Introduction to Martha’s Memoirs
by Dan Brown
Martha dictated or retold her childhood memories to one of her daughters, either Cordelia “De” Octavia Brown Elliott or Virginia Lee (Virgie Lu) Brown George. The biography was apparently first taken down or recorded in shorthand and later interpreted or translated to longhand on a writing tablet. There are approximately 90 of the small pages. Dan Brown has recently made contact with the daughter of Virginia George (9 Aug 1907-6 Mar 1996). Her name is Virginia “Ginny” Bay living in Washougal, Washington. Ginny mailed photocopies of her grandmother’s memoirs to Dan Brown who is currently in the process of transcribing the pages. The words were Martha’s, but the original translation from shorthand to longhand, was probably done by Ginny’s mother. At present, at least two (2) pages are missing and some of the pages or text has been clipped during the scanning process.
Dan Brown has added some punctuation, and created paragraphs, Some of the misspelled words have been corrected since it was not Martha writing them. How can a stenographer (daughter) record in shorthand, the dialect of her mother or interpret the correct or desired spelling of a particular spoken word ? In other words, the misspelled words in the original transcription were the mistakes of Martha’s daughter. Some names and places have been highlighted in bold. Some names have been added or inserted in bold and brackets. The page numbers of the original biography (stenographer’s copy) has been inserted (in brackets) into the text of this transcription for future reference. Other notes or requests for additional or related information have been added or inserted between the paragraphs and are in (brackets in italics and color)
Martha’s husband, Jonathon A. Brown was the brother of Dan Brown’s grandfather, Joseph H. Brown.
Martha is the daughter of John P. Caudill (b 25 Feb1850) and Rhoda C. Blevins (19 Oct 1849) who were both born in Wilkes Co, NC.
Jonathon’s only sister Melissie (Brown) and her husband John Wesley Hart are the grandparents of Louella (Hart-Caudill) Llewellyn of Ravenswood, WV. Louella has a treasure of Brown family history and pictures that she got from her grandmother Melissie. Melissie is mentioned in Martha’s bio., although not by name
Martha’s memoirs herein (below) are mostly of her childhood and young married life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Grayson County, Virginia but also describe her family’s life in the state of Washington.
Martha and Jonathon’s son, Coy Delbert Brown (18 Mar 1905-19 Apr 1995) also wrote a biography or memoirs of his young life in Kentucky and the state of Washington. Dan Brown has a copy of this 66 page typed manuscript that was sent to him by Paul Phipps. For genealogical or historical purposes, Coy’s “ Kentucky” biography can be considered a continuation of his mother’s memoirs.
While continuing his search for roots, Dan Brown recently contacted by phone, the son of Coy named John Warren Brown of Tacoma, WA. John mailed Dan a box with a heirloom scrapbook of pictures, old letters and newspaper articles, as well as another copy of his father’s “ Kentucky” manuscript. Included in that box was another 36 page typed manuscript also written by his father Coy titled “Montesano” (WA). This biography is a more recent continuation of the Kentucky biography and includes pictures of the Martha and Jonathon Brown family.
So now, Dan Brown has three (3) precious heirloom biographies that cover the complete (almost daily) life of Martha Caudill and Jonathon Brown and their children from the birth of Martha in 1878 to her death in 1939. After Martha’s death, the widower Jonathon married a woman named Lena.
Both Martha and her husband Jonathon are buried in the same cemetery as his parents and many of his brothers who also moved from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Western Washington in the early 1900s and were all loggers.
Two of Martha’s Caudill younger sisters (Margaret “Leah” and Rebecca Eliz.) married two of Jonathon’s younger brothers, Timothy “Smith” and Wm “Roby” Brown, and they may be referred to in Martha’s memoirs as we will find out that her sister and brother in law and others traveled (relocated) together with Martha & Jonathon.
It is difficult to try to figure out who some of the relatives are that Martha mentions only by relationship. For example, Martha refers to one of her sisters only as “my sister older than I”. She also mentions or talks about “my husband”, and other family members without ever mentioning their name.
Some of the wording or the phrases may not make sense, as I have tried to maintain the original translation, although not Martha’s..
Dan is also considering submitting a copy of Martha’s (transcribed) memoirs as well as her son Coy’s two biographies (and pictures) to various websites and to genealogical and historical societies or libraries in applicable state and counties including the state of Washington—for all to enjoy and for other researchers to benefit from.
Having never known my father or any of his relatives, I now consider myself to fortunate in having all the family history that I now have, to not share this priceless heirloom with others.