Saturday, May 11, 2019

Six Brides for Six Brothers

In back:  Hubert, Fred (Jack), Eugene (Gene), Walter; and in front: Herbert, Narcissa, and Joe
I’ve had a difficult time knowing how to write a final post for my grandfather, Walter Brown, with so much left to say; and I also wish I could tell a lengthy story about each of his brothers, as well as information about their descendants; and about all the houses that were built!!  But I guess I will just say a little about each of the brothers today, and perhaps come back to this subject and time period at a later date.

Another subject I had wanted to address was the Old Ranch!  I’ve previously created a number of pages of layouts about the Ranch, which can be found here:
The Old Ranch

If you click on the individual pages, most of them will enlarge, so that you can read about the Old Ranch.

I also created pages about the Canada Trip earlier, and you can see some of those here:
Canada Trip

Before I talk about the six brothers and their wives, I would like to mention their only sister.  Elizabeth “Lizzie” Brown was born in 1884, in Texas, so she was involved in a great deal of moving around.  As the oldest child and only girl, she must have been relied upon a great deal by her mother.  
She was in her late teens when the family made the move to California in 1902; and on December 22, 1903 she was married to David Roy Shrode (he went by “Roy”), who was two years her senior.  Both Lizzie’s husband Roy and her younger brother Walter were carpenters in the Highland Park area of California.  Their parents may have been in Arizona at the time of their marriage, because Lizzie’s brother Walter and their father’s adoptive mother, Elizabeth A. Baker, are named as witnesses on the marriage license:
When Lizzie’s father died less than a year later, November 21, 1904, the obituary indicated that his wife and six sons were there in Phoenix, Arizona, while his daughter was in Los Angeles.  Just seven months later, on June 24, 1905, Lizzie also died of tuberculosis, in Arizona.  At that time her brother Walter was listed as being in Los Angeles, while her other brothers were there in Phoenix with their mother.

The first Brown Brother, Walter, was married to May Ludwig on October 18, 1910, as we learned in the previous post.  (May told me that Walter had been named for a dear friend of his father.)  I would like to introduce the wives of the other brothers at this time:

George Eugene “Gene” Brown, Jr married Hulda Erickson on July 5, 1911.  (Gene was, of course, named for his father.)  They had three sons:  Robert E Brown, George Eugene Brown (III), and John Eric Brown.
I am thankful to Mac Brown (son of Herbert Brown) who provided this photo of Gene and Huldah:

Joseph Baker Brown was married to Leona Esther Seeley on October 30, 1911.  (He was named for his father’s adoptive father, Joseph T Baker.)  They had two children:  Joseph Burton “Burt” Brown, and Loreen Esther Brown.
When we visited their daughter, Loreen McKinnon, she and her son Dan shared photos with us; her niece Janice has also shared photos.  I’m including several photos of Joe, including one of him playing the piano.  The amount of musical talent among the brothers is amazing.

Frederick Morgan Brown (also named for a friend of his father) was married to Lizetta “Peg” Ludwig, May’s sister.  The two couples were very close, and enjoyed many activities together over the years; and their children were double cousins!  Fred served in WW I; this document (front & back) was filled out by May;
and the photo below was taken in France.  Fred is the one in the center of the photo, 3rd from left in the front.
 Fred went by ‘Jack’ in later years.  He is shown on the right in the following photo with his wife Peg, children Bubbles and Jiggs, and his in-laws, Delia and August Ludwig:

Herbert McMurrain Brown (one of the twins, with a middle name that was his mother’s maiden name) was married to Nancy Gookins, whose family members were neighbors to the Browns at the Old Ranch.  He continued to manage that property after it left the family; and he had a special interest in prospecting.  Their son Mac shared this photo of his parents, which was taken on their honeymoon:

Hubert Motley Brown (the other twin, with a middle name that was his maternal grandmother’s maiden name) and his wife, Mildred E Paterson, are featured in the following photos:
The first photo is one I received from cousins who descended from one of Hubert’s mother’s sisters!  They posted the photo on their Facebook site, and I was able to identify it for them, because of having a copy of the second photo.  Hubert was another known musician:
Hubert is in the back, on the left; he played trombone.

