Friday, November 18, 2016

". . . and he leaves a large family to mourn his death"

After Patrick’s death, his remains were taken to Bloomington,
Bloomington, IL news clipping
(click to enlarge)
Illinois for burial accompanied by his son, D. O. Brown.1  (
See news clipping at left and previous clipping from the last post.)  Although there are no records, and no inscription is on the stone, he is likely
St. Mary's Cemetery
Bloomington, IL
buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in the same plot as that of his wife, Ann Burns Brown.  Patrick and Ann raised nine children, each of whom married and had families of their own.

It has always been my intention to tell the story of each of the immigrants who arrived in Boston from Ireland in January 1849.  Patrick is not my direct ancestor.  Out of respect for his descendants, and because I feel additional information is their story to tell, I will end Patrick’s story with a brief account of each of his children.  However, since this is a blog about the family, if any of Patrick’s descendants have information or a story they would like to share, I welcome their thoughts and memories and invite them to post the narrative here.

The next blog post will begin the story of John Brown, third child of Timothy and Hannah Brown.

The oldest child of Patrick Brown and Anne Burns was Patrick Brown.  He was baptized at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, Ohio on March 17, 1854.  By 1865, the family was living in Belleflower Township, McLean County, Illinois having lived in Delaware County, Ohio for a few years before then.   On January 8, 1880, he married2   Anna Radigan in DeWitt County, Illinois, and is shown as a farmer with his wife in the 1880 US Census for McLean County, Illinois.  Subsequent to this, he lived in Bloomington until his death in 1935.  The Blooming City Directory for the 1880s identifies him as a miner.  He later worked for the railroad as a brakeman and machinist.  Patrick was living with his youngest son, Jerome, when he died of heart disease on February 28, 1935.3  His wife, Anna, died June 23, 1953.4  Both are buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bloomington, Illinois.  Patrick and Ann had five children: Frank, John P.,  Jettie (Mrs. William B. Young), Thomas, and Jerome.    

The twins, John B. and Mary Ann were baptized April 3, 1856 at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, Ohio.  Mary Ann lived in the family home in Belleflower, Illinois, keeping house after the death of her mother in 1878.  She married James F Cox of Gibson City, Ford County, Illinois on January 13, 1881 when she was 25.5   On February 10, 1882, she and James purchased property from her father, Patrick – the same home where she and James were married.  They resided there until the farm was sold in January 18886 when they moved to Nobles County, Minnesota where James was involved in farming and real estate.  They returned briefly to Bloomington between 1910 and 19207, only to move back to Minnesota where James died December 21, 1925 in Kandiyohi County8.    Mary Ann returned to Bloomington after the death of James, where she died on March 22, 19309.  Both are buried in Willmar, Kandiyohi County, Minnesota.  Mary Ann and James did not have children.

 While Patrick was the first of the children to marry, John B. was one of the first of the children to move away from Illinois.  John homesteaded in Nebraska by November 1883.10   He secured a homestead of 160 acres near Berwyn in Custer County, Nebraska (section 3, township 16N, and range 19W).  The patent was finalized November 1, 1890.  John married Nancy Violet Burdick on September 9, 1889.11  John continued farming the homestead until 1909 when he moved to the city of Broken Bow where he sold insurance for the Union Fire Insurance Company.  He continued in this occupation until he died of heart disease on May 15, 1926 at Clarkson Hospital in Omaha12.  Violet and John B. had four children: Cecil Vern, James Carlton, Cyril B., and Mary Violet (Mrs. Charles L. Heaps).  Both John and Violet are buried in the Ansley Cemetery, Ansley, NE.

David O. (known as D.O.), was baptized January 2, 1859 at St. Mary’s in Delaware, Ohio and moved to Illinois with the family about 1865.  D.O. also homesteaded in Nebraska in the early 1880s as did his wife, Agnes Price, and some of her family.13 (See discussion in previous post.)   This extended family eventually controlled large tracts of land in sections 29, 30, 31 and 32 in township 17N, range 21W of Custer County14  with David Jr. (Otis), son of D. O., controlling 420 acres in 1919 after D.O.’s death.15  D. O. and Agnes had four children.  Three girls, June Agnes (Mrs. Edward Friedman), Mary Ada/May (Mrs. Lawrence Booth), and Fern M. (Mrs. Roy Aldridge) were born in Nebraska.  A son, David O. Jr., was born in Carroll County, Ohio in November 1893 just after D. O. finalized a Timber Culture claim in Nebraska.  Agnes and the girls remained in Ohio.  D. O. was enumerated in Carroll County, Ohio in 1910, but was living in Lincoln, Nebraska at the time of his death, November 16, 1916.16  His son, David Jr., lived in Nebraska for some time, but had returned to Ohio by 1920.17 Agnes lived in Ohio until her death on June 11, 1934.18  Both D. O. and Agnes are buried in the New Harrisburg Cemetery in Carroll County, Ohio. 

Sarah Jane Brown19 was baptized May 21, 1962 at St Patrick’s, Delaware, Ohio.  On February 24, 1884, at Gibson City, Ford, Illinois, Sarah married William E. Taylor.20  Sarah and William lived in McLean County, Illinois until early 1893 when they moved to Nobles County, Minnesota.  Three children were born in Illinois – Mary Ann/Mamie (Mrs. Alphonse Meyman),  Emily Agnes (Mrs. Frank Schutte), and Phillip W.  Four additional children were born in Minnesota – Bryan Charles, Sarah (Mrs. William H. Kleve),  Leo, and Isabella who was born in 1895 and died in 1898.21  William was a farmer until his death between 1920 and 1930.  Sarah was alive in 1943 when David Brown wrote his letter.  There are cemetery records from Saint Adrian Cemetery in Adrian, Nobles, Minnesota, where Sarah and William were living, at Find-A-Grave that may be for William (date of death is April 2, 1935) and Sarah (date of death is August 11, 1953).22    

James E. Brown was born in Delaware, Ohio, probably, May, 1863.  Although there may be some evidence that James went to Nebraska with his father and brothers, (see discussion in previous post), James was living in Adrian, Minnesota at the time of his father’s death in 1891.   (Two of his siblings, Mary Ann Cox, and Hannah Brown were also living in Adrian at that time.)  Obituaries of other siblings, (John B. in 1926 and Mary Ann Cox in 1930) identify James in Norfolk, Nebraska.23  The 1930 US Census for Norfolk City does show James Brown, age 63, born in Ohio with parents of Irish nativity.  James was married to Jennie Barney and was employed in the insurance industry.  Using that information to trace back through earlier census records, we find that James was living in Ponca City, Nebraska in 1900, Logan County, Oklahoma in 1910, and Norfolk City, Nebraska in 1920 and 1930.  The 1940 census24 shows Jennie, a widow, living with her daughter in Norfolk City, Nebraska.  That indicates that James died sometime between 1930 and 1940 probably in Madison County, Nebraska.  James and Jennie were married about 1894 and had four children, Leo, Carroll/Louis, Lloyd, and Dorothy (Mrs. Byron Ballantyne.)

Elizabeth Agnes Brown was born in Saybrook, Illinois July 23, 1865.  Elizabeth (Lizzie) married John McDonald September 28, 1884, at Merna, Illinois.25  John was born in Ireland about 1843 and emigrated to this country at an early age settling in McLean County, Illinois where he purchased 160 acres in Towanda Township in January 1869.26  He farmed the property until he died of the “grip” on January 26, 1901.27  In 1910, Elizabeth and six children were living in Monument Township, Logan, Kansas with Lawrence McDonald, John’s brother.28  By 1920, Elizabeth had returned to Illinois and lived in the city of Bloomington until her death on August 8, 1939.29  John and Elizabeth had eight children, Anna Ellen/Nellie (Mrs. Daniel G. Carmody), Sarah Mae (Mrs. Frank D. Hackett, Anna Isabella/Hannah, John E. (Jack), Lawrence, Eugene, and Mary (Mrs. William E. Hogan) who was born after the death of her father.  There was also an unidentified child born and died before 1900.  Both John and Elizabeth McDonald are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Merna, McLean, Illinois.

