This biography was printed in March 1978 by the William Halls Family Organization in its family periodical, Through the Halls of History, Kristine Halls Smith, editor.
© 1978 William Halls Family Organization
Mary Halls Brown was the 2nd child and daughter of William Halls (1834-1920) and Johanne Marie Frandsen (1855-1913)
MARY HALLS BROWN
By their son, David Owen Brown, and his wife, Fern K. Brown
To fully understand a person's life, "one must begine at ye very roote of the family tree." So wrote the early puritan, William Bradford.
Mary Halls was born August 29, 1875 in the Mormon settlement of Huntsville, Utah. Her parents emigrated to the United States seeking the blessings of the gospel. Her father, William Halls, was born in England and came to Utah in 1861. Her mother, Johanne M. Frandsen, was born in Denmark and came with her parents to Utah in 1866.
Charles Sidney Brown, Mary’s husband, was born in Hyde Park, Utah on March 5, 1874. His father was Homer Brown and his mother was Sarah Ann Woolf. Both were among the earliest converts to the Church to arrive in Utah.
All of Charles' and Mary's children called them "Ma" and "Pa" while they were growing up. But I am going to refer to them as Mother and Father in this sketch.
Mother was the second of twelve children born to William and Johanne Halls. It is interesting to me that she was a childhood friend of LDS Church President David O. McKay and a playmate to members of his family while she lived in Huntsville.
When she was about ten years old her father was called on a mission to help settle the San Juan Basin in Utah. They first settled in Bluff, Utah and later moved to Mancos, Colorado. Actually they moved to a little settlement just a few miles out of Mancos called Webber.
Mother grew up in Mancos in the traditional pioneer fashion. She did and learned all the things that were expected of pioneer women. My Grandfather Halls engaged in farming and stock raising. My mother learned to ride horses at an early age and could still enjoy riding up to a few years before her death. Dr. Jim Brown, her oldest grandson, lived near his grandparents for a number of years and kept in close contact with them as he grew up. He tells the incident about my mother having some neighbor children come to show her their new horse and when she asked them if she could ride it they said, "No, you're too old -- you're real old -- you must be at least FORTY!" Jim, as well as other family members and a great many friends, will always remember the sense of humor which existed in both my parents.
My mother attended school until she was about 17, and then she began teaching school.
Father spent his younger years in and around Salt Lake City. As a young man he went to Mancos where he lived with and worked for George Halls, Grandfather Halls' brother. It was during this time that he courted Mother. They were married October 9, 1895 in Salt Lake City. "What are our two needs? Someone to love us ‑ Someone for us to love."
One author wrote: "A baby is a sweet new blossom of humanity fresh fallen from God's own home to flower on the earth." Mother brought into this world eleven of those "new blossoms of humanity." Her sons: Harold Cyril, David Owen, Charles William, Ben Lincoln (died in infancy), Homer Frank, and George Halls. Her daughters: Eva, Lucille, Elna, Mollie, and Hannah (last two died in infancy).
I know Mother loved all of us very much. It wasn't always quiet and smooth going, of course, and the major responsibility for raising the children fell on her shoulders.
Two years after they were married, Father was called on a two-year mission. Mother already had one child and another was expected. During this time my mother milked cows and made butter to help support her family and a missionary husband.
My mother's youngest sister, Aunt Florence Gerdel, wrote to me, "I look back upon Mary as a woman of great ability, a woman of strength and love." My mother was an organist and played for church services and Aunt Florence said that their father used to say that in all his travels he never saw an organist as good as his Mary.
My mother had her own psychology in handling situations of discipline which she didn't learn from a professor or a class. Mother's brother Bert's wife, Aunt Nina, tells of an incident when my sister, Eva, hadn't cleaned the stove to suit Mother, and after Eva had gone to school she sent one of Eva's little brothers to her classroom and he called out in a loud voice, "Eva, Ma wants you to come home and clean the stove!" Eva, it seems went home, cleaned the stove especially well, but was too embarrassed to return to school that day. But she never forgot to clean the stove after that.
My youngest brother, George, remembers hearing it said that Mother wondered why they had to live close to a bunch of renegades, because the cowboys from miles around would come in to the dances and shoot the lights out and act pretty wild.
In 1910 our family moved to Aneth, Utah, where my father ran an Indian Trading Post. At that time the Indians were pretty hostile toward the white people and had disliked the previous white operators of the Trading Post. My father and mother seemed to know how to get along with them and were well treated. My father respected the Indian ways and was fair and honest in his dealings with them. My mother learned enough of the Navajo language to help in clerking in the store.
Aunt Florence told me about a time while she was visiting on the Reservation when my oldest brother, Harold, got angry about something and stated that he was going to leave home. My mother packed him a lunch and told him goodbye. He stayed out in the desert brush all day but returned in the evening, glad to be back and have a good meal.
My brother, George, remembers hearing the following told about my mother when she would be left alone while my father was away from the Trading Post obtaining supplies or selling things. Mother would gather up all of the firearms they owned and lock them in a strong box, because she said if anyone was going to kill her or the children they would have to bring their OWN guns.
