Biographical Sketch of
Andrew Dension Brown
The thriving village of Brownsdale was named for Andrew D. and Hosmer A. Brown, who came to this vicinity in 1856. Andrew D. brown was born in Connecticut on the same farm owned by his ancestors since the 17th century. But his restless disposition lured him away from the staid New England home.
At the age of eighteen without his parents' knowledge, he shipped before the mast on board a sailing vessel from Stonington, five miles from his home. For fourteen years he followed the sea. On his first voyage he rounded the cape into Behring sea in search of whales. He came back after two years, with rank of third mate.
During the Mexican war he took a load of U.S. stores to Gen. Scott, thence a load of logwood to France, and home to New York with a load of fruit from Sicily. From one whaling voyage he brought back 2900 barrels of prime oil. He finally became master of a ship sailing to the East Indies. His next venture was a visit to California in 1849. Here he made money rapidly, but returned to farming in his old home in 1854.
Two years later, during which time he married, he came to Minnesota. He and his brother, in company with J. L. Johnson, took two quarter sections of land and laid out Brownsdale. The Browns had, in 1856, built a saw mill, which furnished lumber for the erection of the houses. In the fall the present hotel was begun and a school house built by subscription.
During the war Mr. Brown was south, raising cotton for two years and subsequently owned a large tract of land in Nebraska. His almost illimitable fund of general information and pleasing stories in his varied career makes him a delightful entertainer and always ready talker. He brought his family back from Nebraska in 1889, to spend the reminder of his life in the old home.
From the History of Minneapolis, Gateway to the Northwest
Quiet and unpretentious in manner and appearance, no one casually meeting Andrew D. Brown would dream that so much of interest had been crowded into his life as found it's place in his record, which covered travel to almost every known port of the globe with varied experiences on sailing vessels, in the mines of California and in the quiet of farm life in New England. His diversified activities and varied experiences made him a most interesting companion and his conversation was enriched by reminiscences of the various places to which he had traveled and the many incidents in which he had participated.
Moreover, he is especially entitled to mention in any history of Minnesota, inasmuch as he was one of the founders of the town of Brownsdale, arriving in this state as a pioneer in the spring of 1856. He reached the venerable age of ninety-three years, his birth having occurred at North Stonington, Connecticut, in 1818. There stands the old homestead, which has been in possession of the family since the seventeenth century and which was occupied by his parents, Matthew and Lucy (Denison) Brown, of whom Andrew D. Brown was the second son.
Being of a restless disposition, Andrew D. Brown could not content himself with the quiet of New England farm life, so that after attending the district and select schools near his father's home, working on the farm and teaching two terms of school, he decided, at the age of eighteen years and without the knowledge of his parents, to ship on board a sailing vessel at Stonington, a seaport only five miles from his father's home. Through the succeeding fourteen years he followed the sea, his first voyage taking him around the cape into Behring sea on a two years' trip, searching for whales along the coast of Japan and westward to the Sandwich Islands, now the Hawaiian Islands. While he shipped before the mast he returned as third mate. He afterward sailed on a merchant vessel to South America and made several trips to the coast of Europe.
In the Mexican war he took a load of United States stores and field ammunition to General Scott and afterward a load of logwood to Marseilles, France, while his ship carried a cargo of fruit from Sicily back to New York. Later he sailed from San Francisco to Calcutta, bringing back a cargo of sugar, hemp and teas around the Cape of Good Hope to New York, and on one whaling voyage he brought back twenty-nine hundred barrels of prime oil. He finally became master of a ship sailing in the East Indies and in the course of his voyages he twice rounded Cape Horn and once made the trip around the Cape of Good Hope. He was on one ship that took a thousand slaves from the coast of Africa to South America and several times he visited Cuba and Newfoundland.
