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John J. and William Brown, Orphan Success Stories

John J. Brown was one of those orphans that the Asylum held up to the world as one of its great successes. He was an attorney and state legislator in Vandalia, Illinois. His obituary gave the story of his orphan train ride with his older brother William. Brother William died in 1895 and was a mens clothing store owner before his death. William married the daughter of his guardian and with her had three sons. John J. Brown married Nellie Blackwell and lived all his adult life in Vandalia, where he practiced law and served in several public offices. He and his wife had but one daughter.

John J. Brown was known for his great interest in children. William took into his home a New York Juvenile Asylum boy named William Rohwedter, but no record of him, other than the annual report can be found.

A strange story was published in the Pantagraph in September 1883, which told the story of J. J. Brown going insane over the death of his unnamed sweetheart. Obviously this report was a gross over statement of Brown's condition. (The Hugh Carroll mentioned in this report was another orphan train rider. )


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