Color Your World: Margaret Brown

Margaret Brown
Margaret Brown

Today’s color for the challenge is Brown. Margaret “Maggie” Tobin Brown was known as the socialite on Lifeboat #6 when the  RMS Titanic sunk in 1912. Hollywood called her “Molly” Brown, but that was a made-up name that went well with her other name, unsinkable.

Maggie Brown was born in a two room cabin along the banks of the Mississippi River near Hanibal, Missouri. Her parents were Irish Catholic immigrants. By the age of 18 she had moved with her married sister to Leadville, Colorado and got a job in a department store. This is where she met J.J. Brown, who she fell madly in love with. He worked at the Little Jonny Mine as an engineer.

She said, “I wanted a rich man, but I loved Jim Brown. I thought about how I wanted comfort for my father and how I had determined to stay single until a man presented himself, who could give to the tired old man the things I longed for him. Jim was as poor as we were, and had no better chance in life. I struggled hard with myself in those days. I loved Jim, but he was poor. Finally, I decided that I’d be better off with a poor man whom I loved, than with a wealthy one whose money had attracted me. So I married Jim Brown.”

In 1893 J.J. Brown developed a way to increase production from a big ore seam in the Little Jonny Mine. He was awarded 12,000 shares of the stock and a seat on the board of directors at the Ibex Mining Company. Maggie and J.J. became rich! Very, very rich! They built a large mansion in Denver and a substantial summer house as well. Maggie continued to work in the soup kitchens to assist the miner’s families. As she was accepted into the ladies’ society circles, she joined the Denver Woman’s Club and set her sights on continuing her education. She raised money for the Denver Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and helped destitute children, working with Judge Ben Lindsey, to set up the first United States juvenile court system. She never forgot where she came from or who she was.

Something went wrong in the marriage and she and her husband separated in 1909. Divorce was out of the question.

In 1912, she had been traveling in Europe when her grandson, back in the US, became sick. She left immediately for France to catch a boat in Cherbourg. The Astors, already in the UK, bought her a ticket for the Titanic, the day before it departed from Southampton, hoping she would get to England in time to catch the ship, which they would also be sailing on. She made it in time, getting off one boat to board another.

When the Titanic struck an iceberg early on April 15th, 1912, Maggie had been in her room reading a book, when a tremor disturbed her reading. She looked from her cabin door and saw three attendants trying to lock down a water valve in the corridor. They said everything was fine and she went back to reading her book. Soon, one of the gentlemen in another cabin came to her door and told her to get her life jacket and go to a lifeboat.  She grabbed all three lifejackets assigned to her room, (she had a room for three, but was the only passenger assigned to it) and her fur coat. She went to Lifeboat # 6 and after helping other passengers board was persuaded to get in herself. She took up an oar and urged the other women to do the same. When the Titanic sunk she reprimanded Quartermaster Robert Hichens, the crewman in charge of #6, for not going back and trying to save some of the passengers in the water. Her heroic stand sealed her place in history, but that was only the beginning of her assistance. When Lifeboat #6 was rescued by the ship, Carpathia, she helped all the others, who were fortunate enough to be saved. She went to all the wealthy passengers and collected money to be given to the passengers, who were destitute, collecting over 100,000 dollars!

She refused to leave the Carpathia until all the rescued Titanic passengers on board had a place to go to and money in their pockets.

In later years, her fame as a well known Titanic survivor helped her promote issues that she felt strongly about: the rights of workers and women, education and literacy for children, historic preservation and the commemoration of the bravery and chivalry shown by the men aboard the Titanic. During WWI she worked to rebuild areas behind the front line in France, in addition to helping American and French soldiers. She was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur for her good citizenship, activism and philanthropy in America.

From the late 1920s into the ’30s, Margaret had a successful career as an actress. A brooch, her only surviving piece of jewelry from the Titanic, (because she was wearing it at the time) was stolen during a robbery at a hotel in New York, where she was staying in the 1920’s.

Margaret Brown died of a brain tumor in her sleep on October 26, 1932 at the height of the Great Depression at the Barbizon Hotel in New York City, where she had been performing. Truly, Margaret Brown was a heroine her entire life.

Color your World  is a 4 month long daily blogging challenge event. Each day has a new color theme based on a crayon color in Crayola’s box of 120 crayons.

The challenge runs January 1, 2017 to April 29, 2017. Please join us in this challenge! It’s fun!

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