In the spring of 1849 he decided to make his way to the California gold fields, leaving New York on a sailing vessel that carried one hundred and fifty passengers, and after a voyage around Cape Horn, stopping at Valparaiso and Rio Janeiro, arrived at San Francisco after one hundred and twenty days. He then went to Sacramento in company with Captain Bowen, and there purchased a boat and established a trading point at what is now Marysville, California, while in the following spring he made his way to the mines on the Yuba and Feather rivers. During a part of his sojourn in the west he was packing goods into Nevada with fifteen mules that he owned and he also had a gang of Chinamen working in the mines for him. He prospered in his efforts there and in 1854 returned to Connecticut, where he engaged in farming for two years.
It was during this period that Mr. Brown was married to Miss Adeline Portlo of Deerfield, Massachusetts, and in the early spring of 1856 he came to Minnesota, where his wife joined him the following year. In May following his arrival in this state he journeyed to Red Rock with his brother, Hosmer, at which time there was hardly a settler in the vicinity of what is now the village of Brownsdale. Two Norwegians had built little huts of poplar poles, covered with turf and straw and a little later other settlers came. In June, 1856, Mr. Brown and his brother built a steam sawmill and manufactured the lumber used by the settlers in building their homes.
The brothers secured two quarter sections of land, in company with J. L. Johnson, and laid out the town, while in the fall of the year they began building the Brownsdale Hotel, which by reason of lack of labor and material was not completed until the spring of 1857. John L. Johnson became the first proprietor, but was afterward succeeded by Andrew D. Brown, and the building still serves the village for hotel purposes. During the Civil war period Mr. Brown spent two years in the south raising cotton, leasing an abandoned plantation below Vicksburg from the government and hiring a hundred and fifty negroes of the Freedman's Bureau to work in the fields He then returned to Minnesota and in various ways was connected with the business development of Brownsdale and that section of the state. He was identified with milling interests and one time engaged in wheat raising. In 1876 he became one of the incorporators of Brownsdale and was elected its first justice of the peace, while at another period he served as postmaster.
Having lost his first wife, Mr. Brown was married March 3, 1871, to Miss Melissa E. Bacon of Brownsdale. In 1883 he removed to Nebraska, where he secured a large tract of land in Holt county, owning twelve hundred acres there, his family removing to that place in 1884. There they remained until May, 1887, when they returned to Brownsdale, reoccupying their former home. By his first wife Mr. Brown had two daughters, and the children of his second marriage are Winnifred and Hosmer A.
The two daughters of the first marriage are Mrs. C. D. Holbrook of Brownsdale and Mrs. T. E. Doolittle of North Platte, Nebraska. The daughter, Winnifred, is the wife of L. W. Powers, who is in the automobile business in Minneapolis. The family continued to reside at Brownsdale until 1904, when a removal was made to Minneapolis, where Mr. Brown spent his remaining days. His large investments in land brought to him a substantial income and as the years passed he prospered as the result of his business acumen and the upbuilding of the west. His old family residence at Brownsdale is still standing. It was erected in 1858 from lumber cut from the timber which he sawed on his farm. The last years of his life were passed in Minneapolis, where he took up his abode in 1904, his death occurring on the 1st of May, 1911. He had long given his support to the democratic party and he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and a charter member of the Masonic lodge at Austin, Minnesota. His religious faith was that of the Baptist church and he served as one of the trustees of that church at Brownsdale.
There are few life records that contain so much that is picturesque and interesting as does that of Andrew D. Brown. He had an inexhaustible fund of general information gleaned from his own experiences as he traveled to all parts of the world and in Minnesota he passed through all of the phases of pioneer life from the time when Indians still occupied various portions of this state to the present century, living to witness the marvelous development of Minnesota and the great growth of Minneapolis into one of the most populous and beautiful cities of the country. He saw the founding of tiny hamlets which were converted into prosperous villages and cities, witnessed the building of churches and schoolhouses and the utilization of all the natural resources of the state for the benefit of man. He bore a large part in the work of general development and progress as the years passed and came to an honored old age, having passed three points beyond the ninetieth milestone on life's Journey ere he was called to his final home.