Harry Burton Brown was born in a sod house north of Natoma, Kansas, on September 12, 1888, to Myron and Jennie (Gregory) Brown, who had come to Kansas in the 1870s. He had two sisters, Fannie and Minnie. Harry lived his entire life in the Natoma area, except for three years when the family went to Lawrence, Kansas, by covered wagon due to a drought, and fourteen months spent in the army in World War I. He graduated from Natoma Elementary School, but since there was not a high school in Natoma at that time he went to Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas, instead. Later he attended Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas, lettering in baseball.
When only 17 years old Harry began teaching school, a four-year career, with the last two terms taught at the Natoma Elementary School. He was considering going into medicine or dentistry when he was approached in 1909 about buying the Natoma Independent.
Harry asked various businessmen about their thoughts and received less than enthusiastic response. However, going into medicine or dentistry when he was approached in 1909 about buying the Natoma Independent.
Harry asked various businessmen about their thoughts and received less than enthusiastic response. However, he paid the $300 asking price to R. H. Gamber. Since Brown had absolutely no experience in newspaper work, Gamber stayed to help him for a short while. Later Brown purchased or established the Luray Herald, the Waldo Advocate and the Paradise Farmer–all printed in Natoma. He remained a “newspaper man” for thirty-five years.
Harry was married in Natoma to Anna Hackerott on May 13, 1918. They had four children, Robert, Roberta, Della, and Anna. The mother died in 1931 and Harry later married Mrs. Alice Bishop in Natoma in October 1937.
In World War I Harry entered army service at Camp Funston near Junction City, Kansas. After being transferred to Camp Dodge, Iowa, he was sent overseas in October 1918 to France, where he attended the university at Montpelier on the Mediterranean Sea. He returned to the United States during the summer of 1919 and received an honorable discharge.
Harry was a member of the Natoma Methodist Church and was the church treasurer for many years. He was a charter member in the local Lions Club and the American Legion, also holding memberships in the Odd Fellows Lodge, the Rebekah Lodge, the Kansas Press Association, and the National Editorial Association. Harry was active in school affairs and served for a time as the Natoma city clerk.