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Biography of Charles O. Brown

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Charles O. Brown, who has been mentioned in these pages already, was born in New York, and when but a young man came west. He is said to have been a member of the Giant on band which was engaged in gathering scalps of the Indians in Chihuahua, for which they received $150 each. Reference to this band has been previously made. Brown had gone to California when Glanton and his associates were murdered by the Indians at Yuma. It is not certain when he returned to Arizona, probably about the year 1858. He was a saloon man and a gambler, a dead shot, and it is said that he had several notches on his gun. He was in Tucson at the time of the Confederate invasion, and remained there after the Confederates left. When the California Column arrived he was, as before stated, given a monopoly for the selling of liquor and gambling in Tucson by Colonel West. From there Brown went to the Mesilla Valley, where he married a Mexican woman of good family, and settled permanently in Tucson about the year 1864 or 1865. He was very prosperous in his saloon business, his saloon becoming the popular resort of all classes when the prospectors, miners and adventurers began to flow into the southern part of Arizona. He brought into the Territory the first sewing machine, which was a great curiosity to the Mexican inhabitants of Arizona and Sonora. Many came from as far as Magdalena in Sonora to see a machine which sewed rapidly by the application of a little foot power. Upon the birth of his first son, he sent to St. Louis and brought in a baby cartage, an unheard of thing at that time in Arizona. In 1867 or 68 he built Congress Hall in Tucson, in which the first legislature held at Tucson was convened. The saloon had floors of wood, the lumber for which was hauled from Santa Fe, and cost $500 a thousand. The locks on the doors cost $12 each and all other material in like proportion. For a long time it stood as the best building in Southern Arizona. When the writer came to Arizona in July, 1879, one of the first acquaintances he made was Charles O. Brown, who gave him the following piece of poetry which he had written a few years before, embodying his idea of what Arizona was, and how it came to be made:

How it was made, And who made it.
The Devil was given permission one day,
To select him a land for his own special sway;
So he hunted around for a month or more
And fussed and fumed and terribly swore,
But at last was delighted a country to view
Where the prickly pear and the mesquite grew.
With a survey brief, without further excuse
He took his stand on the banks of the Santa Cruz.
He saw there were some improvements to make,
For he felt his own reputation at stake;
An idea struck him and he swore by his horns
To make a complete vegetation of thorns;
He studded the land with the prickly pear
And scattered the cactus everywhere,
The Spanish dagger, sharp pointed and tall
And last – the choya – the worst of all.
He imported the Apaches direct from hell,
And the ranks of his sweet scented train to swell,
A legion of skunks, whose loud, loud smell
Perfumed the country he loved so well.
And then for his life, he could not see why
The river should carry more water supply,
And he swore if he gave it another drop
You might take his head and horns for a mop.
He filled the river with sand till it was almost dry,
And poisoned the land with alkali,
And promised himself on its slimy brink
The control of all who from it should drink.
He saw there was one more improvement to make,
He imported the scorpion, tarantula and rattlesnake,
That all who might come to this country to dwell,
Would be sure to think it was almost hell.
He fixed the heat at one hundred and seven
And banished forever the moisture from heaven,
But remembered as he heard his furnace roar,
That the heat might reach five hundred or more,
And after he fixed things so thorny and well,
He said, ‘I’ll be d__d if this don’t beat hell’;
Then he flopped his wings and away he flew
And vanished from earth in a blaze of blue.
And now, no doubt, in some corner of hell
He gloats over the work he has done so well,
And vows that Arizona cannot be beat,
For scorpions, tarantulas, snakes and heat.
For with his own realm it compares so well
He feels assured it surpasses hell.”

In his gambling hall and liquor saloon, Brown had a mint, but it went almost as fast as made. He was very generous to his friends, and he managed in this way to squander a fortune. He was, also, always staking men for prospecting, which seldom proves a lucrative venture. He died a few years ago, leaving no property whatever.

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