|J. Duncan Brown was born on January 10, 1904 in the Mormon Colony of Morelos in the Mexican State of Sonora. Duncan's father, Orson Pratt Brown had been called to be the Bishop of this new colony. Duncan's mother, Elizabeth Graham Macdonald Webb Brown, was the daughter of the Juarez Stake President Alexander Findlay Macdonald.
Duncan's mother died shortly after he was born and he with his two sisters and brother were taken by his grandmother Macdonald to Colonia Garcia, Chihuahua, Mexico, where he lived until the Mexican Revolution in 1912 when the family left during the Exodus from Mexico and came to the United States settling in the Lehi Valley near Mesa, Arizona.
The little family endured many unpleasant experiences in Mexico during the revolution and the journey to Mesa. They were only able to take the clothes they were wearing, everything was left behind. Grandmother Macdonald, at the age of 71, with four young children to care for, arrived in Lehi Valley with nothing but courage and determination to raise these children to be honest and industrious, and to live righteously.
They had a happy home even though the food and supplies were meager. Grandma Mac cultivated a close feeling of unity, love compassion, and cooperation in their family, and toward all their neighbors and friends. This attitude soon made them many friends and they became one of the most admired families in the community.
||J. Duncan Brown was quite an athlete. He played foot ball for Mesa High School and won a starting position on the University of Arizona Football team. His record of 6 touchdown passes during the Mesa vs Tucson game in 1920 remains unbroken. (www.phoenixmetrofootball.com)
All-state tackle as freshman, 1922, then all-state halfback as junior, 1924. Blocked a state record 3 punts against Tucson High in 1922. Set a then-state record and still Mesa standard of 6 touchdown passes against Tucson High, 1924 in 47-13 victory. Selected to all-state basketball teams, 1924, 1925 and was a member of four straight (1923-26) state championship basketball teams. Was 4 year 4 sport letter winner in high school. Played football at U of A, 1926 and 1927. http://www.mpsaz.org/athletic/history/hall_of_fame/athletes.htm
Duncan was inducted into the Mesa Athletic Hall of Fame for his record-breaking accomplishments at Mesa High School.
Duncan married Florence Helen McLellan on November 9, 1929. Florence was born in London, England on June 12, 1904 to Frederick Walter McLellan [b.1875] and Florence Elizabeth Farmer McLellan of East Arosley, York, England.
Children of James Duncan Brown, Sr. and Florence Helen McLellan Brown:
~James Duncan Brown, Jr. b. May 13, 1932 in Phoenix, Mariposa, Arizona; md (1) Jane Ellen Murdock on February 11, 1961 in Phoenix, daughter of Don Murdock and Helen A. Murdock (Richardson, was second marriage). Duncan Jr. had two daughters: Andrea Elizabeth Brown (md. Tom Gardenhire), and Meredith Janell Brown (md. John Costa); Duncan Jr. md. (2) Joan---, on February 25, 1995
~Beverly Elizabeth Brown b. December 20, 1934, also in Phoenix; md. Clarence Finch on April 9, 1955 (D). They had two daughters, Kenna Finch and Kara Finch. Married (2) Robert Kennedy.
1934 ~ Florence, J. Duncan Jr.(2), J. Duncan Sr. Brown in Phoenix, Arizona
James Duncan Brown (28) and Dewey Brown (son of Mattie) c. 1932
Duncan Jr, Duncan Sr., Jimmie,
Duncan Jr. with Daddy,
Duncan Sr., 1933
Duncan Jr., Florence, Beverly, Aug. 10, 1940
probably James Duncan Brown Jr. in foreground
1940 Rafael Navarette bought 3,374 acres near Puerto Peñasco from Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Marte Gomes. Navarette rented sites to Americans for camping and fishing.
1941 Rafael Navarette sold 3,374 acres to J. Duncan Brown, a former Mesa High School and University of Arizona football star who had roots in the Mormon Colonies in Chihuahua Mexico as the son of Bishop Orson Pratt Brown and wife Elizabeth Graham MacDonald, Mormon colonists.
December 7, 1941, Duncan moved his family from Mexicali to Yuma. He had started building a cotton gin in San Luis, Mexico. Duncan spent time away from home while he was working with the FBI rounding up Japanese farmers who had arms, munitions, and short wave radios, etc.things that could and would be used against the U.S. As the finance manager for Anderson and Clayton Cotton Co., Duncan knew the farmers and had investigated enough to know who had what.