Another important part of the Brown brothers history involved construction of the Women’s Twentieth Century Club building in Eagle Rock, California.  I found an application which was made in order to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places; the building was listed there on July 30, 2013.  The 32 page application even included floor plans, which we found interesting, since we were able to tour the building in 2016.   Page 11 of the application is of greatest interest to our family, because it states that the master carpenter for the project was Walter B. Brown!  In September 1914 the contract to build the clubhouse was awarded to Edwards and Wildey Company, with a stipulation that the clubhouse would be erected on or before March 1, 1915.   The photo below was taken on January 8, 1915, when there was a ceremony to lay the cornerstone.  It’s obvious that our master carpenter was hard at work, to meet the deadline . . .
. . . but I wonder what OSHA would have to say about a set-up like this? Apparently all went well, and the caption on the photo below stated the club house was open to the public on February 25, 1915, so they beat the deadline!

Another interesting piece of history for the Brown brothers involves a mining operation in Arizona.  We really know very little about their involvement - only enough to make us want to know more!  In looking up Plomosa Placer Properties, I found that Plomosa, Arizona is adjacent to Quartzite, Yuma County, Arizona.  I also found an issue of Mining and Engineering World (No. 1, Vol. 45, July 1, 1916) which described in detail the technical aspects of dry placer operations at Plomosa, with a plant that was to be in operation about the first of August, 1916.  All we know for sure (from the card above that May filled in) is that Fred was working there when America entered World War I in April 1917, and that Herbert also worked there.  Fred was keeping in touch with his Snelling cousins; they had these photos of that operation, with his handwritten notes on back, and shared them with us:
"this is the gallows frame and hoisting engine which Herbert is in charge.  This is the P.P.P. mine." (Wonder how many Browns are there?)
Herbert at the mine.
"One of the heavy winds blew the house down which covers the 125 h.p. Besmer oil engine and the drag line hoist which I am in charge of at present."
"This was my first job driving this truck, a 'Quad' four wheel drive"
So, apparently riding 'quads' in Arizona is nothing new - Daddy's uncle was doing it over 100 years ago!  Concerning this final photo below, he wrote:  "A desert scene.  There are two mines in this picture.  The object to the left is the gallows frame of the 'King Consolidated'.  This is where Amous Sapp. works.  The Plomosa Placer Properties is at the right."

The first photo at the top of this post was one taken in July of 1918, before Fred (‘Jack’) went to France.  (It is the last photo of the seven of them together, because their mother died before Fred returned from France.)
At about that same time, the photo below was taken of their mother, Narcissa, with several of her Brown grandchildren.  I believe that the photo includes (left to right) these children:  Walt, Lorne, Kay, George, and Robert.

In 1934 Walter and May moved to Oregon; and the following photo was taken on February 17, 1934, prior to their move.  Does anyone know where this photo was taken?  I would love to know that little detail!  Here they all are, with names included:

Although there are still many stories to tell about our grandfathers, my next blog post will move on to sharing things I have learned about their father, George Eugene Brown Sr; I’ll be scrambling now to learn just a little more about his life!    😉

Friday, April 5, 2019

...And Then There Was a Wedding...!

As I was going through folders of digital pictures today, I made another discovery!  One day many years ago when I was frantically copying recipes from Grandma’s cookbook, she told me not to worry, that it would be mine someday.  I treasure that cookbook dearly!  It is falling apart badly, but I have carefully taken photographs of some of the pages.   Today I took a minute to look at the first couple of pages.  I was amazed to find that ‘bullet journals’ are nothing new!!  Take a look at her cookbook index, in the front of the book:

But the real revelation was right there inside the front cover!  You may remember me mentioning the cookbook Walter’s sister Lizzie had, which was later used by his mother for bookkeeping - how it had information about the school Lizzie attended, which I was able to use to find more schooling information for both she and Walter.  Well.  May’s cookbook was also begun in school, “Los Angeles Polytechnic H” (we know that Walter’s brother Fred (Jack) attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High), and May has written a date of 1908; so we know a little more about May's education!
Notice on the left side, inside the cover:  "The oven test for cake"!
 May saved an autograph album, given to her by her sister Zetta (Peg) in 1905.  There is one particular entry, from early August, 1908, which I will share here.  I know that Walter liked clover when he raised cows, but this is an earlier comment about clover:

My Grandpa (Walter) was a builder!  From a very young age, and all of his life, he built homes.  And there was nothing ‘cookie-cutter’ about the way he built them!  The large home he built for his mother on Aldama was an early Craftsman style home (although the big porch reminds me of the South, where his mother was born and raised); he built many wonderful Craftsman style homes in Eagle Rock (one newspaper account states that he built over 300 homes there!); when he built in Goodyear Park, providing workers there with homes, they were smaller bungalows; when he built homes in El Monte, they were elegant stucco homes, with soft flowing lines; and when he built homes in Oregon, he used wooden shingles as siding, reflecting the beautiful wood products here.

Early in Walter and May’s courtship, Walter spent time in Portland, Oregon, working as a roofer.  Daddy said Walter was fast at putting shingles on - that only one other person ever beat him!  Portland was a long distance from Los Angeles - but the postal service was well-used:
We've been unable to locate this address on current maps.
We have located this home; there is a photograph of it on an earlier post.
 Two more wonderful treasures were shared with me recently!  My cousin Tim is the son of Walt Brown, oldest son of Walter.  Walt worked alongside his father in many building projects, and was given Walter’s shingle hatchet and finish hammer.  Those special items were then given to Tim, who passed them to me.  I wish I had taken a photo of Tim holding them.  Walt told Tim that Walter used this hammer exclusively, for everything - even 16 penny nails!  I do have a photo of my nephew Jay (great-grandson of Walter, and also a builder) alongside Daddy, with the shingle hatchet and hammer.  I wonder if Walter used these tools in Portland, so many years ago?

As I’ve located newspaper articles about buildings completed by Walter, I’ve begun to feel that he liked to work hard and quickly in completing projects!  Once I was doing a Google search for ‘Walter Brown carpenter’ and I found an application being made to declare a wonderful old building in Eagle Rock as being a historic site; and I saw that Walter Brown was listed as the ‘master carpenter’!  It was a time-sensitive project, and he met his deadline - in 1914, when he was only 28 years old.

Another search I did revealed some information that I believe may relate to Walter and May’s wedding.  An October 17, 1963 issue of the Highland Park News-Herald and Journal had an interesting article about the history of Highland Park Baptist Church, where Walter and May were married in 1910.  The church originally met in the Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoons, and was organized in 1907, meeting for a time at the Masonic Hall.  We know by other articles that Walter and May had both been associated with a Sunday school being held in the area for several years prior to that time.  The newspaper article I found had a graphic giving information about construction of the first building:  lots purchased, October 1909; ground broken, May 24, 1910; building dedication, October 9, 1910.
The builder is not mentioned, but it looks to me like someone who worked hard and quickly may have been in charge of this project!  Also significant is the fact that the dedication of the new church building was held on October 9.  Walter and May’s wedding was held there nine days later, on October 18!

In 2016, Steve and I had the privilege of meeting my cousins, Joan Brown Ashcraft and her brother James Brown, at Highland Park Baptist Church; we attended the morning service there together.  I took this photo of the inside of the sanctuary (the part of the church built in 1910), but was told that the front of the room was previously the back of the room, so it would have looked differently at the time of Walter and May’s wedding.

If the building project was not yet completed when the invitations were mailed, a bit of faith may have been required when this was sent out:

The marriage license is dated October 17, 1910; the marriage is certified as taking place on October 18, 1910.  Walter had been 24 since February; May had been 20 for just one month.

