Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


DR. WILLIAM McFARLAND BROWN. The strength of a man is in a way measured by the amount of persecution he can stand, his weakness is never thus tested. Dr. Wm. McF. Brown is a broad minded symmetrically developed man, whose interest in the public welfare is potent and salutary. He has so thoroughly demonstrated the sincerity of his attitude as a physician and citizen that he now stands secure in the confidence and esteem of a very wide circle of friends and patrons. An insight into the true character of Dr. Brown, may be obtained by noting his application of the following words.

The importance of human relation can be no more admirably exemplified than in the instance wherein one man can be of just benefit to another man. A good character is the greatest worldly asset of mankind and that whoever seeks to destroy it is worse than he who would steal away your property in the darkness of night. Man's morality is evidenced by a reasonable degree of self-sacrifice and unassuming display of sympathy and charity commensurate with his ability to act. His bravery by his straightforward way of doing things subservient to a will that meets a moral obligation and a true measure of his success by what he has accomplished.

In contradistinction to the old adage that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, particular interest is attached to the career of Dr. Wm. McFarland Brown, he having been born, reared and has lived his entire life within the confines of the county of which this historical compendium treats and that he has so directed his ability and effort as to have gained recognition as one of our representative citizens and worthy scion of two of our sterling pioneer families.

Dr. Brown has not only kept in close touch with the trend of current medical thought and research, but is an appreciative student of all social public and scientific subjects being thus one of the leading physicians in a locality noted for its medical talent.

He is a plain unassuming gentleman who has a greater desire to be useful than to gain the admiring plaudits of his fellow men. He so much enjoys the discovery of good in other people that he has become a close observer of human character and disposition and depends much more upon what he observes that what he hears, especially self praise or soliloquy, the former being considered by him as inexcusably foolish and funny as the latter except, perhaps, on occasion when the soliloquist wants to hear a smart fellow talk awhile.

He was born in Greene county on what is known now as the Duff farm, about ten miles southeast of Springfield, on the 24th day of August, 1861. From childhood he was remarkably vivacious and active, taking a great amount of physical culture which, together with his active farm work during early manhood resulted in the upbuilding of a vigorous constitution which has doubtless served him well during his strenuous professional life, and which in part solves the mystery of his wonderful endurance. He is regular in everything except eating and sleeping, yet he eats and sleeps to live and not to be considered otherwise in a single instance. He is ever content to depend upon his natural reactionary powers for relief from those tired feelings to the exclusion of all other agents.

He obtained his literary education in the schools here and vicinity and at Morrisville College, after which, upon urgent request by Dr. Robberson, Dr. Tefft, Dr. Rose and his father, he early decided to follow in the footsteps of his father in a professional way and having had a decided natural predilection in this worthy field of endeavor, he studied medicine under his father until 1882, when he entered the Missouri Medical College at St. Louis, where he made an excellent record and from which institution he graduated with honor in the class of 1885.

Immediately after graduation he located in Springfield, this county, where he practiced for about a year then moved a short distance east among the people who had known him from childhood. Here he met with great encouragement and gained universal confidence which still endures. In the year 1890 he moved on a few miles east to the town of Strafford, this county, where by meritorious professional work and conduct he built up a very extensive practice and where he remained until the year 1909, when seeking a broader field for the exercise of his talents he located in Springfield, where he has since resided, at once taking his place in the front ranks of the leading practitioners; he has thus stood secure in the confidence and esteem of the people of this city and community, both as to his professional ability and his personal worth, and is deserving, in every way of the large success he has achieved. He has remained a diligent student of all that pertains to his profession and has kept fully abreast of the times in every phase of the same. He has acquired a large amount of real estate, including several farms, a commodious residence on Benton avenue, Springfield, and other city property.

The domestic life of Dr. Brown began on December 18, 1890, when he was united in marriage with Alta Catherine Love, the daughter of Robert and Margaret (Piper) Love, a prominent family of Strafford. The father was born in Pike county, Missouri, and the mother was a native of Greene county, Missouri; they became the parents of ten children. (See sketch and portrait on another page of this work.)