On January 29, 1943 J. Duncan Brown was escorting some schoolteachers across the border to visit his cotton gin operation in San Luis, Sonora, Mexico. A drunken border guard was offending a woman. Dunc intervened, and the guard pulled a gun, and in a wrestle with him the guard pulled out a second gun and shot Duncan. He was taken back across the border to the Somerton Arizona Hospital, where he died two days later on January 31, 1943. He was buried at the Mesa City Cemetery on February 3, 1943 in Yuma, Yuma, Arizona. Duncan was the second son of Orson Pratt Brown to die near the Mexican border. The first son was killed in a wagon accident in 1912 at the age of seven years old. Officiating at the funeral were Elder W. Earl Merrill. Speakers were Otto Shill, Arnold Huber, J.C. Anderson. Bearers were Barry Goldwater, Chet Johns, Kemper Marley, Stanley Gray, Wallace W. Clark, Dr. L.B. Stallcup
Gustavo Brown (far left) and Orson Pratt Brown (center) at the funeral of his son, J. Duncan Brown, Feb 3, 1943
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He was successful in life because he worked as he played, putting everything he had into it. He was big hearted and liked the game, even as he liked life. He was considerate of others. When he refereed the last game Mesa played with Yuma, he was offered the usual check for his services, but refused, which was very unusual for referees, and told them to put the Money in the Milk Fund for the school children.
A Tribute to James Duncan Macdonald Brown
February 3, 1943 at His Funeral Services in Mesa, Arizona
By J.C. Anderson, Duncan’s Math Teacher at Mesa High School
"James Duncan Brown was a man loved by his children, dreamed about by women, and respected by men.
Children loved his cheery smile, his happy attitude, his friendly bearing.
All women dream of an attractive man, with kingly bearing, manly strength, kindly disposition, one to look up to. Such a one was "Dunc" as he was affectionately called.
Men respected his leadership, his strength in action, his will to succeed. They admired his energy, his resourcefulness, his diplomacy, and his loyalty.
His teachers liked to have him in their classes. He studied like he played. And his friendliness was everywhere shown. Even with the High School Principal he was chummy. One day Mr. Hendricks sent [for] Duncan because of some infraction of school rules. Duncan came into the office and said, “Hello, Herman, you wanted to see me?” With some students this familiarity would have been insolence in most everyone else [but not with Duncan who was friendly with everyone].
He was the kind of an athlete all coaches liked to have on their team. President Theodore Roosevelt advised the young men of his day to “Play the game fair, but to hit the line hard.” This was the way Duncan did things. His opponents did not like him as he hit hard. They forgot to remember that Dunc received the same bump that he gave them. And he could take it, without flinching. He didn’t ask his opponents to go easy, nor did he hold his punches. He willed to win, and had what it takes. When the Mesa Union High School Basketball team went to Chicago to take part in the National Tournament, Coach Stagg of the University of Chicago pointed Dunc out and said, “There is a man who should go far toward success in life. His is a good athlete.”
Not only did he win many athletic honors, but he went after scholastic honors the same way. Bill Cleveland, Captain of the Phoenix High School football team, and a friend of Duncan’s, vied with him for all school honors. Both were on the All State Basketball team for two years, as well as All State Football for two years. Both were Presidents of the Student Body. They were on the debating team, took part in school plays, and Declamatory Contests, and were about tied this far. But Duncan won a championship in Stock Judging, and won over Bill in an extemporaneous oration contest. He was also voted the most valued “Jack Rabbit” in 1923 by his schoolmates.
His fellow students worshipped him. He was the spark plug of the teams he played on. In the State Tournament at Tucson in 1923, it looked as if Mesa didn’t have a chance. Captain Dunc was in the hospital with tonsillitis. Mesa played Wilcox, last year’s champions, the first game, which they won. Then when they beat Nogales the next day, they were in the running. Duncan wouldn’t stay in bed. He got up and went down there and led the team to a 15 to 12 win over Gilbert, though he should have been in bed. In the championship game, Chandler made eight points in the first four minutes of play. Dismayed, Mesa played on and Duncan’s will to win was injected into the others. At the half the score was 15 to 7. The third quarter was all Mesa’s and they lead by one point. The last quarter was a game of seesaw. First one and then the other was ahead. But when the final whistle sounded Mesa was ahead 23 to 22. Mesa won the State Championship again and Dunc was made All State Center. Whenever he made up his mind to do anything he did it. That was all.
