Get to Know Your Mayors: Huntington Brown

Huntington Brown was born in Trumbull County, Ohio on December 30, 1849, to James Monroe and Mary (Hicks) Brown.  His grandfather was the Hon. Ephraim Brown, who, along with Thomas Howe, was the original owner of Bloomfield Township, Trumbull County, Ohio.  Ephraim Brown built the first saw-mill in that vicinity in 1815 and the first flour-mill in 1823.  In addition to this, he assisted in the founding of the town library and worked in the Ohio legislature to secure a good common-school system.  This hard work was passed down to Huntington and his other grandchildren, all of whom made their way to Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio in the 1860s and 1870s.

Bloomfield1856

Bloomfield Township, Trumbull County, Ohio 1856

James and Mary’s first child, Ephraim, was born on April 1, 1845, and died in infancy at the age of 1 Month, 8 days.  Their next child, James Ephraim, born on March 21, 1846, arrived in Mansfield around 1878 after gaining employment at the Aultman-Taylor Company as the assistant to M. D. Harter, his sister’s husband.  The eldest sister, Mary Lucinda, was born on December 21, 1847, and would go on to marry the Hon. M. D. Harter on March 4, 1869.  That same year, the couple would move to Mansfield, Ohio where Harter had secured a position managing the Aultman-Taylor Company.  Huntington’s twin brother, Hicks, would arrive in Mansfield, Ohio around 1875.  Hicks would go into business with John Staub opening a flour-mill.  In a short time, the partnership was dissolved and the Hicks Brown Company was created.  Hicks was a senior partner in the company until his untimely death of typhoid fever on December 17, 1884.  One other sister, Annie, born on August 18, 1856, died at the age of 8.

BROWN_Huntington - Centennial Bio

The Brown family moved to Massillon, Ohio when Huntington was young and it was there that he attended public school.  He would later go on to attend Nazareth Hall, a Moravian academy in Pennsylvania.  It’s believed Huntington arrived in Mansfield, Ohio around the same time as his sister, Mary, in 1869, shortly after his father’s death in 1867.  The first time he is mentioned in local Mansfield newspapers is on October 22, 1873, where it was reported he went to Fulton County on a hunting trip with J. C. Burns, V. Gutzwiler, Jr., Richard Smith, and Prosecuting Attorney McCrory.  He first showed up in city directories in 1873, living at 236 West Market St.  Huntington, like his brother James, was employed at the Aultman-Taylor Company andm by 1879m was superintendent of the company.  He stayed there until around 1888 when he became one of the owners and the manager of the Hicks Brown company.

hicks brown

It was during this time, in 1887, that Huntington Brown became involved with the Mansfield Electric Street Railway, helping to erect the first electric streetcar line in the city.  He would become Vice President of the company.  It was around 1895 that Huntington Brown retired from active management of business, but he still maintained a presence on many boards and committees, including the Mansfield Savings Bank.  Brown was very popular and very well-liked in the city, a member of numerous lodges including the Freemasons.  In 1899 he was elected Mayor of Mansfield running as a republican against democrat J. P. Henry.  Brown was one of two republicans elected that year in the normally democratic city, speaking to his reputation and ability to speak to both parties.

dowie1898

Shortly after his election to office, Mansfield was thrown into chaos.  In August of 1899, a traveling apostle and faith healer by the name of Cyrus Fockler was arrested after Dr. Boles said he interfered with his care of the two-year-old child of Frank D. Calver.  The Calvers were members of John Alexander Dowie’s Christian Catholic Church of Zion, which believed that all that was needed to cure the sick was prayer and faith in God.  Things got worse in July of 1900 when a six-week-old child who was “being treated with prayer” died.  The resulting riots quickly threw Mansfield and Mayor Brown into the national spotlight.  Fockler was run out of town, barely escaping with his life.  Two other church elders were painted blue from head to toe and two more were later tarred.  Dowie said Brown and Ohio Governor Nash were doing nothing to protect his church elders and suggested the national guard be sent to “Devils” field, as he called it,  to do the job local officials refused to do.  It became a weekly parade of Dowieites being escorted through the town to the train depot by police and Mayor Brown with mobs of hundreds and at times thousands of citizens throwing stones and spoiled produce.  For a full account of the riots check out Robert Carter’s book The Mansfield Riots of 1900.

brown leaves of healing

In 1901, Mayor Brown lost reelection to democrat Thomas R. Robinson but regained the office in 1903 by beating former mayor Robert McCrory by 119 votes.  Robinson would go on to later become Prosecuting Attorney.  In 1905, Brown again lost reelection to William F. Voegele, Jr.  Brown was again chosen by republicans to run in 1907, this time defeating Voegele by 131 votes.  Brown again defeated Voegele in 1909, this time by 151 votes.  Huntington Brown lost the republican primary in 1911 to S. F. Bell.  Bell would go on to lose the election to William E. O’Donnell by only 46 votes.

After his retirement from politics, Huntington Brown’s health began to decline.  He made trips to health springs and Europe in order to ease his suffering and at times his spirits appeared to improve.  On January 20, 1914, while returning from a business trip in Philadelphia, PA, he fell suddenly ill.  He was taken to the home of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Carrie Brown, in Massillon, Ohio.  Brown lapsed into unconsciousness and died on February 8, 1914.  Huntington Brown never married and in his 40 plus years in Mansfield, lived in hotels or lodged in others’ homes.  The 1900 and 1910 census shows him lodging with Melissa A. Barbour, the mother-in-law of John C. Burns, who was one of his companions on his 1873 hunting trip.  Brown’s body was brought to Mansfield so citizens could pay their respects, then returned to Massillon to be buried in Massillon City Cemetery.

One thought on “Get to Know Your Mayors: Huntington Brown

  1. Pingback: L. J. Bonar: The Sage of Mansfield | The Sherman Room at MRCPL

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