December 5, 2020

Clara Brown – “Angel of the Rockies”

Virginia born in the year 1800 an enslaved child and married at the age of 18 to an enslaved husband, Clara Brown lived a life of service, search and entrepreneurship.

Being sold away from her husband and four children at the passing of her slave owner which also caused the rest of the family to be separated and sold to various slave owners, Clara Brown worked as a slave for her 3rd slave owner until she was eventually freed in 1859 when she was in her fifties.

As soon as she gained her freedom, she exchanged work for a ride into the state of Colorado on a wagon train. She did things like cooking and laundry. Her travels on this train was during the Gold Rush, to which later on she would be known as the first black woman to cross the plains during this time.

Once settled in as a free woman in Denver, Colorado, Clara Brown founded her first laundry business. It was so successful that she was able to save as much as $10,000, invest in other businesses such as contribute to the building of churches in the Rocky Mountains, invest in her own real estate and mines along with founding her own Sunday school.

Clara Brown also used much of the money she amassed to relocating black relatives and friends who were once enslaved into Colorado. All this was done while diligently searching for the family she’d been sold away from.

Unfortunately, Clara never found most of her family. Of her four children two of the girls were already dead, one having died as a child. She’d never found her son, and her husband was dead.

The only one left to find was one of the twin girls named Eliza (Liza) Jane. Clara searched high and wide until finding her daughter in Iowa. She also found that she had a grandchild. Clara Brown was 82 years old.

Shortly after, she passed away in 1885, having helped build a community, assisting people of all races with her charity, and completed her family once again with the gift of enjoying her grandchild.

She is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, and honored that year of her death with the induction into the Society of Colorado Pioneers, still known to many as Aunt Clara.