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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Charles Brown

The serene twilight of life's adventurous day finds Mr. Brown comfortably situated, with sufficient of this world's goods to render procurable every desired comfort and surrounded by a host of warm personal friends whose constant attentions delight the solitary age of one bereft of wife and unblessed by children. Were it possible for this venerable citizen to write an autobiography, stirring tales would be recounted connected with voyages to almost every port of the world; reminiscences would be recorded bearing upon national affairs and much of historical value would be preserved for the benefit of future generations. However, Mr. Brown has been a man of actions rather than of words and he kept no diary to fix upon his memory events associated with his travels, so that much has passed out of mind that would have formed interesting reading had it been preserved.

The life whose salient features are here outlined began in Prussia November 14, 1828, and exhibited in its initial period the substantial, solid traits characteristic of the men of that race the world over. Nothing of especial importance occurred to disrupt the even tenor of youthful years and it was not until nineteen that the career of a sailor was entered upon, marking the first change from the uneventful era of boyhood. The first voyage began at the port of Rotterdam and consumed a period of eighteen months, extending as far as the important ports of India, but eventually drawing to a close in Holland. The next sea voyage had its objective point in Southern Russia and it was the privilege of the young sailor to witness some important struggles marking the Crimean war, in which the Fifty-Ninth Regiment bore a part. A later trip to India was followed by a voyage on an English vessel to New Zealand. Next he was ordered to China and for five years he sailed before the mast in eastern waters, expecting to be ordered into battle should trouble arise between China and England. When finally all danger of war had been averted he sailed to Australia, landing at Adelaide and proceeding to Newcastle, where an attack of severe sickness terminated his connection with the English navy.

On regaining his strength so as to resume work Mr. Brown secured employment in a hotel at Newcastle and later worked as a longshoreman. While living in Australia he met and married Margaret Russell, an estimable young lady, who was born in Scotland. After a happy wedded life of four years death entered the home and removed the beloved wife, leaving Mr. Brown alone and without children to soften the keen edge of his deep bereavement. In 1870 he came to the United States and established his headquarters at San Francisco, from which city he engaged in expeditions along the coast as far south as Mexico. On giving up a sea-faring life he embarked in the express business in San Francisco and for eighteen years he remained pr9ominently identified with that line of activity. Eventually he disposed of his business and retired from commercial affairs, later spending several years quietly at a ranch owned by a friend. Although closely associated with Sonoma county ever since 1870, he did not locate here permanently until about 1899, when he came to Lakeville and leased the inn he still conducts. Notwithstanding his advanced years he enjoys a day spent in hunting game or in the more restful sport of fishing, and he remains now, as in younger days, companionable and genial, interested in politics as a stanch Democrat and well posted concerning all the national issues of the age. A few months ago, November 14, 1910, he celebrated the eighty-second anniversary of his birth and on that memorable occasion a number of his San Francisco friends joined him in a “turkey roast” with an abundance of fine California wine and all the dainties that add to the enjoyment of such a feast, the affair being rendered particularly enjoyable by reason of the splendid health and mental vigor of the host.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011