Catherine Ellen Brown was the daughter of American philanthropist and socialite Margaret Brown. She was born in July 1889 in Leadville, Colorado. Her father, James Joseph Brown, was an inventor and mining engineer. Catherine Ellen Brown had one sibling, an older brother Lawrence Palmer Brown.
Catherine Ellen Brown tied the knot with George Joseph Peter Adelheid Benziger in 1913; they had two children, George Peter Adelrich and James George Benziger. Catherine studied in good schools after her father became successful as a miner.
Her Parents’ Love Story
Catherine’s parents met in the 1880s and married in 1886; Margaret had preserved herself to marry a rich man; however she met James Joseph Brown, and love happened. Catherine’s father was not a rich man, but he was hardworking. After getting married, James worked hard to provide for his family. The couple had two children together, but they separated in 1909.
Her Family’s Mining Success
In the 1890s, Catherine’s father worked at Little Johnny Mine and was a board member and investor in the mining company. James had over twelve thousand shares in the Ibex Mining company. By 1894, Catherine’s father had made enough money to buy a mansion in Denver; he also built Avoca Lodge, a summer house, and started involving himself in business activities.
As Catherine’s father worked in the mines, her mother worked in food kitchens to feed the miners’ families. Given Catherine’s father’s success in mining, Margaret joined different organizations aiming to change people’s lives, especially women, and do other philanthropic work.
Catherine’s Mother was a Passenger on the RMS Titanic
Margaret Brown was staying in Paris with her daughter Catherine Ellen Brown when she heard that her grandson was ill in Denver. She booked her ticket to leave for New York; she boarded the RMS Titanic on April 10, 1912. Five days later, the liner started sinking after hitting an iceberg; over 1500 people died, but Catherine’s mother was among the few who survived.
Catherine’s mother helped save several people when the ship sank as she ensured they boarded lifeboats. She later earned the name unsinkable Molly Brown for helping evacuate passengers from the sinking boat. After surviving the sinking, Margaret Brown worked with significant others to help survivors with basic needs and counseling.
Her Mother’s Later Years and Death
Catherine’s mother was involved in philanthropy and politics in her later years. Margaret ran for the Colorado Senate seat but later dropped out of the race and served on the American Committee for Devastated France. Catherine’s mother organized several campaigns championing women’s rights.
Catherine’s mother left a legacy; she is an inductee of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Margaret died of a brain tumor on October 26, 1932, aged 65; her body was interred at St. Brigid’s cemetery beside her ex-husband James Joseph Brown.
Catherine Ellen Brown died on September 18, 1970, in Carbondale, Jackson County, Illinois, aged 81. She was buried at Cemetery of the Holy Road in Westbury, Nassau County.