He met death as he lived, fearlessly, unflinchingly, in the service of others. How could anyone finish more gloriously? I am reminded of a poem, “He is Not Dead,” by James Whitcomb Riley. May I speak to you the bereaved, in his words:
“I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And youoh, you, who the wildest yearn
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of there as the love of here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not deadhe is just away.”
The Great Coach has seen fit to shift players. He has perhaps had Dunc play tackle in the final play to make an opening in the line that separates the Hereafter from the now. And he has gone even as Jesus of Nazareth says, as recorded in the Gospel of St. John, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so. I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you,” speaking to his loved ones. It is not at all unlikely that Duncan has done just this.
Be comforted. Dunc has influenced for good the lives of many, many people. Remember him as he was at his best. Try to feel that “he is just away” and remember there will be a blessed reunion in the not far distant future from which there will be not parting.
May God Bless and comfort his widow and children and help all of us to better do our life’s work for having known a manly man.
|Account of Funeral of James Duncan Brown as recorded in Diary of Aunt Eliza Brown - September 28, 1973....by M. Shill
Feb. 3, 1943 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mesa, Arizona
The funeral of our dear beloved. Duncan Brown was held at the Second Ward in Mesa, today at two-oclock P.M..
The high School of Mesa did the singing, which was beautiful. A Brother-in-law, Otto Shill read his life history, and it was very good.. J.C.. Anderson., his former teacher, gave or read reminiscence of his days and accomplishments in school.
Our dear friend Bro. Jacob J..Huber who lived in Morelos, Sonora, México, knew his parents well and was in the house when Duncan was born and was very near to the family. He was clerk in the ward where Orson P. Brown, his father, was Bishop for some years. His (Huber's talk was touching and very good.
Bishop Shill (Otto) from the Lehi ward was in charge & presided. The last song was, Going Home, very beautiful. The closing prayer was by Duncan's cousin Grand Macdonald, Mesa Post Master.. Brother Soren Sorenson of Lehi, Duncan's Uncle, dedicated the grave. The floral offering was so very beautiful. The flowers was a huge mound.
He. Duncan, was Elizabeth (Bessie) Macdonald Brown's son.
His brother Donald & wife, Sisters Elsie Jones & husband, Marguerite Shill & husband; Aunt Mattie's son Clyde & wife Mable: Amy Brown from Mexico; Aunt Eliza Brown; his sister Gwyn and her daughter Valene; Aunt Cynthia Layton, his father's sister, his dear old Father Orson P. Brown from Colonia Dublan, Mexico and a host of relatives and friends were there.
We all went to the cemetery, then bade good-bye to all.
His dear (Duncan's wife Florence) and a son and daughter are left to carry on.
1947 James Duncan Brown's wife, Florence Mc Lellan Brown, and children James Duncan Brown Jr. and Beverly Brown, are declared the legal heirs and owners of the large tract of Mexican property left to them by Duncan Sr., despite a clause in the Mexican Constitution prohibiting foreigners from owning real estate within 31 miles of the coast or within 62 miles of the border.
Cholla Bay, approximately 7 mi north of Puerto Peñasco, c.1940.
1952 the Mexican government recognized Puerto Peñasco as a city, and a government was established. The government appointed Victor Estrella Bustamante (one of the town's original fisherman & founders) as mayor.
1956 The James Duncan Brown family sold the 3,374 acres of Puerto Peñasco-Rocky Point- Cholla Ba, land to half-brother Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón.
Florence Helen McLellan died on February 3, 1973, buried February 6, 1973.
On the Brown's cow, 1934
Aunt Molly and J. Duncan Jr. 1934
J. Duncan Brown Jr. with his dog, Nipper, 1934
Beverly Brown and J. Duncan Brown Jr. in 1935
Beverly Brown's Daughters with their Families:
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Colton, Stanley, Kenna , Tanner, c. 2001
Kathryn, John, Kara, John, c. 2001
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PAF- Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + Elizabeth Graham Macdonald Webb > James Duncan Brown
J. Duncan Brown Book of Remembrance (collected by Florence McClellan Brown). All materials submitted for inclusion on this website.
Photos of Beverly's children photos submitted by Beverly Elizabeth Brown Finch Kennedy.
Copyright 1999 www.orsonprattbrown.com