Margaret “Molly” Tobin Brown (1867-1932) – Better known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” who survived the sinking of the Titanic, Margaret Tobin originally came from humble beginnings. Bron in Hannibal, Missouri on July 18,1867, she was one of six children of Irish immigrants. In 1883, Molly’s older sister Mary, and her husband Jack Landrigan, moved to Leadville, Colorado to work in the mines. Three years later, Molly and her brother Daniel followed them to the rough and tumble mining town. While Daniel went to work as a miner, Molly took a job in a department store. Soon, Molly met James Joseph (J.J.) Brown, an enterprising and self-educated miner. In 1886, they married. While in Leadville, Molly became involved in women’s rights, helping to establish the Colorado chapter of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. She also established a soup kitchen to assist miners’ families.
In the meantime, her husband, J.J. was moving up at his job at the Little Johnny Mine, becoming a superintendent. However, when he invented a method that could reach gold at the very bottom of the mine, proving instrumental to the Little Johnny’s owners, the Ibex Mining Company, he was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board. The Browns became instantly wealthy and in 1894, moved to Denver, where they became active in social, philanthropic, and political circles. The Browns had two children.
Though J.J. and Molly were privately separated in 1909, they remained close until his death in 1922. In 1912, Molly was on a European tour with her daughter when she learned that her oldest grandson was ill. She immediately booked first class passage back to the U.S. on the first ship that was available, the Titanic. When the ship collided with the iceberg and began to sink, she helped many others to the lifeboats before being forced into one herself. The French Legion of Honour recognized Molly in 1932 by awarding her for her efforts during the sinking and her work with miners and women and children. Margaret Tobin Brown died of a brain tumor on October 26, 1932 in New York City. She is buried at the Holly Rood Cemetery in Westbury, New York.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, August, 2017.