It is by no means unusual to discover in the newspaper profession a man of enlightened understanding, vigorous policy and sound judgment, but not always, in addition, may be found such a wealth of personal experience to draw upon as belongs to Walter Bacon Brown, owner and able editor of the Tribune-Herald of Chisholm, Minnesota, of which city he is a foremost citizen.
The story of an ambitious, adventurous youth who had the courage to take his own life in his hands far from home protection, and with determination pursue unusual paths is of absorbing interest and offers, perhaps, one explanation of Mr. Brown’s thorough knowledge of public questions, his broad and liberal views on many matters, and his deep sympathies in relation to conditions that the public, in, a general way, cannot so fully understand.
Walter Bacon Brown was born October 29, 1886, at Duluth, Minnesota. His parents were Charles C. and Bertha L. (Hall) Brown. Charles C. Brown was of English parentage and was born at sea, under the American flag, in 1853. He became one of the best known newspaper men in Minnesota. served on the staffs of the Duluth Herald and Tribune for many years and was the founder of the Independent Press Bureau in Duluth. His death occurred in 1899. In 1885 he married Bertha L. Hall, who was born in 1867, at Stillwater, Minnesota, a member of an old New England family. They had but one child, Walter Bacon Brown.
In 1900 Mrs. Brown was married to Charles J. Jacobs, who was secretary and western manager of the Knickerbocker Silver Company.
As a schoolboy Mr. Brown passed through the first seven grades in the Jackson School, Duluth, completed the eighth grade at Stillwater, in which city he attended the high school for one year, and then entered St. Viator’s College at Bourbonnais, Illinois. A year of confinement as office boy for his step-father, and another year with the Benjamin Allen Company, wholesale jewelers, Chicago, followed, but this line of work did not appeal to the youth, and when sixteen years old he ran away from home. It was his ambition to go out to Australia that made him shape his course toward San Francisco. He soon found his small store of money exhausted, but through the leniency of railroad employes he managed to get as far on his western way as Trinidad, Colorado, and from that point across the mountains to Albuquerque he paid his way by acting as coal passer on a locomotive. There he worked on a ranch for a month and thereby managed to save enough money to take him to San Francisco, where he immediately tried to secure a passage on a sea-going vessel toward the land of gold and diamonds that his imagination had pictured as Australia.
His small stock of money soon disappearing from the necessary demands made upon it, Mr. Brown went to a sailors’ boarding house, and there, as had many older in years than himself, was induced to sign up with the keeper, presumably for a working passage on an ocean liner, but in reality he was “shanghied” on board a whaler bound for Behring Sea. On this boat he was greatly abused, repeatedly being beaten and condemned to work at menial tasks. When off Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the whaler ran on a shoal and her bow was so severely damaged that it was necessary to build a cofferdam in order to get her back to San Francisco, and this offered young Brown an opportunity to escape, which he accomplished by swimming to Goat Island.
On the day following his reaching there Mr. Brown enlisted in the United States Navy and was sent to the Mare Island Navy Yard and February 11, 1902, found him aboard the receiving ship Independence.
On the first of May following he was assigned to the Solace, a transport, and sailed for the Asiatic station, and on arriving off China, July 7, 1903, was transferred to the Oregon, on which ship he served for twenty-two months. He was then transferred to the Wisconsin, on which he remained for eighteen months. Thus he was in Asiatic waters during the Russian-Japanese war, and while on the Wisconsin sailed 680 miles up the Yangtse Kiang River to Kiukiang and Nankin to break the boycott China had established on American goods and markets. He was honorably discharged at the navy yard at Bremerton, Washington, February 11, 1906. During his years of sea service he had learned much. From February until July he worked at Bisbee, Arizona, as a machinist’s helper for the Copper Queen Mining Company, then went to Chicago, where for three weeks he fired a boiler in the Palmer House, from there going farther east and entering the employ of the Knickerbocker Silver Company, first as a packer and later as a shipping clerk.
In 1909 Mr. Brown went to Minneapolis and for one month was connected with the Minneapolis Tribune as a reporter and then came to Chisholm as timekeeper for the Oliver Mining Company, at the end of two months being made general timekeeper for this district. Inevitably, however, he drifted into newspaper work, the impulse being inherited, and on January 1, 1916, he became owner, business manager and editor of the Chisholm Tribune-Herald, satisfying an ambition cherished since childhood. He has a modern, first class plant and issues a journal that is creditable in every way and is generously supported.
Mr. Brown was married February 8, 1911, to Miss Caroline Frances Seidensticker, of Port Jervis, Orange County, New York, coming of Dutch ancestry. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have had four children: Joel Frederick, who died at the age of seventeen months; Walter B., who was born August 30, 1913; and Charles B. and William W., twins, who were born January 30, 1915.
Ever since establishing his permanent home at Chisholm Mr. Brown has been active as a citizen. He was instrumental in establishing the Chamber of Commerce, in which body he is an important factor, and has served as secretary for two years, and since 1917 has been president of the Library Board. In political sentiment he is a Republican, but in his work for the city’s substantial welfare he recognizes no party affiliation but labors with other public-spirited men for the general good. During the great war he served as an officer in the Home Guards, and took part in the various patriotic movements of that period.
He is well known in fraternal life and is active in many organizations, being a member of Hematite Lodge No. 274, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Duluth Consistory, Hibbing Lodge of Perfection, and Aad Temple Shrine, Duluth; Chisholm Lodge No. 1334, Elks; Lematite Lodge No. 9, Odd Fellows; Lodge No. 179, Knights of Pythias; and Aerie No. 462, Order of Eagles. He belongs also to the Kiwanis Club.