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Brevet Brigadier General William R. Brown
William R. Brown, whose record properly belongs among those of the pioneer settlers in Southern Kansas, was born in Pennsylvania October 11, 1823. Reared in his native state, he early showed his inclination for travel, and visited Canada, drifted west to Iowa in pioneer times, went through Kansas when it was a territory, continued on south to New Orleans, and finally reached Southern Ohio. For a time he had worked as foreman of a scale plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1850, he married and then became foreman in machine shops and brass foundries.
At the breaking out of the war he took 40 men out of his foundry and shops at Pomeroy, Ohio, and crossing into Western Virginia enlisted there and was made Captain of Company E of the Fourth Regiment of West Virginia Infantry. He was soon advanced to the rank of Colonel of the 13th West Virginia Regiment, and while in the Shenandoah Valley was brevetted a Brigadier General, taking command of General Hayes' division in the Shenandoah Valley. Altogether he served four years, and with many of the hardest fought campaigns of the war. One of the battles in particular that he participated in was the five-hour March 28, 1863 Hurricane Bridge Skirmish (see http://www.13wvi.org/index.htm#Kanawha). Several times during the war he had horses shot from under him, and by his efficiency and bravery was promoted from time to time until he came out of the war with the shoulder straps of the brigadier.
General Brown after the war returned to Pomeroy, Ohio, and conducted machine shops there and in the adjoining Town of Middleport. After he came to Kansas in 1874, he gave most of his attention to farming. His farm was immediately adjoining the City of Independence, and he occupied it until his death on March 24, 1891. He was a Democrat and at one time both Democrats and Republicans joined in electing him to the office of probate judge, in which he served one term. His administration as probate judge was distinguished by his strict enforcement of the Murray Law. He also served for years on the school board. In the Congregational Church he was a deacon. General Brown married Violetta R. Burnap, who was born in Meigs County, Ohio in 1835, and died at Independence, Kansas in 1905. A record of their children is as follows: S. Allen; Sallie, wife of Mr. Gilman, a stockman of Independence; Violetta, who was the wife of Walter I. Dallas, a retired insurance man of Omaha, Nebraska; W.P., who was successful in the oil business and was a large property owner at Coffeyville; and H.G. Brown, a lumberman at Beaumont, Texas.
Photographs and information provided by William R. Brown's great grand nephew, George Gilmore Sennett.
Brevet Brigadier General William R. Brown (shown as a Colonel)
Hurricane Bridge Skirmish Commemorative Sign