Rev. Brown's 100th Birthday Portrait





Great-Grandfather Brown's

100th Birthday Family Portrait




Sara Maxwell Baily


as told to


Nathan Osborn Maxwell Baily

This photograph of the Reverend Brown and his family was taken on his 100th birthday, March 12, 1899, after he had preached his last sermon. There were grave misgivings on the propriety of making a portrait on a Sunday, but expediency finally won out over other considerations.

My great-grandfather Reverend Richard Brown served as a circuit rider in and around Lafayette County, Missouri, having left a Methodist pastorate in Troy, New York. He was a graduate of an eastern college, and an excellent classic scholar. He was an ardent Abolitionist and very active in the New York State Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves to sanctuary in Canada.

 "...the Underground Railroad had acquired its name around 1831 when an escaping Kentucky slave name Tice Davids jumped into the Ohio River barely ahead of his master and hired slave catchers, who grabbed a boat and rowed their hardest after him, watching him steadily as he swam. He thrashed ashore on the Ohio side, and suddenly dashed from the sight of his baffled and angrily cussing Kentucky pursuers, who could find no trace of him. One exclaimed, "He must've gone off an underground road!" As the story got told over and over, the steam trains were exciting the North, the quote became "underground railroad," and those who helped slave fugitives came to be called "conductors," and "station masters," or "brakemen," or "firemen...The law of 1850 made it illegal to aid an escaped slave. The Underground Railroad agents (especially in the south) had to take the boldest of chances, and they risked and sometimes actually lost their own lives when it was they who got captured."

From A Different Kind of Christmas , Alex Haley.



After the Civil War, around the year 1867, when he certainly was old enough (sixty-nine) to know better, he felt a "call" to preach the gospel in the mining camps of Colorado. He picked up his wife and three daughters and headed west from Troy, New York. At Westport Landing, now part of Kansas City, and along the Missouri River towns, he found enough sin to keep himself busy for the rest of a very long and active life.


Reverend Brown showed by his support for the abolition of slavery that he was a thinker ahead of his time. He also strongly believed that women had a right to an education, and unlike most girls in the mid 19th century, his daughters became well-schooled at home. The two eldest, Harriet, my grandmother, and my great-aunt Julia became teachers at the Ft. Edward Institute in Troy, N.Y. (later, the Troy Young Ladies' Seminary), mentioned in some references on the history of education in the U.S. as the first school of higher education for women. By this time, they were both over twenty. Back then, women who remained unmarried at twenty were considered "Old Maids.

 "Hopeless old maids" that the older daughters were when they came west, both soon found husbands in the male-heavy environment of Missouri in the late 1860s. Julia, then twenty-nine years old, was the first to marry. Shortly after the family arrived in Missouri, school teacher Samuel Horton Whitney began to court Julia. They were married in November, 1867. A daughter, Asanath, was born in 1868 but died while in her teens. Hortense was born in 1869. Sam, rumored to be a "renegade Catholic," had emigrated from Ireland shortly after the great potato famine. Never a strong man, he died after a short illness in 1874.

Julia Brown Whitney

Sam Whitney's untimely death in Iola, Kansas, left Julia with two daughters to support: Julia Hortense (3rd from left in portrait) and Asanath Blanche. Harriet and Julia had established a private academy in Lafayette County several years earlier which helped provide income. Julia was also a fine musician and taught piano to further support herself and her daughters. The only problem was that she became totally deaf at an early age and this handicapped her somewhat in her profession. At the time this picture was taken, she was deaf as a post.

She continued to teach piano after becoming deaf by holding a willow stick in her mouth and resting the other end on the piano keyboard. Able to pick up vibrations in this manner, she managed to continue teaching. Remember, Beethoven used the technique when he became deaf at age 48. He was stone deaf when he wrote the Ninth Symphony in 1824!

