Friday, July 31, 2020

The question everyone is asking: Who Were George's Parents?

Okay, time to address the ‘burning question’ - who were the parents of George Eugene Brown Sr.??

Of course, Joseph and Elizabeth Breed Baker were George’s adoptive parents, and I plan to write about them in a later post; but we can’t help wondering who his birth parents were.  I’ve done a bit of work on this subject, and want to share what I’ve learned.  I’m afraid it’s a bit technical, but I want you to understand why I’ve reached the conclusions I am sharing.

DNA alert - this Section deals with DNA.  And DNA does not lie.  However, it does take work to interpret DNA, and it does not necessarily tell us every detail.  Multiple triangulations of chromosome locations (available only at MyHeritage, 23andMe, FTDNA) are helpful to confirm relationships.

I mentioned earlier that my brother Larry did Y-DNA testing in 2012; we found we are indeed Browns; and I added his information to the Brown Project at FTDNA.  They categorized us as being a part of Brown Group 10.  That means our Brown line has been in the U.S.A. for several hundred years - the first Francis Brown came from England to Virginia in the early 1600’s.  That is fantastic - but it didn’t tell me who George’s father was!  Larry took another, more extensive Y-DNA test, which we hoped would yield better answers, but it did not.

We made our trip to Texas early in 2014, and we thoroughly enjoyed that; but when we came home, we still didn’t know who George’s parents were!  We needed to find the ‘bridge’ between George in the 1800's, and the Browns in Virginia in the 1600’s!  (Some people in Brown Group 10 have records going all the way back.)

This demonstrates that the DNA we receive from our grandparents is not evenly received.
Daddy said we didn't really have a family tree - we had a stump!

That fall I asked Daddy if he would take an autosomal DNA test (‘Family Finder’), which he willingly did.

It doesn’t matter with Y-DNA, but it’s important to test the oldest family members first with the commonly used autosomal DNA test, because each generation has DNA which has been divided over and over again - with the results shown in the illustration.

I’ve done autosomal/FamilyFinder DNA testing along with Daddy (at Ancestry, FTDNA, and MyHeritage), and each time he has had greater numbers of matches that lead to more distant generations, with higher centimorgan (cM) levels shared with those matches.  It is difficult to know the exact level of relationship with a match going by cM levels alone; but it does give good clues about how close the relationship is.  [Daddy has also done DNA testing at 23andMe, with good results.]

On November 12, 2014, we received Daddy’s autosomal DNA test results:
• Daddy’s closest match, William O’Grady Snellings, was predicted to be a 2nd-3rd cousin, and shared 263.57 cM of DNA with Daddy.  William Snellings (who died in 2016) was Daddy’s 2nd cousin - William was the grandson of Mollie McMurrain; Mollie was the sister of Daddy’s grandmother, Narcissa McMurrain, and the daughter of John W. McMurrain and Phebe Ann Motley.

• Daddy’s 2nd closest match, Ricky Alan Brock, was also predicted to be a 2nd-3rd cousin; he shared 130.52 cM of DNA with Daddy. 

Now, I need to tell you, that only a small percentage of DNA matches will ever respond to an email with a request for more information, which can make it nearly impossible to figure out a connection at Ancestry, which does not have a Chromosome browser; it's a little easier at FTDNA.  But, when I emailed Ricky Brock’s wife, she replied quickly, and I learned that Ricky Brock was the grandson of Catherine Evie Brown, a granddaughter of Wiley Brown - a part of Brown Group 10.

If Wiley Brown is our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA), and we believe that is true, then my father is Ricky’s 1st cousin once removed (1C1R).

[In the case of William Snellings, he and Daddy descend from both John W. McMurrain and Phebe Ann Motley.  I believe that Daddy and Ricky Brock both descend from Wiley, but from different mothers.  Daddy has only one match from a child by Wiley’s 1st marriage; the others are from Wiley's 2nd marriage.  Because there is another son named ‘George’ from Wiley’s 1st marriage; and because our George’s birth occurs during Wiley's 1st marriage, it does not appear that either wife is our George’s mother.  And DNA matches suggest another mother.] 

Many, many matches since those first results have continued to confirm and demonstrate that Wiley Brown was George’s father.  Typically, only a few matches have a tree that confirms the connection - I’ve built a few trees for other people, which have confirmed our relationship.

Even though matches with trees are scarce, there are 12 DNA matches at Ancestry alone that do have a tree which demonstrates that they descend from Wiley Brown.  Those matches with trees, who descend from Wiley, who are at 3-4 generations removed from Daddy match him at 31-76cM; those who are only 1 generation removed from Daddy match at 125-213cM, with most at 125-170cM.

