Clara Brown

American, a former enslaved woman who became a philanthropist to help settle former slaves

Photo source:

Clara Brown (1800—1889) is believed to be the first former slave to move to Colorado during the Gold Rush. She was born in 1800 and was a slave until 1856, when her owner, George Brown freed her. Before that, when she was 18 years old, she got married and got 4 children. As soon as she was freed, she started working to save money in order to later look for her family.

She first worked in the kitchen of a train to pay for her trip to Colorado. Once she was there, she owned a laundry. As she was saving money, she helped black people who had been slaves. She was known as Auntie Brown for her hospitality. Also, she invested in mines and property. She accumulated 10,000 dollars when she was 66 years old, so she could finally look for her family properly. However, she did not get good news: her husband and one of her daughters died while being slaves and her son was untraceable, she could only meet her other daughter and a granddaughter.

Clara Brown was honoured by the Denver community and made a member of the Society of Colorado Pioneers. In her honour, a memorial chair was placed in Central City’s Opera.