My great-aunt Julia was sixty-two years old when this photograph was taken and this is the only time I ever saw her when she wasn't dressed in black and wearing a widow's bonnet. Sam Whitney had died long before, but at that time, it was common for women who had been widowed to wear widow's garb for the rest of their lives. I remember her widow's outfit well from when she visited us in Silverton in 1912.

Thirteen years after this photo was taken, the year I was five, 1912, we spent the summer at the "Old Hundred" mine in Cunningham Gulch near Silverton. The mine had closed because the company was in bankruptcy and my father, who had been manager of the operation, stayed on with a skeleton crew to take care of loose ends for the Cleveland, Ohio, financiers who owned the property.


Aunt Julia, her daughter Hortense, and Aunt Harriet and her son Richard, spent a month with our family that summer. I think the visit was arranged to give Aunt Harriet a change of scene because of her recent bereavement (Richard Keeling died that year in a fall in the Grand Canyon). Aunt Julia was well into her 70's at the time, dressed in black with her widow's bonnet perched on her head. Since she was so very deaf, everyone had to shout in order for her to understand. When she answered it was in the strident tones of the very hard-of-hearing. Because of her frightening appearance and fierce voice, I was firmly convinced she was the wicked witch from the fairy tale book, and took refuge under the bed whenever poor Aunt Julia appeared.


Aunt Julia's hearing may have been defective but her mind was 100 per cent active. It seems that she always had had a consuming interest in geology and in the Colorado mountains found herself in a rock-hound's paradise. My father innocently enough provided her with a prospector's hammer and she was out and running in her long, black skirt and widow's bonnet clambering over terrain which would have daunted a teenager, garnering rock samples to her heart's content. Again, in his innocence, my father offered to ship her treasures to Houston and ended up with three large wooden crates and a staggering freight bill!

*Note: According to Silverton newspaper reports, my mother was actually five years old at the time.

Julia Hortense Whitney

 Hortense Whitney was a year or two older than my father at the time of the Brown portrait which would have made her about 28. Her life is at this time a bit of a mystery. In our family, the story had long been told of Hortense working hard to become a lawyer after she and her mother moved to Texas. In fact, she was reputed to have been the first woman admitted to the Texas Bar and had later gone on to a distinguished career on the Texas Supreme Court.

We were all quite happy to have such an illustrious woman in our history, but learned recently that the woman who did all those wonderful things, while indeed named Hortense, had the last name of Ward and apparently had nothing whatsoever to do with our family. Somehow the story of Hortense Whitney became confused with that of Justice Ward. We have no idea how this happened, but will let you know the full story as soon as it is uncovered! Perhaps she worked in Justice Ward's office?

In the meantime, what we do know about Hortense is that she moved to Houston with her mother sometime around 1910 and lived there until her death in 1934. She's buried at Brookside Cemetery there.

In 1869, when she was twenty-eight, the Reverend Brown's second oldest daughter, Harriet, married my grandfather, Albert Leander Maxwell. An unreconstructed Rebel, a veteran of the Confederate Army, and a widower of some years her senior, Leander came into the marriage with two children of his own. He and Grandmother Harriet had three children together. Harriet Gertrude Maxwell (seated in the Brown Portrait to the right of my great-aunt Julia) was the youngest. Arthur Leonard Maxwell (standing behind Aunt Harriet) and my father, Nathaniel Chester Maxwell, the oldest, standing second from the left.

Alas, my grandfather Leander did not have very good luck with his wives. Harriet Jane was his third wife, the other two having died in childbirth. Grandmother Harriet Jane Maxwell survived the births of three children but unfortunately succumbed to a bout of typhoid fever in 1879 at thirty years of age, leaving Grandfather with the three young children to care for. My father was six, Uncle Authur four, and Aunt Harriet was eight months old.


