Friday, August 18, 2017

John Edward Brown

Casparis Quarry, Marble Cliff, Franklin County, Ohio - John E. Brown seated in front (see footnotes)
(click to enlarge)
With this blog, we come to the final story of the children of John and Ellen Burns Brown.  Their oldest child, John Edward Brown, was born June 25, 18571 in Franklin County, Ohio.  No baptismal record exists, although it is likely that he was baptized at St. Patrick’s in Columbus like the rest of the children.  John is shown in the 1860 and 1870 US census with his parents.  By 1880, after both of his parents died, John is living at the quarry property with his mother’s sister, Martha Burns and her husband, Peter Burns.  John worked in the quarries all his life.  His early years were spent working with his father, John, and Uncle Pete until, at least, his marriage in 1882; and, more likely until Peter’s death in 1892.  (See previous posts on Brown-Burns Connections and John and Peter.)

John E. Brown and Mary E. Burns were married September 20, 18822 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Columbus.  Mary Burns was born May 24, 18583 in Port Henry, Essex County, New York, located on the southwest shore of Lake Champlain.  Her childhood was spent in central Vermont, in
1882 Wedding of John E. Brown and
Mary E. Burns - Columbus, Ohio
the area around Brandon and Rutland, where the Brown family was located in 1850.  (Refer to the previous blog post on Vermont.)  In January 1862 when she was just four years old, Mary’s father, John Burns, enlisted in Company B of the 7th Vermont Infantry for the duration of the American Civil War.  He never returned home4 leaving his wife, Margaret Martin/Kilmartin, to support six children, four of whom were still minors.  (They had a total of seven children, but, one child died in 1862 after John left with his regiment.  The oldest son married in 1866.  Another child died in 1868 shortly after the war was over.)  Mary’s mother, Margaret, applied for and received a small pension.  Times were tough and there was no one else to help.  Her husband’s brother, Patrick, was living nearby; but, he had been badly injured in the war and was also living on a pension.  The 1870 US census for West Rutland, Vermont shows Mary, age 11, as a servant in the home of Lorenzo Sheldon, a wealthy local physician and owner of quarries in the area5.  (See footnotes.)

In 1880, Mary, now age 22, is living in Columbus, Ohio as a servant in the household of another wealthy businessman, C.H. Lindenberg, president of the Columbus Electric Light company.  Before she married, she served in several large homes in the Columbus area. Other servants in the same houses where Mary worked were Maggie and Katie O’Neil6.  Katie was one of the witnesses at the marriage of John and Mary.  The O’Neil’s were next door neighbors of Peter and Martha Burns.  Although family lore says that Mary accompanied “an aunt” who was coming to Columbus to marry a “Mr. Brown7,” no one knows exactly when or why she came to Columbus.  Did she meet John E. Brown while visiting the home of her close friends, the O’Neil sisters; or, did the O’Neil’s help her find employment because Mary was staying with Peter and Martha Burns?  Based on baptismal information for Peter Burns and marriage information for John and Margaret Burns, Mary’s parents, we do know that Mary was a niece of Peter Burns.  Peter was a brother of Mary’s father, John Burns8.  

John E. and Mary E. Burns Brown were believed to have started housekeeping on the west side of the Scioto River, about where Grandview Avenue and McKinley Avenue intersect, residing there until they built a home on Trabue Road in Norwich Township.  I have not found evidence of this, and, if they did live there, it would have been for a short time.  When their second child, Anna9, was born in 1885, they were living in the south part of Perry Township.  This is the same area where his father, John, and Uncle Peter lived in the 1860 census before the quarry property was purchased.  Between 1883 and 1898, John and Mary eventually had nine children – Mary Ellen (Mayme), Anna, Nora, Margaret (Maggie), Kathryn Agnes (Agnes), John, James, Josephine (Jo), and Carolyn (Carrie).  The first six children were born in Perry Township.  (The oldest, Mayme, could have been born in Franklin Township, but, no birth register has been located for her.)  The last three children, born between 1894 and 1898, are shown in the birth registers for Norwich Township.

Southeast section of Norwich Township - Trabue Pike
(Click to enlarge) (see footnotes)
The Trabue Road property, in Norwich Township, was purchased by Mary E. Burns Brown from James Britton in three separate transactions.  The first two acres, purchased March 12, 1894 for $450.00, were located along the P.C.C. & St. L. railroad.  (Pittsburgh, Columbus, Chicago and St. Louis)  The second parcel, also two acres, was located next to the first parcel on Trabue Road.  It was purchased on May 9, 1894 for $450.00.  The third parcel, another two acres, was purchased January 5, 1898 for $300.00 and was adjacent to the two previous purchases10.  (See detail map of Trabue Rd property above.)  The house, was likely built
Trabue Road house shortly before demolition c. 1990
between March 1894, when the first parcel was bought, and October 1894 when their son, James was born in Norwich Township.  Prior to the purchase of the Trabue Road property, in June 1983, John E. purchased Lot 5 in the Terrace Addition on West Broad Street for $43011.  This was the lot next to that purchased by John’s brother, James, in 1902.  (See the previous post on Steam and Saloons.)  No building was erected on this land until after it was sold to Amelia Houx in August 1913.  It is assumed the property was purchased as an investment since neither John nor James and their families lived on these properties.  

Why was the property where John and Mary lived in Mary’s name?  During this era, land was usually recorded in the husband’s name while still recognizing the dower right of the wife.  The lot on West Broad Street was purchased and recorded in John’s name.  Were they concerned about the dangerous work John E. did in the quarry that the house should be maintained by Mary in the event of John E.’s death and would not be included in his estate?  Perhaps the death of Peter Burns can give us a clue.  Peter Burns died February 14, 1892 of kidney disease.  His estate was not probated until 189412.  Although nothing was mentioned in Peter’s will, (Peter left everything to Martha), could money have been left to John E. and Mary E. by Uncle Peter?  John E. and Peter worked the quarry together and, after his wife, Martha, Mary E. was probably Peter’s closest living relative at that time.  Also, Mary’s mother, and Peter’s sister-in-law, Margaret Burns, was living with John E. and Mary E. from at least 1887 - probably from 188213.  (Mary’s brother, Thomas Burns, was the other witness at the marriage of John and Mary.  He was also living with them in 1887.)  This would have been a way to ensure Margaret had a place to live and also fulfill any obligation Peter may have felt toward her. 

While it was a rural setting with room for the family, close to the quarry where John E. worked, and
Section of Franklin County showing Norwich, Perry, and
Franklin Townships - labels identify locations associated
with the Brown family.  (click to enlarge) (see footnotes)
within walking distance to some of the family, the Trabue Road property was next to a railroad 
track - the same tracks where John Brown was killed in 1873 less than two miles away.  I must admit that I don’t think I could have lived there knowing of the accident that killed John’s father.  (Refer to the map, right, which identifies specific locations relative to the family.)  (For details of the accident, see previous post for John and Peter.)  It is not surprising then, that another tragedy happened on those same tracks.  On July 15, 1908, while out picking berries along the track, Margaret Burns, Mary’s mother, was killed by a passenger train14.  (See the article about the accident below right.)  According to stories told by her descendants, the family thought Margaret was too old to be out along the tracks and was left at home with one of the girls while the rest of them
News article from July 16, 1908
(click to enlarge)
went to pick berries.  (She was about 83.)  While they were sorting the berries after returning home, Margaret must have slipped out the back door.  In order to get to the tracks, she had to have climbed a fence separating the yard from the tracks.  When she was returned home after the accident, Margaret was wearing a pair of socks that one of the girls had been wearing earlier; Margaret thought they were hers.  Margaret is buried in Mt. Calvary. 

