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WPA Interview

Brown, Eliza

Eliza (Rooney) Brown was born in the Gatineau River district in Ontario, Canada in the year 1854, a daughter of Patrick and Eleanor (Tracy) Rooney. As a little girl she saw her father, a lumber contractor, clear the timber for their home on what is today a part of the city of Ottawa.

In 1862 Patrick and Eleanor (Tracy) Rooney migrated to Minnesota by ox team, taking up a homestead in Raymond township, Stearns county. The Padua church of today is located on part of this original homestead and she herself planted some of the trees that adorn the churchyard. The old Red River Trail passed their home and here the young lady for years, saw the ox-teams, freight laden, plod their weary way toward the Red River Valley and the Dakotas.

On September 10, 1872 Eliza Rooney was married to John A. Brown, a young man who had seen service on Mississippi River packets, transporting supplies for the union soldiers during the Civil War. The young couple settled on what is now know as the "Old Brown farm" fourteen miles south of Sauk Centre. On this farm ten children were born. They are John A. Jr. who died in 1925; William A.; Henry H.; George F.; Thomas A.; Emily;

Eliza (Rooney) Brown's life might stand out as a beacon light to people of successive generations, to those who know only the trials of their own times. It was her pioneer spirit, the spirit of the ox-team and covered wagon days, that prompted her to carry on, when in 1893 her husband died, leaving her with ten small children, the oldest 18 and the youngest 2 years old, with their living to be made from the farm.

Eliza Brown went into the fields with her boys and carved out for her family their living and education. Eliza Brown carried on doing a man's work on the farm, driving a team of horses fourteen miles to Sauk Centre each week to do her shopping, doing a mother's work in her home, raising a family. She was of the Catholic faith.

The last few years Eliza Brown made her home with her children in Sauk Centre. She died August 15, 1936 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Robert Malloy.

Interviewed: Mary Rooney
Date: September 3, 1936
By: Dorothy Hansmann

Click on the links below to view the complete original version of the WPA interview:

    WPA Brown, Eliza (Rooney) (pg. 1)
    WPA Brown, Eliza (Rooney) (pg. 2)
    WPA Brown, Eliza (Rooney) (pg. 3)
    WPA Brown, Eliza (Rooney) (pg. 4)

*Note: Some of the information in the original WPA interview appears to be inconsistent with subsequent research, so the following corrections are suggested:

    1. Pg 1, Para 1, Eliza Brown was born in Quebec, Canada.
    2. Pg 2, Para 3, thirteen children were born to this couple. They are John A, Jr. who died in 1935; William A.; Henry H.; George F.; Thomas A.; Emily; Elenor; Thomas P; Mary Ann; Joseph; Mable; Baby Brown; Inez.