Will and Mae Brown of Cherry Valley

Will and Mae Brown
Will and Mae Brown

Will Brown was born November 11, 1885, in Mendota, Illinois. His father, Thomas Brown, was born November 8, 1858, in Aurora, Illinois. His parents were of Irish descent. Will’s mother was born in England October 20, 1862, and she came to this country when she was about 10 years old. Will had five brothers and a sister who died just before she turned four.

Mae Lang Brown was born August 18, 1885, on a farm near Malta, Illinois. Her father, William Lang, was born November 28, 1851, in England. The mother of Mae was also from England. Her name was Mary Clara Lang. She was born October 3, 1861. There was no need to change her name as her maiden name and married name were the same. Mae’s parents’ farm was the site of the 1975 Farm Progress Show held in Malta, Illinois. Mae had a brother and two sisters. One sister is Verna Green of Highland Park, Illinois.

Will and Mae were married December 23, 1908, in Mae’s home near Malta. They had one daughter, Bessie, who was born November 20, 1910.

During his lifetime, Will owned three farms, the third one being just east of Cherry Valley in Flora Township. The family lived there until 1927 when they moved to what is now the Coppernoll home in Cherry Valley. Seventeen years later they moved to their present home on North Van Buren.

Will remembers coming to Cherry Valley in 1919 at the time the brick was being laid on the main street. He parked his car on a side street near their present home and walked up to Bill Oberg’s for a cup of coffee. At that time there were three grocery stores in the Valley. They were owned by Jordans, Culvers, and Andersons. Anderson also had a dry goods store. Ray Lee had the hardware store. The fire station now stands where the Dog Park was. Next came the building which is now occupied by the Post Office and the Legion Hall. Bill and Kathryn Oberg ran the confectionery store. The Post Office was a small wooden building on the corner of Cherry and State where Shirley Teske now has her beauty shop. Lydia Kittle was Postmistress at that time. Behind the Post Office was a restaurant run by “Dad” Dunham, grandfather of Helen Parmalee Baumgarten. The creamery was torn down shortly after the Browns came to Cherry Valley.

They did have electricity and telephone service when they settled here. Mae says, though, that there were about nine on the telephone line, and it was hard to put a call through. When on the farm, the farmers’ line ran past their place. Once will had a very sick horse. It took several hours to place a call to the vet. By the time the vet came, the horse was dead.

Will used to go on night calls for the fire department. He recalls one night when there was a call to the Taylor home (between Fishers’ and Eversons’). It seemed as though the fire was just in a partition, and it was easily put out. The Taylors then went back to Doubeks to finish a card game which had been in progress when the alarm was sounded. Evidently, the fire had not been put out, because when the Taylors returned after midnight, the fire was raging, and this time the house burned down.

Mae and Will, the oldest married couple in the Valley, have always loved children in the neighborhood. They know many of them by name. They enjoy special service from the paper boys who see to it that the paper is properly placed. Will fondly remembers the time Kim Anderson was stuck to his fence on her blouse. She was too young to say much, but she called out, “Brown, Brown,” and will quickly came to her rescue.

They have enjoyed living in Cherry Valley and Will says, “It has been a nice little town.” He can never remember having a thing taken from his house or his yard until after the new police force was hired. Soon after that, he noticed that a 50 foot coil of garden hose was missing. It wasn’t long, though, until it had been found. It seems as though it was just misplaced – not stolen. One thing was actually stolen, though, and that was a loaf of bread put out to cool. The culprit, Buffy Anderson, the dog next door, was quickly apprehended. Will remembers hearing Dorothy Jamison Fish’s husband comment that, “You won’t find as nice and neat a place as Cherry Valley between here and Florida.”

Will worked for 33 years at Atwoods and Cases. He was a pieceworker at both places. It seems like only yesterday when Will retired at the age of 73. He has enjoyed working in his beautiful garden ever since coming here, and to many it is the most beautiful lot in Cherry Valley. What an array of flowers:

Their daughter Bessie later became Mrs. 0. Fletcher Landquist, and they are parents of three children. Carol, now Mrs. Robert Board, was born in 1941. She lives in Leon, Iowa. The Boards have two boys ages three and nine. Joan is the wife of Dr. Kirkpatrick of Denver. Joan was born in 1944. They have a daughter Chris, age three, and a son Scott who is five. Jim Landquist was born in 1946. He and his wife Sig live in Novi, Michigan.

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