First Public Library-San Jose, 1854

 Bio-Pen Pictures

            Joseph E. Brown, of the firm of J. E. Brown & Son, has been connected with the real-estate business in Santa Clara County since 1862.  He was born on his father’s farm in Steuben, Oneida County, New York, April 25, 1825.  He attended school in Utica until eleven years of age, when his father removed to Centreville, St. Joseph County, Michigan.  Here he worked on his father’s farm, attended the local schools, and later spent two years at school in Kalamazoo.  In 1846 he removed to New York State, where he remained two years engaged in the carriage-making business, and while there married Miss Diana Sevey, a native of Genesee County, New York.  In 1848 he returned to Michigan with his wife, and there engaged in the manufacture of carriages, making the first top buggy in St. Joseph County.  In 1852 he came to California, crossing the plains in the usual way, and after remaining a few months in Butte and Plumas Counties, came to San Jose, where he has since remained.  Here he again engaged in carriage and wagon-making, manufacturing also the first top buggy ever made in Santa Clara County.  He worked at this business until his election to the State Legislature, in 1861.  His wife died in 1854, and in 1862 he married Miss Mary S. Grant, a native of Oneida County, New York, a niece of the late Dr. China Smith.  In 1862 he engaged in the real-estate business, but the movement of property being slow, he returned to his trade of carriage-making, at which he worked until 1873, when he again entered the real-estate and insurance business, which he has followed since.  He is now in his seventh term of re-appointment as Notary Public, making, including this term, fourteen years.  He owned, and lived for twenty-five years on, a vineyard and orchard of fifteen acres on Martha, between Third and Sixth Streets, San Jose, which he has lately disposed of.

            There were born to his first marriage two daughters, who both died in childhood.  By the second marriage he has one son, Goldwin, associated with his father in the real-estate business.   He is a Republican and his name was among the first on any paper in this county for the organization of that party.  In 1856 he stumped the county for Fremont.  He also started the first free library (public) in San Jose, in 1854, which has since been merged into the present public library, and the books transferred to it.  This library was organized in the fall of 1854, the Trustees being Dr. J. C. Cobb, Rev. Eli Corwin, Judge Charles Daniels, Mr. Manney, and the subject of this sketch.  Mr. Brown collected all the money raised for the purpose and turned it over to Dr. Cobb, who, while on a trip East, made the purchase of the books for this library.  Mr. Brown has been, during his thirty-seven years of residence, a public-spirited, broad-gauge man, active in every movement tending to the benefit of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley, and possessing the confidence and esteem of those who have known him longest and best.  He has lately arrived from a trip in the Eastern States, and returns home more than ever in love with California, and especially with the Santa Clara Valley.  

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Pg. 392
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight