My Ancestor’s Past time
This week in Dublin, Ireland, many of the heads of the world’s biggest beer companies have met for a world beer conference. One evening, several of the beer owners went down together to the hotel bar to order a drink. The Mexican owner of Corona approached the bar first and told the bartender, “give me the world’s best Mexican beer”. Taking the hint, the bartender hands the owner a Corona. Next, the owner of Coors walks up to the bartender and says, “sir, give me the only beer made with fresh water from the springs of the Colorado Rockies.” Again, the bartender taking the hint hands the man a Coors. After that, a man dressed somewhat like the monopoly man walks up to the bar, “please sir give me the only beer that allows you to live the high life.” The bartender recognizing the owner of Miller hands him his name brand beer. Yet another man walks up to the bar, this man a little older and heavier than the last few says proudly, “Bartender! Give me the King of Beers!”. The bartender smirks and hands him a Budweiser. Lastly, the owner of Guinness walks up to the bar and says in his Irish accent, “just give me a coke.” The bartender and the other beer owners look at the man slightly perplexed. The Guinness owner looks up and says, “since no one else got a beer I thought I wouldn’t either.” …And that’s the joke, I’ll be here all night. Thanks.
On a more serious note, as a decedent of Irish blood (as every other American is on St. Patrick’s Day, even the non-Irish ones), I thought I’d take a moment and write about how my Irish ancestors came to the United States. In the late 1800s Ireland was strongly Catholic (still is) but was in constant conflict with the Protestantism imported by the hated British. This set the stage for why I am here today.
My great great grandfather (not sure how many greats), James Maybe Brown was an Irish Catholic (I can’t convince my wife to name our upcoming child Maybe), but he fell in love with a Welsh Protestant, my great great (etc…etc…) grandmother, Bridget Crowley. Both of whom were born in 1866. The only way for them to get married and escape the pressures from their respective families and country was to set out for the New World, 1883 they did so. They originally came through Canada and made their way eventually down through New York and then to Western Pennsylvania. Sort of a Romeo and Juliet story but I can thank them today for their dedication to each other and their willingness to pursue something they felt right. As a side note, I am also thankful today for a country who admitted immigrants, like my ancestors, into their country with differing religious beliefs. The freedom of opportunity that the United States employed through its 1st Amendment rights and open border policies helped build many families like mine and the country as a whole.
James and Bridget would go on to have 5 children in Pittsburgh, PA, one of whom was named William Cornelius Brown (my family is awesome at middle names) was my great grandfather. William married Alice Gray with which they had two sons, one named Robert William Brown, my grandfather. My grandfather then married my grandmother Esther Hoffman who then had my father and then me. Oh and my wife and I have our first on the way.
So today I wear my shamrock Pittsburgh Pirates Hat and raise my glass (Yuengling…yes technically its German but its a PA beer) to my Irish roots and the freedom to seek your own destiny. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!