The wedding account is very interesting, and mentions family members.  If you click on it you will be able to read it more easily.  May’s sister Zetta was Maid of Honor; and Walter’s brother Joseph was a Groomsman.
 Two items from the above clipping deserve further attention.  Otto F. Stille of San Diego served as Best Man for Walter.  The following photo is one that my sister-in-law Mary photographed for me, when she and Alan were living with Grandma (May).  Grandma told Mary, concerning the photo:  “This photo of Otto Stille was taken 1909 or 1910.  Otto was a friend from Pittsburgh, and Best Man in our wedding.  He later told me that he’d been waiting for me to grow up, and Grandpa ‘stole a march’ on him!”

If anyone reading this has a photo of their Brown grandfather and wife, especially when they were young, or of their marriage, I would love to have a copy to share here.   I am so glad that we have these photos of Walter and May!
Two notes on the above photo:  May created her own gown, on her mother's treadle sewing machine.  Also, did you notice how shiny Walter's shoes are?  My cousin was told that Walter had previously gone dancing in the evenings [after a long day of hard work!!], but when he met May, he 'hung up his dancing shoes'!
Another thing suggested by the newspaper clipping:  the location of their ‘first home’.   I want to show you the photo May kept, of that first home.  The address number and street name had both changed over time; but one evening when I was ‘driving’ up and down streets in the area (via GoogleMaps), I spotted the house!  We were able to stop by on our 2016 trip to Eagle Rock, and see it up close.  Here is the photo of the home, in 1910:
The good news is that they had a lovely new home built by Grandpa to move into and hold their reception in, on October 18, 1910.  The bad news is, the home sold four days later, on October 22nd!  Well, I guess that was actually good news, since they wanted it to sell; but May kept a list of dates and homes they lived in, and the list is four pages long!  Walter built houses; when one house was ‘finished’ enough to move into, the one they were living in went up for sale, and they apparently sold quickly.

I want to begin to talk about George Eugene Brown, 1856-1909, my great-grandfather; but first I’d like to tell a little more about Walter and May’s family, both their children and their siblings; and a little more about homes that Walter built.  And the Old Ranch!  And the Canada Trip!  And their move to Oregon!
Actually, I could write about Walter and May and their family all year, but I guess some of that will have to wait for a book ‘someday’. . .  I really am anxious to tell you more of what I've learned about their ancestors!

Friday, March 22, 2019

May: Growing Up and Living in California

I’m finally back!  I’ve been enjoying many fun activities and travels and all, but needing to write a blog post has been in the back of my mind.  And, it’s Confession Time again.

I confessed earlier that I had to realize that my neat and tidy plan for writing about one ancestor at a time, for one month at a time, was not working very well.

Now I have to let go of another part of my original plan!  I wanted to tell everything, and I wanted to tell it in chronological order.  But I’m realizing something.  If I spend too much time worrying about getting everything in perfect order, and somehow including everything, I will never get to tell you all the stories I want to tell!  So I’ve decided to just ramble on, and if I remember/find something later, I’ll simply tell you about it when I remember or find it, okay?

And, now it’s time to tell you something else before I forget!  If anyone has something to add, or something to contest, or something to question, or anything at all to say, please email me at the email address I use to send you a link to my blog.  I am so happy when I hear from you all!  And, I will be delighted to include your parts of the story, here in the blog (with credit given, of course!).

Since we are about to follow up on the story of Walter and May’s romance, I wanted to point out that May was 13 or 14 years old when they moved to Los Angeles in 1904, and her sister was 10 or 11 years of age.  I wish I knew details about May's schooling in California.  I do know that her brother-in-law, Frederick Morgan Brown (later known as ‘Jack’), who was one year younger than May, “completed grammar school in the Avenue 54 School of Highland Park and went a year and a half to Polytechnic High” (from a World War I Soldier Service card, which is filled out in May’s handwriting!).  It seems pretty likely that May attended that same school, since she lived at (then) 129 East Avenue 58 (now 129 South Avenue 58).  Another confession:  I just now made this connection, between her schooling and that of Walter’s brother, and now I am fighting the urge to go research that!  (…so I can keep things in order and complete.  Oh dear!)

