Monday, February 20, 2017

John and Ellen

John Brown was killed instantly on the evening of June 3, 1873 when he fell under the wheels of a train bound for Piqua, Ohio.  (See Death Register below.1)  The accident happened about one half
John Brown death register
(click to enlarge
mile from where he was living at the quarry of his brother-in-law, Peter Burns, on Dublin Road.  There is no indication that the train was stopped or that the conductor even knew of the accident; nor, was there an indication in the news articles of who found John’s dismembered body.  (From the article In the Ohio State Journal, the discovery must have been just as the accident occurred.  See the article from the Ohio State Journal in the last post.)  The coroner, Patrick Egan, was called, but no existing report can be found.2

Family lore does not tell us how John’s wife, Ellen, learned of the accident or how the family coped in the days that followed.  It must have been devastating. (See the David Brown letter right.3) Their
Section of 1943 David Brown Letter
(click to enlarge)
oldest son, John E. was not quite sixteen.  Seven additional children ages three to fourteen were at home; and, recall that their youngest daughter, Julia, had died just five months earlier.  Moreover, Ellen was about four months pregnant with Peter, their last child, who was born October 14, 1873.  I can only imagine that it was a difficult pregnancy to say the least.

While Ellen did manage to carry Peter to term, her life, too, was cut short.  On April 11, 1878, just five years after John’s death, Ellen,
Death Register for Ellen Brown
(click to enlarge)
age 36, died of cancer.  (See death register for Ellen, left.4)  By this time, John E., the oldest son, was twenty.  The eldest daughter, Mary Ann was married to Timothy Murane5 and living in her own household; but, there were still seven under age children left at home.  
John and Ellen Brown are buried in graves 4 & 5 in B, Cathedral Section, Lot 85  (see footnote 6)
Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio

There are no details of what happened to John and Ellen’s family after John’s death.  The estate was not filed until after Ellen’s death.  Documents in the probate file do give some information.

The David Brown letter states that, “I don’t believe that these people lived in Delaware as did Patrick Brown and family. The only place of their residence, to my knowledge, was on what we formerly knew as ‘Dublin Road’ . . . “  There are a couple of documents in the probate record that support this theory.  The Will of Martha Burns Brown Hogan, Ellen’s sister and wife of Peter Burns, left the quarry property to her nephew, John E. Brown.7  The description of the property in the will says “houses” (plural) suggesting that John and Ellen did, indeed, live on the quarry property with Peter and Martha Burns. 

More telling information can be inferred from a bill found in the probate record from J.T. Williams & Son, a blacksmith shop located on West Linn Street in Columbus.  (See the bill below right.8)
Bill from J.T.Williams & Sons
(click to enlarge)
 The bill covers a period of about six months from September 1877 to February 1878 with additional later payment information.  There are several line items for repairs to at least one wagon; however, most of the bill is for horse shoes.  Thirty-seven shoes (23 old and 14 new) were purchased during that short period.  The wagon(s) and horses were presumably used in the quarry business and were likely large enough for heavy loads of stone requiring a team of at least two horses to pull the load – perhaps more than two.  Even with the heavy loads, horse shoes are pretty durable and 37 shoes would be a lot to go through in a six month period for just two horses.  My guess is that there were multiple horses, and, perhaps multiple wagons.9

The death register for Ellen states that she was living on “S. Mead” at the time of her death.  Ellen is also shown on Mead Alley in the 1877 and 1878 Columbus City Directory.10   While this location is
Receipts from Ellen's doctors - (click to enlarge)
less than four miles from the quarry, she may have moved there because it was in town, and, she would have had easier access to medical care.   Ellen reputedly died of breast cancer.   Documents in the probate record indicate that she was treated by Dr. S.H. Stewart and Dr. J.W. Hamilton from May 1877 until her death.  (See copies of doctor’s receipts above left.)   Dr. John Waterman Hamilton was a noted surgeon of the time and taught surgery at Starling Medical College and Columbus Medical College which he founded along with other prominent physicians in 1874.11  The entire notation on the receipt is not legible, but it appears to be for some surgery on the breast done in May, 1877.  This seems to corroborate what was written by David Brown in 1943.12  (See section of the letter below.)
1943 David Brown letter - (click to enlarge)

