About the Browns
William Pitzer Brown
William Pitzer Brown was born in Ohio in 1861. He was one of the most adult buisnessmen
W. P.'s father, William Robert Brown, fought with the Union Army during the Civil War. He served as a Colonel of the Thirteenth West Virginia infantry. At the end of the Civil War he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. After the war ended, W. P.'s father moved the family to Independence, Kansas. To escape a difficult relationship, W. P. Brown left home at the age of 14.
W. P. worked at various jobs in Independence and Cherryvale, Kansas. He met his lovely wife-to-be Nancy from Ohio, when she was visiting relatives in Independence.
The Browns were married in Ohio but moved back to Independence to start a lumber business. They had two sons who died in infancy; a four-year-old son, William, died of pneumonia in 1898, and son Donald died at age 11. Violet was their only child who lived to adulthood.
The Browns moved to Coffeyville in 1890, and turned an old carpenter shop into a lumber company. Several years later, Brown smelled natural gas outside his company’s building and, six months later, he discovered one of the largest natural gas wells in the country. Brown went on to found the Coffeyville Mining and Gas Company and owned several other businesses in the area. Although plans were initiated in 1898, the Brown Mansion was not completed until 1906.
Nancy (Nannie) Brown
Nancy (Nannie) Alice Kilgore was born in 1863. She was originally from Port Washington, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. She was 4’11” tall.
W.P. and Nancy were married in 1884 in Port Washington, Ohio. They met while she was visiting relatives in the Independence area. When she went home, it is said that Mr. Brown followed her and courted her in her home county of Tuscarawas. They were married there in the Moravian Church. About a year later they returned to Independence, Kansas to make their home.
Violet Brown Kohler
Violet Elizabeth Brown was born in 1885 in Port Washington, Ohio. Shortly after her birth her parents moved to Coffeyville. At the age of 19, Violet married a man from the Wichita Eagle family. They divorced not long after their first and only child, a little boy, died.
Violet was what today people would call an independent woman; she traveled the world, had a second marriage and divorce, and went to college. Her second husband, Gustav Koher, was a businessman from Los Angeles. He claimed that his family was in the chocolate business. When they divorced Violet kept his name and moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma to become a librarian. In the mid 1930's she moved back to Coffeyville to take care of her ill parents. When they died, they left the mansion to Violet.
Since the depression had such a great effect on her family’s fortune, there was not enough money for the upkeep. So, in 1970, in ill health, Violet decided to sell the mansion to the Coffeyville Historical Society to use as a museum. She took just what she needed and moved into a nursing home in Independence, Kansas. Violet lived there until her death on November 16, 1973, at the age of 88.
Baby Son 1
The first baby boy born to Mr. and Mrs. Brown died at birth.
He is buried in Independence, Kansas
Baby Son 2
The second baby boy born to Mr. and Mrs. Brown died at birth.
He is buried in Coffeyville, Kansas.
William Kilgore Brown (Willie) was born in Coffeyville, Kansas in early July 1894. He died in October 1898 at the age of four from pneumonia. He never lived in the mansion.
He is buried in Elmwood Cementary in Coffeyville, Kansas.
Donald Kilgore Brown was born in 1899 and died October 12, 1911 from complications of diabetes. He died one month before his 12th birthday. He was the only Brown child to actually live in the mansion.
He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Coffeyville, Kansas