 Aunt Harriet was taken in by my Great-Aunt Gertrude Powell, reared as a Powell, she always thought of herself as a Northern-Abolitionist-Methodist while the Maxwell side of the family ardently supported Southern-Presbyterian-Confederate sentiments. Despite the political differences, the two branches of the family seemed to get along well. Perhaps it was their own "Missouri Compromise," like the legislation which abolished slavery in Missouri in 1820 as a condition of its admittance to the union.

Aunt Harriet was a sickly baby and a delicate young woman. It took her ten years to complete her college education at Baldwin University in Kansas because of ill health. However, she survived early widowhood and lived to the ripe old age of 92.

Harriet Gertrude Maxwell Keeling

Aunt Harriet was twenty-one when this picture was taken. She later married a geologist-cartographer, Richard Keeling, and went to Puerto Rico as a bride. Keeling was employed by the U.S. Geodetic Survey to map the coastline of Puerto Rico after it became a territory of the United States following the Spanish-American War. They had one son, Richard, born at Guyama, P.R., in about 1909 with only a local midwife in attendance because there was no time for his mother to be transferred to the U. S. Naval Hospital on the island as had been planned. Richard was about a year younger than I. The only time we ever were together, in Silverton in 1912 (I was five and he was four) we fought like tigers.

Richard Keeling, the father, was killed in 1912 in a fall while mapping the Grand Cañon in Arizona. It is interesting that maps used by Jesse S. Baily III on the Mayagüez, Puerto Rico cable project in 1954 must have been drawn prior to 1912 since they were signed by Richard Keeling, Sr. Richard, Jr., graduated from Rice Institute in Houston and became a petroleum engineer.

I saw Aunt Harriet in 1912 and again forty years later, in 1952, when I was in Texas with my husband Jesse Sydenham Baily. He was doing a large job for the A.T. & T. in the Austin-Waco area, and I flew to Houston from Austin to spend the day with my Aunt Harriet. Her son, Richard, was out of town but had arranged for a car and driver to take my Aunt and me on a tour of the city. We had lunch at a downtown hotel and traveled to all the points of interest. Aunt Harriet was very sharp and knowledgeable, and it was a rewarding experience to see her. She died in Houston in 1968.

Emily Gertrude Brown Powell

 I met Great-Aunt Gertrude Powell only once. It was when I was a child and I remember her as a delightful, grandmotherly type. She had married Milton Vernon Powell in 1874, twenty-five years before this picture was taken. Vernon was the owner of the general store in Odessa, was six years her senior and died in 1912 at 67 years of age. She lived in Odessa all of her life and died in 1940.

When I was in high school I went to school (sophomore and junior years) in Lexington and Odessa, then returned to Silverton to graduate so that I could go to the University of Colorado from a state-accredited high school. The purpose of my Missouri educational experience was primarily, I think, to give me a chance to know my father's relatives and family roots. At that time, when I was a teenager, family meant a great deal and there were dozens of cousins and assorted relatives living in Missouri, most of them in and around Kansas City in Lexington, Odessa, and Independence.
Aunt Gertie's four children, my second cousins, are all in the Brown portrait. The oldest was Alan. Alan Powell was the only one in the picture (except Grandpa Brown himself) whom I never met personally. He was the oldest of Aunt Gertie's children and was employed as an auditor for a railroad. He lived in Houston, Texas, which was the headquarters for the railroad. His father, Milton Vernon Powell, died in 1912 and eventually Alan moved his mother and younger brothers, Nathan and Maurice, to Houston. They were later joined by Aunt Julia and her daughter Hortense and, after her widowhood, by Aunt Harriet and her son, Richard. With the exception of Alan, I remember a little bit about each of my Powell cousins.

Allan K. Powell

Joy Powell McCurdy
ca 1878-??

 Joy Powell McCurdy, Aunt Gertie's next oldest, spent a winter in Independence when I was in school in Missouri. Her home was in Shelby, Montana with Jack, her lumberman husband. However, his mother still lived in a big old home on the same street as the Trumans (of presidential fame) and Joy and her daughter Jean had come to look after her. My cousin Rhoda Virginia Maxwell, my Uncle Arthur's daughter, and I spent several delightful weekends and holidays with the McCurdys. Joy was a beautiful, vivacious woman. She died from cancer while in her fifties, one of the few members of the clan not to survive to a ripe old age.

