Macauley has said that the history of a nation is best told in the lives of its people, and each community recognizes the fact that there are a few men who are the leaders in public thought and action, who stand forth as representatives of the trade interests and are the promoters of that commercial activity upon which the prosperity of every community depends.
Of this class William Brown is a representative. He resides in Oleta, Amador County, and is a native of the state of Missouri, his birth having occurred in St. Louis, on the 21st of January, 1850. He is of Irish descent and is a son of John E. Brown, who was superintendent of the gas works of St. Louis. His mother bore the maiden name of Bridget Grinell, and two children were born to them in St. Louis, William and George H. With his wife and two sons the father started across the plains to California in 1852, and during a brief interval spent at Salt Lake City another son was added to the family, to whom the name of John E. was given. While attempting to kill a buffalo in the summer of 1852, the father was gored by the horns of the animal and left upon the field as dead, but life was not yet extinct. The accident, however, kept the family in Salt Lake City for a year, but after he had sufficiently recovered they continued their journey to California and he engaged in placer mining in Rich Bar, on the Cosumnes River, where he continued his mining operations until 1857; at which time he secured a claim three miles below the town of Plymouth and engaged in ranching until his death, which occurred in 1865, in the forty-fifth year of his age, his demise finally resulting from the injuries sustained at the time when he attempted to capture the buffalo. The following children were added to the family in California: Albert M.; Elizabeth Ellen, now the wife of John Ellis; and Matilda Ann, wife of Frank Hammock. The mother survives her husband and is now in the seventy-fourth year of her age. Mr. Brown was quite prominent in the affairs of the community in which he resided, and filled the office of justice of the peace. He was accounted one of the reliable pioneer settlers of Amador County.
William Brown was in his third year when he arrived with his parents in Amador County. Therefore he was reared and educated in this locality, and in his youth he learned the blacksmith’s trade in Oleta, after which he spent a year in the employ of Repper & Hill, of Sacramento. He worked at that business for seventeen years at Grizzly Flat, in El Dorado County, and later returned to Oleta where he purchased the shop in which he had learned the trade, his old employer being at that time sole proprietor. He has since carried on business here, meeting with excellent success as the result of a very large patronage. He has splendid mechanical ability, and his excellent workmanship, combined with honorable business methods, have won for him creditable prosperity. His efforts have been so discerningly directed along well defined lines of labor that he has been enabled to make extensive investments in real estate. He not only owns his own shop but has a good residence in Oleta, together with five hundred acres of rich farming land and one thousand acres of timber.
In 1878 Mr. Brown was united in marriage to Miss Christina Neiber, of Grizzly Flat, a daughter of August Neiber, of that place and one of the California pioneers of 1850. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have five children: Albert N., the eldest son, is a graduate of Chestnut Wood University and is now pursuing a medical education with the intention of making the practice of medicine his life work; Jessie Belle; William Edward; and Dora Ruth and Cora Myrtle, twins, all at home. Their pleasant residence is celebrated for its gracious hospitality, which is enjoyed by numerous friends. When Mr. Brown attained his majority in 1871, he joined the Masonic fraternity and since then has been a valued member of the order, in which he has filled the offices of junior and senior warden. He also belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His political support is given the Democratic Party and he has filled the office of county surveyor of Amador County for six years, discharging his duties with promptness and fidelity. At the present time he is serving as notary public. His life of industry is most commendable, and Longfellow’s poem is as applicable to him in its portrayal of hones, industrious manhood as it was of “The Village Blacksmith,” of whom it was written.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2011 Gerald Iaquinta.