Emily Julia Brown, who later went by the name Julia Emily, was born October 1, 1868 in McLean County, Illinois.30  In 1891, at the time of her father’s death, Emily Julia Betebenner was living in Alliance, Box Butte, Nebraska.  The 1900 US Census for Alliance, Nebraska states that she and her husband, George Betebenner, had been married nine years, making her marriage date shortly before Patrick’s death.  Emily Julia and George resided in a number of places including Alliance, Nebraska, Hot Springs, South Dakota, and Ravenna, Nebraska.  George was a veteran conductor on the Burlington railway, (Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad) and died in 1918 as a result of an accident.31   He is buried in Grand Island Cemetery, Grand Island, Nebraska.32  By 1920, Julia was living in Boise, Idaho; by 1930 she was living in the Los Angeles area where she remained until her death on February 3, 1959.  Julia is buried in Glen Haven Memorial Park, Sylmar, Los Angeles, California.33  Julia and George had four children, Harry E., James Lyle, Florence Fay (Mrs. Harold Rose), and Mary Bernice (Mrs. George Robert Martin).

Hannah/Johanna Brown was the youngest child of Patrick and Ann Burns Brown.  She was born in McLean County, Illinois in 1871 and was just seven when her mother died in December, 1878.  Hannah was living in Adrian, Minnesota in 1891 at the time of Patrick’s death, but she had moved to Nebraska by January 1898 when she married Joseph Lynch in Alliance.  While in Alliance, Joseph drove a passenger train between Alliance and Denver, Colorado.  Following that, Joseph farmed in Minnesota before moving to Mason City, Iowa where he worked for the city schools.  Joseph died in Mason City on April 4, 1937 following a long illness.34   Hannah continued living in Mason City until her death in April 1970.  Joseph and Hannah had five children; Josephine (Mrs. Henry Determan), Evangeline (Mrs. Thomas Brophy), Eunice (Mrs. Raymond Halstead), Margaret Beatrice, and Emmett.  Joseph and Hannah are buried in Elmwood Cenetery in Mason City, Iowa.35

1.       The Pantagraph, Death of Mr. Patrick Brown, Bloomington, IL, September 12, 1981, page 7 

Custer County Republican, A Tragic Death, Broken Bow, NE, September 10, 1891.  See copy of that article in a previous post.

2.       Family, Illinois Marriages, 1815-1935, De Witt, Illinois, FHL microfilm 1,312,956. Available online at:

3.       Certificate of Death #95, Registration Dist., No. 696, 1935, McLean County Vital Records Office, Bloomington, IL.

4.       Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 15 Nov 2016), memorial page for Anna Radigan Brown (1861-1953), Find A Grave Memorial no. 14081010, Saint Marys Cemetery, Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois.

5.       The Pantagraph,  “Mr. James Cox, of Gibson City, and Miss Mary E. Brown, of Belleflower, were married January 13th, at the residence of the bride’s father, Mr. Patrick Brown, by Rev Father Kelly, of Loda, Ill.  Eighty invited friends were present.  A fine supper was served, and many substantial presents were made.  They have the best wishes of a host of friends.”, Bloomington, IL, January 20, 1881, page 3.

6.       McLean Co., IL, Deed Book, Book 151, page 260.  James Cox to John W. Lucas, dated 31 January, 1888.
7.       1895 Minnesota State Census; 1900, 1910, 1920 U.S. Census records

8.       The Pantagraph, James F. Cox Died in Willmer, Minn., Bloomington, IL, December 23, 1925, page 6.

9.       The Pantagraph, Mrs. Mary Cox Dies; Widow Succumbs – Had Been Patient in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Bloomington, IL, March 23, 1930, page 3.

10.   Fold3, Homestead application file John Brown for section 3, township 16N, range 19W, available online at:

11.   Information from “Brown” family file at the Custer County Historical Society, Broken Bow, NE.  Accessed, September 2011.

