Jack Brown

Jack Brown [1] was the first ranching partner of Montford Johnson. Jack Brown and Johnson’s ranching partnership was a financial success for both men. The business model developed by Johnson would become the foundation for a cattle empire [2, p. 57].

Montford Johnson Creates Walnut Creek Ranch, Partners with Jack Brown

In spring 1868, Johnson established his first ranch, located about two miles northeast of present-day Washington, Oklahoma, in McClain County. He hired Jack Brown, a freedman who was formerly a slave, to run the operation and share in the profits. This was the first of many business ventures manned by nonwhites that flourished under Johnson’s leadership [2, p. 57].

Johnson made an agreement with Jack Brown and Jack’s wife Eliza Brown. Jack Brown was to be in charge of Johnson’s new headquarters located at Walnut Creek and look after the cattle. As payment, he would receive every fourth calf as his own. Jack Brown asked and received permission for his brother-in-law Henry Cole and his wife Caroline to stay with the Browns at the ranch until they felt comfortable in this new location [2, p. 57].

Jack and Eliza Manage the Walnut Creek Ranch

Jack Brown was a successful manager. His and Johnson’s herds grew substantially. Each spring, Johnson brought his branding crew to round up and brand the new calves.

In fall 1873, Johnson and Jack Brown dissolved their business partnership. By this time, Jack had amassed a large herd. He and his wife started a ranch of their own not far from Walnut Creek [2, p. 101].

Later Life

Eliza Brown died sometime in 1880. Jack Brown remarried to a woman named Suka. Jack Brown died in 1895 at the age of 70. He was buried at Walnut Creek, where his tombstone can still be viewed [2, p. 170].

Photo courtesy of the Chickasaw Nation

[1] Jack Brown is portrayed by Denim Richards in the Chickasaw Nation Productions film “Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher.” C. N. M. Relations, "The Chickasaw Rancher," Chickasaw Nation Montford, The Rancher, [Online]. Available: http://www.chickasawrancher.com/Cast/Denim-Richards.aspx.. [Accessed 25 10 2021].

[2] N. R. Johnson, The Chickasaw Rancher, Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2001.