Biography - EDGAR S. BROWNE
Edgar Selwyn Browne, mayor of Mendota, Illinois, was born on a farm in Oxford county, Maine, May 11, 1851. His parents were George H. and Lavina (Shaw) Browne, both natives of Boston, Massachusetts, and representatives of old New England families. The Brownes are of English origin and the Shaws are of Welsh extraction. George H. Browne was a merchant and the owner of farming land. During the civil war he was a member of the Seventeenth Maine Regiment, which he entered as a private. He was in charge of hospitals at Alexandria, Virginia, and was a contemporary of Morrill, Blaine and Hannibal Hamlin, and served in the Maine legislature in 1859 with James G. Blaine. In politics he was a Republican. After the war he carried on merchandising, also speculating in lumber and doing contract work. He died in February, 1896, at the age of seventytwo years. His widow, at this writing (1899), eighty-one years of age, resides in Mason, Maine.
Edgar S. Browne spent his boyhood days up to the age of thirteen years on a farm. He is the eldest of a family of four, and, their father being in good circumstances, all were given excellent educational advantages. Edgar S. is a graduate of Gould's academy. Bethel, Maine, and was for some time a student in the State Normal School at Farmington, Maine. He began teaching at the early age of fourteen years and taught and attended school alternately. While teaching he studied law, and was admitted to the bar of Maine in 1871. For five years he practiced law in Portland, Maine, and in 1876 he came west and located in Chicago, where he spent nearly a year, at the end of that time removing to Earlville and becoming associated in the practice of law with his cousin, Hon. J. W. Browne, with whom he was afterward in business at Mendota. He located in Mendota in 1879, and since that date has continued here. He is what is known as a trial lawyer, and his successful career has shown him to be possessed of more than ordinary ability in this line. Politically he has always been a Democrat. In the east he filled some minor offices, and in LaSalle county, Illinois, he has been frequently honored with official position. Mr. Browne was the principal of the high school at Bethel, Maine, and in Gould's academy was professor of higher mathematics, grammar and elocution. Also he taught Latin in the last named institution. He served as justice of the peace, commissioner of deeds for Maine and New Hampshire, and was a trial justice in New Hampshire, being located in Coos county, that state, for a brief time. After coming to Mendota his first public office was that of city attorney, which position he resigned before the close of the second year. As the incumbent of that office he tried one hundred and twentyone cases, and won each case, his salary being one hundred dollars per year! No wonder he resigned!
In 1886 he was elected a member of the lower house of the Illinois state legislature, as representative for LaSalle county; and was re-elected in 1888. He was made the chairman of the Democratic caucus of the members of house and senate that formulated the bill for the reduction of state expenses, which afterward made the state go Democratic at the polls. He was the author of a large portion of the bill which was enacted and entitled "An act to create sanitary districts and remove obstructions in the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers," which went into effect July 1, 1889, and which was of great moment and utility to the valleys of said rivers. In another issue he was influential in securing a defeat of a movement for the consolidation of the supreme court. In 1891 Mr. Browne was elected the doorkeeper for the house of representatives, and during this time participated in the great election contest for United States senator in which John M. Palmer was successful. Mr. Browne was re-elected doorkeeper in 1890, and held that position during the Democratic reapportionment of the state. In 1882 he was a member of the LaSalle County Democratic central committee. In 1888 he was chairman of the committee on permanent organization at the state Democratic convention of marching leagues, and as chairman he decided the tie vote in favor of Frank Jones, of Springfield; as the permanent president of the league. Mr. Jones afterward became assistant postmaster general under Cleveland. Mr. Browne was elected mayor of Mendota in 1897, a position he has since filled and in which he has rendered most excellent service.
Turning from his political career to his domestic life, we record that Mr. Browne was married in 1885 to Miss Gertrude Schick, of Mendota, and the fruits of their union are two children, - Robert G. and Hazel Beatrice.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 209-211.