12.   Certificate of Death #4880, 1926, Nebraska Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Lincoln, NE

13.   There is a delightful narrative by Mary Price Jeffords, Agnes’ sister, about their pioneering experience in Nebraska, originally published as “The Price Girls Go Pioneering” in the Pioneer Stories of Custer County Nebraska, E. R. Purcell, Publisher, Broken Bow, Nebraska, 1936, and is reproduced online at:    

14.   Further “homesteading” records are available at The General Land Office Records of the Bureau of Land Management at:

Extended family consisted of Mary Elizabeth Jeffords, wife of Charles Jeffords, John Reed Price and John R. Price, father and brother of Mary E and Agnes. 

15.   Gaston, W. L. and A. R. Humphrey, History of Custer County Nebraska: A Narrative of the Past, with Special Emphasis upon the Pioneer Period of the County’s History, Its Social, Commercial, Educational, Religious, and Civic Development from the Early Days to the Present Time, Western Publishing and Engraving Company, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1919, p. 1056

16.   Certificate of Death #10775, 1916, Nebraska Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Lincoln, NE.

The Lincoln Star, Deaths, Lincoln, NE, November 16, 1916, page 2. “David O. Brown, a traveling salesman, living at 210 South Eleventh street, died at 11 a.m., Thursday at a local hospital, where he was taken Wednesday.  Mr. Brown was a representative of the George S. Cran Atlas company of Chicago.  Funeral arrangements have not been made.

17.   Op. cit., Gaston,

18.   The Free Press Standard, Mrs. Agnes A Brown, Carrollton, OH, June 14, 1934, page 4

19.   I feel a special affinity for Sarah since David Brown, the letter writer, referred to her frequently in his letter and she was likely a source for much of the information that we have today. 

20.   Ford County Illinois Marriage Register, Sarah Jane Brown to William E. Taylor, Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Normal, IL.  Accessed, September 2006.  Record shows that William, age 27 lived at Merna, McLean, Illinois.  His parents were William Taylor and Bridget Donahue.  Sarah, age 21, whose parents were listed as Patrick Brown and Ann Burns, lived in Saybrook, Illinois.  Witnesses to the marriage were Jas Donohoe and Lizzie Brown. 

21.   1910 US Census record, Westside Township, Nobles, Minnesota.  There was probably another child that did not survive born between 1884 and 1887, the dates of their marriage and the birth of Mary Ann.  The 1910 US Census shows eight children born to the couple with six living.  Seven children can be accounted for.

22.   Find-A-Grave, database and images ( accessed 15 Nov 2016), memorial pages for William E. Taylor (1895-1935) and Sarah Jane Taylor (1853-1953)  Find A Grave Memorial nos. 28353549 and 28353550, Saint Adrian Cemetery, Adrian, Nobles County, Minnesota.  These are probably the correct graves; however, information for William, shows his date of birth as June 2, 1895 – the same date as his daughter Isabella who is also buried in the same cemetery.  Sarah’s date of birth is given as November 27, 1853.  We know Sarah was baptized in May, 1861.  These are probably transcription errors which could be verified through death records and newspaper obituaries.

23.   Custer County Historical Society, file for John B. Brown, Broken Bow, Custer, Nebraska.  “On April 29th [1926], he [John B. Brown] was taken to the Clarkson Hospital in Omaha, . . . and was met there by his brother, James E. Brown of Norfolk, Neb. . . .”

The Pantagraph, Mrs. Mary Cox Dies, Bloomington, IL, March 23, 1930, page 3.  “Mrs. Cox leaves the following brothers and sisters: . . . James Brown, Norfolk, Neb.”

24.   US. Census records for 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 available online at or

25.   McLean County Illinois Marriage Register, Elizabeth  Brown to John McDonald, Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Normal, IL.  Accessed, September 2006.  Record shows that John, age 35 lived at Merna, McLean, Illinois.  His parents were Edward and Bridget McDonald.  Elizabeth, age 19, whose parents were listed as Patrick Brown and Ann Burns, lived in Saybrook, Illinois.  Witnesses to the marriage were David Brown and Emma Brown. 

