SILVESTRE "ORSON" GUSTAVO BROWN 1919-2008
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|Son of Orson Pratt Brown and Angela Gabaldon Brown
Silvestre "Orson" Gustavo Brown de Gabaldón
History of Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) And Cholla Bay, Sonora, Mexico
With a Synopsis of Silvestre Gustavo Brown Sr.'s Early Life
Rocky Point is located just 66 miles south of the US border on the North and East end of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
Approximately 20,000 years ago in the Ajo Valley and continuing to Puerto Peñasco nomadic tribes and their more adventurous members started trading routes along the Sea of Cortez area.
Regular encampments, tools, etc have been found all along the hills and mountains that run from Ajo to the Sea of Cortez. Found in these sites are materials from tribes far to the north and south of the area. During these times the area supported many plants, animals, and water sources that have long since disappeared from the landscape. The downtown mountain nicknamed The Whale, has long acted as a magnet for the different cultures that have settled there.
During these times the Puerto Peñasco area (built on the heavy salt/calcium-"Caliche" in the sands of the Aeolian sand dunes made planting and farming difficult) and specifically the rock caves in what is now the 'Old Town' section, supported a sizeable native community. Rocky Point is sunny almost year round with practically no rainfall. Archeological studies of the area seem to indicate this was a great gathering place for many different tribes who during their visit remained peaceful with each other during their many, and sometimes lengthy visits of commerce.
Between 700-1500 AD the warm gulf waters supported abundant sea life attracting the Hohokan Indians, from as far away as present day Phoenix, Arizona. Travelers arrived to get fish, salt and to trade goods. Their trading with the local and often nomadic Piña Cateño and Areñero Indians is proven archeologically.
After the Conquest of the Aztec Empire by Spain in the 1520's in what is now Mexico City, the country's leaders and explorers ventured ever farther north, and south of the new capital. On the sea, by horse and afoot it was just a matter of time until the Spanish Military Forces discovered the Sea of Cortez, and it's many coves as well as the few natural harbors.
In 1698 Padre Kino met these Peñasco hunting and gathering people he named The people of the Sand. They were related to the Papago tribe and both practiced cannibalism. His documents indicate members of the local tribal community were tall, thin, wrapped in animal/fish skins, having striking features, and practicing cannibalism.
Padre Kino continued his frequent visits to Puerto Peñasco. His diary backed by historical records show his tireless work teaching Peñasco's local Indians many skills including the business of pearl diving.
Peñasco's rich natural pearl beds were untouched and Kino wasted no time in claiming them in the name of God. His religious orders charter allowed him to keep certain amounts of resources found in Mexico with the balance to be send back to the King of Spain. A continued rift built up over this distribution finally leading to Spain's King Carlos to expel all of the Jesuit order from the entire New World.
Large mounds of very old oyster shells (indicating the age of Peñasco's Indian settlement) were observed in hundreds of spots throughout the area. Kino's news of minerals in the area soon reached Mexico City, then as far away as Spain, setting off a Gold Rush that saw adventurous miners and explorers prospecting from Peñasco, up to what is now Ajo, Arizona. Soon numerous gold and silver operations were started up and began returning profits.
In the 1700's Spanish Army Lt. Diez and his mounted detachment did a survey of the area on their way to California.
Admiralty records in Spain list a few of the skirmishes fought during this time period and list the Puerto Peñasco area as 'Ye Likesly Spot 'O Treachry & Villeanous Skum'. The records go on to mention 'Privateers' in the Sea of Cortez "Doin Biddin Ye Francia Y Englash Devils O' Hell."
By 1813 another group called the Mexican Patriots of Chilpancingo had also formally declared independence from Spain's rule. Another priest, Jose Morelos took over as the revolution's leader but he was also eventually captured and Spanish troops beheaded him in 1815.
During these and the next 80 turbulent years, the various Mexican government(s) lacked any of the resources to venture much past even the largest cities. Understandably, areas such as Puerto Peñasco and the Sea of Cortez became all but forgotten during those times.
In 1826 while attention focused on internal strife, privateers like Capt. "Red" Hardy visited the Peñasco and charted the hill in present day Old Town as Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco), an Andesitic Butte. Shortly after, Spanish charts referred to the hill as Punta Peñasco.
