CHARLIE BROWN
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Jane Jones
Not many persons have led a more eventful life than Charlie Brown-and during a period when America had so much to offer to one with his adventurous spirit.
He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in December, 1828, raised by governesses, tutors and nurses and at 19 he rebelled against the compulsory military duty in Germany and he and a friend Carl Schurz managed to escape to America.
In 1861 he arrived in Montana, was here before the discovery of gold at Alder Gulch, and was one of the first to work in its famous placer mines. Later he was one of the party which gave the suggestive name to Last Chance Gulch, the site of the present city of Helena, and was among the first prospectors in the gulch.
In 1870 he went to Sioux City, Ia., and married a friend's widow, Frederika. Manderchein, who had lost her husband and infant son in 1869. She had to daughters, Emma and Laura. He moved his new family to Moorhead, Minn., and for six years was in the livery business and in freighting between Moorhead and Old Ft. Garry, Canada.
In 1876 he heeded the call to return to Montana, and became wagon boss for the U. S. Government. He was wagon boss on the illfated Custer expedition but was saved the terrible fate of the others because the wagon train was left some distance behind.
On June 26, 1878, his wife and family joined him in Miles City. The Browns had two children of their own by then, Flora and Adolph. Charlie opened a saloon on Main Street. With 36 saloons doing business, Charlie's saloon was outstanding - a town crier went around Main Street hollering, "Keno tonight, Charlie Brown's". Boasting the doors of his saloon and gambling house had never been locked, he still had time for other activities, such as town auctioneer, owner of a livery stable, buyer and seller of horses, and veterinarian. He also served as the town's Justice of the Peace. He was a friend of the down-and-outer and children and animals. And in his saloon he kept a tin boiler full of Mulligan stew for bums who needed food.
A character sketch of Charlie Brown, drawn from descriptions given by his contemporaries, describe him as 5' 11", weighing 220 lbs., nice looking when young and one of the cleanest men they knew, taking daily baths in cold water, and he was healthy and tough - nothing could tire him. His early years in Germany must have brought him close to horses, because he loved horses dearly and was an expert horseman; he drove Dan Rice's Circus Bank Wagon, with 48 horses hitched to it, down Broadway. He served the U.S. Government in Alaska on diseases among reindeer. His antagonism against horse thieves was a necessary feeling of the times. So far away from your base of supplies, with only cattle, horses or sheep to depend upon for a living, the man who stole them jeopardized you and your family's whole existence; the penalty for murder was much less than for horse stealing. Charlie was known to have ridden as far as Denver to run down and handcuff, singlehanded, a criminal. For this trip he asked Charles Beehrer for his fine thoroughbred mare Dine, his best rifle, best revolver, and $50., and the criminal was one of Beehrer's young helpers and bad confided he was "going on the road." You couldn't scare him; Brown and a fellow by the name of Beidler were the most active in ridding this country of the tough element, but Brown never received his due at the hand of the historians or writers. Perhaps no man in Montana was more thoroughly acquainted with the west than Charlie Brown, because over the years his field of operations, as prospector, horseman, veterinarian, and so on, extended from Old Mexico to British Columbia, and even Alaska.
In 1897 he headed for Alaska, staked out one or two mining claims. and was engaged in constructing a road between Valdez and Copper River when he died there in 1900. His remains were temporarily interred at Valdez but a year later were brought to Miles City and funeral services were held here. According to the newspaper account of the funeral, "Following the proclamation of Mayor Andrus the business places closed for the time being and the public schools were likewise dismissed for the afternoon. Never before in the history of the town perhaps has such an honor been paid to one of its citizens and it is a condition of affairs almost unique that a year after his death the memory of the good-natured, big-hearted 'judge' should be stamped so indelibly on the memory and in the hearts of calculating men of business that they could combine in such a tribute of affection and respect."
Frederika Brown followed her husband in death in 1906. She, too, had been born in Germany, at Hanover, Nov. 27, 1839, and at 18 sailed for America, on a trip that took 30 days. She went to Memphis, Tenn., to live and later moved to Sioux City where she married for the first time, and upon her husband's death married Charlie Brown. Their daughter Flora married George Ulmer; Laura married John I. Zook; Emma married Thomas Doyle and they were engaged in the cattle business in what is now Powder River County. Their son Adolph, better known as "Kid" Brown, accompanied his father to Valdez where they engaged in business until the death of his father in 1900.