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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Martin Brownfield

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


MARTIN BROWNFIELD, who is pleasantly located on a good farm in Somer Township, is a native of this county, and born Dec. 21, 1849. His father, Robert BROWNFIELD, was a native of Harrison County, Ky., born april 29, 1818. The latter removed with his father’s family from his native State to Illinois in 1832, making the journey overland in wagons, cooking and camping by the wayside. He was then a lad about fifteen years old. He grew to manhood in Champaign County and here married Miss Nancy CLEMENTS. They became the parents of nine children, six of whom are now living, five daughters and one son: Mary Ann became the wife of J. D. CORRAY, and is a resident of Perry, Dallas Co., Iowa; Eliza first married Isam BIGGS who, during the late war, enlisted in the 76th Illinois Infantry and was discharged in July, 1864, on account of sickness. He died about two months before his regiment was mustered out, and was buried by his comrades with military honors in Somer Cemetery. Mrs. Biggs was then married to Richard MCCORMICK, and they reside on a farm in Stanton Township, this county. Mr. McCormick also served as a soldier in the Union army. He enlisted in the 25th Illinois Infantry as a private, and was promoted First Lieutenant for bravery on the field of battle. At the expiration of his three years’ service, he verteranized and remained in the ranks until the close of the war. Armilda first became the wife of James MCGILL, and after his death married Amos DALE; she is now living on section 26, Somer Township. Lucretia Jane became the wife of Marion TAYLOR, and is living with her husband on the old homestead; Vio, Mrs. EPPERSON, is a resident of Urbana Township; Martin is our subject.

The mother of these children was a native of Kentucky, born Sept. 22, 1821. Her parents emigrated to Indiana at an early day and from there to Somer Township, this county, where she was married and still resides with her daughter, Lucretia, on the old homestead. She is now sixty-six years of age and a lady highly respected by all who know her. Robert BROWNFIELD departed this life July 15, 1878. He had received but limited educational advantages in his youth, but was a man of sound judgment, more than ordinary intelligence, and was popular in his community. He was appointed administrator of several estates and the guardian of minor heirs. He was the owner of a fine farm of 250 acres, which he left to his widow during her lifetime, and which is afterward to be divided up in equal shares among his children. He also was a member of Mt. Zion Christian Church, to the support of which he contributed liberally and cheerfully, and was noted for his hospitality and as being the friend of the needy and distressed. No one went away hungry from his door, and many a stranger remembers the kindly words with which he greeted them while passing through the prairie country.

Martin Brownfield was born and grew to manhood on the land which his grandfather entered when first arriving in this State. This was located on sections 34 and 35, in Somer Township, and had never been turned by the plowshare when James BROWNFIELD took possession of it. The family lived in their wagon during the erection of their log cabin, which was roofed with shaved clapboards and floored with puncheon. The window panes were brought from Kentucky. The first crop was raised on land cleared from the wilderness. Upon the homestead thus established the grandfather spent the remainder of his life, dying in about 1835.

Martin Brownfield remained under the home roof until he reached years of manhood, and was then united in marriage with Miss Nancy Jane TAYLOR, Aug. 13, 1871. The young people lived on the old homestead the first year, and then removed to section 25, which was entered by Robert Brownfield, the father of our subject, and which has continued to be the residence of Martin Brownfield to this date. Mr. and Mrs. B. became the parents of nine children, namely, Nancy Rozella; Mary Cornelia, who died in her fifth year; Robert William, Charles Edward; Viola Cordelia, who died when fourteen days old; Sarah Rebecca, Orelia Lucretia, Marion Martin and Paul Riley.

The homestead of our subject consists of eighty acres of good land, upon which is a substantial and convenient set of frame buildings, and ample conveniences for the storing of grain and the shelter of stock. Mr. B. is greatly respected in his community, is a Democrat in politics, and Deacon of Mt. Zion Christian Church. He officiates as minister of this church, receiving his license from the Central Illinois Christian Conference. He has been School Director in this township two years. His early education was conducted in the common schools and he afterward attended the Seminary at Urbana for a brief season, being obliged to abandon his studies on account of ill-health.

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