Mrs. Brown was born in 1866, at Strafford, where she grew to womanhood and received her education. She is a lady of many praiseworthy attributes of head and heart. The union of Dr. Brown and wife has been blessed with four children, namely: Mary, who was educated in the public school of Strafford, and at Drury College, married on November 16, 1912 to Junius W. Houston, son of Edward and Florence (Wilson) Houston, a well-known family of Springfield. Mr. Houston is a talented electrician and a promising young business man, having charge of the electrical supplies of the Frisco railroad at the present time. He resides in Springfield and has one child, a daughter, Meredith Brown Houston, who was born on Jannary 6, 1914. The other children of Doctor and Mrs. Brown are Robert Addison Brown, who was educated in the public school at Strafford and Drury College, and is now living at home; Hermosa Rose Brown, who is in Ward Belmont College, Nashville, Tenn., and Maxie Eleanor, who is at home.

Politically, Mr. Brown is a Democrat, but is duly considerate and appreciative of friendship, efficiency and true manhood wherever found. He is a church member, member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias. Eagles, Court of Honor, Woodmen of the World, Woodmen Circle, Rebekahs, Modern Woodmen of America, Royal Neighbors, Knights and Ladies of Security, Ben-Hur and Society of Colonial Wars. He is a man of warm sympathetic impulses, obliging, companionable, and uniformly courteous, with high conceptions of good citizenship and right living.

When young in years the father of our subject came with his parents on the long and wearisome overland journey from his native state to Greene county, Missouri, when the locality was but little developed and settlers were very few. He first attended school at Green Mountain, North Carolina, and later at Ebenezer Academy, this county, after which he taught school for a few years, then studied law for two years; then took up the study of medicine under Dr. G. P. Shackelford and completed his medical education at the McDowell Medical College of St. Louis, Missouri. He entered upon the practice of his profession near and at Springfield, Missouri, before the Civil war, where he continued during and for some time after hostilities had ceased, thereafter maintaining his home on a fine farm near the National Cemetery, where he continued practicing until near the end of the century. He was one of the oldest and best and most widely known physicians in this county and a man whom to know was to respect and honor, not only for his ability as a physician, but for his unswerving integrity. Although of southern birth and breeding, he remained neutral during the war between the states, prescribing and caring alike for Federals and Confederates, which attitude resulted in making him many enemies who did all in their power to annoy him and obstruct his freedom and progress, even their persecutions continuing for years after the war had ended.

And these enemies had to cope with the insurmountable effort, and influence of his many true friends, exemplified in one instance when John Fickle, a Union man, yet his friend and brother Mason, walked in a roundabout way five miles barefooted in the dead hours of night to his home, to apprise him of the plot of a gang of bushwhackers and their appointed hour to take his life, thus enabling him to escape unharmed. And in another when Dr. E. T. Robberson, who was the physician in charge of the Federal hospital, which occupied the old building which still stands at the George M, Jones place between Sherman street and Springfield avenue, extended to him a hand in friendship and professional fellowship, thus lending him material aid in his efforts to obtain a living, and at whose hands the climax of assistance came when he sent Doctor Brown, accompanied by wife and a guard, to treat Col. John A. Lee, who was sick at Galena, Missouri, with pneumonia, where he remained at the bedside of the colonel until convalescent, leaving his two children, Alice and William McFarland, at home in the care of William Porter's family, whereupon Col. John A. Lee enjoyed the discovery of the sterling qualities and medical ability of Doctor Brown, and in prompt accord therewith sent orders to headquarters at Springfield to immediately and continuously remove all obstacles to his necessities, liberties and pleasures to the peril of all violators.

But he was of an amiable and peaceful disposition, which doubtless prevented him from receiving harsher treatment at the hands of his enemies. He was a member of the Masonic order and occupied a high position in all circles in which he moved. He lived to reach an advanced age, death resulting from pneumonia at his home on the 17th day of February, 1894, after a useful and commendable life, and his name will be perpetuated in local history as being one of Greene county's ablest and most popular pioneer physicians. He was of English descent by both parents, having descended through his mother from Rev. Stephen Batcheler, of England, an Oxford graduate who founded the city of Hampton, New Hampshire, and who was presented to the living of Wherwell County Haunts by Sir Thomas West, the second Baronet De LaWare, father of Lord Delaware, who gave his name to the Delaware river, for sixteen years he was vicar of Wherwell.

