Monday, February 7, 2011

Mystery History -- Solved!


Sorry for the long delay in posting the big reveal to my Jan. 25 Mystery History post. I'm back and (almost) fit as a fiddle.

Petrea wins with her 5:33 p.m. Jan. 25 guess "Owen Brown's funeral, Pasadena, 1889."

Click on the two images below to see even greater detail of the photo above, which shows the funeral procession through the streets of Pasadena:




The church was plenty large enough to hold the 2,000 people who attended the funeral:


Owen Brown was one of the sons of John Brown and was side-by-side with his father during the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 -- an important precursor to the American Civil War.

Although John Brown was captured, charged with inciting violent abolition and later hanged, Owen Brown (below) was one of only six men who escaped. He was the last survivor of the incident.


After the war, he settled in Ohio for several years before moving to this area in his later life with his brother Jason and some other family members.

They became celebrities in Pasadena, particularly among the African American community, once word got out that they were local residents. Owen and Jason also took on several civic and cultural responsibilities.

Here is Owen Brown (on left) with his brother Jason at their property north of Pasadena.


And here they are at Mt. Wilson (Owen is on the right):


For more than 100 years people have trekked up to Owen Brown's grave site. There was a court battle over whether hikers had the right to take the trail that goes partially through private property, but a judge found in favor of the public.

The grave marker, shown below in a 1914 photo, mysteriously disappeared in 2002.


See Owen Brown's obituary notice from the Jan. 12, 1889, issue of the Pasadena Standard, which includes plenty of historical information, here.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library, Pasadena Museum of History, Tim Rutt and Altadenatrails.org.

9 comments:

Petrea said...

Ann, I'm glad you're back and I hope you're not working late!

Thanks for Mystery History, and for this great post. I had Owen Brown on the brain after reading about a (possible) local effort to replace his grave marker. Bellis, John and I hiked up to his grave and it looks like someone has marked the spot in advance of replacing the stone. I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Petrea!!!! A trip to City Hall is in your future. I'm still wondering which road they're walking down. (It's Bellis but I'm having trouble signing in).

Latino Heritage said...

Congrats Petrea.
Yea, Annn's back. Wonderful photo essay.
I had a vague recollection that there was a sister that was in the area, too. I found the following on the Pasadena Museums of History website.
"After the war, Ruth (Brown Thompson) and her husband relocated to California and led a relatively peaceful life in Pasadena. They were joined by two of her brothers, Owen and Jason Brown, who homesteaded land in Altadena. The family became reluctant celebrities in the quickly growing community of Pasadena".

Petrea said...

Any excuse to go to City Hall is all right with me. Well. Almost any excuse.

Anonymous said...

thank you very much for posting this!

Jean Spitzer said...

Congratulations, Petrea.

This is fascinating, Ann.

Dre said...

I have written probably six stories about Owen. I will dig it up

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