26.   McLean Co., Ill, Deed Book, Book 67, page 588.  J.B. Stevenson et. Al. to J.D. McDonald

27.   The Pantagraph, Obituary for John McDonald,  Bloomington, IL, January 28, 1901, p. 7.  Available online at  “. . . died at an early hour Saturday morning after an illness of three weeks with grip.”

28.   1910 US Census, Monument, Logan, Kansas, Roll: T624_445, Page 4B, Enumeration District 0086.

29.   The Pantagraph, Mrs. Elizabeth McDonald Died Suddenly at Home, Bloomington, IL, August 9, 1939, p.3

Certificate of Death: Elizabeth Agnes McDonald. Filed 10 Aug 1939. State of Illinois, Dept of Public Health-Div of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. No. 696, File No. 32771, Registered No. 328.

30., California Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line].  Original data: State of California, California Deaath Index, 1940-1997.  Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics. Julia Emily Betebenner, born 1 Oct 1868 in Illinois; died 3 Feb 1959 in Los Angeles, CA.

31.   The Alliance Herald, available at, carried several news articles about the Betebenner family from 1904 to 1918 including an account of the accident that caused the death of George Betebenner.   February 21, 1918, p.1 . . . “Conductor G.W. Betebenner was thrown from train No. 40 today near Mason City [NE], and very seriously injured, his right are [arm], nose and jaw being broken.  Mr. Betebenner was taken to the Hospitay [hospital] at Grand Island where he is reported to be in critical condition.  Mr. Betebenner was standing on the rear platform, when in some way the rear trucks left the track, the violent jerk throwing him off.  The train was going about 25 miles per hour at the time.  Mr. Betebenner is an old conductor on the road, his run being 39-40, between Ravenna [NE] and Seneca [NE].  Many Alliance people know Mr. Betebenner as he formerly lively [lived] at Alliance.

32.   Find A Grave database and images ( accessed 15 Nov 2016), memorial page for  George William Betebenner (1867-1918), Find A Grave Memorial no 106317936, Grand Island Cemetery, Grand Island, Hall County, Nebraska. 

33.   Find A Grave database and images (; accessed 15 Nov 2016), memorial page for Julia E. Betebenner (1868-1959), Find A Grave Memorial no 142991050, Glen Haven Memorial Park, Sylmar, Los Angeles County, California. 

34.   The Mason City Globe-Gazette, J. P. Lynch, 72, Dies Following Illness in Home, Mason City, IA, April 5, 1937.

35.   Find A Grave database and images (; accessed 15 Nov 2016), memorial pages for Joseph P. (1865-1937)and Hannah K. Lynch (1872-1970), Find A Grave Memorial nos. 6526342 and 6526343, Elmwood Saint Joseph Cemetery, Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.

Friday, October 28, 2016


I have known about Patrick’s tragic death since first reading the
David Brown letter - top of page 4
(click to enlarge)
David Brown letter in the mid 1990’s.  (See copy of letter to the left.1)  Patrick was killed by a bull on a farm east of Broken Bow, Custer County, Nebraska, in September, 1891.  The letter mentioned a news article in the Custer County Republican that would give further details.  I obtained a copy from the Custer County Historical Society.   (See a copy right along with
Custer County Republican
(click to enlarge)
separate account from the Omaha World-Herald below.2)  It seems that Patrick was alone at the time of the accident.  When first discovered, it was feared that foul play was involved; however, injuries received (detailed in the article) indicated he had been attacked by a bull that had just been returned to the farm the day before.   I expected to obtain
specific details of the accident.  I did not
Omaha World-Herald
(click to enlarge)
expect to receive additional information that made it possible to further Patrick’s story, and, indeed, the story of the Brown family.3

I received two other documents at the same time as the news article about Patrick’s death - a marriage affidavit4 for a second marriage to Bridget Wilson, and the Petition for Letters of Administration5 for Patrick’s estate as well as some information in the file for John B. Brown, a son of Patrick.  Recall how desperate David Brown, the letter writer, was to discover the name of the father of the Brown children and the maiden name of the mother, Hannah?  He was close – very, very close when he looked to Broken Bow for information about Patrick’s death.  The marriage
2nd marriage of Patrick
(click to enlarge)
affidavit (see right) shows the names of Patrick’s parents.  (With this information David Brown would likely have found the place of origin in Ireland.  But then, he probably would not have written the letter to my mother and I would not be telling the story now.)  Bridget did not live long after she and Patrick were married.  She died about seven months after their marriage, and, two years before Patrick’s accident.