Dr. Joseph Addison Brown, the father of our subject, was a blood relative to John G. Whittier, the poet; Daniel Webster, the statesman; Hon. Justin S. Morrill, United States senator from Vermont; Hon. M. B. Allison, United States senator from Iowa; Gov. Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts; John Bachelder, the inventor of indispensable parts of the sewing machine, and many other noted people.

John D. Brown, LL. D., the paternal grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was a native of Randolph county, North Carolina, and a son of Henry Brown, who was a soldier in the Revolutionary army, as shown by Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. XVI, page 1022. From the old Tar state he removed to Arkansas in a very early day, and soon thereafter came on to Greene county, Missouri, locating on a large tract of wild prairie land a few miles southwest of the hamlet of Henderson, which land he converted into an excellent farm by persistent and careful management, and there spent the remainder of his life, dying of smallpox in the year 1863. He was a dignified and courageous gentleman, possessed of a great amount of natural intelligence and tact and, by profession, a lawyer.

Politically, he was a Democrat and a local leader in his party, but was a man who always considered the public good first. He took an active interest in public life both in North Carolina and Missouri. While in North Carolina he filled the following offices and positions, namely: justice of the peace, being appointed by the governor of the state; probate judge of Randolph county; president of Springfield Female College, and later judge of the court of chancery until he left the state. While in Greene county, Missouri, he was justice of the peace, county school commissioner for several years, and twice his party's candidate for representative.

He was very successful in a business way, and at the breaking out of the war of the rebellion was one of the wealthy men of the county, but he, like nearly all of those who lived in this locality during those troublous days, lost heavily. His widow, whose maiden name was Jean Bray, survived him three decades, being well past her ninetieth birthday when she was summoned to the Silent Land as a result of pneumonia.

To John D. and Jean (Bray) Brown, the following children were born: Emeline married William Jessup, who established their home at Jamestown, Arkansas; Lydia, who has long been deceased, was the wife of Anderson Pendleton, of Christian county, Missouri, and at her death left one child; Jane married Eli Jessup, also of Christian county; John D., Jr., who located at Lead Hill, Arkansas, served through the Civil war in the Confederate army under Gen. Sterling Price, and was once wounded; Dr. Eli B., who became a physician at Billings, Missouri, also served in the Confederate army and was shot through the shoulder in one of the numerous engagements in which he participated; William T. was a soldier in the Union army about a year, and was honorably discharged on account of having suffered a sun-stroke, which thus disabled him from further service; Dr. G. P. S., who was graduated from the St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons, established himself in the practice of his profession at Nixa, Christian county, and Dr. Joseph A., father of the immediate subject of this sketch. The wife of John D., Brown is credited with the honor of naming Christian county. John D. Brown, together with Gov. John S. Phelps, was sent at one time as special delegate to interview President Jackson in the interest of this part of the country, being accompanied by his son, the father of our subject.

To Dr. Joseph A. and Martha A. (McFarland) Brown, parents of our subject, the following children were born: Alice, who married Joseph Danforth, of Greene county, and who died April 2, 1914, of tetanus, the germ having been received into a small finger wound while preparing garden; Dr. William McFarland, who is next to the eldest; Henry and James both dying in infancy, James having died at the age of one year as a result of swallowing glass; Jamie married C. J. Edmondson, of Greene county; Joseph Edwin, who resides in Springfield; Martha, who is deceased; and Daniel Keating, who is in California.