In the early part of the 1900's Mexico was again on the verge of revolution. Puerto Peñasco with it's harbor, nearby goldmine, and only 66 miles from a U.S. border trade route (Arizona) quickly fit into the plans of the Army of the Mexican Revolution and it's northern leader, Dorotea Arango Francisco Pancho Villa.
Pancho Villa, no stranger to the area had been selling rustled cattle to some of the Arizona ranchers along the border for years. But, the revolution wasn't selling any cattle; it's success now depended on acquiring large amounts of guns and ammunition which were being smuggled at every opportunity. The Mormon Colonists in Sonora and Chihuahua had been ordered to surrender their weapons and intimidated into rushing to the U.S. border for safety.
After the Mexican Revolution had subsided some of the Mormon Colonists returned to try to pick up the pieces and put together their lives and property. One of these colonists was . O.P. Brown had brought his new bride back to Mexico and began to raise a family. Their first son "Orson" Silvestre Gustavo Brown was born Wednesday, December 17, 1919 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico the son of . The name of this son came about from Orson being told 'Silvestre' was the Mexican translation for 'Orson', the middle name 'Gustavo' came from Gustavo Madero, Orson's friend and brother of Francisco I. Madero.
Silvestre "Orson" Gustavo Brown was blessed by Rey L. Pratt on 19 Feb 1924.
The 1920's, the Prohibition Period, brought permanent settlers', such as U.S. citizen John Richardson who built the area's first hotel near the point. It was located right at the base of the hill. it is believe another U.S. citizen and enterprising businessman, Johnny Stone, visited Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point). Realizing the potential of this village to attract wealthy Americans to vacation and fish, Stone and Richardson built out the town's first hotel, drilled a well, and opened for business. Al Capone, who was among his clientele, brought friends along to enjoy the climate, drink, gamble, and deep sea fish. Alcoholic beverages were illegal in the U.S. and the hotels first order of business was to sell beer, whiskey, and wine to the 'tourists'. Soon another U.S. citizen and Ajo, Arizona hotel- bar owner Thomas Childs, along with partner Al Capone were in the hotel business in Peñasco, just 66 miles south of the U.S. border. He and several Mexican fishermen formed the nucleus of a town. More Mexican citizens followed and built houses and businesses on the west side of the point.
Silvestre "Orson" Gustavo Brown was baptized as a Latter-day Saint by Gaines Call on December 31, 1927, confirmed by Nephi Thayne 1 Jan 1928.
During the 1930's and 1940's Peñasco's Old Town grew up. Boats started showing up in the harbor and a small fishing town was formed
1939 saw a visit by Mexico's President Cardenas who declared the area "strategic" and pushed through a railroad link to Mexicali in 1940 and additional harbor dock projects.
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.
World's away on December 7,1941 Japan's attack on the United States Pacific Naval Fleet and the city of Honolulu, Hawaii would soon affect Peñasco's future.
Ajo, Arizona quickly became the site of a military base and buildup as a military airfield and major supplies distribution center. Within days the State of Arizona and Pima County signed an agreement to build a paved highway from Ajo to Lukevile, Arizona. Construction began almost overnight.
The United States Government secured Puerto Peñasco's harbor as a Joint Contingency Plan for part of it's Pacific naval fleet. The agreement included the U.S. Military building a military dock area in the harbor and a 65 mile paved highway from Lukeville, Arizona to Puerto Peñasco. (Note: The U.S. Military still has an agreement to use the highway when necessary). Several military actions later occurred with Japanese mini-subs and fighter aircraft in the area.
1941 Rafael Navarette sold 3,374 acres to , 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 Elizabeth Graham MacDonald, Mormon colonists (and the older half-brother of Silvestre Gustavo Brown).
The 1940's and 1950's were a time that 'New Peñasco' grew up bringing the building of churches, elementary schools, shipyards, stores, restaurants, etc. Unique ocean conditions in this town create extreme tides of up to 23 feet between high and low, and this also produces a unique marine life. Swimming in the area is very safe and emulates lake conditions with no rip tides and very calm water unless it is windy. (for a full account of the beaches and the Sea of Cortez see John Steinbeck's 1941account, "The Log from the Sea of Cortez).
