The Body of Salmon Brown


Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an interest in my family’s history. While researching Mom’s branch of the family tree, I tripped over a bit of history I had no idea existed.

My mother’s family is directly linked to the most famous abolitionist in U.S. history. It came in the form of a marriage between Thomas M. Burns and Minnie E. Brown, granddaughter of John Brown, January 14, 1883.

One of their two sons, Edwin M. Burns married Mary Elizabeth Hufford, my Grandma Leola’s sister.  Edwin’s uncle, Salmon Brown was the last of John Brown’s sons to die.

The widow of John Brown, Mary, brought her three daughters and son Salmon to Rohnerville in 1870. Salmon went into the sheep business with a 128-acre ranch at Bridgeville and by 1890 he had 3,000-acres and 14,000 sheep.

Salmon left Humboldt County around 1895 after he lost 8,000 sheep during the winter of 1890-91. He committed suicide May 10, 1919, in Portland, Oregon after being an invalid for five years following a fall from a horse.

The Portland Journal reports: “The last chapter of the old border days, when strife was stirring for the break of the Civil War, came to a close yesterday with the funeral service for Salmon Brown of 2024 East Couch Street, son of John Brown of Harper’s Ferry, crusading abolitionist and sworn foe of slavery.”

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