Biography of John Brown of Van Meter Township, Iowa

John Brown
John Brown

John Brown, a farmer residing on section 1, Van Meter township, was born June 30, 1844, at Westhofen, Germany, and was a son of Martin and Anna (Baltz) Brown. The father was a farmer in his native land, following that pursuit until 1848, in which year there arose a rebellion in Germany and Martin Brown cast in his lot with the insurgents, who were finally overpowered by the Prussians. A great many were forced to flee the country for safety and among this number was Mr. Brown. It was then that he came to the United States, arriving in the spring of 1849. He first located in Buffalo, New York, and some time afterward went to Dayton, Ohio, whence he subsequently removed to Chicago, Illinois. He continued in the western metropolis for only a brief period, however, and then bought a farm near Mendota, Illinois.

Subsequently he removed to Dallas county, Iowa, where, in 1853, he entered one hundred and sixty acres of land in Adel township, making his home thereon until his death. He worked earnestly and persistently in bringing his fields under a high state of cultivation and as the years passed developed an excellent property, which he continued to cultivate until called to his final rest in 1884. His wife survived until 1903. They were the parents of five children, of whom John is the eldest. The others are: George H., a contractor and builder of Lamar, Colorado; Mary, the wife of E. J. M. Stephens, a retired farmer of Adel; William D., attorney at law of Onawa, Iowa; and Fred S., a retired fruit grower now residing in Kansas City, Missouri.

At the time of the Civil war Martin Brown, ever imbued with the spirit of patriotism and love of liberty, offered his services to the government of his adopted country, enlisting in 1861 as a member of Company B, Fifteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served for two years and took part in a number of very important engagements, including the battles of Corinth and Shiloh, which contributed to the final triumph of the Union arms.

John Brown, whose name introduces this review, acquired his education in the public schools and remained at home with his father until twenty-one years of age. In the meantime he had become thoroughly familiar with the task of cultivating the fields and caring for the crops, and when he had attained his majority he rented the old homestead, which he operated until 1874. With the money he had saved from his earnings he then purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 1, Van Meter township, and this he has developed into one of the best farms of the locality, adding to it all modern equipment and accessories and bringing the fields under a very high state of cultivation. He uses the latest improved machinery to facilitate the farm work and his labors bring him a gratifying annual income. Later he purchased eighty acres of land in Missouri, which he still owns. His home is surrounded by a well kept lawn and a fine grove of shade trees.

On the 1st of March, 1883, Mr. Brown was united in marriage to Miss Emma A. Rhinehard, who was then a resident of Des Moines, Iowa. She was born in Durham, Middlesex county, Connecticut, January 16, 1861, her parents being Frederick W. and Barbara Rhinehard, both of whom were natives of Germany, whence they came to the United States in 1852. For many years they resided in Connecticut but have now passed away. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Brown have been born five children: Roy G., who was born June 25, 1885, and is associated with his father in the work of the farm; Nellie R., who was born December 9, 1886, and is engaged in teaching school; Anna, born February 13, 1888; Harry M., born February 16, 1893; and John R., on the 14th of November, 1896.

In his political views Mr. Brown is an earnest republican who cast his first presidential vote for General U. S. Grant and has since supported the men and measures of the party. He has served as school director and as road supervisor. While not a member of any church he and his wife lean toward the faith of the German Reform church but attend and support other churches of the locality. Mr. Brown belongs to Fortitude lodge, No. 256, A. F. & A.M., of Van Meter; Ne Plus Ultra castle, No. 401, K. P., at Waukee; and to Temple No. 9 of the Dramatic Order of the Knights of Korassan at Des Moines. He and his wife are members of the Rathbone Sisters at Waukee. In the community where they reside they are much esteemed as people of genuine worth, manifesting those sterling traits of character which in every land and clime awaken confidence and regard.


Wood, Robert F., Past and Present of Dallas County, Iowa, Chicago, IL: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.

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