Monday, April 4, 2011

Tuesday's Tall Tales! - Discovering a Connection to a Basketball Legend, Part II

Excerpt from the 1930 US Census.  Charles Jr still at home with his widowed father and unmarried.

Hubie Brown.  Apparently he's a name that many basketball fans know.  I don't watch basketball.  It's a shame, I know...Final Four going on and all...a grandfather that was the basketball coach at the local Junior High...a baby sister that was a basketball phenom in elementary and middle school (very surprising considering she's shorter than me and I'm a giant 65-inches tall!), but when my cousin, gave me this article and told me that we were related to "The Great Hubie Brown", I kind of just looked at her and said, "Um, who?"  Of course, at that, my mom, who was sitting next to our cousin, just stared at me like she didn't recognize me as her own could I not know who Hubie Brown was!?!

The article was still relatively new when my 2C1R, Nancy O'Donoghue nee Brown, handed it to me in the Knotty Pine restaurant in Hazleton, PA on our first meeting.  I had met Nancy online while researching and we realized we had a connection.  We promised to get together when I visited Pennsylvania next and we kept that promise, my mom, husband and child in tow.  Our genealogical relationship, while cut short by her death, was incredibly fruitful.  Researching a common surname is never easy and we made some excellent dents in our Hazleton "Brown" family.

We were never able to figure in how this Basketball Hall of Fame coach fit into our tree though.  It's not hard to do research on Hubie.  There's a lot out there, but when researching we need to make sure that we don't force a fit into our family tree for the sake of verifying a Tall Tale/Family Legend.  There was quite the write up on Hubie by Sports Illustrated back in 2007 so I started looking there.

The article verified that Hubie's parents were Charles Brown and Anna (no surname given, so perhaps the Hazleton, PA newspaper was correct with the "Brislin" surname), however according to Hubie and his wife he was an only child...I suppose the Hazleton Standard Speaker didn't only screw up on the section title to that article!  Actually, you can see that Charles had a sister name "Geneive" in the 1930 census.  Perhaps that is where the confusion lies!

There were only 3 Charles Browns in Hazleton, PA in the 1930 Census, and I've got two of them in my tree.  Charles Sr. is the son of Neal Brown Sr, my great-great grandfather.  Charles Sr married Annie Lugrand [sic] and had 9 children that I know of.  I've found them easily enough in the census records and Nancy's research had verified this.  Charles Jr is where Nancy and I assumed Hubie fit in, but we couldn't be sure.  We didn't have a wife listed for Charles Jr and as of the 1930 census, Charles, Jr was 28 and still living with a widowed Charles, Sr.  No marriage yet to Anna Brislin.

So do I just sit here and wait patiently for one more year until the 1940 census comes out to locate Hubie and verify that his Charles is my Charles Jr?  I don't have that kind of patience.  What I can do since I know that he was Catholic and was born in Hazleton, PA is contact my family church and request information on my Charles Jr since he would have most likely been married in there (Saint Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church).  I can also request a marriage certificate for Charles and Anna to find their parents' names, or look up some obits in the local newspaper when I return home during the summer, or request the New Jersey microfilm on interlibrary loan.  I'm not at a dead-end, I'm just swimming through mud right now.  Slow, but easy to stay afloat!

I suppose I could also simply write to Hubie Brown and ask if Neal Brown and Nancy McCoy are his ancestors.  From what I've read about him, he'd probably appreciate the brass it would take to send a letter like that to a stranger! While I've got the brass, it's not really my style.  I'll write if I find a link.  Not to say "hey" to a famous distant cousin.  Rather to ask..."So what about those ancestors of ours?  Got any intel for me?"  Now that's more my style.

So, have I busted this tall tale?  There's still work to do so we'll give it a Myth Buster's "Plausible" for the next few months.  Then we can change its status.  Right now though, To Be Continued...