Family of Thomas Munro Brown


Thomas Munro Brown 1867-1953

Thomas Munro Brown is the direct ancestor of over 150 Sorbie family members, the majority of whom live in the United States. This is because two of his daughters, Isabella and Jane married two Sorbie brothers from Stonehouse who then settled in Illinois. From there they migrated all over North America to places as diverse as California, Missouri and Montana.

Thomas was born in Crosscauseway, Edinburgh, in January 1867, the son of John Brown and Isabella Munro. John Brown, born 1835 was a horse and buggy cab driver and he married Isabella in Morningside, Edinburgh on June 6th 1856. Thomas' mother died early in life and Thomas was raised at Saltburn near Inverness by his paternal grandmother, Joan Oswald who was from Rossshire in the Highlands.

Thomas married Margaret Dallas in August 1888 in Raeburn Place, Edinburgh at the age of 21. Margaret was the daughter of Alexander Dallas and Jane Watt and had a twin brother that died at birth. Her mother Jeanie died three days later. Margaret was then raised by an elderly aunt and uncle at a dairy. Her father, Alexander had a part interest in the dairy as well as being a blacksmith.

Margaret Dallas 1864-1937

Thomas and Margaret's only son, John was born in November 1888 in Uphall, Midlothian followed by four girls; Maggie, Isabella, Jeanie and finally Catherine in 1906. All the children were born in Edinburgh or the area surrounding it, known as the Lothians. 

The Brown sisters circa 1911. At the back with John Sorbie, her future husband, is Isabella. Front L to R: Maggie, Kate and Jeanie.

All four sisters emigrated to the U.S.A. in the years around the First World War. It was in O'Fallon, Illinois where Isabella married John Sorbie in 1915 and Jeanie married his brother  Tom in 1917. John had been the first to venture over to North America in 1910 in pursuit of work in the mines. Tom followed just prior to WW1. Between them the two Sorbie/Brown marriages produced eight children and twenty four grandchildren. The Brown sisters Maggie and Kate also married Americans, Andrew Ewenson and Teddy LeFranc with whom they had another seven children.

Photo taken in the mid/late 1950's. Back L-R: Grace LeFranc, Teddy LeFranc, Tom Sorbie, Kate Brown LeFranc. Front L-R:  Margaret Dallas Brown and husband William Hamilton plus children.

Isabella and Jeanie outlived their husbands by 57 and 31 years respectively, as John died in 1932 and Tom in 1952. 'Bella who became a midwife lived to the grand old age of 97, passing away in Gillespie, Illinois in 1989 and Jean close behind at 88, who died in Macoupin, Illinois in 1983. Both have surviving daughters, Jeanie Burt Sorbie who married Charles Tecklenburg in 1940 and Margaret Dallas Sorbie who married Robert Burns in Gillespie, Illinois in 1944.

John Brown in his piper regalia in the U.S.A.

Back in Scotland, Thomas and Margaret's only son, John Brown married Mary Robertson from Chapleton, Lanarkshire in September 1916.

John at this point worked in the pit and that same year made the journey over to the U.S.A. to work alongside many of his fellow Scots in the mines of Illinois. There his first daughter Mary was born in O'Fallon on July 1917. However in the early 1920's he returned to live in Stonehouse and moved into "Vicarsfield" at 11, Vicars Road, which became the family home for many years. This is directly opposite St.Ninians Parish Church.

"Vicarsfield", 11 Vicar's Road, Stonehouse.

John became a market gardener and on his allotment he grew and sold tomatoes and other produce and flowers. In the town he soon became known as "Yankee Brown" due to his strong links with America. Two more children followed, Margaret and John born in Stonehouse in 1923 and 1927 respectively.

Front L-R: William Robertson, Mary's Brother; children - Margaret, Mary and John Brown; Mary Brown. Back, Margaret Dallas Brown. Photo taken circa 1929.

Three generations of Browns. L-R: Thomas, born 1867; grandson John, 1927 and son John, born 1888. They are pictured in 1948 in the back garden of 'Vicarsfield', on Vicars Road.

Margaret Dallas Brown died at Vicarsfield in 1937 at the age of 73 and her husband Thomas in 1953 aged 86. They are buried in a picturesque corner of Stonehouse new cemetery along with their daughter Margaret, daughter-in-law Mary and finally son, John Brown who died in his 90th year on May 2nd 1978. 

Brown Family Headstone - Stonehouse cemetery, Scotland.

Thomas and Margaret's grandson John continued in the family's market gardening business and then took on the work himself after his father's death. He married Sheena Plenderleith in August 1956 in Stonehouse and they had two daughters Margaret and Carolyn who are both married with their own families. John has had numerous visits from his American cousins over the years and was best man at his cousin Tom (known as 'Travelling Tom') Sorbie's wedding. Tom married Margaret Hamilton from Ashgill, Lanarkshire in Stonehouse in 1963.

John and Sheena Brown - October 2001

John Brown's eldest sister Mary Robertson Brown married John Shields from Swinhill, Lanarks and died in 1997 at the age of 80. They had no children. His younger sister Margaret Dallas Brown lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Her husband William Hamilton passed away in 1985 and they have three children, Gordon, Marilyn and Katherine.



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