Brownville School was one of the earliest in the northwest part of the county, the home school of the older generation of children in many of the pioneer families. John Brown lived east of Hurricane creek from the present site of Dewmaine, a farm he bought in 1852. The next winter he and his neighbors cleared a half-acre lot in Jordan’s woods, section 25 of Blairsville Township. A schoolhouse was built of the logs there on the ground, and many of the children from Herrin’s prairie joined Captain Brown’s eight daughters and two sons for their schooldays.
In 1875 a better building was put up on a lot west of the road past the old school. The second Brownville School stood in section 26 of Blairsville Township and was used until 1915 when Sunnyside School became its successor.
John Herrin, son of one of the founders of the city, taught Brownville School one term. Closing day fell on his twenty-first birthday, March 19, 1891. The traditional program was devoted to Negro recitations and dialogues, a new fashion for the neighborhood that had taken the fancy of the older boys among the students. Another teacher at Brownville was Rad Burnett, who went to work at the Illinois Central station in Herrin as soon as his term was finished in 1898.
John Brown (1826-1900) was born in Union county, eldest son of a Baptist preacher. Rev. Jeremiah Brown. The son enlisted under Colonel William H. Bissell for the Mexican war, and took part in the battle of Buena Vista. On his return, the soldier married a neighbor’s daughter, Miss Martha J. Wilkens and they joined Mr. Brown’s brother at Bainbridge where the men operated a tanning yard. Both families bought farms, the John Brown homestead in section 35 of Blairsville Township. Mr. Brown was elected an associate justice of the county court in 1858 and served until the 128th Illinois infantry was organized, when he was elected Captain of Company A. The regiment was disbanded April 1, 1863 after an epidemic of measles caused the loss of half its personnel.
The Brown family members were active members at Hurricane Church where Captain Brown was clerk until he and Mrs. Brown moved to Creal Springs. Their third daughter was principal of Creal Springs seminary, of which Captain Brown was an incorporator and active supporter. The other daughters became the wives of Ephraim Snyder Herrin, John D. Herrin, Isaac Hammer, Thomas Stotlar, Albert K. Elles, and E.T. Steele. The death of the eldest, Fatimma Brown Herrin (1848-1938), was marked by closing all business in Herrin, as respect for the city’s oldest citizen.
Both Captain Brown’s sons became doctors, Curtis Brown a leader in developing the resort at Creal Springs. Dr. Lum Brown was still engaged in active practice at Herrin in 1939.
(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)