In addition to his 12 matches descending from Wiley who have a tree, Daddy has 17 other matches who descend from Wiley’s brothers, and have a tree; but they match him with far lower amounts of DNA.  Matches who are 1-3 generations farther removed than Daddy match him at 6-21cM, mostly in the 9-12cM range, with only three from only 1 generation out, and they match at 30-34cM.

The contrast in the number of centimorgans Daddy has with those two different groups of matches is a good indicator that Wiley is George’s father.  We have a definite connection to Wiley Brown; and the fact that we match his descendants more closely that we match his siblings' descendants tells us this:

• Because Daddy’s matches that descend from Wiley Brown are so much closer, we can conclude that Wiley is our MRCA.

• Because Daddy’s matches that descend from Henry Brown (through Wiley’s siblings) are more distant, we can conclude that Wiley’s father, Henry Brown, is our MRCA for those matches; but Wiley is George’s father.
Again, Henry Brown and his descendants have been confirmed (by other members of Brown Group 10) to be a part of Brown Group 10.  And now here is a photo of Wiley Brown, with his second wife, Mary Ann:
This photo of Wiley and Mary Ann Brown is a composite photo, made by using photos shared with me by our cousins Nan Brown Haygood, Kim Brown, and Mark Brown.  The faces have been enhanced by technology available at MyHeritage. 
Learning more about Wiley Brown:
Wiley Brown was born in 1818, most likely in Mississippi, or so the 1850 and 1860 census records report.  He was living in Simpson County, Mississippi at the time of those two census records - with his first wife, Louissa Findley in 1850; and with his second wife Mary Ann (possibly Puckett) in 1860.  [Note:  we do not appear to share any DNA matches with Findley or Puckett descendants.]  Later census records (1870, 1880) state that Wiley was born in Georgia - which was his family’s location prior to their move to Mississippi.

Wiley’s father, Henry Brown, was born in 1785 in North Carolina.  It appears that Henry’s parents were in Jefferson County, Georgia, by 1794; because Henry’s siblings who were born between 1794 and 1805 are shown on various records as being born in that location in Georgia.
Henry Brown and his father, Francis Brown, are both shown on the 1818 census (below) for Lawrence County, Mississippi.  Henry’s sister Agnes (this is Wiley’s aunt), was born in North Carolina, and married John Lambert in 1810 in Burke County, Georgia.  John Lambert is listed on this 1818 census, also, between Francis and Henry. 
1818 Census for Lawrence County, Mississippi; includes Francis Brown, John Lambert, and Henry Brown.
So, we see that our Brown ancestors came down from Virginia, through North Carolina, through Georgia, and then over into Mississippi (although some of Henry’s siblings ended up in Louisiana), and eventually over to Texas.

Are your eyes spinning yet??? 

To summarize: we believe (with very good DNA indication!) that Wiley Brown was George's father.

Now, the next question is:  who was George's mother??

I have to be honest.  If I were not considering DNA results, I could come up with a number of great theories, complete with compelling arguments, for who George's mother was.  However, DNA does not lie.  And . . .

Daddy has a second group of matches at Ancestry (and other DNA testing locations) which it is impossible to ignore.  I while back, I began to notice the surname "May" coming up rather often in Daddy's matches at Ancestry.  Particularly among his close cousin matches.

One Saturday I decided to take pencil and paper, and see if these "May matches" were connected in some way.  What I found was that the reasonably close ones all descended from a Philip May and his wife Elizabeth, who were living in Simpson County, Mississippi, at the time of the 1850 census.   I did mention that Wiley Brown was living in Simpson County, Mississippi, at the time of the 1850 census, didn't I?  Philip and Elizabeth May had twelve children listed in their household in 1850; four of those children were daughters who were between the ages of 21 and 13 in 1850; they would have been between the ages of 27 and 20 in 1856, when our George was born.
1850 Simpson County, Mississippi, census with Philip May family, beginning line 19.
Similar to the situation with Wiley's connection, DNA is telling us that we descend from this May family; the fact that both families were in the same location in 1850 is a very compelling piece of information, as well.  The difference here is that we don't have a clear identification of the mother.  She may not have had other children; or it may be that none of her descendants have done DNA testing - yet!  Maybe one day there will suddenly be a very close match, and we will know exactly who George's mother was.

