Mitchell Harvey and Connie Gertrude Brown were natives of Rockwall County. He was born November 8, 1893, seventh of ten children of Rev. Benjamin Franklin Brown and Lucinda McCorkle Brown shortly after they arrived from York, Alabama. She was second of three children of Charlie and Dona Lawhorn Spong born on May 20, 1893. They attended Rockwall schools and graduated from Rockwall College, directed by Professor J. K. Wells. Connie then attended College of Industrial Arts (now TWU) and he went to Texas A&M.
In 1916 he was in the National Guard which was used to quell the Mexican Border raids of Pancho Villa. When WW I erupted, he went to the First Officers Training Camp at Leon Springs. Assigned domestic duty in San Antonio, he transferred to the new Air Service then a part of the Army Signal Corps.
Enroute overseas, he and Connie were married on January 24, 1918. Until her death on September 11, 1981, they remained a devoted couple. During WW l, she worked for A. L. Adkins Dry Goods while he became a decorated member of the famous 50th Aerial Squadron that pioneered aerial warfare techniques to help the allies achieve victory. Duties included flying low over front lines locating friendly and enemy forces, strafing ground troops, taking aerial photographs, and fighting enemy aircraft. He escaped capture after being shot down behind German lines while searching for the “Lost Battalion.” He received the Distinguished Service Cross our nation’s second highest decoration for extraordinary heroism when attacked by three German Fokker pursuit planes on October 23, 1918. His plane caught fire from tracer bullets striking signal rockets in his cockpit; however, he continued to fight as his boots burned off until one enemy plane was shot down, another disabled, and the third left the battle. Then, he crawled out on the wing to extinguish the flames in their own plane.
Following the war, they chose the excitement of irrigated agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley where their first son, Mitchell H. Brown, Jr., was born on September 23, 1920. Homesick, in 1921 they loaded their possessions on a covered wagon to return to Rockwall. Connie and “Little Mitch” were to accompany him to the railstation. Still together, they arrived in Rockwall three weeks later.
Their second son, Thomas Cleo, was born November 24, 1922 and their third, George Phillips (named for one of his pilots) arrived January 27, 1928. All graduated from Rockwall schools and from Texas A&M. In WW Il, MitChell Jr. was stationed in Panama over three years. After 34 years of public service, he retired as County Agent in Limestone County and now lives near Grand Saline. Tom was killed leading an infantry platoon in Germany on November 20, 1944. He was twice wounded and posthumously received the Bronze Star for bravery. George taught Vocational Agriculture for five years in Texas before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture and now resides near Denver.
Connie was a homemaker who helped her family behind the scenes while Mitchell became recognized as a small but innovative farmer who practiced agricultural diversification and conservation as they rose from tenants to landowners by 1940. He was a deacon and boys’ Sunday School teacher in the Rockwall and Chisholm Baptist Churches, secretary of the Rockwall County Farm Bureau some twenty years, and has been a member of the American Legion for over 60 years.
By M. H. Brown Jr. for Rockwall County History by Rockwall Historical Foundation Photo: Mitchel Brown at Ground School during WW I, 1913 and Connie Spong Brown, 1913.