Margaret Tobin was born in Hannibal, Missouri, on 18th July 1867.
She was the daughter of John Tobin, and his wife, Johanna, (nee Collins) and was sister to Daniel, William, and Helen, born in 1871.
Margaret’s parents had both been married before. Her father had first married a woman named Bridget, and together they had a daughter, Catherine Bridget Tobin. (Known as Katie, born 1857 in Vermont) Johanna had married to a man with the surname Reading. And they had a daughter named Mary Ann Reading. (Born 1856 in Iowa)
The following is the census information for the family from 1870
Hannibal, Marion, MO (Missouri.)
John Tobin born about 1830 in Ireland , White , Male
Johanah Tobin born about 1830 in Ireland White Female
Mary Ann Tobin born about 1856 in Iowa White Female
Katie Tobin born about 1857 in Vermont White Female
Maggy Tobin born about 1867 in Missouri White Female
William Tobin born about 1869 in Missouri White Male
Here are the family in 1880
Suburbs of Leity
John Tobin, Head,60, Work in G?? Factory, born Ireland
Johanna Tobin, Wife, 50, Keeping House, Born Ireland
Daniel Tobin, Son, 16, Selling Papers, born Missouri
Maggie Tobin, Daughter, 12, born Missouri
William Tobin, Son, 11, born Missouri
Ella Tobin, Daughter, 8, At School, born Missouri
Margaret left school at thirteen. She then went to work at the Garth Tobacco Company.
In 1886, at the age of 19, she went to Leadville, Colarado. Her brother Daniel had moved there a while before, as had her Half Sister, Mary Ann. When Margaret got to Leadville, she moved in with her brother, where she took care of his house while he went out to work.
It soon became apparent that the money Daniel brought home from his job as a miner, was not enough to keep the both of them and the house, and so Margaret got herself a job in a dry goods store.
In the same year that she moved to Leadville, Margaret met James Joseph Brown. He was quite a bit older than her, in fact, he was thirteen years her senior.
James Joseph Brown had been born on 27th 1854 in Waymart, Pennsylvania. When Margaret met him, he was working in the mines of Leadville. He took mining seriously, and his hard work paid off when he was made foreman of the Maid and Henriette Mine.
On 1st September 1886, Margaret Tobin and James Joseph Brown married at the Annunciation Church in Leadville, Colorado.
A little while after the wedding, in 1887, James was promoted to Mining Superintendent. By this time Margaret was pregnant with the couple’s first child. While her husband was working, Margaret took lessons in reading, literature and music.
On 30th August 1887 baby Lawrence Palmer Brown entered the world. Just less than two years later, on 1st July 1889, a second child, a girl, was born. The browns named her Catherine Ellen. She was known to her family as Helen.
It was the "Little Jonny" mine, in Leadville, that brought fortune to the red-haired Mrs. Brown and her family. The "Little Jonny" mine was so named because the man who staked the claim didn’t know how to spell "Johnny".
Now that they had money, The Brown family moved to Denver, Colorado where they settled in at 1340 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Margaret also began to establish herself in the social circles of Denver.
In the late 1890’s, Margaret moved east. For a period of time, she set up home in Newport, Rhode Island and entertained the conservative society there.
From Newport she met and entertained Sir Thomas Lipton, and apparently knitted green neck ties for him.
Questions asked were:Name:
Relationship to head of household:
Birth Month and Year:
Number of children (If adult female)
Number of children still living (If adult female)
James J Brown, Head, W, M, Nov 1854, 45, M, 14, Pennsylvania, Ireland, Ireland, Mine Owner
Margaret Brown, Wife, W, F, July 1869, 31,M, 19, 2,2, Missouri, Ireland, Ireland
Lawrence P. Brown, Son, W, M, Aug 1887, 12, S, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Missouri, At School
Helen Brown, Daughter, W, F, July 1889,10, S, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Missouri, At School.
Margaret and James separated in 1909, However, Margaret would tell people that she was a widow - perhaps to protect her pride.
The questions on the census were:
Relationship to head of household:
Number of Years Married:
Number of children: (only females answered these questions)
How many children still living: (only females answered these questions)
Mothers Birth Place:
1340 Pennsylvania Avenue
James J. Brown, Head, M, W, 50, M, 24, -, -, Pennsylvania, Ireland, England, English, Gold Mining,
Margaret T. Brown, Wife, F, W, M, 24, 2, 2, Missouri, Ireland, Ireland, English, none
Lawrence P Brown, Son, M, W, 23, S, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Missouri, English, Gold Mining
Helen Brown, Dau, F, W, 21, S, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Missouri, English, none
Florence Tobin, Niece, F, W, 15, Colorado, Missouri, Missouri, English, none.
