There are perhaps few ladies in all this land who have as wide a reputation or more extensive acquaintance than Miss Hallie Q. Brown, whose career has been one of marked benefit to her fellow men. Her activity has always been along lines of improvement and of benefit for those with whom she has come in contact. The highest and the lowliest in this land and in Great Britain have acknowledged her power as an elocutionist, while many have reason to feel grateful to her for what she has accomplished. Wilberforce College, of Greene county, Ohio, owes much of its success to her efforts in its behalf and through her influence its labors have extended to a wider scope, assisting many in the development of their talents and capabilities and thus enabling them to become men and women of strong force of character and helpful lives.
Perhaps the account of Miss Brown's early life can not be better given than in the words of a contemporary historian who has said: "A traveler passing by a country farmhouse a few miles from Chatham. Canada, not many years ago, might have seen a little girl of eight or nine summers mounted on a colt, without girth or bridle, her hair given to the winds, dashing up a lane to pasture. There he would have seen her dismount and hastily perform the duties of dairy-maid, first calling each cow by name and playfully inquiring as to the health of each. The milking finished, he would have seen her jump upon a tree stump or felled log and deliver an address to the cows, the sheep and the birds. She had a separate speech for the larger animals and special addresses for the lambs, the ducklings and the other auditors that happened to be present. Having exhausted her own vocabulary she began a conversation in the language of the cow, the horse, the sheep, the goose, the rooster, until each was imitated, and then, bidding adieu to the "congregation," she remounted her steed and cantered home again. That was her dailv morning program, secret and unobserved. It was for this that she rose earlier than the others of the household until one morning a farm hand saw her bv chance, himself unobserved, and her secret was a secret no longer. This little girl was Hallie O. Brown. Who can say but that propitious fate had her then in training to develop her powers which have since carried her east and west, upon her mission of amusement, instruction and beneficence to tens of thousands in two hemispheres?"
Miss Brown was the youngest of six children. Her father died at the age of eighty years, in 1882, but her mother lives with her at Wilberforce, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. Jere A., their eldest child, is now living in Cleveland. Ohio. He has served in the state legislature of Ohio, and now holds a position in the government service at Wasliington, D. C. Mrs. Bell Newman, the next younger, is now deceased. Mrs. Annie E. Weaver resides at Farmland, Indiana. Mary Frances is deceased. John G., also deceased, was a graduate of Wilberforce University and gave great promise of being a noted lecturer and speaker, but death terminated his career in his early manhood.
Hallie Quinn Brown was born in Pittsburg and during her early girlhood accompanied her parents to Chatham, Canada, where she acquired her preliminary education, later continuing her studies in Wilberforce College, of Ohio, where she was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science with the class of 1873. Among her classmates were Mrs. Mary F. Lee, wife of Bishop B. F. Lee; and Samuel T. Mitchell, afterward president of Wilberforce University. Her broad mind and earnest thought had grasped the situation in the south, and, realizing that there was a mighty field of labor, she entered upon educational work in that portion of the country. Her first school was on a plantation in South Carolina, where she endured the hardships and rough life uncomplainingly, and continued her work of teaching the children of various plantations and also instructing the aged ones to read their Bibles, thus bringing into many a life the great comfort which the reading of the word brings to all the true followers of Christianity. Later she was in charge of a school on the Sonera plantation in Mississippi, where she found that her labors were largely hampered by two vices—the use of whisky and tobacco—and since that time she has labored earnestly to abolish those two evils. Her fame as an instructor spread and her services were secured as a teacher in Yazoo City, but on account of the unsettled state of affairs in the south in 1874-5, she was compelled to return to the north.
Later a successful teacher in Dayton, Ohio, for four years, she was then obliged to give up educational work on account of her health, and has since devoted her attention largely to lecturing and public reading. She started out upon a lecture tour in behalf of her alma mater, Wilberforce College, and the first year;s service proved her ability in that direction. Then in order to better present her work from the platform she took a course in elocution and again started out upon her travels, meeting with still greater success. For several years she traveled with the Wilberforce Grand Concert Company, an organization for the benefit of Wilberforce College. She has lectured and read throughout the length and breadth of this land in all the leading cities, and every place has been favorably and enthusiastically received.
In 1894 Miss Brown went abroad and lectured in England for six years. Among the difverent lecture courses on which she appeared was that of the renowned Westbourne Park Institute. She has lectured and recited in all the leading cities of Great Britain, and was connected for some time with Latly Henry Somerset in temperance work. She was entertained bv Queen Victoria, July 7. 1899, tea being served in St. George's Hall, the hall of the Garter, Windsor Castle. She appeared and spoke at the entertainment of the Princess of Wales, the present Queen of England, this entertainment being given for the poor of London at the time of the celebration of the Queen's diamond jubilee. She has been entertained and dined by the most noted ladies and families of England and Scotland, and during Queen Victoria's jubilee year she was the guest of the Lord Mayor of London and his wife, and later by the Mayor and Mayoress of Croydon, and journeyed with them in a private car to London, where special seats near Westminster Abbey were reserved for them from which to view the procession and ceremonies. She was also in attendance at the funeral of Gladstone, the ticket of admission being furnished to her by a member of parliament.
Miss Brown belongs to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society of Edinburgh, to the British Women's Temperance Society. to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, to the King's Daughters, and was a member of the International Congress of Women. Miss Brown went to England in behalf of the Douglass Memorial Hall, which was required for the accommodation of the large and increasing library of the university. She lectured also on temperance and various other subjects, and gave many readings, her splendid and exceptional gifts as an elocutionist winning the highest praise. Hers has been a life permeated by the true missionary spirit, carrying truth and help into many districts where it has been so greatly needed, and presenting facts in such a clear, understandable way that her auditors have gone away convinced. It is impossible to give any correct estimate of her work, the influence of mind upnn mind, and of soul upon soul being an incalculable force, the worth of which is only recognized in eternity, but in this land and in Great Britain thousands have reason to be grateful to her and to speak oi her in words of liiving praise.
From History of Greene County, Ohio, by George F. Robinson (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co, 1902)