Charles W. Brown, Early Holyoke Firefighter — Seeking Info

by Laurel | December 12th, 2013

Foreman, Clerk Relief, 2 Holyoke

Foreman, Clerk, Relief, 2, Holyoke
© James Christian

Presented to C.W. Brown By Relief Engine Company No. 2, May 1874

Presented to C.W. Brown By Relief Engine Company No. 2, May 1874
© James Christian

This is a wonderful tale of discovery through research and we thank James Christian for sharing. Jim is seeking any additional information about C.W. Brown and is very interested in the possibility of a photograph.Charles W. Brown was certainly a notable contributor to Holyoke in both his military leadership and that of the fire department.Does the Holyoke Fire Department maintain archives?

I would be wonderful to find a photo of Charles W. Brown, a great tribute to see a face next to the badge.

Sometimes I receive the most interesting e-mail and often enough the notes are accompanied by a query of some sort. About six months ago I received a message from James Christian, who resides in California and happens to be a retired Fire Chief. Mr. Christian is a collector of fire department presentation badges and had just purchased a badge with a Holyoke origin. Photos of the front and the back of the badge are shown at the top of this post (Click through on images to see a larger version).

Mr. Christian wrote:

“The man that owned this badge was Charles W. Brown. It appears that he had been the Clerk of the Relief Fire Engine Company No. 2, and then was elected Foreman in about 1874. The only reference that I can find to him as being an officer of the company is the 1876 Holyoke City Directory. I see from your blog that a Charles W. Brown signed up with Company D of the 10th  Battalion when it was organized in 1878. He was elected Captain in 1881, serving in that position until 1893, when he apparently moved elsewhere. I am curious if you have any information on Charles W. Brown. Is the Charles W. Brown of Company D that same man as the one-time Foreman of the Relief Steam Fire Engine Company No. 2? If so, do you know where he moved and what happened to him?”
Mr. Christian did an excellent genealogical research sweep on Ancestry and other sites and was able to cite Census returns, marriage records, names of children and more. Charles W. Brown married Elizabeth J. Ellsworth (b. circa 1855) in Holyoke on 2 Apr 1884. Record states that Charles was a bookkeeper born in Epsom, New Hampshire, and that Elizabeth was a musician born in Fort Coventry, NY. His parents are listed as Charles and Ann, and her parents are listed as Alfred B. and Jane of Chicopee Falls.

In subsequent research, among a few other facts, it was learned that C.W. Brown was likely involved in fighting the Precious Blood Church Fire of 1875. Another notable fire he fought was the devastating fire in Springfield that occurred just days after the Precious Blood Church Fire and destroyed about 45 buildings, though I believe there was no loss of life. In the Springfield Republican appears an article thanking Holyoke for their assistance and C.W. Brown is specifically mentioned.

Interesting note is when C.W. Brown moved and left Company D the person who succeeded him was Maj. William Crosier, a name well known in Holyoke. Before he left western Massachusetts C. W. Brown had been involved in the dry goods business in Holyoke with his father Charles J. Brown. In Charles J. Brown’s 1911 obituary the store is called the “little store on the corner” under the Holyoke house, now Hotel Hamilton, corner of Main and Dwight streets. In addition C. W. Brown was also a member of Mount Tom Lodge and for a time worked in the advertising department of The Springfield Republican.

There are more details available on C.W. Brown, including his second wife Isabella (m.s. possibly Shellar) and children Phillis D. (b. 1896) and Carlton G. (b. 1900). Any responses with information will be appreciated.  In the interest of avoiding spam I am not posting James Christian’s e-mail address here. If you are interested in contacting Jim Christian, please send me a message on Facebook or e-mail me at — I will be sure you get direct contact details.

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