"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"


Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.

Biography of


Brown, Edward O. In the purely historical part of this volume due mention has been made of the leading part played by the Stevens Point family of BROWNS in the starting and building up of the city of Rhinelander; indeed it would be impossible to write any such history without doing so, yet the record as a whole would be imcomplete were it not supplemented by a more individual or biographical account of the principal members of the family, for, though in their main objects they were united and all "pulled together," as individuals their work has varied more or less, each having his own part to play, and all of it proving highly important in the development of this community. Edward O. BROWN was born in Portage County, Wis., on March 16, 1859, son of Edward D. and Helen M. (ANDERSON) BROWN. He acquired his early education at Stevens Point, where he was graduated from the high school, and for two years subsequently was a student in the state university at Madison, leaving that institution when he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. There he was graduated in 1881 as third honor man in a class of 53. As it is the custom at "the Point" for the ten honor men to go into the engineers' branch of the service, he became upon graduation a second lieutenant of engineers. Seeing, however, no future in army life in those days of peace and quiet, he resigned in 1882 to go into business with his brothers, A. W. and W. E. BROWN. In the following year he came to Rhinelander and for many years subsequently was a member of the Brown Bros.' Lumber Company, whose activities in their special field of enterprises are elsewhere recorded. In the early days he served the town of Pelican as treasurer, and when in 1886 the Brown Brothers, with their father, started the financial institution now known as the Merchants State Bank, he was one of its officials and is now its president, having aided in its management for the last 37 years. He is also president of the Rhinelander Refrigerator Company, one of the city's largest and most successful industrial concerns. As a man of progressive ideas, Mr. BROWN has been quick to see opportunities for improvement, not only in the direction of those business enterprises with which he was individually connected, but also in matters that concerned the general community, and has promoted such improvements to the best of his ability. He has always, for instance, been in favor of maintaining the public school systems of the city and county, and as a member of the city school board for several years, he was able to exert a direct influence to that end, his labors, with those of others, having valuable results. Mr. BROWN was the first captain of the local military company, organized originally as Company H, Fifth Regiment, W. N. G., but which in 1898 on the breaking out of the Spanish American War, became Company L of the Second Regiment, and is now Company B, 127th Infantry. His West Point training enabled him to bring this company up to a high standard of efficiency, and he remained its captain for eleven years, from 1898 to 1909, when he resigned, not because he had lost interest in it, but because he wished to see others have a chance for the honor. After the United States entered into the World War, he repeatedly offered his services to the government in a military capacity, even going to Washington to prefer his claim, but was rejected as being too old for active service in such as war as was then being waged. He therefore did what he could as a civilian and his work bore substantial fruits. As a member of the draft board he worked day and night at the court to the neglect of his own business; he aided in putting over the various war fund drives, and he personally looked after the families of the men who were in the army. So thoroughly did he perform his duties that on more than one occasion his work received public recognition, being thus acknowledged after the war by the service men themselves, both soldiers and sailors, through their spokesman, M. H. BARTON. As President Lincoln once said of General GRANT, that, though a good fighter, he was a very meagre talker or writer, so Edward O. BROWN, though a hard and constant worker since boyhood, and a man who has accomplished things worth while, has very little to say about himself, having a decided aversion to self-advertisement. So far as the present generation is concerned no such advertisement is needed, as his fellow citizens are too well acquainted with his record, but in a work of this kind, bearing a message of posterity, the present account has a fitting and necessary place.

Edward O BROWN was married Feb. 26, 1892, to Clara Cole SPENCER, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. SPENCER, of Waupaca, Wis.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 209-210 History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin, Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.

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