The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 23.


Gleaned from Hither and Yon -- and Now and Then -- and Way Back When

By A. J. Bowser
(August 6, 1934)

On the evening of July 26, Siftings made a little journey to the home of one of Valparaiso's best beloved matrons, Mrs. Henry Baker Brown. That evening was a memorable one to all who participated in the visit. We were graciously received by Mrs. Brown and her family. Seated in the spacious drawing room of the old Brown mansion, we enjoyed the telling of the highlights in the life of this now venerable lady. This home is historic in the life of Valparaiso. Its first occupant was Congressman William H. Calkins, one of the three congressmen from Porter county to represent it in the halls of congress. The other congressmen were Mark L. DeMotte and Edgar D. Crumpacker. The grounds are spacious, covering a whole block, landscaped by an artist and kept up in park-like manner by competent people.

Our subject was the wife and helpmate of Henry Baker Brown, the founder of the Northern Indiana Normal school, rightly called under his rule, the "Poor Boys' Harvard." This man was outstanding in thought and action. Of him Siftings will have more to say some time. It was the job of this wife of his to make for him a home. It was her job to bring into the world and raise for him his children. It was her job to entertain his guests in a manner fitting to his station in life. It was her job to keep the home fires burning brightly, and when he came to that home, tired and weary, to comfort him, to sooth his fevered brow, to let the light of love shine strong enough to dissolve the mists and weariness that beset him. And she did her job well.

She not only had to bear her own sorrows, but she also had to help bear his as well. When the cruel hand of death entered that home and took from it the first born, it was the mother who had to conceal her tears and help dry those of the brothers and sister. Difficult as was her position, she filled it nobly. Today, surrounded by her surviving loved ones, she lived in the past. Siftings is pleased to present to its readers the story she told us on that memorable night. It is her last public greeting to her world, and all probability. Her health is not of the best, and girl scout that he is, she still carried on, hiding the pain that is always with her. Her smile is one that grips your heart, and makes you want to call her "Mother Mine." Here is the story she told Siftings:

"I was born the daughter of Elias Axe and Phoebe White, early settlers of this county, in the town of Valparaiso, Ind. Our home was located on Franklin street, near the Methodist church. From the time of my birth that was my home until I became the wife of Henry Baker Brown.

My first memories are those of a little girl playing with her dolls. My first school was in a little building at the side of the Methodist church which stood on the same location that the present Methodist church now stands. From that school I went to the high school.

My teachers were Professors Wilcox and McFetrich. Miss Rock was also a teacher in this school. When fifteen years of age, I started in as a student in the Northern Indiana Normal school under Professor H. B. Brown. There I remained as a student until my marriage to Mr. Brown, which occurred on Feb. 10, 1880. It was my lot to teach German for a period of one year. Scarcity of teacher necessitated my doing this.

Among the great events of my life, the first outstanding one was our marriage. The second one was the birth of our daughter, Helen. Our union was blessed with four children. They were Helen, Henry Kinsey, Ruth Axe and Bruce Axe. Helen, out oldest daughter, departed this life September 24, 1921. She died as Helen Axe Brown Stephens. Her loss was one of the outstanding sorrows of my life. I feel as one upon whom the blessings of God has been bountifully showered. I was blessed with a husband whose name and fame was spread throughout our land, who was a loving husband, a kind father, a true Christian and a good citizen.

I am now in the evening of my life. It is twilight now for me. My wealth consists principally in the friendships I have made. In our home during the years that are gone have come many people -- not only the great but the near-great. I might mention the names of a few of them: William Jennings Bryan and wife; Richard Pearson Hobson; William Howard Taft; Eamon de Valera, the Irish Patriot, and now President of Ireland; A. E. Winship, a noted educator from the East; J. Frank Hanly, the one-time governor of Indiana; Sam S. McClure, the magazine publisher; Champ Clark, congressman from Missouri and Speaker of the House for a long time; Governor Eberhart from Minnesota, Thom Marshall, governor of Indiana and vice-president of the United States and many others.

It was my job during my married life to take charge of the entertainment of the distinguished visitors who came to call upon my husband. Because of my husband's work and his prominence in the educational world made it necessary that the doors of our home should always be open with the welcoming sign prominently displayed.

There was much happiness in our home but it was not proof against the sorrows of the world. Death forced entrance into our home and took away two loved ones -- my husband and my oldest daughter. Tonight I am living in the old home, surrounded by my surviving loved ones. I have much to be thankful for and I offer up real thans to the Good God who made my life's path along a favored highway.

One of the great comforts of my life was my membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. The members of the William Henry Harrison Chapter were all my very dear friends. As I look back I recall some of them. There was Mrs. Edgar D. Crumpacker, and there was Mrs. Frank Chester and there was Mrs. Elizabeth Bowser; Miss Margaret Cameron Beer; Mrs. William Morehouse; Mrs. H. G. Arnold; Miss Etta Mullins; Lilly Ball; Mary R. Mitchell Beer; Mary Thomas Collins; Daisy Dickover Mitzner; Jessie Smith Letherman; Nellie Mullins Loomis; Pearl Estella Miller; Finnette Morrison Pinney, Mrs. John Elam, and others whom I now do not recall.

I have also taken great comfort from my membership in the Christian church. My father was one of the founders of that church in this city. My membership in the society of the King's Daughters dates back many years. Its members are all my very dear friends.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all of my dear friends, not only in Valparaiso, but in Porter county and the world at large. I am not bidding you goodbye -- I am only saying "God Bless You" and au revoir.

During her lifetime Mrs. Brown wrote a number of very beautiful poems. Among them is one that seems to be the favorite of children. It is entitled, "The Breath of a Rose." It goes as follows:

The Breath of a Rose

As the breath of a rose
In a fold hides away
Its fragrance so rare
From the light of the day,

So in my heart, mid it's
Treasure held fast,
There's a vision of you dear,
A dream that will last.

A vision so fair
And a dream dear so true,
Seems all through the years
I'm just living for you.

O, I'm dreaming
Yes, dreaming, my sweetheart
of you.

Your life and your love -- dear
Were always so true
And when earth with its shadow
Fades away from my view

Then in Heaven I'll find you
And my Dream will come true.


This poem was written by Mrs. Brown shortly after the departure of her dear husband, which occurred Sept. 16, 1917.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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