MCKOWN, John Brice
Posted By: Marcia McKown Hummel (email)
Date: 1/12/2016 at 14:38:01
John Brice McKown
John Brice McKown was born in Elizabeth, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on August 20, 1842, the youngest child of James and Maria Brice McKown. He lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska at various times in his life. While living in Monmouth, Illinois, where he was a student at Monmouth College, he answered his country's call, enlisting, along with several classmates, in Company C, Eighty-third Illinois Infantry, on July 22, 1862. He proceeded, under Captain L. B. Cutter and Colonel A. C. Harding, to Fort Heiman, Kentucky, and thence to the important battles for control of the northern Mississippi River at Forts Donelson & Henry. He spent the rest of the war fighting in Kentucky and Tennessee, frequently facing General Joe Wheeler’s regiment. Although not very glamorous, the arduous service of the Eighty-third Illinois was important to the outcome of the war. J. B. was mustered out, with the rest of his regiment, on June 24, 1865, receiving an honorable discharge on July 6th. Returning home, he completed his education quickly before joining his sisters in Marion County, Iowa. He married Margaret T. Carder, daughter of Henry and Fannie Kellogg Carder, on January 7, 1868 in Knoxville, Marion Co, Iowa. The Carder and Kellogg families were old Puritan families that had resided in Connecticut and Massachusetts throughout most of the 1600’s and 1700’s. Henry & Fannie, with their 3 oldest daughters, had joined an exodus that was moving westward in the late 1830’s, first settling for a decade in Athens County, Ohio where their 6 youngest children were born, before migrating to Marion County, Iowa by 1856.
John B’s family came to the US via Ireland; his grandparents (James McKown & wife) both having been born & married there, ended their days in Pennsylvania. J.B.’s father, also named James McKown, was born in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on August 24, 1808, and was apprenticed to a tailor. On Sept 23, 1829, in Elizabeth, Allegheny County, PA, James married Maria Brice, whose father had long owned a store near Mr. McKown’s. One of James’ favorite anecdotes was of making the suit for James G. Blaine’s wedding in Allegheny County. (Mr. Blaine went on to become a famous politician.) In his younger years James McKown served in the Pennsylvania militia. One of Maria’s favorite stories was of preparing food & serving cider for the American soldiers in the war of 1812. Maria was older than James and had been married to a Mr. McDonough, by whom she had 2 children, Mary Jane and William Brice McDonough. Upon Mr. McDonough’s death, she married James, bearing him 6 children: 1.) James who married Amanda Bedell, had 4 daughters, and lived out his days as a merchant in Elizabeth; 2.) Margaret who married Rev. Joseph White (a United Presbyterian minister), bore him 4 children, and finished her young life in Marion County, IA; 3.) Martha Jane, one of the first graduates of Monmouth College, served as a Presbyterian missionary, starting & operating schools for girls in Egypt over the course of 37 years; 4.) Sarah Maria who married William W. Wright and raised a blended family of 6 children in Wright, Mahaska Co., Iowa; 5.) Tryphena who married John H. Taggart, moving west from Marion County, IA to Harvey County, KS with their 2 young daughters and her widower father in 1877, where John engaged in the lumber trade, eventually settling in Denver, Colorado; and 6.) John Brice, the subject of this article. James and Maria moved their 5 youngest children to Morgan County, Ohio about 1847, to Lee County, Iowa in 1853 to farm, to Warren County, IL in 1862 to facilitate the children’s higher education, and back to Iowa after the Civil War, living briefly in Marion and Decatur Counties, before settling with their son John’s family in Mills County in 1875, where farmed in Indian Creek Township. Maria died in 1877 in Emerson, Mills County, IA; James died in 1884 in Walton, Harvey County, KS.