While Peter Burns died in 1892, his widow, Martha, lived until November 29, 190915.  (See her obituary in the Brown-Burns Connections blog – link above.)  Martha remarried a second time, around 1896.  Her second husband was Michael Hogan who was born about 1840 in Ireland making him about ten years younger than Martha.  I have searched for a marriage record to no avail16.  Regardless, Martha’s will, dated July 30, 190917, leaves everything including real estate, household goods and monies, (except her bedding which she willed to John E. Brown), to her husband, Michael Hogan, during his lifetime.  At the death of Michael, everything was to go to her nephew, John E. Brown.  Michael died under suspicious circumstances on April 26, 191018, just six months after Martha while her estate was still in probate.  (See the footnotes for the circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Hogan.)  As a result, John E. obtained possession of the quarry property on June 24, 191019

John E. was always associated with the quarries in the Marble Cliff area from the time he was a young boy; but, where did he work after Uncle Peter died in 1892?  The article about the death of Michael Hogan, Martha Burns’ second husband, states the family quarry was abandoned in 1910. Although the date of the photo is not known, John is definitely shown in the Casparis quarry photo above.  The article about the accidental death of his mother-in-law, Margaret Burns, in 1908 states he was the “general foreman for the Casparis Stone company.”  Silvio Casparis20, owner of the Casparis Stone Quarry, started in business in Columbus in the early 1890’s.  The 1900 and 1910 US census records do not help since they only show John’s occupation - “day laborer,” and “foreman in the stone quarry21.”  Even John’s death certificate shows his occupation as “superintendent of a stone quarry” but does not give the name of his employer.  It is likely that John worked the family quarry until after Uncle Peter’s death; and, at that time went to work for one of the larger quarries in the area – perhaps earlier in order to support his growing family.  Because the Casparis company started in the early 1890’s, John’s employer in 1908 was specifically given as the Casparis quarry, and, given his job titles showing the advancement in his career through the years, I believe he worked at the Casparis operation from sometime around 1892 to 1912. 

In the fall of 1912, John E. contracted typhoid fever, probably from tainted water.  Treatment of typhoid in the early 1900s consisted primarily of trying to reduce the fever and using disinfectants to keep others from catching the disease.  The incubation period for typhoid is one to three weeks. 
Death certificate John E. Brown-1912
(click to enlarge)
Initial symptoms may resemble a mild cold, so an individual could be carrying the disease without even knowing it until they develop a high fever and other severe symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea22.  John E. was treated for three weeks.  Who knows how long he had been sick before a doctor was called in.  Because of the risk of infection, the house was quarantined.  The six youngest children, ages 24 to 14, were sent to John’s sister, Aunt Mat, Martha Brown Murnane, to stay until he recovered.  (The three oldest girls were married and in their own houses by this time.)  Ninety to ninety-five percent of typhoid victims survived; John E. did not.  John died October 24, 191223.  His estate was probated in 191324.  The property on West Broad Street, Lot 5 in the Terrace Addition, was sold to Amelia L. Houx for $1,500.00 in September 1913 to pay outstanding creditors25.         

Mary continued to live in the house on Trabue Road until she could no longer keep it.  The 1900 and 1910 US census records indicate there was a mortgage on the house.  Back taxes were also due26.  On May 27, 1915, Mary sold the house and property on Trabue Road to Benigno and Sebastiano D’Alessandro27.  Mary continued to live in the Columbus area until 1925.  The Columbus City Directory shows her at various addresses just north of The Ohio State University.  In 1930 Mary is living with her daughter, Anna, in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.  By 1940, Mary is living with another daughter, Josephine, in Berlin Heights, Ohio near Lake Erie, where she died March 9, 1947, aged 8828.   Both John and Mary are buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.

Thus ends our story of the children of John and Ellen Burns Brown.  In the next post, we will return to the original immigrants from Ireland and take a look at Mary Brown, the oldest daughter of Timothy and Hannah Kelly Brown.

