In 1859, the same year that Thomas Johns unceremoniously left the British navy to become a solid citizen on the western shore of South Whidbey, a nineteen year old Portuguese seaman, Joseph Brown, took similar impromptu leave of his ship on South Whidbey’s eastern shore. He found his way to the Indian village located on what is now known as Sandy Point and integrated himself into the life of the village, winning the trust and friendship of the Indians.
In 1865 Brown married a fourteen year old Indian girl, Mary, and started building an impressive house on the bluff above the shore and also an impressive family of fourteen children.
Shortly after his arrival, Brown established a lighthouse of sorts on the beach and the village became known in shipping circles as “Brown’s Point”, a name which it carried until recent times when it was re-christened Sandy Point. The “lighthouse” consisted only of a frame shelter housing a kerosene lantern which was lighted each evening at dusk.
As time passed and other white settlers arrived in the area, the Browns became leaders in that early day community and, for a time, school was held at their home. Jacob Anthes, the founder of the town of Langley, reports in his journal that Joseph Brown was a great help to him during those early days.
Joseph Brown had large ideas about land management and founding a town. In book 3, page 190 of Island County records at Coupeville is the following entry:
1866, to William Brown: Twp. 28, 29 & 30, Range 3 E.; Twp. 29, Range 4 E., Island County Territory; Town lots not to be less than 15 acres of said tracts & the remainder to be tracts of 1 acre or more, streets and alleys to be dedicated to public use.
Signed by “X” for
Joseph and Mary Brown
In book 10, page 567 of Island County records is another interesting entry recording a real estate transaction by the Browns in 1889:
Sold to Nils Anderson a parcel of land commencing at that point which is at a certain woodpile in the S.E. corner of Nils Anderson’s new warf and marked No. 1 and a large spike driven into it on S. side and running from said point S. 468 feet, thence E. 160 feet to point of beginning, with reparian rights on the N. side, called the front side.
In 1890 Joseph and Mary Brown assigned 80 acres to J. W. Gibson on December 23 according to the county records on page 568 of book 10. The legal description is as follows:
SE corner of NE 1/4 of Sec. 2, Twp. 29 N, R. 3 E thence W along center line of said S. 2, 123 rods, thence 80 rods, thence 63 rods E, thence N to Government meander line of Puget Sound, thence E. and S. easterly along said mean line to NE corner of S 1/4 of NE 1/4 of Sec. 2 W along S. Section line to place of beginning with reparian rights.
Joseph Brown was born in Portugal in August, 1840. His wife, Mary, was born in 1850 in the Indian village where Brown settled. Their children were Freeman, born March, 1973; Joseph, Jr., born January, 1875; Mary, born March, 1877; John, born March, 1879; Frank, born November, 1883; Annie, March, 1886; George, March, 1888; Alick, December, 1889; Enos, November, 1891; Arthur, November, 1895 and Isabel, August, 1898, according to the United States census of 1900. Three other children were born after 1900.
Joseph Brown died in 1921 and several of his descendants still reside on South Whidbey.