IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Harrison D. Brown

Harrison Douglas Brown, familiarly known to all as "Doug." Brown, is a native Iowan, born in McGregor, June 24, 1861, and was the son of Mathias J. Brown, born in New York State and Bertha (Amundsun) Brown, a native of Norway. They came to McGregor in Clayton county about 1850, where the father followed the trade of plasterer until his death June 3, 1885. The wife survived her husband ten years, dying September 19, 1895. They were the parents of seven children. Clara, the oldest living child, is the wife of John R. Rallton of St. Louis; George W. resides in Lakeport, Florida; Douglas, the subject of this sketch; Bertha, deceased; Alma, who is now Mrs. George Heilma of McGregor; and Cyrus, deceased.

Douglas Brown received his elementary education in the McGregor public schools, but at the age of thirteen he was obliged to give up his studies and begin the making of his own way in the world. In 1877, he, together with his brother, went to Minnesota, where for three years he was employed by a railroad company. Abandoning railroading as a business, he went to McGregor, Iowa, in 1882, where he took up the tinner's trade, engaging in that work until 1884, spending two years in McGregor and three in Elkader. At the end of that time he entered into business for himself, opening a hardware store, which is the oldest and most complete of its kind in Elkader, dealing in hardware and stoves of all descriptions, and which includes thoroughly up-to-date tinning and plumbing departments.

He was united in marriage to Emma Heilman, May 11, 1886, a native of Clayton county, and the daughter of Jacob and Eliza (Schmidt) Heilman, both natives of Germany, but who immigrated into America in their early youth, joining the sturdy pioneer colonies which have done so much to place Iowa in the front rank of the states of our Union.

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Brown have but one child remaining of the four that were born to them. Their firstborn were twins, one of which died in infancy, and the other, Hazel, reached the age of eight years; and H. Douglas, the only survivor, is affectionately called "Doug., Jr."

Mr. Brown takes an active interest in the affairs of the Republican party, of which he is a member, and has served on the city council as alderman, and on the school board. He belongs to the Masonic Lodge, is a thirty-second degree member of the Ancient and Accepted Order of Scottish Rite, and affiliates with the Congregational church, in all of which he holds a deservedly high standing.

Notwithstanding his varied time absorbing occupations, our subject finds opportunity to wield a poetic pen, and has given glimpses of the great pleasure afforded him in his favorite pursuit of railroading in several poems, entitled, "The Old Elkader Line" ; "On the Old I. and D." ; and "Beulah Land." While he claims no particular literary merit for these verses, yet the descriptions given in them are unexcelled and were read with great interest and appreciation by his many friends in Clayton county. He describes the pioneer experiences of Mr. V. R. Miller, an old pioneer, most aptly in a poem, a portion of which is quoted below:

When the deer and bear and wildcat roamed the forests at their will,
And the voices of the Indians could be heard from hill to hill,
As they called out to their comrades for to join them in their play
Of romping, fishing and hunting just to pass the time away,
When through the stillness of the midnight you heard the coyotes howl,
And it made you kind of shaky to hear the hooting of the owl.
When around in the darkness stealthy shadows softly crept,
As the wild beast of the forest prowled around you while you slept.

When Uncle Sam was fighting and had Mexico on the run,
And before the California craze for gold had begun,
Allured by far spread reports that Iowa's soil was best
A young man left New England, and started for the west.

He has seen the ox-teams haul the wheat from a hundred miles away.
The old stage coach has come and gone, it too, has had its day.
And all the big warehouses that once were on the shore,
As they bulged with wheat and grain, clear to the door;
With dressed pork on the river bank, and every kind of game;
That was when the steamboat thrived before the railroad came.

source: History of Clayton County, Iowa; From The Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present; by Realto E. Price, Vol. II; page 58-59
-submitted by S. Ferrall


Return to 1916 Biographies Index