Photo of the Casparis Stone Quarry is from the author’s collection dated between 1892 and 1912, probably from the later time frame.  About forty-five individuals are included in the photo, most of them Italian immigrants who worked the stone quarries along the Scioto River.  Specific individuals can be identified including John E. Brown, the subject of this blog post, who is seated on a stone in the front.  The reason we can specifically identify this as the Casparis quarry is that Mr. Casparis himself is standing about one-third of the way down from the top on the far left side.  He is in a suit with his right hand tucked into his suit coat.  There is a woman and child shown in the very middle of the photo – probably Mrs. Louise Casparis and one of their children.  This woman looks the same as a known passport of Louise Casparis from a later date.  Also the far right of the picture shows a man, face only, with a bowler hat.  Who could this be?

1.       “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 : X868-PMG : 8 December 2014), John E Brown, 24 Oct 1912; citing Franklin Twp., Franklin, Ohio, reference fn 54097; FHL microfilm 1,953,479.  Birth information obtained from his death certificate.

2.       "Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), John E. Brown and Mary E. Burns, 19 Sep 1882; citing Franklin, Ohio, United States, reference 11; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,149.

3.       "United States Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), John Burns in entry for Margaret Martin Burns, 1861 - 1934; from "Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War Veterans, ca. 1861- ca. 1934," database, ( : 2008); citing military unit 7 Vermont Infantry, company B, application number WC82573, NAID identifier 300020, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.  Information for Mary’s birth is taken from “Proof of Birth” affidavit signed 15 Aug 1868 by Thomas Enright contained within the Pension file.

4.       Ibid.  John was captured by the Confederates on January 27, 1864 while on a recruiting expedition near Point Washington, Florida.   He was later taken to Andersonville Prison Camp where he died of scurvy on November 28, 1864.

5.       Mary told a grandson that she was actually “raised” by the Sheldon family.  By 1870, she had probably already been “in service” for several years. According to his obituary in The Rutland Daily Herald and Globe, September 9, 1880, Lorenzo Sheldon was a friend of the Irish in the area.  It is not inconceivable that he would have taken a young child into his home to help the struggling family.  It was probably while she lived with the Sheldon family that Mary learned to make beautiful hooked rugs.  Several family members remember having the rugs in their homes and recognized fabric from worn dresses.

6.       From the Columbus City Directory on
1880 – Mary E. Burns, domestic servant at 48 S. Fifth St. – home of CH Lindenberg
1881 – Maggie O’Neil, domestic at 463 E. Broad St. – home of William Ewing
1882 – Mary E. Burns, domestic at 463 E. Broad St. – home of William Ewing
From the 1880 US Census
Year: 1880; Census Place: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1016; Family History Film: 1255016; Page: 169B; Enumeration District: 027

7.       Marriage records for 1877 to 1880 were individually searched.  No record was found that would be consistent with the family story.

8.        The Widow’s Pension application, cited above, contains a document from Montreal, Quebec, Canada proving the marriage of Margaret Martin and John Burns.  The marriage document gives the name of John’s parents as John Burns and Esther Cary from County Kildare in Ireland.  Other marriages in Montreal identify additional brothers of John as Patrick (who also moved to Vermont and signed the pension application for Margaret) and Edward Burns, giving the same parents and origin.  Baptismal records for the brothers have been located in the Catholic Church records for Carbury and Dunforth Catholic Parish in County Kildare.  John and Edward show their parents as John Burns and Esther Car[e]y.    They were living in the townland of Clonkeen in the parish of Carbury, County Kildare.  The date of birth and county of origin for Peter Burns was obtained from his tombstone. 
Using Peter’s information, his baptismal record was also located in Clonkeen, Carbury, County Kildare with parents John and Esther Burns.  (Irish church records sometimes give a maiden name for the mother of a child, and, again, sometimes they do not.)

9.       “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003," database with images,  FamilySearch( : 22 December 2016), Annie Adelle Brown, 15 Feb 1885; citing Birth, Perry Tp., Franklin, Ohio, United States, county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,135.  Births for all other children except Mayme, Nora, and Jo are found in the same database.

