was born July 5, 1797, at Colebrook, Litchfield county, Connecticut. His parents were Frederick and Catharine (Case) Brown, both of English extraction. His father was of the fifth generation in descent from Peter Brown, one of the pilgrim Fathers who, on the twenty-first of December, 1620, landed on the "stern and rock-bound coast" of New England. His grandfather, John Brown, was a captain in the revolutionary war, and died of camp fever in hospital, in New York city, a little before its evacuation by the patriot forces, in 1776. His ancestors like most of the good old New England stock, were tillers of the soil.
Dr. Brown came west with his father in 1816, settling in Wadsworth, Medina county, in this State; his mother having died at Colebrook in his early infancy, about the year 1801. The father purchased a farm in Wadsworth, upon which he lived some twenty-nine years, and then moved to Circleville to live with his son, where he died in 1848.
The son continued with his father at Wadsworth three years, then went to Somerset, in Perry county, where he entered upon the business of teaching, having fitted himself for this profession in the common schools of his native State. He taught but one year in Somerset; then one year in Salem, Ross county; and then one year in Bainbridge, same county, after which he established himself in Circleville, where he continued four years. He was one of the pioneer teacher of private schools in this place, and is now remembered only by a few of the oldest inhabitants, as a faithful, conscientious, and thoroughly successful teacher. He taught only the common branches, and his school averaged, in attendance, about forty pupils, during the four years of its continuance. While thus faithfully performing the duties of a teacher, he was gradually preparing himself for the medical profession, studying Latin under Joseph Olds, and pursuing his medical studies with Dr. Erastus Webb, one of the earliest, most skillful, and successful physicians in Circleville. Having been admitted to practice, he entered upon his new profession in 1825, at Williamsport in the western part of Pickaway county. After practicing very successfully for five years, he decided, in order to keep pace with the constant progress and improvements in medical science, to attend a course of lectures in the Ohio medical college. This lasted for about four months, when, taking a diploma from that institution, he returned to Williamsport, where he continued six years longer, with a practice and a popularity constantly increasing. His "ride," performed exclusively on horseback, extended over twelve miles. In sickly seasons he found it neccessary to keep a relay of three horses, and always had two.
In 1836 he returned to Circleville, where he continued the practice of his profession till the fore part of the year 1850, when he retired formally, and, as he supposed, permanently, from practice. But the Asiatic cholera breaking out in July, of that year, he resumed practice, and continued during the prevalence of that disease, which was very severe, as the people of Circleville well remember. After the death of Dr. Webb, which occurred in the year 1848, he was the leading practitioner in Circleville, and his permanent retirement, in the latter part of 1850, was a source of great regret to a large circle of friends.
After retiring from the practice of medicine, Dr. Brown commenced the business of banking, in connection with what was known as the Pickaway county savings institute. He became president, and O. Ballard cashier--offices which they have respectively held in the same institution, under different names, till the present time. It is worthy of note that the present assistant cashier, William M. Drum, has been in the employ of the same institution since 1851, and the present teller, E. P. Garaghty, since 1854. Of this bank, which is now known as the First National bank of Circleville, the reader will find an account under the head of "Banks" in the history of Circleville.
At about the same time that Dr. Brown went into the business of banking, he purchased a farm on the Royalton turnpike, which he carried on for five or six years. During that time, in 1851, he attended the World's fair in London, and brought back the first and the finest Norman horse ever imported to this part of Ohio. During a second trip to Europe, made in 1867, he, in company with T. C. Bigelow, purchased and imported five horses of the same stock; and the following year the same parties imported four others, all of which have much improved the breed of draught horses in this and other western States.
On his second European tour, in 1867, he was accompanied by his niece, Miss Kate Brown. They spent three weeks in Paris, during the French exposition, when the gay capital wa in all its glory; visited Brussels, Cologne, Mayence, Weisbaden, and Frankfort. They spent some time in Switzerland and Italy, dropped anchor in the Golden Horn, at Constantinople and passed up the Bosphorus to Sebastopol. Returning, they visited the principal points of interest in Asia Minor and the Holy Land. From Joppa they took a steamer to Alexandria and Cairo; passed Algiers and Gibraltar, Maderia, and the Bermudas, and thence to New York, where they arrived on the ninth of November.
The doctor gave up his farm in 1854, and formed a partnership in the drug business with Mr. George H. Fickardt,, which continued till 1877. This arrangement, however, was merely for the profitable investment of surplus capital, as he never gave any personal attention to the concern.
It will be seen, from this brief sketch, that uninterrupted prosperity has attended Dr. Brown's business career. But the same Providence, through whose ordering such unusual success has marked his financial history has seen fit to order that his domestic life should be overshadowed by an equally unusual degree of adversity.
While teaching at Salem, in Ross county, he was married, November 20, 1820, to Miss Sarah Close, who was born in the same county, June 27, 1800. They had three children--two daughters and a son. The former both died in infancy; the latter, named Marcus Aurelius, was born August 13, 1824. Being a boy of unusual promise, his father destined him for the medical profession, and spared no pains or expense in his education. He was graduated, with high rank as a scholar, at the Miami university. Three years later he took his degree in medicine at the Jefferson medical college, in Philadelphia, and immediately entered upon the practice of his not only destined but chosen profession, with his father, in Circleville. But this pleasant partnership continued but a little over one year. The son was already taking high rank as a physician, and the father, with natural and justifiable pride, was enjoying, by anticipation, his long career of usefulness and distinction, when all these fond hopes were rudely shattered by the hand of death. His son died in 1848, at the early age of twenty-four years. This, in one year, he was made fatherless and childless. His wife dying in 1859, the desolation of his household seemed complete. But "God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb." His domestic calamities, remediless as they seemed, were not without alleviation; for over the home so sadly bereaved his favorite and accomplished niece now gracefully presides. But his friends say that it was chiefly his disappointment in the death of his son which made him wear of the practice of medicine, and led him to abandon it at the early age of fifty-three years.
Although it may unquestionably be said of Dr. Brown, as truly as of any other successful business man, that his success is due to his financial ability, yet one incident in his career will serve to show that good fortune in investment is as necessary to success as skill in management. In 1836, after eleven years' practice as a physician, fining himself with a surplus accumulation, amounting to fifteen hundred dollars in gold, he went west to invest it in real estate. He visited Chicago, then a village of less than two thousand inhabitants. Although there were some, even then, who had great hopes of the infant "queen of the lakes," yet its low, marshy and unhealthy situation was much against it, capital was still shy of it, and city lots and adjacent lands were, consequently, cheap. The doctor could have bought with his money what, before this time, might have made him a millionaire, but the prospect seemed to unpromising. He therefor went to Hennepin, in the same State, invested the whole of his fifteen hundred dollars in two town lots, kept them over twenty years, paying taxes on them every year, and finally sold them for less than five hundred dollars! This by no means impeaches his prudence and foresight, but it shows conclusively that what we call luck enters largely into what we call success.
Dr. Brown has never sought or held any political office, and says that he has always been too much occupied with what seemed to him more important business.
He is a firm believer in christianity, and has been for many years a member and an office-bearer in the Presbyterian church. Those who know him most intimately speak in the warmest terms of his benevolence and kindness of heart. Of no one was it ever more characteristic to "do good by stealth," and no one would more certainly "blush to fine it fame."