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2001, 2002, 2003 Nicole Carr


The Brown Family

Descendants of John Brown and Jane Smiley

Related surnames (Either directly or indirectly):
Beers, Bliven, Brayton, Dimit, Lockwood, Loffer, Gilliland, Godfrey, Grafius, Hedges, Houtz, Lewis, Mahurin, Miller, Montgomery, Morse, Reed, Reeder, Smiley, Smith, Spire, Stearley, Van Vleet, Yates, and more.


Brown is one of the most common surnames in the English-speaking world. Among the light-skinned Anglicans, anyone with darker skin, hair or eyes or even a tendency toward brown clothing, were described that way, and consequently caught on as a surname.


The first, or oldest Brown in my tree is John, born about 1822 in Hamilton Township, Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada. He married Jane Smiley around 1845 in Hamilton Township. She was born between 1820 and 1825 in Ireland. John and Jane had 7 children:

  1. Mary Elizabeth, b. November 1, 1845 in Canada.  Married Benjamin Yates.
  2. Margaret, b. about 1848 in Canada. Married ?
  3. Ann Jane, b. April 25, 1851 in Canada. Married Eugene F. Morse, and Charles C. Houtz
  4. Joanna, b. July 18, 1852 in Canada. Married Lisander Dimit
  5. William John, "John", b. November 18, 1855 in Clinton County, Iowa. Married Mariah Lillian Spire
  6. Christina Charlotte, b. August 3, 1858. Married William Dimit
  7. Ellen, b. February 6, 1862. Married William Bliven

Sometime between 1851 and 1854, the Brown family moved from Ontario to Clinton County, Iowa. In the Canadian Census in 1851, they still lived in Hamilton Township. William John's death certificate states that he was born in Iowa in 1855, and even if that is incorrect, the family appears in the 1856 Iowa State Census in the Elk River Township of Clinton County.

John and Jane were living in separate houses by the 1880 census, both listed as divorced.  John was living as a boarder in the Mack household, and Jane was living with William, Christina, and Ellen 2 houses away. Although they weren't living together when they died, they are buried together in Haven Cemetery, Tama County, Iowa. Jane died February 3, 1881, and John died July 19, 1888.



John and Lillie (Spire) Brown
Picture courtesy Rob Bennett.

John and Lillian were married October 31, 1882 in Tama County. They had 7 children:

  1. William Martin, b. May 7, 1884 in Tama, Iowa, married Mary Ellen Lockwood (see below)
  2. George Luther, b. August 5, 1885 in Tama, not married.
  3. Walter John, b. October 17, 1888 in Tama, married Dora Bridget Sheen
  4. Christina Jane, b. December 3, 1889 in Tama, married George Henry Beers
  5. Loretta Margaret, b. September 18, 1892 in Tama, married Joseph Samson Reed
  6. Alwilda, b. January 18, 1896, married Howard Reeder
  7. Fred, b. ?

Fred and is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. All I know of him is that he existed. He is mentioned in his mother’s and brother Martin’s obituaries.  I don't know if he married, had children, or where he died.  I have heard he lived in both Shelton and Kearney, Nebraska.   In Martin’s obituary, he lived in Kimball.  He may be buried in one of those cemeteries.  William John and Mariah Lillian farmed for a time in the Shelton area of Buffalo County, probably until their children were grown, then moved north to Faulk County, South Dakota.  That is where John passed away of pneumonia in 1911.  Lillie moved back to Nebraska, living in Shelton, until a fall broke her hip in September of 1947. She died in October, at her daughter Wilda's home near Denman, Nebraska.  They are both buried in Riverside Cemetery in Gibbon, Nebraska.


Martin married Mary Ellen Lockwood in 1905 and had 10 children.

