The Unsinkable Molly Brown
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Margaret Tobin Brown was born on July 18, 1867 to John Tobin and Johanna Collins in Hannibal, Missouri. She was raised in a cottage on the Mississippi river and educated in a grammar school run by her aunt. After becoming a teenager, she worked at a tobacco company stripping tobacco leaves. She was never known by the name Molly during her lifetime, but instead was called Maggie until she was married.
When she turned eighteen, she went with her sister, Mary Ann Tobin Landrigan, and her new husband, Jack Landrigan, to Colorado where they lived and opened a blacksmith shop. Then Margaret lived in a cabin with her brother, Daniel, who was a worker in a mine. She later found work in Daniels and Fisher Mercantile, in the Carpets and Draperies department.
In 1886, Margaret Tobin met James Joseph Brown, and married him later that year. James was a miner. They lived in a small Irish community outside of Leadville and had two children, Lawrence Palmer and Catherine Ellen.
Margaret Brown became involved in the early feminist movement in the Leadville community and the establishment of the Colorado Chapter of the National American Womenís Suffrage Association. She also worked in soup kitchens to assist the families of the local miners.
Leadville was put into a depression after the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act in 1893. James Brown had become the superintendent of the Ibex mining properties, and was convinced that one of the properties was a gold producer instead of silver. He developed a timber and hay bale method of holding back sand to open up the lower levels of the mine that were previously inaccessible. As he suspected, there was gold. James Brown was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board of the mining company. He became one of the most successful miners in the country.
In 1894, Margaret and James Brown purchased a home in Denver on Pennsylvania Street, and built a summer home in the foothills. Margaret helped to create the Denver Womanís Club, which became part of a network of clubs that supported human rights. She also helped to raise money for the construction of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and St. Josephís Hospital. She also worked with judges to establish the first juvenile court in the country, which later became the basis of the U.S. juvenile court system.
Margaret Tobin Brown was traveling in Europe with her daughter, Helen, when she received word that her first grandchild was ill. Margaret and Helen decided to leave for New York immediately. The earliest ship was the Titanic. Helen decided to stay in London at the last minute.
After the Titanic struck and iceberg, Margaret helped to load passengers into lifeboats, and was forced to board lifeboat six. She assisted the Titanic survivors on the Carpathia and after reaching the New York harbor. In the years to follow, Margaret raised money for the survivors and established the Survivorís Committee, where she served as chair.
After several years, Margaret studied drama in Paris, and preformed in New York and Paris. James Brown Died on September 5, 1922 in New York. Margaret died of a brain tumor several years later on October 26, 1932. They were both buried in Long Islandís Holy Rood Cemetery.
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