PORFIRIO "PORFIE" DIAZ BROWN A.K.A. THOMAS PATRICK BROWN 1907-1978
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|Sixth child of Orson Pratt Brown
& His Second Wife, Jane Bodily Galbraith Brown:
Thomas (named Porfirio Diaz for the Mexican president) the sixth child of Jane Bodily Galbraith, born April 2, 1879 in Kaysville, Utah and Orson Pratt Brown, born July 19, 1907 in Ogden, Utah, was born in Colonia Dublán, Chihuahua, Mexico on July 19, 1907. Jane was the 2nd wife of Orson, who practiced polygamy. Orson married twice more, having four wives at the same time, eventually having 28 children from these unions. After his wives divorced him, he married Angela Gabaldón and had 6 more, than adopted a niece, for a total of 35 children. All five wives sealings to Orson Pratt Brown were renewed in 1930 by President Ivins in Salt Lake City, Utah.
During the Mexican revolution in 1912, the Latter-day Saints were given 24 hours to either leave or fight, by a General Blanco, Pancho Villas' man. Jane loaded her children in a wagon, pulled by horses, and began the trek back to the U.S. While still in Mexico, the wagon tipped and William Galbraith, age 7, fell and was crushed. Ronald unhitched a horse and went back to get help. Grief stricken, Jane returned to Morelos to bury her son, then resumed the trek.
They rested in El Paso, and went to Salt Lake City, Utah, stayed there a while, went to live with Grandma Galbraith in Kaysville, Utah, then moved back with Grandma Galbraith to Salt Lake City. She kept the oldest children wit her as they could tend to themselves, but two of the younger boys were placed on working farms as soon as they were able to work. Porfirio would have been 10 years old when he was placed with a farm family. His childhood recollections are of the farmer giving him as little as possible to eat and working him very hard. He recalled helping to deliver food baskets to the poor at Christmas.
Afton Brown, Ronald's wife, states the following: "Porfie was a very odd child, he was scared to be in the same room with me and wouldn't eat at the same table, he never talked when he came home from Bountiful to visit on Sundays, he was staying with a farm family and went to school and they bought his clothes and bedroom, but he was strange with every one; just the opposite from Pratt (Orson), who was a likeable 15 year old." Thomas would have been 13 years old then. Thomas told his children that he was on his own at 13, so he may have run away from the farm shortly thereafter. Certainly, his behavior indicated a very unhappy child.
Jane moved to San Jose, Cal. taking Mattie, Emma, Pratt (Orson) and Thomas (Porfie) to be with Grant. The children attended school in San Jose, and Thomas went through his sophomore year at San Jose High. One summer, at about age 15, Thomas and his brother Pratt (Orson) went to San Francisco to find work in 1922. Thomas was "shipped out" to a construction site somewhere in San Jose, but there was no work for him. His brother Orson was the last one to see him for many years. He proceeded south, looking for any kind of work, to feed himself. He said that if it hadn't been for the Salvation Army, he would have starved. He continued heading south, but was unable to find gainful employment. He worked as a boxing sparring partner, as a cowboy, breaking horses, as a horse shoer.
Thomas eventually wound up in New Mexico, alone, homesteading a 640 acre farm, of which 80 acres were cultivated. He supervised approximately 8 employees during harvest. He also worked as a fence builder. He advertised for a wife, but was unsuccessful, with not much to offer. He legally changed his name to Thomas Patrick Brown before joining the Army. He was not of age, so he lied about his age.
Porfie's brother, Grant and his wife went back to San Jose in an attempt to find him. The police department could not help them so they proposed to hire someone who locates lost persons on a national basis.
Thomas joined the Army Calvary in El Paso, Texas at the age of 17 on Oct. 23, 1925. He was described as having brown eyes, light brown hair, with a ruddy complexion and was 5'9" in height. He stated that he had been born in Gran Quivera, New Mexico, but that would have been where he was homesteading. He was promoted to Corporal in March 1939, to Sergeant in Jan. 1941, to Staff Sergeant in June 1941, to First Sergeant in Oct. 1942, to Master Sergeant on Nov. 1, 1945. He served overseas in New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Southern Philippines, Luzon, and later Korea. He earned four Bronze Star medals, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Ribbon, Victory Bar II, American Defense, Korean Service Medal. He suffered from yellow fever in March 1942.
