Hon. J. A. Brown. In choosing the individual who shall occupy the highest official position within the gift of the municipality, the citizens of any live community may be generally trusted to name one who had proven his worth and ability in his own affairs, his fitness for handling large issues and his loyalty to the welfare of his section. The complex and perplexing duties attaching to the office of mayor of a thriving city such as La Harpe call for a high order of civic courage, for absolute integrity, and for progressiveness tempered with conservatism, for a community is frequently judged by the character and actions of its officials and the stand they take in matters of importance. The present incumbent of the mayoralty chair of La Harpe had shown himself not only a man of excellent judgment and executive abilities, in the discharge of his official duties, but also a man of business experience who had practically applied business methods to the administration of the affairs of the chief executive’s office.
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J. A. Brown, mayor of La Harpe, Kansas, was born on a farm in Bourbon County, Kansas, September 10, 1866, and is a son of Simpson and Hannah M. (Julian) Brown. He traces his ancestry back to England, from which country the original American settlers came prior to the Revolutionary war and located in North Carolina, where the grandfather of J. A. Brown, Samuel Brown, was born and where he passed his life as a farmer, dying prior to the birth of his grandson. Simpson Brown was born in North Carolina, in 1824, and was there reared and educated, and married Hannah M. Julian, also a native of the Old North State, born in 1828. From North Carolina, Mr. Brown removed to Adams County, Illinois, where he continued to follow agricultural pursuits until 1857, in that year being attracted to Kansas, where he felt that he could find the opportunity for success which had theretofore eluded him. He accordingly became a pioneer of Bourbon County, where he homesteaded a tract of 160 acres, and in that community rounded out his life, his peaceful existence being only broken by the period of the Civil war, when he served as a member of the Home Guards. Mr. Brown died on his farm, March 31, 1869. He had not lived long enough to work out a full measure of success, but during his lifetime had been an industrious and intelligent agriculturist and a citizen who had the esteem and respect of his fellow men. In politics, he was a democrat, but he never found time to do more than cast his vote and take a good citizen’s interest in the success of good men and the passage of beneficial measures. Mrs. Brown survived him for many years, passing away at Blue Mound, Kansas, July 21, 1894. They were the parents of the following children: Matilda J., who is the widow of Uriah Holeman, a former farmer of Bourbon County, and resided at Bronson; Bertha, who is the widow of the late Frank Irvin, a farmer, and resided at Woodman, Colorado; Nancy, who is the widow of Scott Bobo, deceased, a butcher, and resided at Woodman; Mary, who is the wife of J. W. Fitzpatrick, a blacksmith by vocation and mayor of Blue Mound, Kansas; Peter, who is a resident of Carthage, Missouri; Robert, who is identified with the cement plant at Mildred, Kansas; William, who died at the age of twenty-one years; and J. A., of this notice.
J. A. Brown was educated in the public schools of Bourbon County, Kansas, and was three years of age when his father died. He remained with his mother and was brought up on her farm until he reached the age of ten, when she was married a second time, to Allen Stewart, with whom Mr. Brown made his home until he was twenty-two years of age. Up to that time he had been engaged in agricultural pursuits, but while thus occupied had mustered the butcher’s business, in which he engaged as proprietor of an establishment at Blue Mound, in 1889. He continued to follow the same business there for four years, meeting with some measure of success, and in the spring of 1893 returned to the farm, where he remained six years. Once more he heard the call of the city, and in 1899 went to Gas City, Kansas, where he resumed the butcher business and conducted a market at that place until 1903. That year saw Mr. Brown’s advent in La Harpe, where he became the proprietor of a meat market, but after two years he disposed of this business and established a mercantile enterprise, which he still conducts. From small beginnings he had developed this into the leading general store of the city, and the establishment, on North Main Street, contains an up-to-date line of first-class goods, carefully selected, attractively arranged and popularly priced. Mr. Brown is known as a man of excellent business ability and strict integrity and his name in commercial circles bears the value of a bond.
In politics, Mr. Brown is a republican, and for some years had been prominently interested in civic affairs in a way that had benefited La Harpe greatly. While serving as a member and president of the La Harpe council, he discovered discrepancies in the city’s finances that led him to investigate, and in this manner he discovered a deficit of $2,400, caused by the dishonesty of certain officials, and the prompt exposure of which saved the city a much greater loss. He had shown such excellent ability in his private affairs and such astuteness and shrewdness in handling the matter just referred to that the people rightly felt that at a time when the city’s finances were in a poor condition it would be well to have one at the helm who had the courage and ability to straighten things out. Accordingly, in the spring of 1915 he was chosen as mayor of the city, by a large majority, and had not only put the city on a sound financial basis, but had established a sinking fund, which, if properly preserved, will insure civic prosperity for the future. In various other ways he had aided the interest and welfare of his adopted city and had proved one of the most capable and popular officials La Harpe had ever had. Mayor Brown is a director of the First National Bank of La Harpe. He owned his own residence, on South Washington Street, and a farm adjoining the town on the west, where he is extensively engaged in raising stock.
On November 1, 1891, in Bourbon County, Kansas, Mayor Brown was united in marriage with Miss Minnie Mylius, daughter of L. H. and Frances (Withers) Mylius, residents of La Harpe, where Mr. Mylius is a retired miller and farmer. Three children have been born to this union: Nellie, born September 9, 1892; Maudie, born October 9, 1893; and Ethel, born April 12, 1896.