Daddy does have one DNA match who matches him at 119cM, and that match descends from Philip May's son, Richard Paul May (who was only 2 in 1850).  Another descendant who matches him at 107cM seems to be a May descendant (since the matches he shares with Daddy are May descendants); we don't know which May he descends from.  A second match who matches Daddy at 107cM is actually a descendant of a Bass family - and that Bass family was first in Simpson County, Mississippi; and later in Texas, in the area where George was born.  I have a theory about our numerous Bass matches, we'll see if I can prove it . . .

The next match, who matches Daddy at 104 cM, descends from Philip May's youngest daughter (who wasn't even born in 1850).   Sprinkled in between these matches, with similar cM numbers, are people who match Daddy via siblings of Narcissa Lorena McMurrain - his grandmother's siblings; or who match Daddy via his grandfather's siblings (i.e. George's siblings, Wiley's other children).   Since the majority of the May matches are a little farther down the list (less cM DNA) I think that those 'May matches' are people who descend from George's aunts and uncles - siblings of the unknown May female who was a child of Philip May. 

You can't imagine how many hours I have spent, trying to give a name to George's mother.

My most recent blog posts are actually a matter of documenting what I have found.  I hope that others will want to continue this research in the future; and if I leave a record of what I've learned, they won't have to start 'from scratch'.  

The following map of Mississippi, from the early 1800's, shows the counties of Lawrence, Simpson, Rankin, Copiah, Jasper, and Jones; all of these counties are mentioned in records from Wiley Brown, and/or his father Henry Brown, or other siblings or relatives.
Philip May is shown by many trees as having died in 1852.  I have seen no documentation for that.  However, by 1860, his wife Elizabeth, and all but the oldest of his children, have left Simpson County, Mississippi, and may be found in Texas (in more than one location) in the census that year.  Of course, there is a record which indicates that George was born in Cold Springs, Texas, in 1856.

Wiley Brown's sister, Louisa Brown Holbrook, moved from Mississippi to Texas; she was living in Nacogdoches, Texas, by the time the 1880 census was taken.  Nacogdoches is about 35 miles from San Augustine. By the time of the 1880 census, George and his adoptive mother (Elizabeth Breed Baker) had come back from up north, and were living in San Augustine, so just 35 miles from the area where Wiley's sister now lived.

Wiley had moved from Mississippi to Texas by December 1873.  He is shown in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1880; he purchased property in Angelina County, Texas in 1883; and he died in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1889.  Wells, in Cherokee County, is over 50 miles from San Augustine.  Angelina County is about 45 miles from San Augustine, if you don't go through Cherokee County.  The 1860 map illustrates where these ancestors were in 1860.

So, these people all moved from the same County in Mississippi and ended up living fairly near each other in a relatively small portion of Texas.  In fact, one of Joseph May's daughters (who was married twice, and gave birth to a daughter near the time of George's birth, in 1856, and a son in 1860) was living in San Augustine at the time of the 1860 census . . . which is likely about the time the Bakers adopted George!!  ...actually, I haven't been able to find when she married her second husband - what if she had twins in 1856, and gave away George...  See what I mean???  It's easy to come up with scenarios, but these blog posts must be fact, not fiction!  (Still, I may want to pursue that possibility a little more...)

So many intertwining strands - it is unlikely that we will ever know all the details; but it has been interesting to share about some of the things I've learned.

Coming soon:  Why did the Northerners come South?  Let's learn about the Breeds and the Bakers next time - not to mention the Rodger family who came over from Scotland!

Friday, July 24, 2020

. . . more about who George was . . .

Addendum to my last post:
In looking through the images I brought back from our Texas trip in 2014, I found two items that actually should have been included last week, but here they are now:

1861-1862 - School:  Our very last research stop on our trip to Texas was at the Huntsville Public Library.  Although the staff member for their amazing (!) Genealogy Room was not in on that day, a staff member from the main part of the library produced a key and let us into the room to research without assistance.  I took two photos of pages from an "Inventory and Index" book which I browsed through; but I didn't have access to the boxes they referenced.  I was hoping to find adoption papers for George, but was happy to find the following two items:
Index pages for records and loose papers from San Augustine County, Texas, listing George E Brown.
Actually, the first page did not list George Brown - it listed George Baker, along with Elizabeth Baker and J.T. Baker.  Joseph did have a cousin named George Baker; but since he wouldn't have been a child at that date, and I don't find any record of that George in Texas, and since there are typically three people of each surname shown on the list, it sounds more like a listing of parents and students, done alphabetically.  The index calls it a Tabular Statement of Schools, and identifies it as being for the 1861-1862 school year.  Perhaps I will contact the library, to see if they will look and see what is in "Box 5, folder 19"!  If this is 'our' George, it tells us he was with Joseph and Elizabeth by 1861.

