Philanthropist. Born Margaret Tobin on July 18, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri. Sometimes referred to as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown," this survivor of the 1912 Titanic disaster has become the subject of many myths and legends throughout the years. Her early years were relatively quiet; she grew up in an Irish-Catholic family with five siblings.
At the age of thirteen, Molly Brown went to work in a factory. After two of her siblings headed to Colorado to seek opportunity with the silver mines there, she followed, moving to Leadville in 1886. The town was like a giant mining camp, and Brown found work doing sewing for a local store. Her life soon changed when she met J. J. Brown, a mining superintendent. The couple fell in love and married in September of 1886.
Molly and J. J. Brown struggled financially in the early days of their marriage. They had their first child, Lawrence Palmer Brown, in 1887, and a daughter, Catherine Ellen, followed two years later. As her husband rose up the ranks at the mining company, Brown became active in the community, helping miners and their families and working to improve the town's schools. Molly Brown was never interested in fitting in with the other leading citizens of Leadville, preferring to dress in dramatic hats.
Achieving great prosperity through the discovery of silver at one of J. J.'s mines in 1893, the Brown family moved to Denver. Molly Brown helped found the Denver Women's Club. She also raised money for children's causes and continued to help mine workers. With her wealth, Brown also expanded her own horizons, taking numerous trips around the world. It was during one such trip in April 1912, after hearing that her grandson was ill, that Brown decided to take the first ship back to the United States; a ship named the Titanic. It was the maiden voyage of the vessel that was supposed to be nearly indestructible. However, on the night of April 14, the ship failed to live up to its reputation.
The Titanic struck an iceberg at around 11:40 p.m. and sank in only a few hours. Molly Brown was able to get on one of the ship's few lifeboats and was later rescued by the Carpathia. Aboard the Carpathia, she did whatever she could to help the other survivors. Her acts of heroism, which made news, earned her the nickname "the unsinkable Mrs. Brown."
With her newfound fame after the disaster, Molly Brown spoke out for many causes, including women's suffrage and workers' rights. During World War I, she worked with the Red Cross in France. Molly Brown died on October 26, 1932.