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Napoleon Bonaparte Brown
Napoleon Bonaparte Brown
Born 1834 [1]
Died Template:Death date
St Joseph, Missouri, United States
Occupation Businessman and Philanthropist
Spouse(s) Katherine Fitzgibbons(second wife)[2]
Children Earl Van Dom Brown

Napoleon Bonaparte Brown (1834 – March 18, 1910) was a soldier, businessman, philanthropist, politician, and resident of Kansas and Missouri in the late 1800s and early 1900s.[2] He is most known as the namesake and builder of the Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia, Kansas, a majestic opera house completed in 1907 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theatre has been called "the most elegant theater between Kansas City and Denver."[2]

Early life[]

Brown was named after Napoleon Bonaparte by his parents James & Nancy Brown. The 1850 Pike County, Illinois census gives his age as 16 at that time. A later census (1900) in Concordia, KS gives his birthdate as Oct 1833.[3] He appeared to have two siblings: a brother, Benjamin age 14; and a sister named May or Mary aged 11 listed in the census as well.[4] Later military records list his hometown as Concord, Illinois in neighboring Morgan County.[5] until he resigned on January 17, 1865[6]

Military career[]

"Colonel" Brown enlisted in the 101st Illinois Infantry on January 3, 1864 and given the rank of Major (United States). Major Brown served in "B" Company[5] until he resigned on January 17, 1865[6]--the very day the 101st crossed into South Carolina from Georgia under General William Tecumseh Sherman.[5] Cloud county records show that he was paid the pension ($25.00) of a major.[7] After he retired from the military, he "promoted himself" to the rank of Colonel.[8]

In a letter to the editor of the Kansas Blade (now the Concordia Blade-Empire), Brown claimed that he enlisted as a private on April 22, 1862 and was subsequently promoted to Captain, Major, and Brevet-Lieutenant Colonel.[9]

Business & Philanthropy[]

Colonel Brown served in the state legislatures for both Kansas and Missouri[8] and was a prominent banker in Kansas during its early years of development as the owner of the first bank in Cloud County, Kansas.[10] N. B. Brown & Co., founded in 1878[11] with a rumored "suitcase full of money" that he had with him upon his arrival.[8] Colonel Brown and is wife Katherine (Katie) then built Brownstone Hall,[12] a 23-room Victorian-style 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) stone mansion built in Concordia in 1883.[13] Colonel Brown served first in the Missouri House of Representatives,[14] and then in the Kansas State Senate.[15]

In 1905, Colonel Brown commissioned the building of the Brown Grand Theatre and entrusted its completion to his son, Earl Van Dom Brown. The theatre was completed in 1907.[16]


As a state Senator in Kansas, Brown fought a losing battle to restore the State Normal School's location to Concordia. The school was one of several Normal schools placed throughout the state in 1874 under governor Thomas A. Osborn, but was consolidated by the state legislature in 1876.[17] The state normal school would later become Emporia State University.


  1. 1850 Pike County, Illinois census at the age of 16-son of James & Nancy Brown
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Brown Grand Theatre Ladies Parlor". The Brown Grand Theatre. Retrieved 2008-02-29.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "loc" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 1900 Cloud County, Kansas Census
  4. 1850 Pike County, Illinois Census
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "The One Hundred-First Illinois". Jacksonville Daily Journal (Jacksonville, Illinois via Illinois in the Civil War). May 30, 1909. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Roster of Field and Staff 101st Illinois Infantry". Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  7. "Cloud County KS GenWeb". Blue Skyways at the Kansas State Library. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "History of the Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia, Kansas". Brown Grand Theater. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  9. Concordia Blade-Empire "NB Brown's War Record-His slanderers Laid on Stretchers", June 2, 1882
  10. Inside Cloud "Happy 100th Birthday Brown Grand Theatre" by Jenny Acree, September 21, 2007
  11. Cutler, William G. (1883). History of the State of Kansas: Cloud County. Chicago, IL: A. T. Andreas. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  12. "Kansas Historical Notes". Kansas History off the Press (Kansas State Historical Society) 43 (Summer 1977): 112–120. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  13. Hatteberg, Larry (November 9, 2003). "Hatteberg's People: Caroline Gocke". KAKE. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  14. [1]
  15. [2]
  16. The Emporia Gazette "The Brown Grand Theater" February 23, 2009
  17. Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas "State Normal School" by E.F. Hollibaugh, 1903
  • Bell, Rachel Lowrey (1998a). A Proud Past... A Pictorial History of Concordia, Kansas, Marceline, Missouri: D-Books Publishing.
  • Emery, Janet Pease (1970a). It Takes People to Make a Town, Salina, Kansas: Arrow Printing Company. Library of Congress number 75-135688.

External links[]

Template:Cloud County History