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BROWN, MONTAGUE KINGSMILL

BROWN, MONTAGUE KINGSMILL (1878–1964). Montague Kingsmill Brown, cattleman, entrepreneur, and civic leader in Pampa, was born on May 22, 1878, near London, England. His father was a broker with the London Stock Exchange and, as Brown later quipped, "went broker, by Jove!" After leaving school at the age of fifteen, Brown worked in a lumber company and bank, starting at two dollars a week. When the Boer War broke out in 1899 he enlisted in the British army and saw action in South Africa, where he worked his way up from trooper to regimental sergeant major. After the war he considered returning to Africa to make his fortune. However, in 1902 Brown's uncle Andrew Kingsmill, manager of Lord Rosebery's London bank, was sent by his employer to investigate the property of the White Deer Lands (see FRANCKLYN LAND AND CATTLE COMPANY) in the Panhandle of Texas. On returning to England, Kingsmill persuaded his nephew to go to Texas and work for the syndicate.

Accordingly, Brown arrived on April 27, 1903, at the boxcar depot and the two or three stores that composed the new rail town of Pampa. He entered the employ of the White Deer Lands, then managed by George Tyng. When Timothy Dwight Hobart succeeded Tyng as manager in 1903, Brown ably assisted him in promoting and surveying the lands being sold to small ranchers and farmers. In all, Brown helped dispose of some 600,000 acres. Over the years he successfully branched out into cattle raising, railroads, and later into oil. Impressed with the Panhandle environment, he obtained his naturalization papers in 1914 and in 1922 married Josye Barnes, a native of Oklahoma. After Hobart resigned as manager of the White Deer Lands in 1924, Brown and C. V. P. Buckler were appointed comanagers of the properties. Brown retired from that position in 1935 but continued to build up his fortune through investments in various businesses. In 1957, when the White Deer Corporation was liquidated, Brown bought the remaining properties with a $70,000 bid.

As a civic leader he devoted his efforts to promoting Pampa as a townsite. He played the drums in Alex Schneider's band, since that was "the only instrument he could play and talk at the same time." He preached the town's first funeral rites, using his Anglican prayer book, and was mayor of Pampa when the town became the Gray county seat in 1928. Brown also served on the school board for sixteen years, was president of the Rotary Club, helped organize the country club, and was a senior warden of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church. In addition, he was a director of Pampa's First National Bank and Southwestern Investment Company and was president of the Security Federal Savings and Loan Association. Brown was a Scottish Rite Mason, generously supported both the Boy and Girl Scouts, and also chaired the Gray County selective service board for six years. Along with C. P. Buckler and Walter Purviance, he was appointed a trustee for the Lovett Estate. In 1952 Brown served as program chairman for the county's fiftieth anniversary celebration. In addition, he was a vice president of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and with Buckler was instrumental in donating the White Deer Land Company records to the Panhandle-Plains Museumqv in Canyon.

Among his many honors, Brown was named man of the year by the Pampa Chamber of Commerce in 1958 and adult leader of the year by the city's Key Club in 1963. In January 1964 he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Incarnate Word College in San Antonio. He sponsored the M. K. Brown Range Life series of historical books, published by the University of Texas Press. Brown was robust and was said to have "a ready laugh and a story to tell." He contributed much of his fortune to Pampa's businesses and cultural advancements and helped send many young people through college. On September 10, 1964, he died from injuries received in a car collision in Pampa. Portions of his huge bequest were used to construct the M. K. Brown Memorial Civic Auditorium and to renovate the old White Deer land-office building into a county museum.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Bill Cherry, "White Deer Land Company Records," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 32 (1959). Gray County Bicentennial Observance, 1776–1976: Souvenir Program (Pampa, Texas: Gray County Bicentennial Committee, 1976). Sylvia Grider, "`He's for Progress': C. P. Buckler and the White Deer Land Company," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook 43 (1967). Lester Fields Sheffy, The Francklyn Land & Cattle Company (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). Lester Fields Sheffy, The Life and Times of Timothy Dwight Hobart (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1950).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "BROWN, MONTAGUE KINGSMILL," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbrcp), accessed November 26, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.