All the Wiser: J.T. Brown and the fight fatality

By Joy Burgess-Carrico | Published Saturday, May 11, 2019
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Brown Hotel 1

BROWN HOTEL – The Brown Hotel, built by the founder of Chico is still standing. As is explained in the historical marker (above) Brown was pardoned for his part in a 1895 fight fatality on the porch of the hotel. Messenger photo by Joy Burgess-Carrico

I want to do something a little different.

I’m inspired by the popularity of multi-part podcasts and documentaries that take their time to tell a story.

Messenger photo by Joy Burgess-Carrico

Last year, while doing work for the summer edition of Connect magazine, I came across the historical marker for the Brown hotel.

It reads: “Col. J.T. Brown founded town of Chico in 1876; built this hotel in 1888.

“In ceremony on hotel porch, Gov. Charles A. Culberson pardoned Brown for his part in an 1895 fight fatality.

“Banker-tenant R. Lee Morris owned Brown Hotel from 1908 to 1965.”

“‘Fight fatality?’ What does that mean?” I immediately asked.

I was originally researching for a one to two paragraph sidebar for the magazine about historical markers in the county. But what I found out about J.T. Brown, the fight, the Brown Hotel, Chico and everything else was so extensive that I had to switch to a less complicated historical marker for that project.

“What does that mean?” led to more questions. What unfolded was a fascinating story, and a story way too complicated to tell in two paragraphs, or even in one column.

I put the research down, hoping the right time would come when I could write about it.

J.T. Brown has been sitting on my desk for a year and he’s been clearing his throat ever since I started this column.

This column answers questions. I had a question.

Who was J.T. Brown? And what was this fight fatality that he was pardoned from having participated in?

Read more in next week’s Messenger.

Joy Burgess-Carrico is a Messenger graphic artist. Email her your questions at jcarrico@wcmessenger.com.

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