While the marriage affidavit provided a second confirmation of the names of the
Petition for Letters of
(click to enlarge)
parents of the Brown children, (the original source was the death certificate for the youngest son, Thomas), the Petition for Letters of Administration (see left) gave the names of Patrick’s children and where they were living in 1891, providing even more information to trace Patrick and his family.  It also contained the signature of John Brown, second son of Patrick, and provided a way to verify records for the rest of the children.

It is very understandable why Nebraska was attractive to the Brown family.  Patrick and Anne had four sons, Patrick, John B., David O., and James E.  Farming aspirations for men without financial means would have been difficult in the Bloomington area.  Land, if it was available, while very productive, was also very expensive.  Patrick, the oldest son, married and stayed in the area around Bloomington, Illinois eventually working for the railroad.  The other three sons moved away.

Newspapers in the 1880s were full of information about “free” land available in the West.  The Pantagraph in Bloomington carried one such story on the front page of its May 26, 1881 issue about “Nebraska’s Boom.”6  Stories were also carried in the newspapers about families visiting home who had previously taken advantage of lands available under The Homestead Act of 1862.  First-hand knowledge would have been obtained from them.

The Homestead Act provided up to 160 acres of land, virtually free, for those willing to move to the area and establish a permanent residence.  The terms were simple.  Anyone, male or female, was eligible provided they were at least 21 years of age (or the head of a household), had never held arms against the United States (which made Confederate soldiers ineligible), and was a US citizen, either native born or naturalized.  An application fee of $18.00 was required.  Once they had lived on the “improved” land, which usually meant building a residence, most often a sod house,
Custer County sod house
  and farming some portion of the acreage, for five years, they could file for a final deed.  If all requirements were met, they were issued a land patent for their acreage.7   Coming from the east where there was ample rain to sustain crops, the offer must have sounded very rich to many who would not otherwise have had access to land ownershipHowever, 160 acres of “dry prairie” where one bad season could wipe out an entire enterprise, posed a serious challenge for those not familiar with farming methods needed to succeed in those conditions.  As a result, as many as 60% of applications were never completed.8   Other farms were abandoned, or sold after a short time.

US Public Lands were mapped into a grid pattern using The Public Land Survey System (PLSS), making is easy to identify a specific location that could then be sold to individuals or “given” to homesteaders under the Homestead Act of 1862. Each location contains a section, township, range, and meridian identifier.9  A section contains 640 acres and is further divided into fourths identified by direction, i.e. the NW¼ of section x.  PLSS townships are identified by a number and should not be confused with civil townships used for local government that are always named

Images of patents for completed homestead applications are shown in the General Land Records of the Bureau of Land Management.10    Complete files including copies of original application papers for some completed Nebraska  claims are available at Fold3.11   Application papers for incomplete applications are available through the National Archives, but the legal land description must first be determined.12

Patrick, and sons, John B., David O., and, perhaps, James E., (the youngest son who would have been 21 in October, 1884),
completed all requirements and received patents for land in Custer County, Nebraska.  John B. took out a homestead application in Berwyn Township (PLSS section 6, township 16N, range 19W) in November 1883.13  (See Custer County Township map left.)   The file contains several documents that include his signature which, when compared to the signature on
Page from homestead application
for John B Brown
(click to enlarge)
the Petition for Letters of Administration in the estate of his father, Patrick, verify this is the same person.  (See application document right.)  Other documents in the file detail improvements made to the property by the time he signed the final affidavit including a 14 x 24 sod house, two stables, one frame and one sod, a cellar, a well that was 107 feet deep, and a wind mill and pump tank.  He also owned six horses, three head of cattle, seventy head of hogs, two dogs and one cat. Household furnishings are also listed.  The final patent was signed November 1, 1890.