Silvestre "Orson" Gustavo Brown left for a Latter-day Saint mission to Mexico City on April 22, 1942 from the Salt Lake City,Utah Mission Home.
On January 29, 1943, a drunken border guard at San Luis, Sonora, Mexico pulled a gun and in a skirmish shot James Duncan Brown, owner of a large tract of land in Puerto Peñasco. J. Duncan Brown was escorting some schoolteachers across the border to visit a cotton gin operation in Mexico. Duncan died two days later on January 31, 1943.
Sylvestre "Orson" Gustavo Brown end of Church mission October 9,1944 in Mexico, D.F.
February 4 to 11, 1945, a meeting between President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Generalissimo Stalin, were to take place in Puerto Peñasco during World War II, however, the meeting was moved to Crimea, a famous resort area on the shore of the Black Sea and became known as the Yalta Conference.
Gustavo's oldest brother, Ray Brown died on October 11, 1945 in New Orleans, Louisiana while in surgery.
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 Mexican property 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. Though the property was tax free for ten years, J. Duncan's half-brother, , paid taxes on it to ensure it was not lost due to tax default.
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 and founders, as mayor.
1952 Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Jr.) de Tarin is born August 12th in Colonia Dublán, Chihuahua, Mexico to Emma Tarin and Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón.
1953 July 19, Gustavo Brown Sr. called as second councilor of Juarez Stake Genealogical Committee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving with Claudious Bowman II as president, LeRoy Johnson as first councilor, and Gladys Kotter Wagner as secretary.
1956 The James Duncan Brown family sold the 3,374 acres of Puerto Peñasco land to half-brother Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón.
A Mexican law states that individuals squatting on a parcel of land for seven years will be allowed to claim ownership of the parcel. Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón began to clear squatters off the land he purchased. Several squatters were close to the seven-year mark.
Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón met with Judge Pompa and Joe Pomeroy to work out a partnership for parts of Cholla Bay, seven miles northwest of Puerto Peñasco on the Sea of Cortez. Pomeroy was not a Mexican citizen, his lawyer had provided a tie to the land ownership but now Pomeroy needed a Mexican citizen as a partner.
1957 Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón obtains a certificate of Mexican citizenship. Brown had been born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1919 to a Mexican mother and an American father. (Silvestre Gustavo Brown, Jr. moved to Mesa, Arizona and became an American citizen).
1958 Silvestre Gustavo Brown (Sr.) de Gabaldón formed Compañia Impulsora Deportiva de la Cholla S.A. with four partners to develop the Cholla Bay Rocky Point area. Silvestre Gustavo Brown, Sr. maintained an 80% interest.
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July 2003 Gustavo Brown Jr. unveiled a statue of his father, Gustavo Brown Sr, in Puerto Peñasco
December 26, 2003, nine days after his 84th birthday, a large gate fell on Silvestre Gustavo Brown Sr; he suffered a broken pelvis in three places, he has since recovered and began to travel in a large motorhome.
2005, Gustavo Sr. purchased another enormous home in Cholla from a business associate.
April 20, 2005, while at Elena Pratt Turley Brown's funeral. Gustavo Sr. said he has been victim of a dozen serious injuries that should have taken his life but he has survived them all. The governor of Chihuahua made an attempt on his life while on a train, and many other breathe-taking incidents. Gustavo Jr. arrived with a new fiancee.
October 21, 2005, O.P. Brown family reunion in Chandler, Arizona, Gustavo is presented with a certificate of appreciation for his work and efforts to hold family reunions every couple of years. Award was presented by his nephew, Steve Petrie.
Children of Gustavo Brown Sr. and Guadalupe
Born: May 14
Born: June 22
Born: November 14
Born: February 9
Born: November 5
Gus Brown, Gustavo Brown, S. Gustavo Brown, Silvestre Gustavo Brown,
PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + Angela Gabaldon > Sylvestre Gustavo Brown
S. Gustavo Brown told me at the Cottonwood Family Reunion that he had completed he autobiography and that he had given it to his nephew O. James Klein, to publish and distribute it to all family members after his death.
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org