Eugene Brown Arrives in Mendocino

Eugene Brown, c. 1876. (Bradley & Rulofson of San Francisco (Studio), Gift of Nannie Escola, Nannie Escola Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

January 29, 1860 – Eugene Brown and his mother arrived in Mendocino to join his eldest brother Frederick, who was already established on the coast as a woodsman.

Born in Oldtown, Maine in 1835, Eugene was the youngest son of Moses and Nancy Nesmith Brown. Moses passed away in 1837, leaving Nancy with 3 young boys to raise. Her middle son, Augustus, was a sea captain who settled in Mendocino in 1880.

Eugene began working in New York at the age of 16 as a clerk at the shipping commission house of Nesmith & Sons, collecting and making out bills, and taking account of cargo. Two years later, he returned to Maine and spent the following two years studying. He then clerked at a store in Oldtown, where he remained for four years. On December 20, 1859, he and Nancy sailed from New York on board the steamer Atlantic for Panama. They took the steamer Golden Gate to San Francisco, arriving on January 10. He went at once to Port Bodega, and then overland to Mendocino, arriving January 29th.

In April, Eugene began clerking in the merchandising firm of Kelley & Rundle, where he remained for five years. On March 3, 1865, he opened his own general merchandise store on Main Street. As time went on, he acquired other business interests, becoming part owner of the schooner Joshua Grindle, agent for Wells Fargo, part owner of the Pine Grove Hotel, and owner of a chute at Russian Gulch.

In 1881, Eugene married Emily van Dusen, who had come from Ukiah to be a teacher in the Mendocino school, and the couple enjoyed almost forty years together. Eugene died in 1920, Emily in 1948. Both are buried in Ukiah Cemetery.

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