1878-1879 - Citizen of San Augustine:  On the second index page, George E Brown is part of a list of citizens who received pay for jury duty, work on the courthouse, feeding prisoners, or other services.  This establishes his return to San Augustine as happening by 1878 or 1879.

So - this would mean George left San Augustine in 1864 (at age 8, when Joseph Baker died) and likely returned by 1878 (age 22) or earlier.

This brings us back to the end of the previous blog post:

1883-1889 - Events in Georgia and Texas:   After their marriage on April 12, 1883, George and Narcissa (McMurrain) Brown may have continued to live in San Augustine, Texas, for a time - since their first child (and only daughter) Elizabeth - "Lizzie" - was born in Texas.

However, there may have been other trips to Narcissa's home in Georgia, because her father, John Wesley McMurrain, passed away on December 28, 1883.

The following spring, Narcissa's niece Lucie Ida Snellings passed away on April 24, 1884, in San Augustine, Texas.

A few months later, in August 1884, George and Narcissa's daughter Elizabeth was born there in Texas.
Redland Lodge No 3, AF AM 1837; photo of B.D. Crockett, positions from 1872-1896.
George may have been associated with the Masonic Lodge in San Augustine, since his brother-in-law was a member.  When we visited Texas, we asked around, and found that the manager of the San Augustine Motor Co., next door to the Lodge, was a member who had a key; and he let us in to look around.  It is a very old building.  I was hoping to find a photo of George, or at least a photo of his brother-in-law; but what I did find was a photo of B.D. Crockett, who is listed in the resolution below.   I would have loved a whole day to look at records there - but it was amazing that we were able to go inside at all!

The following summer, Narcissa's sister (Mary Jane "Mollie" McMurrain Snellings) gave birth to a son, John Franklin "Frank" Snellings, on July 29, 1885, there in San Augustine, Texas.  Just a little over two months later, on October 9, 1885, Mollie's husband, Franklin King Snellings, passed away in San Augustine.  The obituary below has the initials 'GEB' at the end; we believe that his brother-in-law (and our ancestor) George Eugene Brown was the writer.  The transcription and original article, from 1885, follow:

George and Narcissa were in Columbus, Georgia, when Walter Blanchard Brown was born on February 8, 1886.  However, they were living in Texas again in 1887, when George Eugene Brown Jr. was born on September 17, 1887.  They were also living in Texas when Joseph Baker Brown (named for George's adoptive father, Joseph T. Baker) was born on December 27, 1889.

Since this is a bit of a timeline, it should be noted that on November 21, 1887, Elizabeth Baker made application for a pension, based on Joseph Baker's service in the Mexican War.  Information from that application was immensely helpful, as I will detail in a later post.

I will insert information here about another situation which may have meant trips between Texas and Georgia for George and Narcissa:  Mary Jane "Mollie" McMurrain Snellings passed away on September 16, 1891.  At the time of her death in San Augustine, Texas, or possibly earlier, her youngest son, John Franklin "Frank" Snellings, was sent to live with Frank Wilkinson McMurrain, a brother of Mollie and Narcissa.  Frank McMurrain raised Frank Snellings in Georgia, as his own son.

1888 - George was editor of a Newspaper:
G.E. Brown, Ed., "The News", San Augustine, Texas, Vol. I, No. 39:  "A Weekly Newspaper Devoted to the Agricultural and Commercial Interests of the Counties of Sabine, Shelby, Nacogdoches and San Augustine."
This note, written in George's hand, to his adoptive grandfather, A.E. Baker, must have been from about the same time:
Note from George E. Brown to A.E. Baker, circa 1888.
1890 - George's job in Washington, D.C.:
The December 1, 1890, appointment which George received was reported as part of an article in the Friday, February 13, 1895, issue of the Dallas Morning News, under these headlines:  "CIVIL SERVICE LAWS -- No Section Has Been Benefited Under the System as Much as the Gulf States. - Appointments from Texas From July 1, 1890, to February 8, 1895, in the Classified Departmental Service."  Theodore Roosevelt wrote an article specifically to Texans, in addition to a letter to the St. Louis papers, because of a demand in St. Louis for the repeal of the civil service law.  Apparently the civil service law had replaced a 'patronage system' - the new law called for an apportionment of appointments - which meant 292 appointments from Texas, rather than the 24 appointments received from Texas under the patronage system.  Roosevelt referred to the fact that they held a special series of examinations early in 1890 in the southern states, including Texas, advertising as widely as possible the fact that several hundred appointments were to be made - which they were.  He said they had reason to believe that at least three-fourths of the persons appointed through the examinations were democrats - although the administration at Washington was republican - whereas none of them would have been appointed by the old 'spoils' system.