In 1912, Margaret went to Europe. She visited Italy, where she collected two cases of Carrara marble reproductions from the ruins of Rome and the basilicas of Florence to bring home and give to the Denver City Museum.
While in Europe, she got a message that her little grandson Lawrence was ill, and so she made plans to get home as soon as possible. That meant buying a ticket onboard the new White Star Liner, Titanic.
She boarded the ship at Cherbourg, France. She soon met up with her friends, John Jacob Astor and his young wife, Madeleine. Once onboard she found her good friend, Mrs. Emma Bucknell.
After the collision with the iceberg, Margaret helped other women get into the lifeboats, she had no thought of saving her own life until some men took hold of her and threw her into the lifeboat.
After the Titanic sank, Margaret desperately wanted to go back and pick up some of the people in the water, Quartermaster Robert Hichens disagreed however, and the two would argue all night about the control of the boat. All night, Margaret did her bit at the oars; she also handed out pieces of her clothing to those who needed it.
At last The Carpathia arrived. Onboard the rescue ship, She comforted other passengers who had lost loved ones, being the cultured woman she was, she was able to speak to many of them in their native languages. She used her own money to send telegrams to other passengers relatives and helped to sew clothes and blankets. She also became part of a committee to make sure that the White Star Line provided for the survivors, she also helped to draft a commendation for Captain Rostron and the crew of the Carpathia.
When the Carpathia docked, she stayed onboard until the early hours, helping to find accommodation for the poor and needy. When she did finally disembark, the media surrounded her, asking how she survived the sinking. Her reply was "Typical Brown luck, I’m unsinkable!"
Once home, Margaret became a member of the "sacred 36" a kind of club for society women. It was not long after she joined that she got them to join her in a petition to change maritime law, saying it was immoral to separate women and children from their husbands and fathers.
Margaret was also interested in politics. She was a member of the National Womens Party and encouraged President Coolidge to give his support to the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In 1914, Margaret was considered as a possible candidate for the United States Senate. The following is media coverage of the event which was published in the Washington Post on 26 July 1914. (page 10)
FAVOURITES IN SMART SET AND POLITICS
Mrs. J.J Brown of Denver, Colo, is a possible candidate for the united states senate. Show with Mrs. Brown is her niece, Miss Helen Tobin, who recently created a mild sensation in her Japenese costume at a fete in Newport. In an interview, Mrs. Brown said that State Senator Helen Ring Robinson, Mrs Brown’s attorney, and Judge Lindsey had been looking over political conditions to see if the time was ripe for the nomination of Mrs. Brown. Mrs Brown said she had been a winner in everything she undertook. In the pioneer days of Colorado, she said she aided Judge Lindsey. She asserted that if nominated she was certain of election.
1920 United States Federal Census
Name: Margaret T Brown
Home in 1920: Denver, Denver, Colorado
Age: 53 years
Estimated birth year: bat 1867
Relation to Head of House: Head
Father's Birth Place: Ireland
Mother's Birth Place: Ireland
Marital Status: Married
Margaret died in 0n 26th October 1932 of a stroke in her hotel room in New York.
The New York Times New York 27 October 1932
MRS. J.J BROWN DIES; SURVIVOR OF TITANIC
WAS RESCUED BY THE CARPATHIA AFTER HOURS IN ROW BOAT - LONG A NEWPORT COLONSIST.
Mrs. Margaret Tobin Brown of Denver Col., widow of James J. Brown, mine owner, died at 2o’clock yesterday afternoon in her suite in the Barbizon Hotel, 146 East sixty-third street, where she had been staying for a short time before leaving for the West. She had suffered two stroke of apoplexy during the day.
Mrs. Brown, who was sixty-five years old, is survived by a daughter, Mrs. George J. Benziger of Hempstead, L.I., and a son, Lawrence P. Brown of La Jollier, Cal. The funeral services will be held privately.
On several occasions Mrs. Brown has been referred to as one of the heroines of the Titanic disaster. She and her family preferred to say merely that she was "a survivor." she was rescued by the Carpathia after spending seven hours in one of the Titanic’s boats, doing her share at the oars.
Her husband was credited with making a large fortune in gold mines. For some years Mrs. Brown was prominent in the summer colony at Newport.
The Charleston Daily Mail 28 Oct 1932
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction numberLC-USZ62-94037 George Grantham Bain Collection
The Syracuse Herals 28 October 1932