Once in Mills County, John B. McKown worked in Emerson as a salesman in a dry goods store for twelve years, owned his own business for a while, then worked in Hastings at the lumber yard for some years. He served for several terms as the town recorder of Emerson, for two years as township clerk and for a number of years was a member of the school board. He was postmaster for Hastings from January 1, 1898 until his resignation in 1904. Citizenship being important to him, J.B. supported his chosen Republican Party continuously from 1864 until his death. He was also active with Milton A. Summers Post, G.A.R. of Malvern and the Hastings Methodist Episcopal church. He and his wife were also charter members of the Presbyterian Church in Emerson.
After daughter Ila’s death, the family moved to Harlan, IA where they had relatives. About 1906 Mr. & Mrs. McKown joined their oldest sons in Nebraska where he worked at various endeavors, living in Bancroft at the time of his death on November 5, 1908.
According to the biography found in the 1901 edition of the History of Mills and Fremont Counties, “Mr. McKown is a man of genial disposition and kindly nature, and manifests thoughtful consideration for others. He finds his greatest happiness by his own fireside in the midst of his family and counts no sacrifice or effort too great that will enhance their happiness or promote the welfare of his wife and children. In his business affairs he has been successful, his careful management, sound judgment and untiring effort bringing to him creditable prosperity. He indeed deserves mention among the prominent people of Hastings and should find a place in the history of the men of business enterprise in the great west whose force of character, intelligence, integrity and control of circumstances have contributed in such an eminent degree to the solid growth and progress of the entire country. His life has been manly, his actions sincere, his manner unaffected and his example well worthy of emulation.”
John B. & Margaret T. McKown, married for over 40 years, were the proud parents of 13 children, the last 2 being twins:
Brice Edwin, Cora Maria, and Lily Blanche died in childhood.
Ronald Kellogg owned a horse ranch in Holt County, Nebraska.
Fannie Myrtle, the wife of T. G. Fewson, bore him 4 children in Pueblo, CO, before dying at the age of 37.
Arthur Clyde furthered his education, married Alma English, farmed for 48 years in Knox County, NE, and raised 7 children. Married for 52 years.
Roy Ancil & his wife Sylvia (Miller) had 5 sons, moving to Nebraska after the death of their youngest son, one of twins. Roy was in business with his cousin Munson for several years before moving to California. Married for 44 years.
Merle Charles & his wife Agnes (Richling) farmed in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota before moving to western Washington with most of their 6 surviving children, where Merle worked in the mortuary business. Married for 43 years.
James Henry & his wife Emma (Hambling) raised 3 sons, engaging in several businesses before establishing the McKown Funeral Home in Columbus, NE in 1925. This business recently passed out of family hands but still exists. Married for 20 years before his death.
Ila Jacqueline graduated from High School, worked alongside her father as Assistant Postmistress in Hastings up to the week of her sudden death at the age of 18. Family tradition says that she died of complications from appendicitis, following an operation at home on Thanksgiving night.
Ada Grace married Waldo H. Ruhe and lived in and around Grand Island for the next 65 years, raising their family of 14 children, including twins born in 1921. Married for 44 years, until her husband’s death.
Frank Horton and his wife Mame (Clark) raised their family of 5 surviving children, farming near Miller, SD. Married for 42 years, until his death from double pneumonia.
Frank’s twin, Flora Harriet, was the family’s free spirit, working in a store at a young age, marrying at least twice, moving to California on her own after World War I. She died in Los Angeles at the age of 37.
U.S. Census documents from 1850 to 1940
Iowa Census documents from 1856, 1885, 1895, &1905.
John B McKown’s obituary
Margaret McKown Livingston’s obituary
Newspaper articles from various Mills County publications
History of Mills & Fremont Counties, 1901 (Biography section on John B. McKown)
Elizabeth and Her Neighbors by Richard T. Wiley
Monmouth College Catalogs,1857-1865
Monmouth College Courier
“Monmouth College in War of Rebellion”
Martha Jane McKown’s obituary
Letters between John’s sisters Martha Jane, Sarah Maria, & Tryphena.
Mills Biographies maintained by Karyn Techau.
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