In the story of Walter and May’s romance, I included a ‘just finished’ photo of the house that the Ludwigs lived in during the first part of their time in Highland Park, taken before landscaping was begun. That photo was one that our cousin Toni has.  I am attaching again a copy of that home taken later, after they were living there.  Grandma told me that she remembered playing with paper dolls on the upstairs porch which opened off the bedroom she shared with her sister.  
We located and photographed that home in 2011; it had been painted a dull beige.  When we drove by again on a trip in 2016, it had been updated in red, white, and blue!  Note that the tiny palm tree, planted over 110 years previously, has a towering top which makes it look like a telephone pole!

We found a rather interesting home on our trip in 2016 - we were just driving around in an area of Highland Park, where we speculated that Walter might have done construction, and we happened on this home - very similar to the home above, only better - with a wrap-around porch:
We also found a home on that street in Highland Park that was extremely similar to one that we know Walter built (and his family lived in), in Eagle Rock.  I will post that photo later.  Does anyone feel the urge to research property records in Los Angeles County?  Newspaper articles usually say that ‘Mr. ….is building a home’ - which doesn’t tell us who the actual builder is.
Now we have May in Highland Park, possibly going to school with Walter’s younger brother; and Walter and May are both attending Highland Park Baptist Church, according to various news articles, photos, and a baptismal certificate.   Aha!! I just realized that this newspaper article describes a party which May and Zetta attended the previous Tuesday evening, for the eighth grade pupils of the Avenue 54 school, held at a home at 132 East Avenue 58 - so they did go to Avenue 54 school, and it sounds like the party was very close to their home at 129 East Avenue 58.  May would have been 16, Zetta 13.  A second article from the November 3, 1906 issue of the Highland Park Herald reveals that the two girls were also present at a party the previous Wednesday evening, at a home on East Avenue 59.

So, in November of 1906 May was included in a list of ‘little folks’; and less than two years later, in August of 1908, Walter was writing to her father, with a declaration of his love for May.  Linnea shared that May said she wasn’t ready to marry, that she was just a little girl!

However, by 1909, May is listed in a Los Angeles City Directory as being a bookkeeper for the Vita Manufacturing Company; and her address is shown as 5676 Hub.  [There is a photo of May and Zetta outside that home, in the post about Walter and May’s romance, with the notation ‘Working days’. That is the address that Walter was sending letters and postcards to during their engagement.]  May was obviously putting her bookkeeping training to good use, working for a company that provided dry batteries.  My husband Steve remembers his grandfather (who lived at a remote location where there was no electricity) having a radio that ran by dry batteries.  The first photo below has a sign on the wheel referring to ‘Prosperity Week’ during November 1908.  Since these photos were in May’s photo album, she was likely working there at that time.

 This photo of May was also included in the album:
And the next photo, a portrait of May with her mother, Delia Ludwig, does feature the engagement ring on May’s left hand:
Two more photos of May, who was undeniably beautiful!
Grandma wrote on the back of this photo, to explain the reason for the photograph:

I hope I don’t find out that there is a limit to the number of photos I can post on this blog!  I do want to include one more photo from 1909 before I close this post.  Walter and May had taken part in a popular excursion tour, and were at Hotel Redondo on July 4th, 1909.  They are standing just behind three little girls in the photo:
Remember - you can make the photos larger, by clicking on them!  : )

At the time of the census in May of 1910, the Ludwig family, including May and Lizetta, lived on Aldama Street, near the intersection with Baltimore Street.  No street number is given on the census, but that would be in the area of 5768 Aldama Street, where Walter built the large home for his mother.  Are you keeping track of all the homes the Ludwig and Brown families lived in?  You haven’t seen anything yet!

I’ve been talking about some of May’s activities, leading up to her wedding to Walter in 1910.  It is my intention to post again soon, to fill you in on some of what Walter was occupying his time with as the special day drew near!  It appears to me that he had a deadline, and worked hard to meet it - as we see him do repeatedly in his years as a builder…