10.   Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 259, page 524, 12 Mar 1894.  Sale of 2 acres along the P.C.C. & St. L. railroad from James and Virginia Britton to Mary E. Brown.
Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 259, page 522, 9 May 1894.  Sale of 2 acres from James and Virginia Britton to Mary E. Brown.
Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 300, page 586, 5 Jun 1898.  Sale of 2 acres from James and Virginia Britton to Mary E. Brown.

Section of Norwich Township– Section of Plate 12 of the 1910 Modie & Kilmer’s Folio Atlas of Franklin County.  Used with permission of The Columbus Metropolitan Library Image Collections.  Trabue Road (Trabue Free Pike) is the boundary of Norwich and Franklin Townships with Norwich on the north side of the road and Franklin on the south side.  Perry Township, where John and Mary lived before 1894, is just east of the river shown on the map.

11.   Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 253, page 100, 15 Jun 1893.  Sale of Lot 5, Terrace Addition from Martin Hack and Delbert Ong to John E. Brown for $430.00.

12.   "Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001," database with images,  FamilySearch( : 13 December 2014), Peter Burns, 19 Feb 1892; citing Death, Franklin Township, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID v 3 p 126, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 285,207. 
Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 8883, Peter Byrns, (1894)

13.   Mary’s brother, Thomas Burns, was the other witness at the marriage of John E. Brown and Mary E. Burns in 1882.  The Columbus City Directory for 1887, (available at, shows both Margaret Burns and Thomas Burns living with John Brown.  Because the names are so common, it is difficult to determine with any degree of certainty that Margaret and Thomas are listed.  There are entries for 1883 and 1884 that a Margaret and Thomas Burns are living in the same household.

Section of Franklin County – Section of Plate 1 of the 1910 Modie & Kilmer’s Folio Atlas of Franklin County.  Used with permission of The Columbus Metropolitan Library Image Collections.  Map shows the location of places associated with the Brown family.  The faint red bands designate Township boundaries.

14.   "Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001," database with images,  FamilySearch( : 13 December 2014), Margaret Burns, 15 Jul 1908; citing Death, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID 1908 v 3 fn A309, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,032,522.
“TRAIN KILLS AGED WOMAN,” The Columbus Citizen, Columbus, Ohio, July 16, 1908.

15.   "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953," database with images,  FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Martha Hogan, 29 Nov 1909; citing Franklin Township, Franklin, Ohio, reference fn 56218; FHL microfilm 1,927,274.

16.   In all the stories that were told by my great aunts, I never heard of Michael Hogan or that Aunt Mat had married again after Uncle Pete died.  Also, it took a long time to find the death certificate and probate records for Martha Burns Hogan.  I actually located the information when I was trying to determine who was buried in the fourth grave in the plot that Peter Burns purchased in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.  I had a date of burial, but no name.  I searched the local newspapers for anyone that had died around the time and was buried in Mt. Calvary.  The only person that matched was Michael Hogan.  From that, I was able to determine that the records for Martha Burns were actually under the name of Martha Hogan.

17.   Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 24074, Martha Hogan, (1909), Will Record FF35

18.   "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953," database with images,  FamilySearch( : 8 December 2014), Michael Hogan, 26 Apr 1910; citing Franklin Township, Franklin, Ohio, reference fn 20541; FHL microfilm 1,927,360.
Both the Columbus Dispatch and the Columbus Citizen ran front page articles on April 26, 1910 alluding to the “murder” of Michael Hogan.  Michael’s body was found at the bottom of the quarry, forty feet below the rim of the quarry located just fifteen feet from the back of the house.  His neck was broken along with other contusions consistent with either falling or being pushed off the cliff.  The day before, Michael discovered that his chickens, eighteen of them, had been stolen.  He reported the crime and engaged bloodhounds to try to apprehend the culprits.  They were not found.  When Michael’s body was found, it looked like there had been a scuffle on the edge of the cliff and that Michael could have been pushed over the cliff.  Additionally, the kitchen was in disarray leading the authorities to suspect foul play.  However, a neighbor stated they had seen Michael the previous evening evidently under the influence of liquor.   Michael’s son, James, felt that his father had been murdered as stated in an article published in the Columbus Citizen the next day.  The incident was determined to be an accident.  The investigators decided that all of the foot prints at the edge of the cliff were the same size, and that the damage in the kitchen was due to Michael staggering around the place in an inebriated condition.  It is hard to say whether this was truly an accident or not.  It was well known that Martha left enough money for Michael to live comfortably, although nothing was missing from the house or his person when Michael was found.  Because of the location of the quarry, at the edge of the city, there was also a question about which jurisdiction was responsible for the investigation.  It does appear that the investigation was not exhaustive since a decision was made the same day. Moreover, the unfavorable attitude toward the Irish still present during this era could have affected the investigation.  I don’t think we will ever know what really happened. 