My second cousin Nathan Powell helped provide some happy teen-age memories. He was only about eight years old when the Brown Photograph was taken, but by the time I was attending school in Missouri, he was around thirty-five, married, with children and had become a lumberman in Hutchinson, Kansas. He frequently came to Kansas City on business and to spend time with his sister Joy in nearby Independence.

Richard Nathan Powell

One time, it was 1923, he took several assorted cousins, myself and Rhoda included, to the new Kansas City amusement center called Electric Park. I remember it vividly since it was my first such experience. I hated the mere thought of getting on a roller coaster from that day on!

Maurice Powell

A graduate of the Missouri School of Mines, Maurice Powell went to South America immediately after his graduation, choosing not to follow engineering but to assume a position as South American representative for the Corn Products Co. In São Palo, where he lived, he was generally known as "Dom Mazola," because Mazola Corn Oil was the most visible product of the Corn Products Co. Maurice and his two wives had three or four children but I know nothing about them. Maurice died in Brazil in the fifties and may be buried there.

Maurice Powell visited us in Wheatridge, Colorado, near Denver, in 1948 or 1949 with his Brazilian second wife. His American wife died in the early 1940s and he had married his secretary, at least twenty years younger and a very attractive woman. I recall at the time, we were all struck with how well she spoke English. We were also much amused when she asked, "Where's the pot?" referring to the bathroom, of course.

The only non-blood relative of Rev. Brown in his birthday portrait is my mother, Lillian Tharp Maxwell, the lovely lady standing on the left-hand side of the picture. The baby on the Reverend's lap is my brother Wilbur (I came along nine years later), whose presence gained mother her position.

Lillian Tharp Maxwell

My mother was the only child of James Henry Tharp, a Presbyterian minister, and Mary Frances Jeter. She was a talented artist and a graduate of Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri. My mother was twenty-six at the time of the Brown portrait. She lived until she was 78, dying in Silverton in 1951. She is buried alongside my father and brother there at the Hillside Cemetery.

Nathaniel Chester Maxwell

Nathaniel Chester Maxwell, my father, was also twenty-six at the time this portrait was taken. They had been married for almost two years. My father was a mining accountant, writer, editor, and even a judge during his long life. After my mother died, he married a wonderful woman by the name of Maude Payne and lived another ten years, dying in 1961 at age eighty-eight.
Wilbur Tharp Maxwell was eight months old at the time of the photograph. My brother Wilbur was a fine man in every way and was more like a father to me than a brother because of the difference in our ages. Likewise, he was really the only father Jim and Barbara ever knew. My only brother was a very special part of my life and a very special person.

Wilbur Tharp Maxwell

Called up for service towards the end of WW I while a student at the Colorado School of Mines, Wilbur never actually served. He did not return to complete his engineering degree, choosing instead to get on with work. He became quite successful through the years with his mining operations in the Silverton-San Juan area.

During W.W. II he served in the Army Engineer Corps as a munitions expert in the African and Sicilian campaigns. He was discharged in 1944 to return to "essential industry." Less than a year later, while taking ore samples for assaying at the Bandura mine, he was hit by falling rock and killed. It was his forty-seventh birthday, September 4, 1945.

Arthur Leonard Maxwell

 Uncle Arthur Leonard Maxwell was twenty-four at the time the Brown Family Portrait was taken. He later married Caroline Young ("Aunt Carrie"), a second cousin on the Maxwell side. They had one daughter, Rhoda Virginia Maxwell, and a son, Albert Lee Maxwell. Uncle Arthur died in 1967 at ninety-two in Lexington, Missouri, and is buried there.
Uncle Arthur was always chasing rainbows. Some of them he caught up with, some he did not. He was a visionary in many ways, but was often considered an "oddball." In 1905, Uncle Arthur became responsible for my father's ending up in Silverton, Colorado. Sent there in 1905 to establish a branch of the Thatcher Bank, he urged his brother to get in on the boom. My father quit his job with Wolferman's in Kansas City and arrived in the gold rush town of Silverton in the winter of 1905.