Patrick, the father of the John, David, and James, also settled in Berwyn Township west of John’s property and just a few miles east of the town of Broken Bow as described in the news article about Patrick’s death.   His homestead, (sec. 6, twp.
16N, range 19W), contained just 123 acres instead of the more usual full quarter section containing 160 acres.  Part of this section may have already been sold, this may have been a more desirable location, or, since Patrick had downsized his Illinois property, he may not have wanted an entire quarter section.  The final patent (see document left) is signed December 1890 making his entry into Nebraska at least December 1885.  Unfortunately the original papers are not available online and would be interesting to see.14   Not only would the papers contain his entry date, but, since Patrick was foreign born, it would likely contain proof of his citizenship - when and where his naturalization took place. 

David O. may have been the first of the Brown’s to settle in Nebraska.  There is a final patent for him in Westerville Township, (sec. 14, twp. 17N, range 18W), dated December 1887 which means he would have started his application in 1882.  The original papers for this claim are not available online so we cannot compare signatures; however, David O. is shown in the 1885 Nebraska State census in Westerville Township, from Ohio, age 24 making his birth year 1861.  That is close to information given in family records (birth year 1859 in Ohio).  I believe this is the correct person.15  

Records for Westerville Township also show a patent for James E. Brown in section 2, close to the homestead of David O. described above, that was finalized in March, 1890.  James would have been just old enough in March 1885 (using the five year residency requirement) to have started the application process.  Original papers are in the National Archives and are not immediately available to review.  Because this is located very close to David’s place, it may be an indication of a relationship to Patrick, John and David.  However, the “Petition” in Patrick’s estate file identifies James as living in Adrian, Minnesota at the time of Patrick’s death in September, 1891.  An examination of original papers would be needed to make a final determination.

David acquired more property in 1893, this time in Berwyn Township.  In 1873, congress passed the Timber Culture Act which allowed homesteaders to obtain an additional 160 acres of land
Sec 6, Twp 16, R 19
(click to enlarge)
even if they had taken advantage of the original Homestead Act.  The only stipulation was that they plant trees on at least one-fourth of the land.16  David took advantage of this provision and acquired 160 acres bordering brother John’s homestead.  See the geological survey map (right) of section six identifying  the locations of properties for Patrick, David and John.

About 1887 David married Agnes Price who also homesteaded in her own name in Custer County, but in Kilfoil Township west of
Broken Bow along with her father and brother.  David acquired public lands in this area also (sec. 29, twp 17N, range 21W).  A map, indicating all possible properties associated with the Brown family, is shown left.  It is a survey map, showing sections, townships, and ranges, with civil townships for Custer County superimposed on it.17   Below is a summary of the Brown land patents.

 One final piece of information completes Patrick’s story.  David was a witness at the marriage of his sister, Elizabeth, which took place in Merna, Illinois, just east of Bloomington, on September 28, 1884.18  According to his homestead application papers, David was living in Nebraska at that time.  Perhaps David was visiting Illinois for his sister’s wedding and convinced his father and brother, James, to return to Nebraska with him?  The dates in all of the application papers seem to support this. 

In the next post, we will take a brief look at the nine children of Patrick and Anne Burns Brown.

1.       Brown, David Earl, Kewanee, IL, 11 May 1943. Letter to Esther ________, Columbus, OH.  Letter contains genealogical information for the Brown Family from County Limerick.

2.       “A Tragic Death, Patrick Brown Killed by a Vicious Bull.”  Custer County Republican, September 10, 1891.