As indicated in the last post, John and Ellen Brown owned two city lots.  Since there were outstanding bills, the Probate Court ordered that the real estate be sold to settle debts. The major bills appeared to be the blacksmith bill shown above, the mortgage for the city lots held by Thomas Bergin, (see details in the last post) and a bill from the undertaker, Patrick Egan, for the 1873 burials of John Brown and his daughter, Julia.13  (See below)  On April 22, 1878, an estate file was established for John Brown.  On April 16, 1878, a bond was posted by Patrick Egan to be named Administrator of the estate. 
Egan bills for 1873 burials of Julia and John Brown and 1878 burial of Ellen Brown
(click to enlarge)

Yes, this is the same Patrick Egan who submitted a bill for his services as an undertaker in 1873.  Today, we would question that as a conflict of interest.  I don’t think that was the case here.  Patrick Egan died on October 12, 1890.  He was a successful businessman and had been the county coroner for many years, and, in fact, had been the coroner at the time of John’s death in 1873.  In addition to his obituary, a separate article was published the same day in the Columbus Dispatch stating that the Irish community had lost a valuable friend.  Egan, himself born in Ireland, had used his wealth and influence to assist many Irish immigrants, spending vast sums to help them.  Had his only motive been to collect the debt, he would not have waited five years to submit a bill.  Since there were funds available after the forced sale of the real estate to cover other
Administrator's Account for John Brown estate
(click to enlarge)
expenses, (the city lots were sold at auction on May 17, 1879 for $365.00 to Thomas Bergin), Mr. Egan did collect his fee for the 1873 burials.  There was another bill for Ellen’s funeral (see above) which does not seem to be included in the final accounting.14  (See Administrator's Account right.)  It appears that Mr. Egan was trying to retain as much cash as he could for the family.

After Ellen’s death, Patrick Brown, John’s brother and husband of Ellen’s sister, (see previous posts about Patrick Brown.  It looked like home!  Illinois Prairie Years  Homesteading), came to Columbus to help the family.  This can be verified by another document in the
Notarized copy to children of John Brown
(click to enlarge)
probate records. On April 23, 1878, Patrick signed a note stating he had served notice to all of the children of John and Ellen Brown that there had been a claim filed against the real estate.15  (See copy left)  The note was notarized by Martin Nolan, an attorney practicing in Columbus, Ohio.

All of the children stayed in the Columbus area with Peter and Martha Burns, at least for awhile, except William Henry who was living with his uncle Patrick as we saw in the 1880 U.S. Census for McLean County, Illinois.  (See previous posts for Patrick named above.)   Family lore says that William went to Illinois with Patrick when he returned home after Ellen’s death.  A final document in the estate file seems to verify this.  Patrick Brown signed a notice dated November 18, 1879 notifying William, still a minor, that the real
1879 notarized copy signed in Illinois
(click to enlarge)
estate had been sold.16  (See copy right)  The notice was notarized by Richard E Moreland, a neighbor of Patrick’s in McLean County, Illinois.  That is where we will go for the next part of the story.

One final thought, (plea) before I end this blog.  Many years ago, (2004) a family tree that included this specific Brown family was posted on RootsWeb – long since taken down – that stated, “Ruth has picture of Ellen Burns.”  The note further states that the photo was, “dated April 13, 1818 or that was Ellen’s birthdate???or date of death?”  I have a theory that the ink was faded on the back of the photo and that the date was written April 13, 1878 – the actual date of Ellen’s death.  (The "7" had faded to look like a "1"?)  Perhaps "Ruth" is a descendant of Thomas, fifth child of John and Ellen?  If anyone knows of the photo, I would love to see a copy!      

