Iss William Brown

“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for her, but I wouldn’t pay a nickel for another one like her.”

Iss Brown reflecting on his grand-daughter, Minnie.

Iss was born on October 12, 1897 to Jennie Kimbro and William Brown. The name Iss was from Jennie’s brother, Iss. Iss William grew up to be a very handsome young gentleman; quite a lady’s man. He only formally completed the third grade but could read and appreciate very complex subject matter such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek mythology and various travel books and brochures. Reading was very enjoyable to him. He traveled much of the United States working as a porter for Burnes’ Motor company (new car dealership). He delivered new cars to buyers all over the U.S. and Canada. He wanted to visit Cairo Egypt and often remarked that one day he would. He also did a little “bootlegging” which was very common for a young Black man of his day. However, he was very respected by the authorities including sheriff Buford PusserHe and Minnie Batey married and became the parents of a bouncing baby boy who grew up quickly. Minnie and Iss taught their son, Wash, a strong sense of self worth and work ethics. Iss loved Minnie very much and didn’t want her to work outside the home. But, Minnie was a feminist long before the Women’s Movement was ever thought of. She worked whenever she decided to and spent her money to buy extra things from the peddler (a traveling salesman who allowed weekly payments for merchandise.) It is hard to described Iss’s life without adding facts about his beloved wife, Minnie. They would quarrel and argue about subjects that neither knew a great deal about. But both were competitive and enjoy trying to get “one up on the other.”Iss had a knack for charming the ladies, he would smile with that golden smile (all his teeth were gold.) and he had a twinkle in his eye that was hard to resist. Women, old and young, were fascinated by the wiles of Iss W. Brown. Later, he and Minnie became grand parents of a grand daughter who became the “apple of their eyes.” Their grand daughter became their pride and joy and she lived with them for most of her young life. There was nothing they would not do for their grand daughter. They taught her some of the most important life lessons she ever learned; how observe a person’s action and tell what type of person they are, to make sure that you planned how you were react in certain situations, keeping your business to yourself , and not trusting everyone who claims to be your friend. Iss generally taught by using parables and citing examples while Minnie taught by constant reminding when certain incidents occurred. M. Beatrice quickly understood the importance of saving some of her money as her grandfather

was the person to come to when the Black community needed a short term loan, such as two or three dollars. He charged twenty-five cents on a dollar per week. Guess he didn’t know about usury. He kept very good records, making note in a small composition book of all transactions and allowed his granddaughter to count monies collected and keep books up to date as debts were either paid on or paid in full. He enjoyed “shooting dice” and apparently was pretty good. He once won a horse that he brought home for his granddaughter to ride; he also won a full house of furnishing but only took certain pieces from the home and wife of the gambler. He had a strong sense of fair play and even though he wasn’t religious in the general way, he was God fearing and tried to live his life treating others as he wanted to be treated. Arthritis ravaged his body late in his life and he was unstable in his gait; but men, older and younger, would come to his house, take him to the “gathering place” where he enjoyed having a drink of “white lightening” two fingers measured on a small glass. Everyone in Murfreesboro knew and remember Iss as “Cuz” because that was his reference for most boys and men in the community. He treated all women with total respect even if he didn’t agree with many of their ways. He passed away in May 1977 after spending his last days in Detroit with his granddaughter who adored him. Stories are still told today in Murfreesboro about the antics of “Cuz or Cuzo.”

Iss is buried  next to  his life’s love, Minnie at the Benevolent Cemetery in Murfreesboro, TN.


Written by his loving granddaughter, Minnie.

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