JOHN P BROWN
'Tis an age of progress, when vast commercial transactions involving millions of dollars depend upon rapid transportation. The revolution in business that the past half a century, or even less, has witnessed, has been brought about by the means of the railroads, and one of the prominent representatives of railroad building in the west was John P. Brown. As a railroad contractor, Mr. Brown has gained a position among the most prominent business men of the west and to-day he is numbered among the retired capitalists of Atchison. His history has been so closely identified with the upbuilding of this section of the Union that no history of northeastern Kansas would be complete without the record of his life.
His native country is Ireland, being born in county Westmeath in 1829, a son of John and Mary (Daulton) Brown. He obtained but a meager education. but has improved his opportunities and made a success in whatever he has undertaken. At the age of eighteen years he came to the United States. After the death of his father, his mother emigrated to the United States, about 1890, and died in Troy, New York, in 1898. Mr. Brown spent a short time in New York, then went to New Orleans, where he remained a year or so, and from there removed north, to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. There he was employed by two civil engineers, W. W. Wright and C. P. B. Jeffries, who were engaged in surveying the line for the Pennsylvania Railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburg, with headquarters at Greensburg. He continued in that work until1853, when he returned to Pittsburg and went into business for himself, taking contracts on the Connersville Railroad, and subsequently on the Baltimore & Ohio, with headquarters at West Newton.
In 1856 Mr. Brown went to St. Louis, Missouri, and took a contract on the Iron Mountain road, running from St. Louis to Pilot Knob. This work lasted until 1858, and the following year he came to Atchison, where he has since made his home. His first contract here was on the "central branch" of the Union Pacific, and subsequently he was engaged on the Missouri Pacific, from Atchison to Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Atchison & Nebraska road, from Atchison to the Nebraska state line, a distance of forty miles. On the completion of the last mentioned contract, Mr. Brown retired from the railroad business and has since devoted his time to looking after his property interests, he being the owner of a dozen or more fine farms, business houses and residences.
Mr. Brown is a public-spirited man and has done much toward the development of the city, where he has so long resided. He is interested in both the electric and gaslight plants, and, since the consolidation, is one of the stockholders in the Atchison Street Railway Company. He is liberal and always ready to contribute to any enterprise which is calculated to benefit the community.
In 1854 Mr. Brown was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Wagner, who was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. Of this union seven children were born, as follows: Alexander M., deceased; John H., a pharmacist; Charles A., employed in the freight department of the Burlington & Missouri Railroad; Nellie, the wife of W. F. Donald, a prominent dry-goods merchant of Atchison; W. Frank, of St. Louis, Missouri; Sarah, the wife of Samuel F. Stoll, one of the leading druggists of Atchison; and Alice, who is still at home.
Politically, Mr. Brown is a stanch Republican and works in a quiet way for the success of his party, but has never sought office. His undoubted integrity, high sense of honor and his superior judgment and foresight have all contributed to the accumulation of a large fortune, and his career furnishes an excellent example to young men who, like him, must start at the bottom of the ladder and make their way step by step to the top round of success.
Although he has reached the age of seventy years, he is stalwart, vigorous, well preserved physically, mentally and morally. He has so deported himself that he not only has the good will but the respect and love of the entire community in which he dwells. He is an honorable man whose reputation is above reproach, and his word is as good as his bond. He is a progressive man who has always sought to enlighten and elevate the people among whom he has lived; he is a liberal arid generous man, to which fact the community at large will testify; he is a philosophic man, for he has succeeded in getting the best out of life that was in it. His contact with his fellow men has broadened his nature and his views, if such were possible; and hale, hearty, erect and vigorous at three-score years and ten, his faculties undimmed, his physique but little impaired by age, many years of usefulness yet seem before him. Such men are rare, and the world is not slow to appreciate them. It is safe to say that no man in Atchison has more or warmer friends than John P. Brown.