John F. Brown


Gov. John F. Brown. The little village community of Sasakwa in Seminole County is largely interesting because of the fact that it is the home and the village was founded by Gov. John F. Brown, who for thirty years or more has been the principal chief or governor of the Seminole Nation.
Governor Brown is now past seventy years of age. He was a first lieutenant in the Indian Territory contingent of the Confederate army during the Civil war. His mother was a fullblood Seminole Indian woman, and he has given the greater part of his life to the interests and welfare of his own people. Repeatedly during the past half century he has visited Washington either alone or as member of delegations to present the causes of the Seminoles before the president and before the different departments of the national government, and he has stood valiantly for the right, for justice, and for the preservation of all the wholesome attributes of the Indian character.
He has not only been a civil leader among his people, but has been a pastor or shepherd of his flock, and has kept the Seminoles true to religion and has officiated as leader of the Indian church for many years. In a business way he has been a merchant and farmer, and it can truly be said that he has worked for the benefit of others rather than for his selfish interests.
He was born near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, October 23, 1843, a son of John F. and Lucy (Graybeard) Brown. His father was a white man and was distinguished in the early days of Indian Territory. He was born at Charleston, South Carolina, was liberally educated for the profession of physician, and graduated in medicine from the University of Edinburg, Scotland. On returning to America he took up practice, and soon became an army surgeon. He served in that capacity with General Jessup in the Seminole war in Florida. It was about 1838 that he came west to Indian Territory and located at Fort Gibson as a contract physician to the Government for the troops at different times. He married in Indian Territory and spent the rest of his days there as a practicing physician to his adopted people. He died about 1868 at the age of sixty-eight. The mother died about 1865 when fifty-five years of age. Of their four sons and four daughters three are now living: Governor Brown; Andrew Jackson of Wewoka; and Stanton, who lives near Holdenville.
Governor Brown has spent all his life in Indian Territory, and gained his education in Indian schools at Tahlequah, Park Hill and Wright’s Chapel. When still young the family moved into the Creek Nation in the vicinity of where the City of Muskogee now stands at the beginning of the war. In 1862 he joined the army and for a year was a member of a light horse cavalry. For a time he was under the command of Col. D. N. McIntosh, and then was attached to the brigade commanded by General Stand Watie, the famous Cherokee military leader. This brigade consisted of two Creek regiments, one Seminole regiment and three Cherokee regiments. Ever since the war Governor Brown has been closely identified with the Seminole people. He has served as superintendent of schools, and as principal chief, and with the exception of one year has held the position of principal chief or governor for thirty years. This official position caused him to go to Washington frequently as a delegate, and during the past half century he has met many of the presidents of the United States, and was in Washington when President Wilson was inaugurated.
Governor Brown succeeded Col. John Jumper as Principal Chief and also as pastor of the Spring Baptist Church of the Seminole Nation. This church is the oldest Baptist institution and is situated about a mile and a quarter west of Sasakwa, a town which Governor Brown founded. He has been in the mercantile business for the past forty-five years, and still has a store at Wewoka and also one at Sasakwa. His own home is on a fine farm two miles west of the town, where he has 140 acres. On this farm and on a commanding elevation from which a fine view of the surrounding country can be obtained he built in 1890 a very commodious and comfortable fourteen-room house, where he and some of his children now reside.
Governor Brown is remarkable for his splendid constitution and rugged health, and he has enjoyed the best of health all his life. After the war he married Elizabeth Jumper, a daughter of Col. John Jumper, and all of their four children, two sons and two daughters, are deceased. In September, 1875, he married Elizabeth Alexander. Of that union there are now living two sons and two daughters named: Mrs. Alice J. Fleet; Mrs. Josie Hargo; and A. J. Brown, Jr., all of whom reside at Sasakwa, and Lewis C., lives with his father and is manager of the store at Sasakwa. By still another marriage Governor Brown has a daughter, Mrs. Henrietta Howell, who lives at Konawa. His present wife before her marriage was Sarah Cullie, and their four children, all of them at home, are named Ruth, Martha, Solomon and James.