Biography of Jonas W. Brown

Jonas W. Brown, of Boise, is an honored pioneer both of California and of Idaho. He crossed the plains with ox teams to Shasta county, California, in 1853, and since that time his life record has been inseparably interwoven with the history of this section of the country. At all times he has been the advocate of those measures tending to-ward the advancement and development of the region, and his influence is that of an honorable, upright man, whose force of character stamps itself indelibly for good upon the public life.

This work would be incomplete without mention of Jonas W. Brown, and it is therefore with pleasure that we present his sketch to our readers. A native of Ohio, he was born in Roscoe, Coshocton County, on the 27th of June, 1825, and is descended from New England ancestry. His father, Samuel Brown, was a resident of North Danvers, Massachusetts. His mother, Mrs. Lydia (Warren) Brown, was a relative of General Warren, who won fame at the battle of Bunker Hill. They were members of the Methodist church and were people of much worth. The father was a farmer and also engaged in the manufacture of brick. He departed this life in 1871, at the age of eighty-four years, and his wife was called to her final rest in her fifty-sixth year. They had a family of ten children, of whom two are now living.

Upon the homestead farm, in Ohio, Jonas W. Brown spent his boyhood days and early became familiar with the various duties and labors which fall to the lot of the agriculturist. He obtained his education in the common schools of Ohio, and when seventeen years of age started westward. He first located in Iowa, where he found employment in a flouring mill, there remaining until 1853, when he joined a party en route for the gold fields of California. He drove an ox team in order to pay his passage, and also gave the leader of the party fifty dollars in money. The journey across the wild, unpeopled plains was a long, tedious and often perilous one. On arriving at Honey Lake valley, one of the oxen was stolen by the Indians, and when James Macklay, the owner, started in pursuit ne was hit by an arrow, the wound causing his death. The company carried his remains for ten days and buried him at their destination in what is now the old town of Shasta.

After arriving in California Mr. Brown worked at the carpenter’s trade and also engaged in mining at Deadwood, that state. In 1855 he was elected county clerk of Siskiyou county, California, served in that position for two years, and afterward was deputy clerk for two years. He was then deputy sheriff under Dr. F. C. Horsley, and in 1862 he removed to Florence, Washington, where he held the positions of clerk of the district court, clerk of the probate court, deputy county auditor, recorder, deputy sheriff and deputy treasurer of Idaho, all at the same time. In August 1863, he took up his residence in Idaho City, Idaho, where he successfully practiced law for nineteen years. He is still engaged in active practice in partnership with Hon. Thomas Cahalan, also one of the pioneers and a very able lawyer. They have a large clientage and their business is of an important character. During the greater part of the time since coming to Idaho, Mr. Brown has been a notary public and United States commissioner for the district of Idaho. In 1882 he came to Boise, and has since been numbered as one of its leading and influential citizens.

For half a century Mr. Brown has been an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity and is a leading representative of the society in Idaho. He was made a Master Mason in Eagle Lodge. No. 12, F. & A. M, of Keokuk. Iowa, in 1840, under dispensation, receiving all three of the blue-lodge degrees on the same day and night. He has also taken the Royal Arch and Knight Templar degrees, is past worshipful master, past high priest and past grand master of the grand lodge of this state, having served in the last named exalted position in 1869 and again in 1871. He has served the grand lodge as grand secretary, and in his home lodge at Boise has been secretary for twelve years. He is true and faithful to the benevolent and fraternal teachings of the order and is held in the highest esteem by his Masonic brethren throughout the state.

He has likewise been prominent in church work through a long period. When only thirteen years of age he was converted and joined the Methodist church, and at eighteen years of age was made an officer in the church. Since that time he has been most active and zealous in religious work and by his faithfulness and labor has done much to advance the cause of Christianity. He has twice served the church as a lay delegate to the general conference. In politics he has been a lifelong Republican, but now strongly favors bimetallism. He has studied the question closely and thoroughly and is now firm-ly fixed in his opinion. He belongs to the Pioneer Society of the state, has served as its president and is one of Idaho’s best known and highly esteemed citizens.

Thus many honors have come to him in life and prosperity has attended his efforts in a considerable degree, yet his career has also been checkered by adversity and sorrow. He has been twice married and has lost by death both wives, and now has only one surviving son, James Edgar, who is a farmer residing near Prather, Indiana. Mr. Brown has now passed the seventy-third milestone on the journey of life, and for forty-five years has been identified with the interests of the far west. At all times he has endeavored to promote the best interests of this section of the country, has seen the greater part of its growth and development. and high on the roll of the honored men of Idaho is found the name of this worthy pioneer.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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