Hon. William McFarland, the maternal grandfather of the subject of this review, removed from Cooper county, Missouri, in a very early day, settling at the big Jones spring, where he built and operated one of the first grist mills in this country and where the old mill race foundation still stands, as a landmark of his ingenuity and industry. Here he received and gratified patrons from the country far and near. He was successful in this business. Later he became an extensive farmer and stockman and became quite wealthy, owning about a thousand acres of fertile land, a great many slaves, and an abundance of other personal property. His home was situated four miles southeast of Springfield, being, the same as was later owned and occupied by Dr. Joseph Addison Brown, the father of our subject. A part of his land joined up with that of Gov. John S. Phelps, just outside of the city limits. He was a fine example of self-made man, a natural born leader, who was possessed of rare ability and general information, and was an eloquent and forceful public speaker, whose personality, knowledge and evident interest in the public welfare placed him in demand on many occasions, especially during political campaigns. Politically, he was originally a Whig, but became a Republican at the birth of that party, which held him in abiding faith the remainder of his life, death resulting from poisoned water, which set cooling out on a shelf, thus rendered, it was believed, by the fiendish impulse of an intractable slave whom he had sold on account of gross disobedience. Although a slave owner, he was merely such by custom and apparent necessity and not by principle, for he was a man imbued with the spirit of sympathy and humanity, never having struck a slave but one time in his life, and that was Stephen, the neighborhood fiddler, upon the violation of his orders by proceeding to play for a dance at a house of questionable repute. This occasion brought tears to the old master's eyes while pleading with Stephen to be honorable and thus avoid the obligation of treating a man as some men treat an animal.

He took an active part in the political affairs of this county, being twice elected to the state Legislature, defeating the paternal grandfather of our subject in both campaigns. He was also at one time sheriff of this county. His wife was Patsy Roberts, one of the two children of John and Rebecca (Langley) Roberts, who removed from Kentucky to Greene county, Missouri about the year 1830. John Roberts was a typical pioneer, very strong, and a man whose courage was never doubted. He delighted in the crucial tests of physical manhood, and gloried in his ability to surmount the obstacles allotted to his pathway. He was a great hunter, in the pursuit of which he felt no terror at the sight of a redskin crouched behind a rock or the vicious inhabitants of the woods nearby, having at one time near a sink hole in the east field of what is now known as the Joe McCraw farm down by old Mt. Pisgah church, attacked and killed a large bear with no other weapon than his dirk knife.

He lived and conducted a mill and distillery at the big Jones spring, where he prospered for a number of years, and later was coroner of Greene county. He was shot and killed by an enemy on the public square of Springfield whom he had previously frightened by a fun-making snap of his spectacle case. His enemy had threatened him, which only served to stimulate his mischievous attitude and he was unarmed when the fatal moment came. His bodily remains still rest on the hilltop by that noted spring marked by a tomb hewn from the native rock by the hands of a fellow pioneer.

The wife of John Roberts was a good, industrious woman, bearing, it is said, a strong resemblance to Gen. Winfield Scott, and who lived to the advanced age of about ninety years, and died suddenly while sitting in a chair. She left a great many nice things of her own handiwork, which are still in existence, scattered among her posterity, and the occasional display of which serves to remind us of her great worth and importance in a generation long gone by. Patsy McFarland evidently inherited her father's nerve, as shown on an occasion of her return from the Holland bank to her home late one evening, when she was attacked by a highway robber, whom she beat into a state of insensibility with her walking cane, when old and very decrepit. The children of Hon. William and Patsy (Roberts) McFarland were: Rebecca, the wife of John Pursley, who is deceased; Harriet Greenlee, who was honored with the title of "Mother of Springfield" before her death; George, who is still living in Greene county; John T.; William; Nancy, wife of Abner Galbraith; Lucinda, wife of Robert A. Mack; all being deceased, and James, a prosperous resident of Tulare, California.

Dr. William McFarland Brown is a direct descendant of Christopher Hussey, who married a daughter of Stephen Bachiler, who would only give his consent to the marriage on condition that they would sail with him for America. This agreement was complied with and, about 1631, they embarked for America. About the year 1639, Christopher Hussey was appointed a justice of the peace in Newbury, Massachusetts, a position of dignity and importance in early days. He was also one of the purchasers of Nantucket, Massachusetts, but did not remove there. He and his father-in-law were proprietors of Hampton, New Hampshire, where they finally settled, and from 1658 to 1672 was deputy or representative to the general court, having been elected to this position.

[1040-1047]


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