Those children are:

  1. Ethel Jewel, born August 21, 1906 - Married James Ivan Miller, and had 4 children: Dorothy, Marilyn, Janet, and Donald. Ethel was the last of the Brown siblings to pass away, March 31, 1998. She is buried Riverside Cemetery in Gibbon beside her husband who was killed in an automobile accident in 1968, and her sister, Phyllis.
  2. Gladys Ellen (my grandmother), born October 4, 1907 - Married Roy Aaron Loffer and had 2 children: Marvin and Doris. Marvin was killed when a train hit the car in which he was a passenger when he was 15. Roy died in Kearney, and Gladys died in 1991 in Gibbon. They are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Gibbon, beside Marvin.
  3. Stella May, born January 22, 1910 - Married Reuben Smith, they had no children. They lived most of their lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, until their health brought them closer to their nieces and nephews in Kearney, where they died. They are buried in Gibbon.
  4. Everett Martin, born February 15, 1911 - Married Rachel Sheldon and had 7 children: Patricia, Betty, Jerry, James, Edward, Linda, and Bobby. Bobby died at birth. Everett died in 1985 in Roseburg, Oregon, and is buried in Oakland.
  5. Clifford Theodore, born in 1913 - Never married or had children. Served in World War II in France. He died in the Veteran's Hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska in 1981; he is also buried in Gibbon.
  6. Franklin Richard, born in 1917 - Married Edith "Gerry" Olene Fitzgerald. They had 1 daughter, Mary Ellen, before Frank died of lung cancer in 1953. They are both buried in Gibbon.
  7. Doris Esther, born in 1918 - Married Gayle VanVleet, they had no children. Doris died of a brain aneurysm in 1947, and is buried in Wilbur, Oregon.
  8. Phyllis Fern, born in 1919 - Married Gerald Stearley, and had 7 children: Joyce, Dale, Lynne, Mary, Susan, Richard and Gerald. Gerald died at birth. She died in 1973 in Eureka, California, but is buried in Gibbon.
  9. Floyd Luther nicknamed Jack, born in 1921 - Married Elsie Catherine Clifton, and had 3 children: Mary, Richard, and Virginia. Jack served throughout Europe during World War II, and died in the Veteran's Hospital in Spokane, in 1980. He is buried in Eugene, Oregon.
  10. Dale Wesley, born in 1927 - Married Marge unknown maiden name, and had 2 children, Sharon, and Steve. Dale also died young, in 1961, I have heard two different stories on how that happened. One was a logging truck accident, and one was by a 'widow maker' tree limb falling on him.  I don’t know where he was buried.

Martin farmed around the Gibbon, Nebraska area for about 40 years, until Mary Ellen was diagnosed with cancer and died April 19, 1942. Sometime later, he moved out to Oregon where 3 of his sons, Everett, Jack, and Dale, and his daughter, Doris, were and a short while later Clifford joined them. Martin died in 1957 in Oregon. According to his daughter-in-law, Everett's wife, Rachel, Martin, Everett, Rachel, and their kids had just finished supper, and Martin sat down in the recliner in the living room, where he had a heart attack.


The Brown sisters, taken the day of their mother's funeral. L to R:
Doris VanVleet, Stella Smith, Gladys Loffer, Ethel Miller, and Phyllis Stearley.


Howard and Wilda Reeder owned and operated the grain elevator in Denman, Nebraska for many years, and then turned it over to their son, Eldon. They had another son, Leonard, who was killed in Europe in World War II. I believe they also had 2 daughters, Corinne, who married an Ed Mahurin, and Beulah, who married Arnold Brayton. Howard, Wilda, and Eldon are buried in the Shelton Cemetery.

Walter and Dora lived in Gibbon all of their lives. They never had children.

Christina and George Beers spent most of their married lives in the Denver area. They had 11 children, and were both buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Wheatridge, Colorado.

George never married.

Loretta married Joseph Reed in Wood River, Nebraska, and their first 3 children were born there. In early 1922 they moved out to the Greeley, Colorado area, where they spent the rest of their lives. They are buried in Linn Grove Cemetery in Greeley along with their oldest son, Marion.

Many more photos, courtesy of Loretta and Joseph’s daughter-in-law, Audrey, can be found in the photo album section.

For more on the Browns, visit my Family Tree Database, or email me directly.


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