This may have been the first affirmative action project!

Below is the basic article, which I summarized above, as well as the part of the lengthy list which mentions "George E. Brown, San Augustine; interior; $1000; December 1, 1890; clerk."
Friday, February 13, 1895; The Dallas Morning News; report of December 1, 1890, appointment of George E Brown to D.C.
Two months after the death of Narcissa's sister Mollie (in San Augustine, Texas), Narcissa gave birth to Frederick Morgan Brown in Washington, D.C., on November 13, 1891.

George may have begun as a clerk; but by the time the twins, Herbert McMurrain Brown and Hubert Motley Brown, were born on February 16, 1896, George was referred to as a 'Special Examiner' with the U.S. Pension Office when the Knoxville Daily Journal reported on the event the next day.  He was apparently on a field assignment in Knoxville, Tennessee:
1896 births of George Eugene Brown's twin sons in Knoxville, Tennessee.
We have a 'mystery item' which has ties to Knoxville, Tennessee.  It may be from the time of George's work in Tennessee, but when Grandma (May Ludwig Brown) gave it to me, she emphasized that it was 'very old'.  She was born in 1890, six years before George was there as an Examiner.  I've been in contact with a gentleman who descends from the Jett Family, and his grandmother has a collection of these little jugs:
The Little Brown Jug with a Knoxville, TN, address, and the name J.M. Jett on it.
This tiny brown jug, roughly made of pottery, is less than three inches in height.  The jug is very heavy, has a very narrow mouth, and appears to be empty.  On the side of the jug the following has been crudely scratched:  "J M Jett -- 962 Broad Street -- Knoxville, Tenn"

This photo of George, which I am SO glad our cousin Sandy Brown shared with us, has a date of August 1, 1897 attached to it:
George Eugene Brown - August 1, 1897
The 1900 Census confirms details of George and Narcissa's living arrangements at that time.  They were living at 1239 M Street NE in Washington, D.C., which they owned (with a mortgage).  George is listed as an Examiner in the Pension Office, and he is shown on this census as having been born in Texas, with both parents having been born in Alabama (DNA results have made this location seem doubtful).  Narcissa is listed by her middle name, Lorena.  George's adoptive mother, Elizabeth Baker, was living with them - shown as 'm-in-law'.  Most D.C. city directories from this time list them at 1239 M Street NE; some directories list them at 1329 M Street.
1900 Census for George E Brown and Family, 1239 M Street NE, Washington, D.C.
I couldn't find the address on Google maps; but I did 'drive' up and down Morse Street, and found this home, 1239 Morse Street NE, which is definitely in the right area, although it's not necessarily the exact house:
1239 Morse Street NE, Washington, D.C.
The following photo may have been taken in 1901, so I'm listing the ages that everyone would have been in 1901:
Frederick Morgan Brown (10) is standing beside George Eugene Brown (45), and Joseph Baker Brown (12) is standing behind them, while Hubert Motley Brown (5) is standing between George and Elizabeth Breed Baker (73); Walter Blanchard Brown (15) and Lizzie (17) are standing behind Elizabeth and Herbert McMurrain Brown (5) who is holding hands with his mother, Narcissa Lorena Brown (44); George Eugene Brown Jr. (14) is behind his mother.
The faces in the above photo have been enhanced at MyHeritage; the photo below has also been colorized there:
George E. Brown and Family in Washington, D.C. about 1901.
While photos in 1901 weren't color photos, the colorization does make everyone show up very nicely!

In July of 1901, George E Brown shows up in a US Register of Civil Service for the Department of the Interior, Pension Office.  He is shown as a clerk, born in Texas, from San Augustine County, Texas, with compensation of $1,000.00.

Judging from a newspaper clipping, George had been in ill-health since at least 1899; and so he, and possibly his family, spent the winter of 1901-1902 in Arizona, before returning to Washington D.C.  Then, in September 1902 the family headed West on a permanent basis.  According to the September 19, 1902 edition of The Evening Times, Washington D.C.:
1902-09-19 George E Brown moved to California

“Mr. George E. Brown, who, for many years, has been one of the most efficient clerks in the Pension Office, left a few days since for Los Angeles, Cal., where he will permanently reside. Mr. Brown has been one of the faithful workers in the bureau, both as a special examiner in the field, and as a clerk in the certificate division. For two years or more he has been in ill-health, and last winter he spent in Arizona in hopes of gaining benefit from the dry climate of that region. Returning to his desk for a brief time he concluded to seek a home among the orange groves of southern California. The best wishes of a host of friends accompany him on his journey to the Pacific Coast.”

