Omaha Westerners Corral Commemorates a Nebraska Pioneer
At a winter meeting in its 2010-11 season, the Omaha Westerners heard the colorful story of Persimmon Bill Chambers, a notorious Wyoming outlaw who spewed mayhem on the Cheyenne-Custer City Road during the earliest years of the Black Hills gold rush. One of Chambers's luckless victims was H. E. "Stuttering" Brown, a division superintendent of the Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Company, who was gunned down north of the Hat Creek Station in Wyoming. Gut-shot, his death was gruesome. The stage company promptly returned Brown's body to Omaha for burial, and on April 28, 1876, with wife Mattie and daughter Lizzie at hand, a Methodist minister read the burial rite as the casket was interred in the Brown Plot in Omaha's stately Prospect Hill Cemetery. For some, that was the end of it for Stuttering Brown, but not for the Omaha Westerners.
Despite leaving his widow "in comfortable circumstances," or so reported the Omaha Daily Bee, and in light of Brown's considerable pioneer legacy, Widow Brown did not mark her husband's grave. Mattie and her daughter and son then lived in Salt Lake City and likely now only regarded Omaha as a sorrowful memory. A simple suggestion at the Corral meeting that evening that the Westerners "ought to make this right" elicited a boisterous response and a charge to several members to procure a monument for Brown's lonely grave. The campaign was completed in early June 2011 when Omaha's Bloom Monument Company located the grave and set the stone.
Brown was, indeed, a heralded Nebraska and Wyoming pioneer. Remembered as a partner in the operation of a gambling den and pawnshop in early Omaha, as a substantial property owner in that city, as a freighter on the overland trail and for Union Pacific during the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, and, at the time of his death, as a division superintendent for the new Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Mail and Express Company responsible for operations north of Fort Laramie. A contemporary remembered Brown as one of the "bravest and best men on the frontier." Oh yes, H. E. Brown did stutter, an impediment that variously embarrassed and humored him. History books remember him only as "Stuttering Brown." Now, thanks to the Omaha Westerners, history also records his grave.