Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Story of Earl Brown(1901-1920)

I became interested in family genealogy 10 years ago this month, or at least that's when I started to research the Houseworth family in earnest. January 1999 was when I started taking notes and using the internet and the Paulding County and Van Wert County Libraries to find out what I didn't know about my ancestors...what I did know wasn't much. Within a couple of years I had pretty well exhausted most of my resources, and had done pretty well in my search...well enough to make 20 or so copies of my "book" The Family and Descendants of Israel Houseworth 1751-2001 and send them out to fellow Houseworth Genealogy can find most of that writing and more on my blog:

Before that time though I had become Power of Attorney for my Aunt Eva Anspach, the last surviving member of my dad's immediate I have mentioned before, Eva, her sister Cecil, and my Grandma Houseworth, Wilda, were pack rats....I had found items that dated back well over 100 years, photo, hunting licenses, occupied Japan items from WW2, and thousands of post cards, etc, just to name a few things....some valuable, some worthless, and some valuable to only folks with an interest in my family history.

I did find many large framed photos in an upstairs closet, pictures in old 100+ years old frames, the included horses, farms houses, people, landscapes, etc. Most of the photos were not worth much, the frames however, were. Many were handmade and crude, others, like the one that housed a portrait photo of my GGG-Grandparents, Joseph and Catherine Nungaster, were of higher quality. Joe and Catherine were married in 1847 down in Ross County, Ohio, and moved to Lima sometime later....I guessed the studio photo was from the 1870s or so. This was 1996, and I had not developed a nose for genealogy, but since Eva was still alive and doing well in one of the Van Wert Nursing homes, I found out who the folks were from her, the Nungasters were my grandmother Wilda's Grandparents.

I packed up the photo along with some other framed ones, and hauled them home....didn't really relish the glaring photo of the GGG-Grandparens staring at me from the wall, but I would keep the photo out of reference to the family history.

Once home I started to clean off the glass and carefully took the backing off the frame....lo and behold, behind the Nungaster photo was a photo that seemed to fit the 15 1/2 by 18 1/2 oval inside the 22 x 25 inch frame. The photo was of a young boy dressed to the nines, holding onto an iron toy steam engine train set. The photo was in perfect condition, the antique glass and frame it was attached to likewise. I kind of liked the photo and thought it would fit well into the house we had just moved into....our house, which we purchased in the year before(1995), is an old church parsonage, and the woodwork and feel of the frame and photo fit the era our house was built, that being 1923. So I cleaned it up replace great-great-great grandpa and ma with my version of the Blue Boy. I had no clue to who the lad was, except that on the back, written in pencil was Carey Brown, 1906. Off to Aunt Eva to see if I could find out more.....what I found was one step towards an interest in genealogy or at least local, Scott, Ohio, history.

Eva told me that the boy in the picture was the son of a man named Carey Brown, who was a local blacksmith at the time, the family lived in Union Township, a few miles south of Scott, and near the town of Cavett. My grandmother, she said, had ended up with the photo and frame at the auction of the parents(I as assuming when the last Brown passed away), and thought it would look good with her Grandparents photo in it. She also went on to tell me that the boy in the frame was named Earl Brown, and that Earl had died in a drowning accident when Eva was about 10 years old....well this set out the history buff in me, and I went searching for one Earl Brown.

Earl was born in Van Wert County, on June 29, 1901(although the death certificate says born in 1920, this would have been hard, since he died on July 21, 1920) Earl was the only child of Carey and Myrtie Brown of Scott. Carey was the township blacksmith, living on a farm between Scott and Cavett in northern Van Wert County. Earl was Earl's middle name, having been born one Russel Earl Brown.

I went searching for information on Earl's life and death....seems Earl was one popular kid at Van Wert High School, where he graduated in May of 1920, just shy of his 19th birthday. In the school yearbook, Earl was active in many things, and his wish for his post graduation was to go east to see Washington D.C. and the political process in action. Sad to say, the only child of the Browns, would never make it.

According to the reports in the Van Wert paper, Earl and several other boys, including one Volley McClure of Scott, were working in a beet field the morning of July 21, 1920. At around 9 O'Clock Earl, who was a good swimmer, jumped in the Holland Quarry(those local quarries can be up to 100 feet or more deep) to cool off....he was seized with cramps, and Volley jumped in to rescue him, the boys that were working with them stated that both had dropped out of sight, not to be seen alive again.

{other stories had Early jumping in to save McClure but that point is mute some 80 years later}

Earl's body was pulled out that afternoon, it was another day before the body of Volley McClure, one of 9 children in that family, was recovered. So Earl would never see D.C., his parents would never be the same(according to Aunt Eva), and Earl, with no surviving siblings would be long forgotten until 1996, when I uncovered his photo behind another. Earl now has a prominent spot on my living room wall, where all that enter can see him....his story and death certificate is located behind the photo, so maybe someday, some unsuspecting auction buyer might find the story of Russel Earl Brown.

No, the story is not as exciting as finding the Declaration of Independence or some other valuable painting or document behind a photo....but it is a story, the story as I know it, of Russel Earl Brown....and Earl's story will remain alive and well, as long as I do.

Our Winter Storm pretty much was an inch of snow and about that much ice....north of here some 50 miles they got 10 inches of the white stuff. We got nasty roads, cancelled basketball games, and slippery sidewalks. I stayed in an watched the NFL games, even though I had little interest. Seems my body still is not 100%, although I did sleep though the night last night with little coughing, I am still not where I want to be. Brother Mike made it back from Naples, so mom is settled in for the winter with sister Kelly and her husband Mike.

back later>>>>>>>

photos-Top Russel Earl Brown with his steam train in 1906--Earl's Death Certificate from Van Wert County(with wrong birth date) and my GGG-Grandparents Joe and Catherine Nungaster the photo in front of the photo of Earl, until I "discovered Earl" back in 1996.


Cookie..... said...

In as much as your familiar with our lovely central NY waether, just thought I'd tell ya that to this point in the season, we've had over 8 feet of snow here in Bridgeport/Oneida/Rome/ Hope that makes yur day a little happier... ;-)

Pat Houseworth said...

Sounds sweet Cookie....8 feet in the Mohawk Valley? I'd say that's about normal for you folks.

And to think, by July it will be all melted, after the last snow in June....;)

Sarge Charlie said...

Look at my repost a couple of days back, I did my family, part of reconstruction of my blog. Why do they always look mad in those old photos.

Pat Houseworth said...

Sarge...what I have learned about "the mad look" in old photos is...that cameras/"film" they used were so touchy, that they had to keep a "straight face"...and a frown was easier to be still with than a smile.

At least that's the way I was told, and I have them from the family as far back as 1859.

Buck said...

I like your historical stories, Pat, and most especially the old photos that accompany those stories. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: You are most fortunate your relatives saved all these incredible and amazing things from the past. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Deborah Wilson said...

Thanks to Aunt Eva, Earl Brown will not be forgotten. A good story!

Nancy said...

Lord love ya, Pat. Thanks for letting us remember someone that would otherwise have been forgotten.

Pat Houseworth said...

Thanx all...Genealogy, any family genealogy is most time more interesting, far more so, than fiction. I'm just sorry it to me so long to find it out.

Cookie..... said...

You are so very fortunate to have had relatives that left so much records and memorabilia. I've trieda few times with mine. but all family records have been lost to history. Believe it or not I have access to no info past one of my grandmothers..**sigh**

Pat Houseworth said...

Well Heck, Cookie, I'll send you some info this week, maybe I can help with that. It took me awhile, and now I have more infor that I probably wanted.


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