Although the family had moved to the Highland Park area of Los Angeles (according to the1903 Los Angeles City Directory, George E Brown, clk, h es Aldama 1 S of Avenue 61was a resident), the family must have also had a home in Phoenix, Arizona (Narcissa sold at least one home there in 1906).  According to his death certificate, George Eugene Brown passed away at 490 North 3rd Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 21, 1904, because of tuberculosis.
George Eugene Brown, November 21, 1904 certificate of death
 The obituary mentions an address of No. 338 North Third Avenue:
George E Brown obituary, published in the Arizona Republican Newspaper on November 23, 1904.

“George E Brown died on Monday night at No. 338 North Third Avenue of consumption. He was 49 years old and leaves a wife and six sons here and a daughter in Los Angeles. He came here for his health from Washington D.C. where he was a clerk in the pension bureau. The funeral will be held this afternoon at 3 o’clock at Merryman’s parlors, the service being conducted by Rev. Lapsley A. McAfee.”

Will and Probate records for George's estate were nearly non-existent; apparently he had already deeded everything to Narcissa.  The only item to consider was an uncashed, certified check for $1,987.40 payable to George E Brown, drawn by a John Cook on the Columbia National Bank of Washington, D.C.  The check had arrived right before George's death, and he had not been able to cash it.  That check was declared the personal property of his wife, Narcissa Lorena Brown.

The life of George Eugene Brown has impacted the lives of us as descendants in many ways.  Many of us are who we are, and live where we live, because of decisions made in his lifetime.  I'm thankful to have learned more about who George was.

We will learn more about Narcissa in a later post.

But - I know I can not put it off any longer - my next post needs to talk about the results of DNA testing, and what it has revealed about the birth parents of our George Eugene Brown!

Realizing that Elizabeth Breed Brown, his adoptive mother, was mother and teacher and influencer in George's life, I will share what I've learned about her in a later post, and then take a look at our McMurrain ancestry.  Those aspiring to DAR membership will want to listen up!

We have quite a ways to go!! :)

(And, a little later, we will learn about our German and Irish ancestors, the Ludwigs and Gallaghers.)

Friday, July 17, 2020

Who's George?!!

My daughter has participated in an activity called "Where's George?" - a currency tracking project which involves stamping the website address on a dollar bill, entering the bill's serial number on the website, putting the bill into circulation, and then checking the website to see the locations where it has been found.  An interesting activity!
"Where's George" is a fun game to play; but finding out who our George is - that's serious business!

Our George moved around quite a bit, and I want to tell you some things I have learned about where George had been; but the first and larger question is:

Who's George?!!

This is the question we've all wanted the answer to!  For those in my generation, George Eugene Brown Sr. is our great-grandfather, and we'd like to know more about him.  I'm going to share with you some pieces of the puzzle of George; I want to tell you how some of the pieces fit together; and I'll share some puzzle pieces that may or may not fit into the picture in the end, since we must never throw away a puzzle piece until the puzzle is finished!

When I first asked Grandma (May Ludwig Brown) about the parents and siblings of Grandpa (Walter Blanchard Brown), she wasn't able to share as much information about them as she had given me about her family.  She said that George had been adopted by Joseph and Elizabeth Baker (which he was); she thought that the Bakers might have lived up in Washington DC when they adopted George (they did not); and she thought that the Baker family had made a trip to Georgia, where George had met his wife Narcissa (probably not).

The story handed down was that George's father and older brothers ("tall men") were on their way out West, and realized George was too young to make the trip; so they advertised in a newspaper for someone to take care of him until they came back.  The Bakers answered the advertisement, and left his last name as Brown, in case family ever came looking for him, but no one ever did.  The assumption was that the father and brothers were killed by Indians.

I can't begin to tell you how much time I spent trying to find information based on those slim clues; but I was never able to find anything to support that account. 

Additionally, I have researched the Baker family history, which includes a whole section in the library at San Augustine, Texas.  [I forgot to say - I discovered Joseph and Elizabeth Baker living in San Augustine, Texas, in the 1860 census.  Because of Joseph's work, they were also on the census in Huntsville, Texas, that same year!]  The Baker family's version of the story was that Joseph met Elizabeth in Pennsylvania (probably not); that they married in 1857 (we know they married in upstate New York); and that "on the way home they met a lady on the streets with her son, George Brown...she gave them George to raise."  A number of statements in the Baker account are inaccurate (including Elizabeth's maiden name), which casts doubt on the details of their story.  I have found cousins who have heard yet other accounts...

