"no longer take things at second or third hand..."

I have--as all genealogists must--a few brick walls that I just can't seem to bring down. Annoyingly enough, two of them concern my closest surnames: Burnett and Brown. And both of these walls are rife with confusions. So it was a delight when I recently discovered an obituary for a maternal second great-grandfather, Silas W Brown. Finally, there would be some answers--or at least, clarifications!

It appeared in the Carrollton [Missouri] Daily Democrat, 20 November 1893, under the--what is the opposite of "charming?"--heading "Death's Doings." Let me provide a complete, annotated transcription:

"S. W. Brown, aged 65 years [incorrect], died at his home in Carrollton at 4 a. m. this morning. Deceased has lived in Carrollton for 18 years [incorrect] and his many friends will mourn his loss. He leaves a wife and five children [incorrect]. Three sons, Marion, Lee and Clarence reside in Kansas City, one daughter, married, lives in Marceline, and one in Carrollton, the wife of Jas. Williford [incorrect]. Funeral to-morrow at 2:30 p.m. at residence under the auspices of the Masonic Lodge."

Five sentences, at least four errors (I would like to believe that he did in fact have many friends). Clearly, this was not the treasure trove of information for which I was hoping. Let me explain the errors.

"aged 65 years"   Silas W Brown was born about 1835, based on the information given in the Federal Censuses of 1850, 1870, and 1880, as well as his Civil War records, making him about 58 at the time of his death. He had been suffering from heart disease for a number of years, and had been receiving a Civil War pension as an invalid since 1889.



"lived in Carrollton for 18 years"   That would put Silas and family in Carrollton from about 1875 onward. Perhaps, but not consecutively. The 1870 Census shows the Brown family living in Chillicothe, in neighboring Livingston County, so it is possible that by 1875 they had moved to Carrollton. But by 1880, the family had uprooted and was living in Buena Vista (pronounced "byoona vista" at the insistence of Mrs Alsina Dearheimer, who named the newly-formed town), Colorado. Apparently Silas decided to give up his life as a clerk in a store for the life of a prospector(!), which is listed as his occupation on said Census; this is certainly consistent with the peripatetic approach to careers the Brown men seem to have. The Browns lived in Colorado at least long enough for one of their children to be born there (daughter Lula Ethel Brown, 7 Dec 1880 - 2 May 1944), before returning to (apparently) Carrollton.

"leaves a wife and five children"   Silas did leave his wife, the former Malinda J Carter (30 Jan 1849 - 8 Jan 1924), but in 1893, at least eight of the couple's eleven children were still living. Besides the aforementioned sons Marion, Lee, and Clarence, and the two married daughters (about whom more briefly), there were daughters Lula Ethel, Leona (Apr 1888 - aft 1905), and Nina Fay (Sep 1890 -bef 1940). There is the possibility that the other three children also survive Silas in 1893, but by the 1900 Census, we know that at least three of Malinda's children are dead, with two more following by 1910.

"the wife of Jas. Williford"   Silas' daughter Bertha E Brown (21 May 1870 - 15 Aug 1952) married James Henry Willerford (May 1860 - 1907) on 7 June 1884. And for those of you not paying attention, that would be just two weeks after her fourteenth birthday; but not to worry: on the marriage license, the verbal consent of her father was given.... A few years--and five children--later, Bertha and James moved to Los Angeles, California, then split up. In 1905 she remarried, this time to the remarkably named Cephas Hurburt Miller Shibley (prob 28 Mar 1855 - Dec 1934); she was his second, or possibly third wife. He was quite a character, and deserves a blog entry of his own, but I digress.... In 1915, she next married Henry Bricks (1 May 1878 - 30 May 1952), whom she outlived by just a few months.

The daughter living in Marceline is presumably Alice M Brown (Aug 1867 - aft 1956?), who at the time of her father's death was married to William M Rogers (bef 1863 -abt 1897); on 8 January 1912 she married Albert O Wilson (1867 - 28 May 1956).

Other questions and confusions still remain. Who are the other two unnamed Brown children? Was Nina Fay Brown ever married to a man named Albert Wires (and was his last name Wire, Wires, or Wyres; there are documents with all these spellings)? Many people seem to think so, citing as evidence an application for marriage issued to Nina and Albert (although Nina had not signed it) on 29 Dec 1909. Whether they intended to marry but did not, or even if this is the same Nina Brown (which I doubt--there are other factual discrepancies) remains to be discovered. At any rate, our Nina Fay Brown did get married in 1909, but to Melvin I Martin (17 Jan 1881- 11 Jan 1967); while Albert shows as "Single" on the 1910 Federal Census, but married Edna N Silvers about 1915.


The dubious document.


So that seems settled. But... each answer seems to add another question! Melvin I Martin was born in Oregon and lived in Southern California his entire life. In 1900, he was working as an assistant school janitor, by 1910, he is a stone cutter. How did he cross paths (let alone marry) a farmer's daughter born and raised in Missouri? My guess is that Nina went to Los Angeles to visit her sister Bertha.

Brick walls.

My ongoing thanks to Diana Gale Matthiesen (and her useful website Diana, Goddess of the Hunt — for Ancestors!  at http://dgmweb.net/GenealogyHome.html), my guide to all things Brown. I hope at least some of this information will be new to her!

1. Silas W Brown was born in New York State in about 1835, to Willard Brown (abt 1806 - aft 1860) and Mary "Polly" Rasey (21 Oct 1808 - 12 Dec 1868), sixth of their thirteen children. The family lived briefly in Henrietta Township, Ohio, then moved to Castleton, Michigan by 1850. On 7 Aug 1861, Silas enlisted in the Union Army, serving with Michigan's Company D, 6th Infantry Regiment as a private, beginning 20 August. He was mustered out of the same regiment on 23 Aug 1864. On 22 Oct 1865 he married Malinda J Carter (30 Jan 1849 - 8 Jan 1924), daughter of William Carter (1800 - 1849) and Melinda Johnson (1813 - 1902). The Browns had eleven children, living primarily in central Missouri, with a brief stay in Colorado circa 1880, where Silas attempted prospecting, despite his military records indicating he had incurred "heart damage" during his service. By 1890, he was an invalid, and died  on 20 Nov 1893. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Carrollton, Missouri, and was provided with a Veteran's headstone by the U S Government.

2. Clarence Edgar Brown (1 Dec 1878 - 21 Aug 1937), married Cora Mabel Kinman (4 Sep 1876 - 22 Aug 1958), daughter of William Edwin Kinman and Sarah Jane Conley, on 16 Sep 1903, in Morgan, Minnesota.

3. Dana Earl Brown (26 Jan 1910 - 10 Sep 1984) married Myrna Margaret Severin (6 Nov 1907 - 12 Jun 1997), daughter of John Jacob "Jack" Severin and Isabelle "Belle" Runser, on 21 Oct 1933, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

4.  Beverly Alane Brown (8 Aug 1934 - 7 Mar 2010) married [Living] Burnett, son of Leroy Stanley Burnett and Hazel Lucille Erickson, on 4 Mar 1961, in Long Beach, California.

5. Your humble blogger.



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