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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Mary Higbie Brownell was born in Penfield, N. Y., March 15, 1841.  She is the daughter of Silas Higbie, born in Duansbery, N. Y., Nov. 1, 1810, and of Hester A. Ross born at Penfield, May 13, 1820.  Her father was of Holland ancestry, Aneke Jans, of Old Trinity church in New York was an ancestor.  Her mother was of fine Scotch ancestry.  Mrs. Brownell was educated in the Tracy Female Seminary at Rochester, N. Y.  She was married in Penfield,  February 13, 1861, to William Augustus Brownell who died in Keokuk, Feb. 20, 1901.  They came to Muscatine, Iowa, to live, later moving to Keokuk where Mr. Brownell was associated with his brothers in the Keokuk National Bank.  Seven children were born to them, four of whom lived to be grown.  Ralph Brooks died at the age of 33 years;  Edwin Higbie living in Beverly, Wash.;  Francis Raymond and Marion Harold both living in Hailey, Idaho.  These sons have been a great comfort and joy to their mother.  At the age of 13 she united with the Baptist church, but after her marriage, with her husband united with the Congregational church of which she is a devoted member.  She is a member of the Keokuk Chapter D. A. R., of which she has been regent.  She was a charter member of the Woman's Club and treasurer for many years.  She belongs to the Civic League, the Y. W. C. A., the Wednesday Reading Club, the Art Club and church societies, having a helpful interest in all of them.  It was Emerson who said "The only way to have a friend is to be one."  Mrs. Brownell has hosts of friends who are devoted to her.  She is a patrician by birth and in all her tastes, she is fond of society and brings to it a gracious, charming presence.


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