“A Vicious Bovine.  It Crushes the Life Out of Its Master, Patrick O. Brown.”  Omaha World-Herald, September 11, 1891, p.1. Available online at

3.       Talk about serendipity!  I called the Custer County Historical Society (CCHS) sometime around 2005.  The conversation went something like this.   Me: “I would like to request a copy of an article in the Custer County Republican.”  CCHS: “We usually don’t take requests like this since it takes a lot of time to locate an article.”  Me: “But, I have the exact date the article was run and the man died in unusual circumstances.”  CCHS: “OK, we can try.  What is the information you have?”  Me: “Patrick Brown died September 9, 1891 and . . .”  CCHS before I could finish the statement: “. . . and was killed by a bull.”  Me:  “Was the incident that notorious?”  CCHS: “No, I’m working on a request from his wife’s family.”  Me: “His wife Anne?”  CCHS: “No, his second wife Bridget.”  Me: “I didn’t know he was married a second time.”  CCHS: “He was, but she didn’t live long.  I have a copy of the Custer County marriage record.  Would you like a copy of that?”  Me, jumping for joy: “Yes!”  CCHS:  “We also have a copy of the ‘Petition for Letters of Administration.”  Would you like that as well?”  And so, I received information that helped uncover more of Patrick’s story.

4.       Marriage Record, Custer County, Nebraska, Mr. Patrick Brown to Mrs. Bridget Wilson, Custer County Records, Book 2, p. 100.  The handwritten notation at the bottom is from the CCHS staff identifying the date of Bridget’s death.

5.       Custer County Historical Society, copy of Petition for Letters of Administration for Patrick Brown who died 9 Sep 1891.  I do not know the case number for Patrick’s Probate record.  Custer County Nebraska probate records at Family Search are only available from 1930.  Several months ago, I requested additional information about the probate record from the CCHS.  To date, I have not received anything.  When it is received, I will post the information on the blog.

6.       “Nebraska’s Boom – A Condition of General Prosperity Reported From the State and its Principal City.” The Pantagraph, Bloomington, IL.  Available online through  The article tells of high crop production.  It also talks of new facilities, grain elevators and railroads, being constructed to accommodate the influx of immigrants expected because of government homesteads.  “. . . all industries show a healthy and prosperous condition, with labor in constant demand.”

7.       Family Search Wiki, Nebraska Land and Property, available online at   and Homestead Records, Family Search Wiki,  

8.       Ibid.

9.       See for a discussion of The Public land Survey System and how it is used to identify a specific piece of property.  A section is a one square mile block of land containing 640 acres and is one thirty-sixth of a township.  A township, always numbered in the PLSS, is a horizontal row of 36 sections, or  a six-mile square area of land.  A range is a vertical column of townships.  A principal meridian is a meridian line (longitudinal) chosen as a starting point to section off a given area.  All of Nebraska is in the sixth principal meridian.

10.   Website for the Bureau of Land Management for General Land Office Records is available online at:  Identify the state you are interested in from the drop-down box, and also select the appropriate county.  Type is the last name in the “Names” section and press “Enter.”  A list of all persons by that name who completed the application process will be returned. 

11.   While Fold3 is generally a pay site, Nebraska Homestead Records are available for free at  Select Non-military Records, then Homestead Records, Nebraska, select the appropriate Land Office (the name is shown on the final patent), then select the township, range, section, and individual’s name.

12.   Refer to the Family Search Wiki for instructions pertaining to accessing incomplete applications. 

13.   The application for John B. Brown is one of those available on Fold3 and is available online at: )  Note that the original application shows the name of the town as “Janesville.”  This was an earlier name for Berwyn.

14.   Note:  The definitive location of Patrick’s property cannot be determined until the original application can be reviewed.  However, other factors, the proximity to James’ homestead, and the location of Patrick’s farm given in the news article, indicate this location.  Moreover, only one Patrick Brown is shown in the land patents for Custer County, unless there is another application that was not completed.

15.   There is another confirmed homestead for David in Kilfoil Township (section 29, township 17N, range 21W) online that contains David’s signature.  Papers for this claim could be used to compare signatures.

16.   Wikipedia, Timber Culture Act, available online at: 

Red = Patrick
Blue = John; also David’s Timber Culture claim
Orange = James
Green = David

18.   McLean County Illinois Marriage Register, Elizabeth Brown to John McDonald, Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Normal, IL.