DNA testing has been particularly helpful in solving the question of who George was; and I will talk about that further in a later post.  But I will tell you today (to relieve the suspense, in case you have ever wondered) that we are indeed Browns!  In 2012, prompted by a photo that my brother Larry and his wife saw in the Appomattox Courthouse near their home in Virginia, I began researching the Brown line for this gentleman:
This layout includes a photograph of William Edward Brown - we thought at first that he might have been an ancestor, but found that he isn't!
Any of you who know Larry personally will know that this man bears a distinct likeness to Larry.  When I located this man on a tree at Ancestry, later photos of William Edward Brown looked even more like Larry!  I became acquainted with a descendant of this man's family; in fact, Anne (Brown) Franklin has become a good friend, and has helped me research.  Her brother and my brother each did Y-DNA testing in 2012.  Although Anne's brother and my brother didn't 'match', it did become evident that our family name is indeed 'Brown'!  I added Larry's DNA information to the Brown Project at FTDNA, and we are categorized as being a part of Brown Group 10.  A great deal of research has been done on the origins of this group; but we still didn't know who the 'bridge' was that joined our family to that group.

This is the area in San Augustine where George & Narcissa Brown owned property in the late 1800's.
We made a road trip to East Texas in 2014.  We were able to actually meet with a very nice lady who is a Baker family descendant, as well as visiting the San Augustine Library and  San Augustine Cemetery.  We went through books of legal documents (land records, weddings, court records, etc.) in San Augustine, and were able to view original documents at the Ralph Steen Library in Nacogdoches.  We also went through records at courthouses in Livingston and Coldspring; at Montgomery County Public Library in Conroe; and at the Huntsville Public Library.  I brought back over 560 photos of documents, as well as photos of various locations we visited.  In February of 2014 we knew very little of George's origins, and didn't really learn anything about his parents; but we did learn a great deal about the Baker family, and brought back clues (via details of a lawsuit!) that helped me find and meet a descendant of Elizabeth Breed Baker's family (Elizabeth's mother was a Rodger).  At that time Joyce Rodger lived an hour from our home here, and spending time with her has been both delightful and helpful!  Joyce became a friend, and we've enjoyed doing research together.

There are so many different pieces to this puzzle!  I think I'll attempt to present them to you in the form of a timeline.  My brain actually does better with a chronological presentation - although that may not be obvious so far in this blog post!

1856 - Birth:  according to the 1900 census, George was born in March of 1856.  His adoptive mother, Elizabeth Baker, was living with George's family in 1900, so she may have even given that information.
As to the birth location: the document which was filled out when his son Frederick Morgan Brown was in France gives his birth location as being Cold Springs, Texas (now Coldspring).  That is a significant location for a variety of reasons.  Joseph Baker was a Stage Contractor, and had a route that had a stop in Cold Springs; and Joseph Baker had a friend (his commander when he was in the Mexican War) who was from Massachusetts; but after the war he returned with Joseph to San Augustine, married there, and later operated a plantation at Cold Springs.  That man, Otis Marshall Wheeler, has been a person of interest to me, a possible puzzle piece...

1857 - Marriage of Joseph Baker and Elizabeth Breed:  not technically a part of George's story, but may be significant.

June 1, 1860 - Joseph & Elizabeth Baker were accompanied by a 5-year old male.
1860 - An Unconfirmed Clue:  Fact:  Joseph and Elizabeth were staying at the Eutaw House Hotel in Huntsville, Texas, on June 1, 1860; a five-year-old boy, listed as J.H. Morgan Jr., was with them.  Fact:  Huntsville is about 35 miles from Cold Springs (Coldspring).  Fact:  There is a J.H. Morgan, age 24 listed on the census as a stage driver in San Antonio on August 2,1860; he was staying in a boarding house.  Perhaps he was the father of the boy who was staying with Joseph and Elizabeth.
J. H. Morgan, stage driver, in San Antonio on August 2, 1860.
The 'J. H. Morgan clue' may mean nothing.  However, George and Narcissa did give their sons significant names.   May reported that their first son, Walter, was named for a dear friend, Walter Blanchard; the next son (George Eugene Brown Jr) was named for his father; the next son (Joseph Baker Brown) was named for George's adoptive father; the next son (Frederick Morgan Brown) was named for a friend; and the twins were given middle names (McMurrain & Motley) that reflected their mother's maiden name, and their grandmother's maiden name.  Then, Herbert M Brown named his sons McMurrain "Mac" Baker Brown and Pete Morgan Brown.  Since the 'McMurrain' and 'Baker' were significant, might 'Morgan' also be significant?  This comes under the category of a puzzle piece which doesn't fit - so far.

