Col. J. S. Brown
State Leader For Quarter Century
From the 1938 centennial edition of The Times-Register
Colonel J. Sinclair Brown, president of the Farmers National Bank of Salem, is recognized not only in Roanoke County but throughout Virginia as a man of unusual ability in the banking business, and because of the outstanding service he has given in public life, Colonel Brown’s name is frequently mentioned in connection with the Governorship of the state.
Born in Warm Springs, Va., September 30, 1880, son of the late Rev. and Mrs. George L. Brown, at six years of age J. S. Brown went with his parents to Bridgewater, Rockingham County, to live. At fifteen he went to Braxton County, West, Va., and later attended Burnsville Academy in that county. Then became a country school teacher for two years, which he gave up to go into the railroad contracting business.
In 1904 Col. Brown came to Salem to learn something about the hardware business, expecting a little later to go to Oklahoma and go into business for himself. He made such rapid strides working for his uncle F. W. Brown, that in two years he bought out the Salem business which he operated until 1910, when on account of his health he was forced to take outside employment and he went into the contracting business with G. L. Sears.
His first connection with the Farmers National Bank was in 1904, when he opened a savings account and in 1914 Col. Brown became a director of the bank and vice-president. On April 1, 1922, he was elected president to succeed W. H. Ruthrauff and has been head of the Salem institution since that date.
Col. Brown was recognized by the Virginia Bankers Association in 1934 by being selected vice-president of the organization and the following year was elected president of the association. In 1936 Mr. Brown was chosen vice-president from Virginia on the National Bankers Association and this year attended the executive committee meeting as a representative from this state.
For twenty years Colonel Brown was a member of the House of Delegates from Roanoke County and for three years was speaker of the House of Delegates, refusing to offer for re-election. He is now serving as a member of the State Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Col. Brown maintains an active interest in local civic affairs, being a member and past president of the Salem Kiwanis Club and a member of the board of directors of the Salem Chamber of Commerce. He retains his membership in the Salem Presbyterian Church in which he is an ordained elder.
Mrs. Brown was formerly Miss Jane Lewis Johnston, of Salem, and they have two children Mrs. William S. Russell and James Brown.
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