William M. Brown was born in the year 1839, and is a son of Sylvester and Catherine (Altenburg) Brown, natives of the state of New York, the former born Jan. 8, 1805, and the latter March 9, 1809, and of Holland descent. His parents first came to La Salle County, Ill., in 1845, and after spending a year in Fall River Township they moved to Ottawa Township, this county, renting a farm for a year. In 1847 his father bought 180 acres of land, which is now the home of our subject. After living on this farm until 1864, he went West to Idaho and Montana Territories, remaining there three years, most of this time being in a store, although he mined a little. He returned to his farm in 1868, where he has since remained. His parents have lived in Ottawa since 1869. They had a family of three sons and four daughters, William M. being the fifth child. He was married May 10, 1870, to Kate Hess, born July 1, 1839, in Rockingham County, Va., and daughter of Levi and Dorothy (Trumbo) Hess. Her parents were also natives of Rockingham County, Va., the father born July 9, 1813, and the mother born Dec. 21, 1815, and were the parents of eleven children, three sons and eight daughters, Mrs. Brown being the eldest. Her family came to this country in 1852, remaining here till 1864. Her father died Oct. 30, 1883, aged seventy years. Her mother is living with her son Charles, in Kingman County, Kan. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have three sons, all of whom were born on the homestead – Lester B., born Oct. 9, 1871; Wells H., March 26, 1874, and Frank M., May 24, 1878. Mr. Brown has served as Collector three years, and as Highway Commissioner five years, and has served many years as School Director. In politics he is a Democrat. He belongs to the Universalist church, but his wife was reared a Baptist. He is a Master Mason.1
- History of La Salle County, Illinois, 2 vols. (Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co.,1886), 2: 88.