He quickly landed a job as an accountant for the Mogul Mining Co.; however, living space was not as plentiful as work in Silverton and any spare room was at a premium for living quarters. It is ironic perhaps, that my father rented space in the dentist's new office building for the eighteen months it took him to build a house. The young dentist, Jesse S. Baily, had arrived from back east a few years before and had recently built a house for his wife and young son. My mother and Wilbur arrived in late May of 1907 to take up the new residence, and I was born the following March. I would eventually marry the dentist's boy, Jesse, Jr.

© Sara Maxwell Baily, 1988

Silverton, Colorado
Taken in 1985 from the Hillside Cemetery
By Sara Katherine Ball, Sara M. Baily's granddaughter.

Silverton Hillside Cemetery


From the Desk of
Nathan Osborn Maxwell Baily

Dear Relatives,

In 1899, on the occasion his hundredth birthday when this picture was snapped in Odessa, Missouri, Richard Brown's wife, Harriet Julia Ann Horner Brown, had been dead for thirty-nine years. His daughter Harriet Jane Brown Maxwell, my great-grandmother, for thirty. The Reverend would live two years into the new 20th century and then rest forever in Odessa.

The effects of the Rev. Brown's stay on the planet continue in the minds and genes of some of the people with whom we share these words. I know that I speak for both myself and my mother when I say that it not only has been fun to put this little booklet together for you on this Christmas season 1988, but very enlightening, too. We hope that you will enjoy reading it at least as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to you.

The Brown portrait has been around all my life, yet the names of these ancestors and their stories never seemed to stick. I knew I had to do something to get the information in a written form so it would not be lost. One thing led to another and the booklet you are holding is the result.

I feel a companionship with my ancestors that I never did before and suspect an importance in knowing about them which I still do not completely understand. Perhaps as the rest of the family connections are made, the pieces of the puzzle finally snapped together, the message will become clear.

Be assured that this is only the first installment of several additions to the history of the Maxwell family. I have made a deal with Mother: She will continue to dig her memory for more information on these and other family members, and I will "type" it up for her.

Have a happy and prosperous 1989! Keep healthy and we'll celebrate Brown's 200th birthday in less than ten years!


Nathan Osborn Maxwell Baily
December 1988


From the Desk of
Nathan Osborn Maxwell Baily

Dear Relatives,

It's been nearly ten years since mother and I put together the original "My Great-Grandfather Brown's 100th Birthday Portrait." While the tools still are basically the same, just more powerful, the medium is quite different. I remember having "e-mail" and knowing about the Internet back in 1988, but "the World Wide Web" has been a leap. It is hoped that publishing this booklet, as well as genealogical records, on the WWW may stir the dust and bring little motes of information to fill in some of the blanks.

The years since mother and I published this booklet have whipped by too quickly and brought many changes. The most significant, of course, is that mother is no longer regaling us with her hundreds of stories. We miss those stories and the woman who remembered them, but know that at least some of the best will be preserved in these and other photographs, on tape, with the memorabilia, and in the writings and memories.

On March 12, 1999, in less than fifteen months, the Brown photo will be 100 years old. This update serves both as a reminder of that anniversary and as a "clarion call," if you will, for suggestions for its celebration. Hope your 1997 Holiday Season is safe and joyful and that your 1998 brings continued good health and prosperity for you and your families.

Sincerely yours,



From the Desk of
Nathan Osborn Maxwell Baily

March 15, 1999


Dear Relatives,

You may recall that In December of 1997 I wrote that March 12, 1999 would be the 100th anniversary of the Brown Portrait and the 200th anniversary of his birth. I asked for suggestions as to how this date could be celebrated, but having received none I have decided to take the opportunity to update you on my research into four subjects, three of which pertain directly to the Brown story.