He served as Truck Master, 4104th ASU Motor Pool, William Beaumont Army Hospital as his last post, and received unsolicited letters of recommendation from his commanding officer upon his retirement from the service in 1952. Capt. Robert E. Friese: "By your loyalty, efficiency, and conscientious attention to duty, you have excelled in your work. You have leadership ability that has justified your excellent performance of duty. You have initiative that is an outstanding quality. Because of your splendid character, it is with a feeling of pride and satisfaction that this well deserved, unsolicited letter of appreciation is given. It has been a pleasure to have known and to have you serve with me." Colonel Walter C. Royals:
"You are certainly deserving of the highest compliments for being an outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer during your tour of duty at William Beaumont Army Hospital."
When he came home from Korea, he was disturbed that the Marines were pumping these young men with fervor that put their lives in danger. Being an older soldier, pragmatic and experienced, he hated seeing children almost his children's age die foolishly. He wanted them trained to fight knowledgeably.
He was visited in his later years by two men whom he had saved from the sea, when their ship was bombed. They were so grateful for his bravery under fire.
While serving in the Army, he volunteered to gather gifts and funds to purchase record players, etc. to deliver to the local orphanages at Christmas, as his heart went out to them, due to his own childhood experiences.
Thomas was a hardworking, honest man, who refused to break the law upon anyone's orders. He worked as an auto air conditioning mechanic for a Studebaker dealership, which later became an Oldsmobile dealership. While employed there, he was instructed by his supervisor to move the mileage back on cars and he refused. The company owner had to hand him signed written instructions before he did it. He knew it was wrong, but needed his job. He had an unwavering sense of fairness and fought for justice and respect and you can see that in all his children.
Apparently, the person who delegated the work had some favorite to whom he catered. Thomas felt that the distribution of work was unfair, and brought the subject up with that person. The situation got heated, and the fellow hit him, which a mistake.
Another time, he came home from work with a black eye. When asked what had happened, he said a co-worker had touched his backside inappropriately. He said, "If you think I look bad, you should see the other guy." This he stated not in a braggadocio manner, just stating a fact.
His daughter Nancy remembers: "The stories dad told me have to do with injustice. He told me that when he tried to pay off the house that mother and her family had been living in for years, the mortgage company representative told him that the Porras' were only leasing the property, not buying it. He told the mortgage fellow that he was going to contact the general at Fort Bliss and tell him that the mortgage company was trying to swindle Mexicans out of their land. He also promised the man to contact the El Paso newspaper to also tell them. He said the man told him not to do so, that they could work out something and gave him a payoff price, which Dad did with money he had earned picking cotton on his furlough."
"Dad spoke most clearly with his action. When I lived in El Paso, I would visit Mom and him and come home with frozen chickens and bread he bought at the commissary. I can still see him going to his outside freezer and filling a bag full of groceries. Often people will ask me why I love and give to my children. Dad was my example."
"As a child, I was afraid of my dad, he was the discipline enforcer. I remember jumping in his Model T and breaking the light fixture overhead with the top of my head. I saw him coming and took off running, foolishly thinking I could outrun him. No way, he caught me and gave a good paddling. We were a wild bunch.
"Once when I brought home a paper needing to be signed because I made so many mistakes on the math assignment, he said, "See this pencil, it has an eraser because people make mistakes." In other words, keep trying, you will get it right, no problem making mistakes."
Once in Beall grammar school, I was being chased home by boys regularly and would arrive home panicked. One day, for some reason my dad was home and I arrived crying. He did not say a word, just took me to the school and I sat outside on a wooden bench while he spoke to the principal. The boys were brought in and I was never chased again."
"At my high school graduation, I was so embarrassed when my name was called, because you could hear his voice above all others yelling. Later, when I graduated from college in California, he made the long trip with Tom, my brother, to be there to cheer me on again, although his health was not good. He had been sending me money each month, along with a letter telling me how things were at home. This while I was divorced and trying to finish college. This was a real reversal for him, as he had not supported my desire to attend college, after high school. He had said he would send me to beauty school instead, because I would probably end up married at home with kids."
"His love was unconditional. I am sure he was at times disappointed in me, but he never told me so. His unwavering support is still with me and I thank God I had a father that had integrity, insight and respect for others."
