Margaret “Molly” Brown is a famous and beloved Colorado heroine. She is also remembered for her philanthropy and activism. Born Margaret Tobin in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, she followed her brother to Leadville at the age of 18, where she met her future husband, James Joseph “J.J.” Brown.They were married at the Church of the Annunication on September 1, 1886. During their stay in Leadville,
After several harsh years in Leadville, J.J. Brown struck rich veins of go ld and copper in the Little Jonny Mine. Suddenly the Browns were very wealthy, and in 1894 Brown persuaded her husband to move to Denver. She became active in groups promoting women’s suffrage. The couple produced a son and a daughter.
The Browns eventually started to drift apart, Molly was a social person who liked parties, but J.J. preferred solitude.
In 1909, the couple legally separated after 23 years of marriage, and Brown began traveling. She became a national heroine in 1912 after surviving the sinking of the RMS Titanic and performing several courageous acts. It was at this time that many in the media gave her the nickname, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” She referred to herself as “Margaret” or “Maggie.”
Brown contributed generously to needy families of striking miners after the 1914 Ludlow coal mine disaster; aided children of World War I soldiers and helped rescue writer Eugene Field’s house from demolition. This was Denver’s first preservation project.
The Brown’s house in Capitol Hill changed hands and deteriorated over the years. In 1969, it was rescued from a rooming-house existence when Historic Denver raised money to buy it. Still guarded by the stone lions, it became the Molly Brown House Museum, which is visited by more than 40,000 people a year. Molly died in 1932, buried beside J.J. in Long Island, New York.