and that as many of the city officials and city employees as can possibly do so, attend the funeral. – M. F. Murphy, Mayor.
The above proclamation was issued yesterday by Mayor M. F. Murphy and it is hoped that it will be generally recognized in the city. Funeral arrangements for the late W. H. Brown were completed yesterday. The remains will probably arrive in Grand Forks this evening and the funeral services will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o’clock from the Elks lodge room in this city, on Fourth street. The funeral services will be conducted by Rev. J. K. Burleson, the lodge chaplain. The pallbearers will be Former Governor E. Y. Sarles, of Hillsboro, Steve Collins, J. D. Bacon, Geo. E. Duis, C. L. Graber and James O’Neale. The Uniformed Rank of the Knights of Pythias and the Grand Army of the Republic will attend in a body, and the Grand Forks Military bank, of which the deceased was a loyal supporter, will be out in full force. Frank Brown, of this city, the only son of the deceased, left last evening for Williston, where he will join Miss Clara Kipper, who is accompanying the body to this city. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Tuesday Morning, October 25, 1910, Volume XXIX, Number 305, Page 4)
MANY ATTEND LAST RITES. Funeral Services of General Brown Yesterday Were Largely Attended. Services Held From the Elks’ Hall – Grand Army Post, Commercial Club and Uniform Rank K. P. Were in Funeral Cortege – Impressive Funeral Eulogy Delivered by Tracy R. Bangs. All Grand Forks paid tribute yesterday to the memory of Gen. William H. Brown and after funeral services marked with impressiveness and solemnity, the remains of the first mayor of Grand Forks were laid to rest in Memorial Park cemetery. The funeral cortege showed the respect in which the deceased was held and for five minutes, 3 o’clock until 3:05 o’clock, business in the city was suspended out of respect to the memory of General Brown. City and county offices were closed during the afternoon and there was a large attendance of business men at the funeral services. The funeral cortege left the Elks’ hall, where the impressive funeral services of the lodge were given, Rev. J. K. Burleson officiating. The feature of the program was the eulogy by Tracy R. Bangs of this city, which was a real gem in thought and diction.
Exalted Ruler W. H. Alexander of the lodge opened the service with the ritual of the lodge. Rev. J. K. Burleson followed with prayer and Norman B. Black sang “Face to Face.” Following the eulogy by Mr. Bangs “The Vacant Chair” was sung by members of the Elks’ lodge and Supreme Court Justice C. J. Fisk recited William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanitopsis” in an impressive manner. The services were closed with prayer by Rev. J. K. Burleson. The funeral cortege which formed in front of the Elks’ building on Fourth street was in itself a magnificent tribute to the esteem in which the deceased is held. The cortege was headed by members of the police force and the Grand Forks Military band, the band playing the funeral dirge as the cortege moved down Third street. They were followed by members of the Elks’ lodge, the uniformed rank K. P.’s the Grand Army post, city officials and members of the Commercial club. The pallbearers were former Governor E. Y. Sarles of Hillsboro, C. L. Graber, George E. Duis, J. D. Bacon, Stephen Collins and J. M. O’Neal.
The remains of General Brown lay in state yesterday morning at the Elks’ club room and many of the old friends took this opportunity to look for the last time on the face of General Brown. The following is an extract from the funeral eulogy by Tracy R. Bangs. “It was Browning who wrote: Life, with all it yields of joy and woe, and hope and fear, is just our chance o’ the prize of learning love. How love might be, hath been indeed, and is.” “Could mind conceive of a more beautiful view of life or of one into the very form of which our brother lived – love as it might be – hath been, and is His very thought is fraught with loving kindness. “As a husband his life was the outpouring of a heart’s affection and the solicitous care of a great hearted, noble minded protector. As a man he embodied the kindly spirit, the loving instincts actuating the quiet man of no civil greatness or ecclesiastical renown but who inscribed himself high in the ranks of Him whose mission is ‘peace on earth, good will toward man,’ when to Romans he sent that brief but powerful message, ‘Quartus, a brother saluteth you.’ “A brother, with a brother’s love for all mankind, such was Quartus, such was our friend. His life was a continual exemplification of a kindly heart, and in the cordial grasp of his warm hand one felt the beating of a great, deep heart – his smile disclosed a mind devoid of guile, while his genial voice had the true ring of a sincere brother love. A soul unspotted by secret vice, dishonesty of spirit or hypocrisy of action.” (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Thursday Morning, October 27, 1910, Volume XXIX, Number 307, Page 6)