Monday, September 19, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Who is Rt. Rev. John Brown?

Saint Gabriel's Cemetery, Hazleton, PA
Since I mentioned in a recent post, "A Well-Known Hazleton Baseball Player" about Rev. John Brown and how he'd been named in several family member's funeral notices, I figured I'd honor him this Tombstone Tuesday.

I still think he's a relative.  If you look at yesterday's post you may notice that Father Brown came up from Raleigh, North Carolina to be at and take part in the funeral.  Not really something that would have occurred unless he was family, so I decided to jump into my family tree and see if we've got any like players...

There is a John Brown in the family tree without a lot of information.  He's the son of Charles Brown and by looking at the 1910 and 1920 census he would have been born around 1909, just like the Rt. Rev. Brown.  Neil (who he helped celebrate the funeral mass for) would have been his uncle.

There is another John Brown in the tree (the son of the deceased), but this John was born 29SEP1927.  Wrong birth date and he would have been 10 years old when his dad died, so we can cross him out.

These are the only 2 John Browns in my tree.  Does that mean that I'm not missing one?  Of course not, but it is looking likely that the son of Charles is the John that became the priest.  I can still kick myself for not looking up his obituary when I was home a couple months ago!

I performed a search on's copy of the SSDI and came up with the following John Browns born in 1909 and dying in 1986: search results

Only 6 and that's not bad.  Two, in fact, are listed in North Carolina.  Could be.  He was a priest, after all, so it's certainly possible that this is where his parish was and he came back home to Pennsylvania to be buried in the cemetery of the family's church.  Now I don't know why, but I get this impression that Father Brown was in the military too.  I don't know why this sticks in my mind.  It could be because Rev. McElwee (also listed in Neil Brown's obituary and in a separate blog post) is on my mind.  One of the things I'll have to check.  It's not listed on his tombstone, so it could just be my cruddy mind wandering off.

So where do I go from here?  I'm certainly not going to request 6 death certificates.  The SSDI isn't perfect and he could be absent from that list.  Nope.  I'm going to start simple.  Saint Gabriel's is an awesome church.  Granted, I've got quite a bias ancestors helped found it and I was baptized there (as was my youngest child!), but they are very sweet about responding to requests about burials and I doubt they would object to one of their priests being remembered.

So an email to Saint Gabriel's church and most likely seeing how much a copy of the obituary from the local library would be after I find the date he was interred.  I should think that such a man would be remembered in the local paper even if he did die elsewhere. I'll keep ya posted!

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