My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography from the book,  The History of Crawford County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Judge Benton Jackson Brown, president of the Citizen’s Bank, of Van Buren, Ark., was born in Dickson County, Tenn., on February 19, 1836. His father, John B. Brown, was born in North Carolina in 1785, and while still a young man immigrated to Tennessee. There he married Sarah, daughter of Robert Huston, and settled in Dickson County, where he remained until Benton J., the youngest of his fourteen children was above one year old, when he removed to Johnson County, Ark., locating seven miles east of Clarksville. He was one of the most influential of all the pioneers in shaping the destinies of the then infant State of Arkansas. He had served for many years as county and probate judge in Dickson County, Tenn., and after his removal to Johnson County, Ark., he filled the same position for many years more. He also represented Johnson County in the State Legislature in 1844. It was a very wild country then, and the schools were taught as “summer schools” after crops were laid by. Young Benton J. Brown received as a boy only a rudimentary education in a pioneer log cabin for a school-house. The seed of learning was planted in good ground. Not content with the narrow field thus opened to him, young Benton saved enough of his hard earned money to attend the college in Cane Hill, or Boonsboro, Washington Co., Ark., for one year, when he secured the position of teacher of mathematics (for which he showed an early proficiency) in the “Wallace Institute” at Van Buren, and by this means he paid his board and tuition while he perfected his studies in other branches of learning. In 1858 he began the study of law under Gen. S. H. Hempstead, of Little Rock, but he soon after returned to Van Buren, where he finished his elementary studies in the office of Walker & Green. In 1860 he began the practice of law, and gained success almost from the beginning. His untiring energy and industry, his good judgment, and a thorough knowledge of human nature and men, as well as a knowledge of law books, enabled him to take his place at once among the leading members of the bar. In 1861, when the great war began, he enlisted among the first, and was soon after appointed quartermaster with the rank of captain by Mr. Davis. While still in the army the people of his judicial district elected him prosecuting attorney in 1862, but deeming his place of duty to be at the front, he remained in the service until the close of the war. When the war ended he spent one year in Texas. Some of his neighbors having trouble about some cotton seized by the Government at New Orleans, he was selected as the most capable man to entrust with the business of having it released. Large amounts of money being represented by the cotton, his full success gave him prominence among the business men of Shreveport, Jefferson and Northwest Texas. In 1866 he returned to his first love, Van Buren, where he resumed the practice of his profession. The Federal court, with its vast criminal business from the Indian Territory, was then stationed here. Judge Brown almost immediately became the most successful practitioner at the Federal bar, and had like success in the State courts. He was particularly successful later in commercial law, and was the trusted and confidential attorney of all the great wholesale establishments in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, St. Louis, Memphis and Louisville which did business here. He built up one of the most extensive and lucrative practices in Arkansas. When the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railroad received the patent for all its vast tract of land, Judge Brown was appointed attorney for the railroad and agent of the land department. Both as attorney for the railroad and as agent for this vast body of wild land, he gained a good reputation. In 1873 Judge Brown was elected State senator, which office he held until shortly before the adoption of the Constitution of 1874, when he was appointed judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. In 1876, as elector, he was a member of the electoral college which cast the vote of Arkansas for the great statesman, Samuel J. Tilden, as President of the United States. In 1884, in response to calls from his friends in all parts of the State, he was about to enter the race for governor of the State, when ill health forced him to retire from active life. He has been a life-long Democrat, and has always had confidence of the people and has wielded a strong social and political influence. In 1885 he retired permanently from the practice of law. Unable to live in idleness, he bent his energies to organizing the Citizen’s Bank, the largest and most successful institution of its kind between Fort Smith and Little Rock. He is interested in all of the public enterprises which are begun with the object of developing this great country. In addition to his other duties, Judge Brown was selected president of the Young Men’s Christian Association, in which place he has wielded a good influence. In 1860 he was married to Miss Kate Rothrock, who was born in Cattahoula, La., in 1841. She is a woman of fine intelligence, great force of character and well read. Of this union eight children have been born, of whom only three are living, to wit: Lillian, wife of T. C. Finny, of Birmingham, Ala.; Eulle Kate, aged sixteen, now a student at the Augusta Female Seminary, at Staunton, Va. And Master Harold, a bright boy of fourteen, in whose honor the post-office and town of Haroldton, in the county, is named. Judge Brown has never been without farming interest. When his father died he took charge of his farm and ran it until he was of age, and since the war has had farms all the time, and now has the largest plantation in the county, and is one of very few lawyers who has made a success in running them. He cleared and put in cultivation more wild land than any ever in the county. His father was sixty-seven years old at his death, his mother seventy, and although he was her fourteenth child she lived to see him married and settled in the practice of the law. Only two brothers and one sister of the family are living. As a citizen, lawyer and official, Judge Brown has always borne an untarnished record. His word in business is always taken with the fullest confidence that it will be performed. Among other possessions he will leave his family the most valuable will be that of a good name.

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This family biography is one of 222 biographies included in The History of Crawford County, Arkansas published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Crawford County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Crawford County, Arkansas family biographies here: Crawford County, Arkansas

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