There could be a possibility that the boy in the 1860 census in Huntsville was actually George.  If child was truly a Morgan, George was adopted between June 1860 and April 30, 1864, when Joseph T Baker died in the War Between the States.

Early in my research, I received xerox copies of copies of photos of George and his adoptive parents:
Joseph T Baker - George Eugene Brown - Elizabeth Breed Baker
This is the only photograph I have of George, prior to about 1900.  It would be fantastic to find another photo of him as a child or young man!!

1864 - Death of George's Adoptive Father:
The death of Joseph T Baker precipitated a number of changes in George's life.  Joseph Baker was the son of a 1st wife; his step-mother and step-siblings may not have been anxious for Elizabeth & the adopted son to inherit - not totally guess-work on my part, considering some legal battles which later went into the 1920's!  Add to that the fact that Elizabeth would have been considered a 'Yankee' and it's easy to see that staying in San Augustine might have been less than comfortable.

1865 - George is in New York:
Apparently Elizabeth went home to her father and step-mother, and is living with George in the village of Jamestown, town of Ellicott, in Chautauqua County, New York on June 26, 1865.  George is listed as George E. Brown, age 9, and is identified as an adopted son, born in Texas:
Elizabeth Baker age 36 - George E Brown age 9 - Thomas Breed household
I'm so glad that some states have a state census on the years between the U.S. Census - very helpful!

The New York census for 1870 shows that Elizabeth's father died in January of 1870.  Some members of Elizabeth's mother's family had moved to Wisconsin; which may explain the fact that Elizabeth and George (referred to as George Baker here) were at this location.  The Butler and Davis couples were also from Chautauqua County, New York, so likely were friends.
1870 - Elizabeth & George Baker - with Henry & Emily Butler, and Wm & Louise Davis, in Walworth Co, Wisconsin.

1873 - Maybe...?
A George E. Brown was attending Ripon College at Fond Du Lac Co., Wisconsin; he was listed as a Preparatory Student from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Our George would have turned 17 in 1873.  This may be a possibility, since the work he did later on indicated that he was well educated.
...a George E Brown was a Preparatory Student in 1873...

1880 - George is back in San Augustine, Texas!
In this census, George, age 24, is listed as a merchant.  It shows that he was born in Texas, that his father was born in Connecticut (this would be Joseph T Baker), and that his mother was born in New York (this would be Elizabeth Breed Baker).
George Brown and Elizabeth Baker were living in San Augustine, Texas, on June 7, 1880.

Something else interesting occurred in 1880 - the Liberty Hill Baptist Church was organized that year.  It is still an active church, and is in the area where George and his wife later lived (see the church sign in a photo above).  The cornerstone from the original church is included in the new building, which still adjoins Liberty Hill Cemetery, where a niece of George and Narcissa is buried.  The second person on the list of Charter Members, Mrs. Mollie (Mary Jane) Snelling, is a sister of Narcissa McMurrain Brown.  Because her sister and family were already living in San Augustine, it is likely that George met his wife there - perhaps Narcissa came to visit her sister?

1883 - George E Brown married Narcissa Lorena McMurrain! 
Cornerstone of Liberty Hill Baptist Church in San Augustine, Texas - located 2-3 miles north of San Augustine on Texas Hwy. 147.
On April 12, 1883, George E Brown and Narcissa Lorena McMurrain were married.  When I found the first online index copy which listed their names, I was excited!  Then, when were were in San Augustine, at the County Records Department, and found the page where their marriage was recorded in a large book from the 1800's, I was even more excited!
...a record of the marriage of George Eugene Brown and Narcissa Lorena McMurrain, April 12, 1883...
But then we made a trip up to Nacogdoches, to the Ralph Steen Library.  I had done my homework ahead of time, from an online index; and I had a list of box numbers I wanted to look through.  I actually had a bad case of bronchitis at the time, and had been going through boxes and folders for hours.  I almost didn't have them bring the last box out.  I'm so glad I did!!   Here is what it said on the lid of the box: last box to look through: Marriage Licenses 1856-1903, unprocessed... 
They had a small sleeve for marriage licenses for 1883.  Could it possibly hold what I hoped to see??

...their actual wedding license was there - I was ecstatic!!
...the outside...
...and the inside!!

As long as this post is, I do have a few more things to share about who George E. Brown was.  Did you know that George was the editor of a newspaper?  Did you know that he was part of what may have been the first affirmative action project, when he received a Civil Service appointment in 1890?  Stay tuned for more about George! 

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!    😉