Thomas and Juliana Porras de Cardenas were finally wed on Oct. 8, 1938 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Julia had a son named Roberto Lorenzo Vasquez, 6 years of age, who Thomas loved and raised as his own. They had lived together since 1933, but Julia's previous husband had soured her on marriage. Their first child was named Martha Helen Brown, born on August 13, 1935. A son, Federico Antonio Brown, was born on April 13, 1938. A daughter Nancy Jane Brown was born on October 19, 1940. Another daughter, Dolores Irma Brown, was born on May 29, 1943. Their last child was a son Thomas Patrick Brown Jr., born on July 18, 1946.
Their lives were happy, until Work War II. Their house had enough property to grow fruit trees, nuts, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and flowers, most of which was sold for additional income. They had a chicken coop, and sold eggs, as well. Thomas would go hunting in the desert and in the New Mexico mountains for game, and bag elk, deer, rabbit. Julia was an excellent cook, and the family ate well in those years.
After Thomas went to war, the household suffered greatly. Julia had a nervous constitution, was overwhelmed with all the children and the responsibilities of running a household on her own. She started drinking, and would lose the allotment check. She had nervous breakdowns, and would be given shock treatments at the William Beaumont Hospital. Each time Thomas returned from war, he was faced with his home in shambles, his children running wild, neglected. The children had run up debts for food at the corner grocery store, and for clothing to wear, which he settled. Julia continued to drink and would disappear at times. At that time, Thomas would not even consider divorce, as he didn't want his children to suffer from further neglect, so he stayed and tried to make a go of it. They were together until his death, a total of 45 years.
He became a Texas Archery champion. He made his first bows by buying the wood, shaping it, and bending it. He would order arrow shafts, would affix the feathers and points himself. There was always a smell of wood, glue, and feathers emanating from the garage. He had a booming laugh and a great speaking voice. He loved to sing, and would take the family on long drives to New Mexico, singing together. Thomas and Julia loved to dance and went often. He loved music, would listen to Grand Ole Opry, then switch to Firestone Opera. He also played the harmonica. He made sure his girls had music lessons, and bought a piano for them.
Thomas reconnected with his family in the early 60's. His daughter Martha had the joined the Mormon Church and her Bishop E. Redd spoke to Thomas, told him that he knew where his family was, how he could find them. Thomas was able to visit all his brothers, sisters, and even Aunt Lillian, his mother's sister. They had various family reunions and he was truly a happy man. Even so, he would not allow any of his kin to call him "Porfie", as he had suffered with that name in school.
Thomas, Jr. remembers; "Dad was unpredictable in his last twenty years. When I was fourteen years old, Dad was fifty-five and pretty grouchy (probably due to his exhaustion from emphysema and having to deal with a teenager). He tried to instill in me the best way he knew, the values he embraced. Honesty, (brutal sometimes), and the ethic of doing your best at everything. He became very ill with emphysema and nearly died in 1966. Dad said, "The Major, head doc in charge of the Pulmonary Wing said either I get up out of this bed and start walking or give up and die in a week. I know you both need me, so you must come every evening after work and help me walk. I can and will beat this thing." At first, he could only walk twenty or thirty steps before he ran out of breath, but he willed himself to get better and live. During this period, he encouraged the others in the ward to get up and fight the good fight with him. Some followed his example and lived and some didn't and died. Either way, he had little patience for crybabies and quitters. It seemed to me, that whenever I was with Dad, whether it be in a pool hall, archery range, NCO club or Electronic school, Dad was the Man among men, the leader of the class. I remember him telling me. "Most of the kids in my classes at the community college and at electronic school were younger and sharper, but they also were undisciplined and lazy, so I was able to out-study them."
"No matter how rough and tough he seemed to be at times, I always knew that even when I erred and was in a real bind, Dad would be there for me. He never turned me away or let me down. Sometimes when I am lecturing to my students, I feel he is speaking to them through me. He never really died, he is in all of us, his children."
He died on June 26, 1978 from a heart attack, brought on by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, at the age of 71. He did research on various medicines, and would recommend treatments to the doctor to use on him for the ALS, to no avail. He fought to the bitter end. He is buried with Julia at the Military Cemetery at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
Thanks to all of our family members who shared their memories, especially Lorenzo Vasquez, Nancy J. Brown-Hein, and Thomas P. Brown Jr.
PAF - Archer Files = Orson Pratt Brown + Jane Bodily Galbraith > Thomas Patrick Brown
Documents and biography courtesy of Martha Helen Brown Davis.
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org