Angel of the Rockies Clara Brown
Clara Brown is one woman I would love to meet. Born around 1800 in Virginia, Clara was a slave from the start of her life. She married another slave as a teen, and she and husband Richard had four children - Richard, Margaret, Paulina Ann, and Eliza Jane. Paulina Ann died young and in 1835 Ambrose Smith, their owner, died and sadly the family was split up. It was a loss that Clara would never forget and she would spend the rest of her life seeking for her family.
In 1856, Clara was set free and immediately began to search for her family. Hearing that one of her daughters might have gone west, Clara decided to head that way, too. Since blacks weren’t allowed to buy stage coach tickets, she convinced some prospectors headed to Colorado to let her go along. She was thought to be the first African American woman to arrive in the Colorado gold fields.
She settled in Central City, CO where she immediately set to work doing laundry for the miners. She was a remarkable woman who loved Jesus and held church services in her home. She saved her money, helped the sick, fed the hungry and in the most simplistic form was “Jesus with skin on” to many. She invested in mining and people, and God blessed her. At one point she managed to save $10,000 and she used that money to help other former slaves to come west to resettle into a new life of freedom.
After the Civil War, Clara went South to look for her daughter Eliza Jane. She had already heard that Margaret had died and would never learn what had happened to her husband or son. Imagine her heartbreak. She had money to help other families to be reunited, but her own loved ones would remain beyond her reach. But God wasn’t finished with Clara Brown.
She continued blessing the lives of others and with her money nearly gone and her health failing, God gave Clara a special blessing. Now in her 80’s and after almost 50 years of separation, mother and daughter Eliza Jane were to be reunited. I can’t even begin to imagine their happiness. They were to live together in Colorado and share each other’s love until three years later when Clara passed away in her sleep.
The funeral was widely attended with the mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado present. Clara Brown became the first African-American member of the Colorado Pioneer Association and they funded her entire funeral.
Upon her death, it was said that “Aunt” Clara left earth to be an angel, but most said she was an angel during her life on earth. She was much loved and has been memorialized in many ways, including a stained glass portrait that graces the state capitol building and an opera. But I have a feeling her finest moment was when she was reunited with her family in heaven and she came face to face with Jesus.
Aunt Clara – I hope to one day get to meet you – you were indeed a good and faithful servant.
P.S. Cathy Marie Hake's book IN HIS WILL is free on Kindle - download your copy today - the story is awesome.