I recall hearing a most amusing incident while we lived on this Indian Reservation. My parents were busily working in the Trading Post one day and there were a number of the Indians coming and going as they got supplies and rode off. After a while my mother couldn't find my brother, Charlie, who was the baby, and a toddler at the time. They searched around the store and then my mother remembered the last Indians to come to the Trading Post. She knew them and where they lived My brother Harold was sent on a horse to find Charlie. Sure enough the last Indians to leave the store had just picked up Charlie and carried him along home with them. When asked why they took him, they answered in all friendliness that they just "borrowed" him for a while.
As there was no church for us to attend here at Aneth, we held a family Sunday School with Mother playing the music and a Bible lesson was given. As a young family growing up we always had kneeling prayers.
My mother only stayed at the Trading Post about a year as she felt she must get the children back into school. My father stayed on another year and ran the Post by himself.
When they returned to Mancos they resumed farming, and then in 1915 our family left for Tucson, Arizona, by covered wagon, driving 14 cows. We traveled as far as Gallop, New Mexico, where we loaded all our belongings onto the train, including our family, and we traveled the remaining distance to Tucson.
My father settled on a farm about six miles out of Tucson where we operated a dairy and sold milk in the city.
About 1923 we moved to Mesa, Arizona, where my father bought a farm and again had a dairy, raised cotton, alfalfa, fruit trees, including a fine citrus grove. My mother started a garden near the house in her later years in which she took great pride and from which she derived a lot of enjoyment.
During my life at home, it seemed that Father was away from home more than he was at home. He spent a great deal of time selling insurance and working in some capacity with either the State or Federal Farm Bureau.
Mother was active in church assignments. In Colorado she was President of the Mutual Improvement Association. She was President of the Relief Society for some 9 years in Tucson and held the same position in Mesa for a number of years.
My father was also active in the Church and took many local classes and correspondence courses to improve himself. He was a well‑known public speaker through the state of Arizona and elsewhere.
Between her many duties as housewife and church worker Mother found time to do a variety of needle work, including numerous and outstandingly beautiful quilts, handmade rugs, and articles she sewed by machine.
Dr. Jim Brown wrote, "I remember Grandmother's appreciation of beauty, particularly that found in nature. She used to look at flowers and plants through a magnifying glass to better appreciate their intricacies." Jim goes on to say that she helped him to reconcile himself to polygamy in the early days of the Church as she explained conditions and how many women of the Church were better off sharing a good man than having an outlaw or renegade all to themselves, and he remembered her expressing appreciation for her own father, a good man, and a polygamist.
For years after the children married it became customary for us to get together for dinners on Sundays and special holidays at our parents' home. As we became more scattered these dinners were finally discontinued. During World War II my mother wrote these lines in a letter to my wife, Fern, "I miss having the children coming to eat with us -- even bread and butter tastes so much better when there are 12 or 15 helping to eat it."
Mother died on the 17th day of January, 1958, at her home in Mesa, Arizona.
"Every day I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have NOT given, the powers we have NOT used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which, shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime 'let out all the length of all the reins'."
My mother, Mary Halls Brown, possessed a strong character, gave love, was resourceful, kind, charitable, contributed her talents, had her share of hardships and pain along the way, and during her lifetime I am sure she "let out all the length of all the reins".
Those surviving at the time of this writing are: Harold C. Brown and David O. Brown, Mesa, Arizona; Dr. George H. Brown of Tucson, Arizona; Elna Farr of Battle Mountain, Nevada; and her youngest sister, Florence Gerdel, of Van Nuys, California.
Florence Gerdel wrote this about her sister, Mary:
"Since I am the youngest of the Halls family and left Mancos in 1914 my memory of the older ones is quite limited. The recollections I have of my sister Mary are happy ones. She was a cheerful person and had brave attitudes to conquer any hardships she might encounter. I don't really remember her until after her marriage to Charles Brown when Harold was a baby. He was a great joy to his parents; they both loved children.
"Charles went on a mission during those early years and Mary lived in an addition to our old log house until he returned. They later built a rock house at the foot of the land about a half mile from our house and not far from a small lake where the young folks skated in the winter. There they raised a garden and orchard and as Charles had work away from home, the responsibility for the place lay upon Mary and the children. The Browns’ grandmother lived with them. I remember there was a fireplace in her room and we liked to go and visit with her and sit by the fire.
"The family was in direct contact with the Indians and saw them in their native habitat. It was interesting to see them wash clothes in the river without soap and weave the colorful, beautiful rugs that Charles bought and sold."
Nina Carroll Halls, wife of Mary’s brother Herbert, wrote this about Charles and Mary Brown:
“I have such happy memories of Aunt Mary and Uncle Charley. From the time I arrived back in my birthplace, Mancos, Colorado until I reached the age of 15 years, a period of some five years, I often had Sunday dinner at the Browns, as I was a good friend of their daughter, Eva. I remember the huge rice pudding that always graced the table, and always there was a centerpiece. Such a wonderful treat. Mary had her children with what seemed like rapid succession, and Eva was delegated to the task of cooking and keeping house and did a commendable job even though she was still only in the elementary grades.”