19.   Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 499, page 211, 15 Jun 1910.  Transfer of quarry property from Martha Burns Hogan to John E. Brown.

20.   Silvio Casparis was born in Italy in 1850 and came to the United States at an early age.  Mr. Casparis worked as a contractor for the railroads in many places for a number of years, finally settling in Columbus about 1888.  In 1892, he founded the Casparis Stone Company.  He owned land on both sides of the Scioto River that was used for quarrying operations.  Besides his property in Franklin County, he owned land in other Ohio locations and other states including North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Indiana.  In 1913, the Casparis quarry merged with other local quarrying companies. Tthe Woodruff-Pausch Stone Company, owned by John Kaufman, and The Marble Cliff Company combined to form a new entity doing business under the name of Marble Cliff Quarries – a name well known in the Columbus area.  Only the land in Franklin County was included in the merger.  Property in other locations was maintained by Casparis under private ownership.

21.   Year: 1900; Census Place: Norwich, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: 1270; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0132; FHL microfilm: 1241270
Year: 1910; Census Place: Norwich, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: T624_1183; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0187; FHL microfilm: 1375196

22.   Beach, Brian; Ferrie, Joseph; Saavedra, Martin; Troesken, Werner, Typhoid Fever, Water Quality, and Human Capital Formation, PDF,  Cleveland State University, pages 7-9,

23.   "Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2014), John E. Brown, 24 Oct 1912; citing Death, Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States, source ID 1912 fn 2596, County courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,032,527.

24.   Franklin County, Ohio probate case files, estate no. 28487, John E. Brown, (1912).

25.   Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 549, page 108, 27 Sep 1913.  Transfer of Terrace Addition property to Amelia L. Houx.

26.   Ohio History Collection, Tax duplicates, 1806-1810, 1816-1838, 1868, 1902-1907, 1914-1919, Franklin County, (State Archives Series 3992), Columbus, Ohio

27.   Franklin Co., OH Deed Book, Volume 582, page 47, 27 May 1915.  Transfer of Trabue Road property to Benigno and Sebastiano D’Alessandro.

28.   "Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953," database with images,  FamilySearch( : 8 December 2014), Mary E Brown, 09 Mar 1947; citing , reference certificate; FHL microfilm 2,372,931


  1. As usual, great post. When is the book going to come out? What a great legacy you are creating for your family. I'm particularly interested in how water quality issues impacted my family, too. You may want to look at this:

    1. Thanks for the link - the table is very eye-opening. We take a lot of things for granted such as clean drinking water. The articles I read implied that the longer you had the disease the less likely you were to recover. Also, even if the patient did recover, their mortality rate for the first year was three times that of someone, same age, who had not had typhoid. At two years after "recovery" their mortality rate was two times. It seems that many of the survivors developed tuberculosis, heart failure, or pneumonia. While typhoid may not have killed them, it took a very hard toll on their health.

  2. John Edward Brown is my wife's GG-Grandfather through his daughter Mary E Brown. I would love to obtain a quality copy of the quarry picture above, if that is possible. I would gladly cover any costs. Your blog is a fantastic resource, thank you for sharing this information!

    1. Your comment in interesting. I am also descended from Mary E Brown. I have the original of the quarry picture and you are certainly welcome to a copy. Please email me at and we can make arrangements.