1.       “Ohio County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2014), John Brown 03 Jan 1873; citing Death, Franklin Township, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID v1 p71, County courthouses, Ohio: FHL microfilm 285,206.  The record shows the date of death as January 3, 1873.  The correct date of death is June 3, 1873.

2.       I did contact the Franklin Coroner’s Office.  They do not have files from that early time frame, and, there does not appear to be files at the Ohio Historical Society.

3.       Brown, David, Kewanee, Il, 11 May 1943, Letter to Esther _________, Columbus, OH.

4.       “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch ( 13 Dec 2014), Ellen Brown, 11 Apr 1878: citing Death, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, Unites States, source ID v1 p 125, County courthouses, Ohio: FHL microfilm 285,206.

5.       “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Timothy Murmane [Murnane] and Mary Ann Brown, 01 Apr 1875; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference Vol 13 p230; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,147

6.       Information from Catholic Cemeteries, Columbus, Ohio.  Few early records for the cemetery were kept.  Information is from a ledger available at the office of St. Joseph Cemetery, Lockbourne, Ohio.  Remember that twelve graves were purchased by Mrs. John Brown on January 22, 1873 for $35.00.  Cemetery records show burials for the Brown family in graves numbered one through six.  Graves seven and eight do not show burials.  Graves nine through twelve show burials for a Vogt-Tyler family.  There is no indication in the cemetery records that these graves were sold by the Brown family and I do not know of any relation to this family.  The earliest burial is for Edmond Vogt in 1935.  

7.       Franklin County, Ohio, probate case files, estate no. 24,074, Martha Brown Hogan (1909), last will and testament, Will Book v FF p35, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio

8.       Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 010060, John Brown (1878), bill of J.T. Williams & Son, 17 Jun 1878, Probate Court, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio.  Note:  The bill does not state whether the horses were shod at the Williams’ establishment or whether the shoes were purchased and put on by one of the Brown-Burns family at the quarry.  Remember, there was a Brown that was a blacksmith in the Patrickswell area in County Limerick and someone from the family in America may have developed that skill.

9.       Having owned horses myself for many years, I do have some experience with blacksmiths and horse shoeing.  While horse shoes are custom fit, if not custom made, as a rule after the horse matures, the size of a horse’s hoof does not change over the years.  In general, metal horse shoes last many years.

10.   The 1877 directory shows Mrs. Ellen Brown as a resident on the east side of Mead north of State Street.  The 1878 directory shows the widow E Brown on Mead south of Rush Allen.  Mead Alley is now May Street.  While the property is now vacant, this house was located in what is now called “the bottoms” of Columbus just west of downtown and the Scioto River.  It would have been in Franklinton, the earliest settlement in Franklin County.

11. Moore, Opha, History of Franklin County, Ohio, Historical Publishing Company, Topeka & Indianapolis, 1930, Volume One, p. 356.  Available online at: 

12.   Op. cit., David Brown letter

13.   Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 010060, John Brown (1878), Bills from Patrick A. Egan, undertaker.  The top portion of the bill for Ellen, dated April 13, 1878, is not legible.  Since the total sum due for this occurrence was $95.00, the top line would be for $60.00.  If this bill follows the structure of the previous bill, the first line would show the cost of the casket.

14.   Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 010060, John Brown (1878), Administrator’s or Executor’s Account, not dated, Probate Court, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio.  There appear to be a couple of omissions from the accounting, notably the blacksmith bill (J.T. Williams & Sons), and Patrick Egan’s bill for Ellen’s funeral expenses.  Also note the $35.00 payment for the cemetery lots in Mt. Calvary from 1873.  Additionally, the original mortgage on the city lots was for $235.00.   Payment on the note to settle the estate was for $65.00; so, some earlier payment(s) must have been made on the mortgage.    

15.   Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 010060, John Brown (1878), Notice to John E Brown and others, 23 Apr 1878, Probate Court, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio.

16.   Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 010060, John Brown (1878), Notice to William Brown, 18 Nov 1879, Probate Court, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio.

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