Henry B. Brown, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Henry B. Brown

HENRY B. BROWN. Many years, it is hoped, will elapse before anything like a complete account and analysis of the life and work of the president of Valparaiso University can be attempted. The careers of few American educators have been more remarkable than that of this citizen of the little city of Valparaiso, where during forty years he has worked in an educational institution which for scope and influence now has no parallel in this or any other country. That it required character, personality and executive ability of the highest type, no one would doubt who is at all familial with the splendid organization of schools which are now conducted under the name of Valparaiso University.

The achievements which count for most in the progress of the world almost invariably originate in some master mind. The plan and the inception of the work progress under the direction of this master mind, and for a time the man is greater than his deeds. But it is the nature of human accomplishment that in time the structure reared aloft upon such foundations stands independently conspicuous in the eyes of the world and outlasts the builder. So it is with Valparaiso University. Mr. Brown has worked on such a broad scale that the institution has now become greater in the admiration of the world than the quietly efficient character that made it all possible. This submersion of the personality beneath the permanent work has characterized every notable and lasting achievement in human history, and consciously or not every originator and builder works to the end that the institution to which he devotes his life may have greater endurance and power than his own mortal self. The Valparaiso University now ranks among the world's important educational centers, and its founder, with the true humility of great men, is content that its promise of the future is not limited by the prospect of his own years.

Henry B. Brown was born at Mt. Vernon, Knox county, Ohio, October 6, 1847, a son of Thomas and Rachel (Mills) Brown. He received his education in his native state, and prepared for a career as teacher at the National Normal University, Lebanon, Ohio, where he was graduated. He holds the college degree of Master of Arts. At the age of twenty-six, after several years of teaching and with a few hundred dollars which he had saved from his salary, he came to Valparaiso and negotiated for the purchase of the building formerly used as a denominational academy. In this Old College Building, as it is now distinguished in the imposing group of modern university structures on College Hill, was begun on the 16th of September, 1873, the first session of Valparaiso University. It then had three departments, four instructors, and thirty-five students. From that day to this Mr. Brown has been president of the school, and has given his undivided attention to the building up of a world university. The complete history of the institution is told on other pages, and therein will be found the account of the real life history of Mr. Brown, and this brief sketch will conclude with a few facts about his family and his various affiliations.

He was married on February 16, 1886, to Miss Neva Axe, daughter of Elias and Phoebe (White) Axe. Mrs. Brown is a woman of broad education, having taken the degree of Bachelor of Science, and has been a valuable coadjutor and advisor in the great work undertaken by her husband. They are the parents of four children: Helen, Henry Kinsey, Ruth and Bruce. All four have been thoroughly educated and are now assistants of their father in the work of the university. Mr. Brown is connected practically with every great educational organization ill the United States, and is an active worker in the same. He is a Democrat in politics, is a thirty-third degree Mason and a member of the Knights of Pythias, and he and his family belong to the Christian church. The family home is at 353 Jefferson street, Valparaiso.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 374-375

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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