Placer County








††††††††††† James F. Brown, the leading merchant of Colfax, Placer County, California, has been a resident of this state for fifty years.During all this time he has figured as a businessman in various California towns, has had misfortunes and reverses, but has met and overcome them, and today, as the result of his own push and enterprise, he is at the head of a prosperous business.

††††††††††† Mr. Brown is a native of Maine.His ancestors were among the early settlers of New England and the family was represented in the war for Independence.Originally they were English and Scotch.Grandfather Benjamin Brown was a native of Vassalboro, Maine, and his wife was before marriage a Miss McClellan.Their son Nathaniel, also a native of Vassalboro, was born in August, 1781.He married Miss Charlotte Getchel, a native of his own town, and they became the parents of eight children, only one of whom, James F., the subject of this sketch, survives.

††††††††††† James F. Brown passed the first sixteen years of his life on his fatherís farm in Maine and received his early education in the public schools.The greater part of his education, however, has been obtained in the broad school of experience, for at the age of sixteen he started out to make his own way in the world.The first money he made was as a schoolteacher, at a salary of thirteen dollars and fifty cents per month.Afterward he worked in his brotherís store, and was thus occupied until he came to California in 1851.His western trip was made via the Isthmus route, the Pacific voyage in the ship Northern, commanded by Captain Randall, which landed at San Francisco July 7th.

††††††††††† Upon his arrival in California, he went to Sacramento to join his brother, A. D. Brown, who had come to the Pacific coast in 1849 and was then engaged in jobbing goods.James F. at once took a stock of goods to Bearís Bar, and sold goods there and at Elizabethtown and Johnstown, in El Dorado County, up to 1858, being very successful in his business.In 1856 he met his first loss by fire and was left without a dollar.His next business venture was at Wisconsin Hill, Placer County, where in 1859 he was again burned out.He at once rebuilt and ran a store there and also one at Monona Flat, conducting both successfully.In 1864 his Monona Flat store was swept away by fire, resulting in total loss to him.He had previously disposed of the store at Wisconsin Hill, and after the fire just referred to he returned to that place and sold goods in his former store until 1868.That year he removed to Iowa Hill, where he established himself in business and had a flourishing trade.At this place also he was the victim of fire, being burned out in 1870.

††††††††††† Again, however, he rebuilt, and continued to do a successful business there until 1897, when he sold out and came to Colfax.Here for two years he was in partnership with Henry Disque, at the end of that time purchasing his partnerís interest, and since then doing business under his own name.His present store, located in a brick building 28 x 100 feet, is filled with all kinds of general merchandise, and he also handles farm implements and hay and grain, having two large warehouses filled with the latter class of goods.

††††††††††† Mr. Brown was married in 1862 to Miss Lizzy Thompson, a native of England, and their happy union has been blessed with five children, as follows:Alice Augusta, now Mrs. W. O. Spencer; Russel Warren, in the store with his father; J. Frank, an attorney of Sacramento; Nellie G., attending school in San Francisco; and Benjamin, in the store with his father.

††††††††††† For a period of twenty-five years Mr. Brown has been identified with the I. O. O. F., in which he has always taken a deep interest, and in which he has passed all the chairs.He is also a member of the Chosen Friends and politically is a staunch Republican.




Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: ďA Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern CaliforniaĒ, Pages 519-520. Chicago Standard GenealogicalPublishing Co. 1901.

© 2010Gerald Iaquinta.




Placer County Biographies

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