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March 29, 2012

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Sen. Arthur Brown

Senator Arthur Brown, Class of 1862

Arthur Brown was born in Schoolcraft in Kalamazoo County, Michigan in 1843. He moved to Yellow Springs with his family when he was 13 years old so that his sisters—Marcia, Oella, and Olympia, could attend Antioch College—then one of the few schools open to both men and women. Arthur also attended Antioch, graduating in 1862. He earned a master’s degree at University of Michigan in 1864 and was admitted to the bar that same year. By the late 1870s, he had built a highly reputable law practice. In 1879, he moved to Salt Lake City in the Utah Territory for a more healthful climate, where he again built a successful law practice.

When Utah became a state in 1896, Arthur ran as a Republican for its first ever seats in the U.S. Senate along with Frank J. Connor, and was elected by the state legislature. So that both seats from one state do not come open in the same election, Senate terms are staggered into “classes” of two, four and six year terms for newly admitted states; Arthur drew the “short term,” serving only until 1897, when he was not re-nominated. In 1892, Arthur met a young woman of culture involved in the state Republican Party named Anne Maddison Bradley. The two developed a friendship that by 1900 had become a torrid romance, much to the pain and humiliation of Isabel Cameron Brown, Arthur’s second wife. At one point, the three met by accident in the streets of Pocatello, Idaho. Isabel attacked Mrs. Bradley on the spot and might have killed her had no one intervened. Arthur would provide his lover with the gift of a revolver for protection following the episode.

1902 was the year that Bradley traveled extensively with Arthur Brown as Mrs. Brown, a ruse that amused many but fooled few, with the exception of Antioch College, where they were received in a way befitting a distinguished alumnus (such as a Senator) returning to his alma mater. Counted among the titillated was The Xenia Gazette, as the following article suggests. Interestingly, no answer or defense can be found in The Yellow Springs News; perhaps the local press did not wish to embarrass anyone further or was itself too embarrassed by the visit of Senator Brown and his mistress, and wanted to forget the whole thing.

Unfortunately, the article belies the tragic nature of Arthur Brown’s indiscretions. He and Anne Bradley would be accused by the real Mrs. Brown with adultery and were tried back in Utah on the charge. She would deny him a much asked for divorce on the grounds that she expected to be received at court during a visit to England, an honor not open to divorced women. In 1906, Isabel Brown died of cancer, and though finally free to marry Anne Bradley, Arthur would not. Bradley herself divorced so that they could be married, and his recalcitrance drove her to desperation as she was now bereft of support for her and her four children, at least one of which was believed to be his.

In December 1906, she tracked Arthur down at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington D.C. to confront him once and for all to live up to his long held promise to marry her and make her child (or children) legitimate in the eyes of the law. Finding his room unoccupied, Bradley discovered letters between Brown and a prominent actress that revealed his intention to marry her instead. When she finally saw him, she gave him a chance to make good on his pledge, but apparently not much of one. Though she later remembered none of it, Anne Bradley drew the pistol Arthur had given her years before and shot him in the stomach. Though he was rushed to the hospital, the bullet was lodged too deeply near his pelvic bone to be removed, and Arthur Brown died from his wound ten days later. Anne Bradley was tried for his murder but acquitted by reason of temporary insanity. Subsequent generations of Browns would hardly mention his name after his death.

Front page of Xenia Gazette 27 May 1902

From the Xenia Gazette, 27 May 1902


Were Royally Entertained at Yellow Springs—Now Another Mrs. Brown Wants to Know About It.

A little episode which has been the occasion of a good deal of talk and comment at Yellow Springs has just come to light, in which Senator Arthur Brown, of Salt Lake City, Utah, is a central figure, and some of his friends who entertained him in a royal manner at Yellow Springs, would like to have him explain some matters connected with his recent visit there.

Mr. Brown is a graduate of Antioch and after finishing his school work went to Michigan to practice law. He finally drifted to Utah where he became prominent in public life and was elected as United States Senator from that State.

A few weeks ago he paid a visit to his old college and met a number of his old friends, and was handsomely entertained by the faculty of the college and others being introduced by President Bell to his class and shown every consideration. He was accompanied by a young woman whom he introduced as his wife and they spent several days at Yellow Springs.

A week or two ago Prof. Bell received a letter from a lady at Salt Lake City in which she stated that she had seen in the newspaper that Senator Arthur Brown and his wife had been entertained at Antioch. She said that as she had never been away from Salt Lake City while her husband had been absent, she would like to have a little light on the subject as she herself is Mrs. Arthur Brown, wife of Senator Brown.

There seems to have been a bad mixup somewhere in Senator Brown’s wives, and since the story has leaked out there is a good deal of fun being had over the matter by those conversant with the circumstances.