The Rev. John Brown, Clara Barton and the 1886-1887 Drought Relief
Marker Text: Scottish immigrant John Brown (1842-1903) moved west following his theological studies in New York. He married Mary Jane Matthews Larn near Fort Griffin and in 1884 became minister of Albany Presbyterian Church, just as West Texas farmers and ranchers were struggling to survive the effects of a prolonged drought. Local leaders selected Brown to represent them in seeking funds for the purchase of seed wheat for small farmers.
Brown departed in August 1886 to appeal to financial institutions in eastern cities. Newspaper editors publicized his quest as he traveled, and he soon drew the ire of Texas editors and land and railroad promoters who feared the publicity would harm the state's economic development. Thanks to his efforts, however, several railroad cars of seed wheat were sent to Texas, as well as several thousand dollars collected by eastern Presbyterian churches. Believing it was as appropriate to ask for drought relief as to seek aid following hurricanes, Brown appealed to Clara Barton and the American Red Cross.
Brown returned home, and at the request of twenty-one counties addressed the Texas Legislature. A bill passed authorizing relief funds and Gov. L.S. (Sul) Ross signed in into law. Meanwhile, the Red Cross sent clothing, household goods and tools to Albany. In January 1887, Clara Barton arrived to tour Shackelford, Stephens, Young and Callahan counties. On her way home, she visited the Dallas Morning News and lef a personal church for $20, encouraging the editor to solicit funds to help the drought-stricken farmers.
In 1887, John Brown moved from Albany to Massachusetts, where he served in the state legislature. He later wrote a book entitled Twenty-Five Years a Parson in the Wild West. (2006)
Marker No: 13673
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Marker
Geographic: 32.723221, -99.297035
Location: intersection of SH 6, US 283, US 180, Albany