When mother and I created the Brown booklet in 1989, we didn't think there was much more we needed to find out about the reverend and his family. Yet as the last ten years have passed quickly by, I have come to the conclusion that what we knew then was but the tip of the iceberg of what is yet to be discovered.

Today, after over a year of more-or-less daily Internet genealogy research, I have learned an astonishing amount about most of the surnames on both sides of our main families: The Maxwells and the Bailys. But three of the strangest things I have discovered have been in regard to Rev. Brown and one of the families in that story, the Powells.

You probably will recall mother telling how Richard Brown had been a "classic scholar" and had graduated from that fine eastern college, Bowdoin? Well, according to the college, he never attended! I haven't unearthed the facts of the matter, but it seems clear that yet another so-called fact has now been proven a family "myth."

Of course it doesn't really matter much where he went to college, if he did, but I'm enough of a genealogist now that I can't let it rest until I eventually get things sorted out. But another enigma came up very soon after I posted a query to one of the many mail lists available though RootsWeb. I wanted information about Richard Brown's mother's family so I posted to the Brockway list, that being his mother's maiden name.

The quick reply from a Brockway researcher brought up some well-documented facts leading to the conclusion that Asenath Brockway was not his mother at all!
According to this Brockway researcher, Asenath married Charles Brown, Richard's father, in 1804 and a son, Jonah, resulted from the union. But Richard Brown had been born in 1799, so what seems evident is that his father, Charles, had been married previously and that Richard was the product of that marriage!

Since I'm more-or-less researching all the surnames in our families except for a few notable exceptions, it will be a while before I get to the bottom of the "real" story on Rev. Brown. But I will try to keep the web site updated with the new information as soon as it turns up.

You may know that I've recently web-published six pages of unidentified photos. Many people have visited these pages (about 5,000 so far) and some have found their way to the Brown Story. I have gotten quite a few e-mails from visitors who have enjoyed reading the story even though their families were not involved. However, one fellow who did visit was quite taken aback to find the Powell family there. It turns out that Milton Powell, the husband of Emily G. Powell (Richard Brown's third daughter) was his gg uncle by marriage!

What is even more amazing is that this Powell line leads back to Chester County, PA where his 5g uncle Isaac Powell married into my Baily line! So you see, this is the first time the Maxwells and the Bailys have been linked before Jesse and Sara. Of course the Powells were not in our direct line, but there is current research being done trying to tie some Maxwells in Chester Cty. with our Maxwells in Virginia which, if it proves true, could unearth a more direct link.

Mother's birthday having just passed, the fourth interesting bit of information I have confirmed this year becomes even more poignant. Mother would have been 91 two days ago--or would she? The fact is that mother was actually born in 1907, not 1908 as she claimed! I have turned up an original copy of her birth registration for March 13, 1907 and a copy of a birth announcement in the Silverton Standard on March 15, 1907. So, she would be 92 this year!

Apparently when mother went to Silverton in 1965 to get a birth certificate for her passport, she was told that the records had burned in a fire, but if she could get someone to vouch for her birth date she could be issued a new birth certificate. Well, Maude Maxwell signed the form attesting to mother's birth date as being March 13, 1908 and that is what she used from then on. I have no idea if she simply forgot her actual birth date or if she just wanted to lop a year off. It would be interesting to see if 1965 was the first time she did it or if there was some point at which she began using the '08 date. I'll leave that research to someone else for the time being.



Rev. Richard Brown (ca. 1880)
b. 1799
d. 1901




Albert Leander Maxwell (my g grandfather)
Nathaniel Carson Maxwell (my gggrandfather)
Nathaniel Chester Maxwell (my grandfather)
Sara Frances Maxwell Baily (my mother)