Our museum’s curator has been actively working on a short documentary film, C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony. He would like to share with you some information about Brown, why this story matters, and how you can attend the upcoming premiere of the film:
Abilene, Kansas will soon be host to the premiere of a short film on one of the city’s most influential people who often times has been unheralded in the past. On July 21, the Dickinson County Historical Society will present C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony, a look at notable Abilene patriarch Cleyson L. Brown and the spirit of giving that he inspired for Kansas independent telecommunications companies that continues today. After becoming a successful businessman in the early twentieth century, Brown decided to focus on many community improvement projects late in his life. Whether you know it or not, the legacy of Brown can be seen in the area around Abilene, and Kansas as a whole to this day.
Brown was born February 3, 1872 in Brown’s Mill, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest of Jacob and Mary Brown’s five children. The family decided to move to Dickinson County, Kansas with a sect of the Church of the Brethren in 1880. Jacob Brown owned a grist mill on the Smoky Hill River south of Abilene. At the mill, the Browns would saw wood and grind grain for local farmers. C.L. helped with various work at a young age, and was met with an accident at the age of nine. In 1881, C.L.’s right elbow was crushed by a piece of equipment.