Born: approximately 1845 in Cass County, Iowa
Died: 1950 Santa Barbara, California
Van Brown rode approximately 1870 when, as he said, "I was sixteen years of age." He rode a mule between Ouray and Silverton, Colorado. He told a story when, at the end of a week, he was paid for his carrying of the mail, he spent some of his money for a can of tomatoes. This was something new, scarce and a luxury in those days.
Van Brown was employed in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1894 by Jones & Adams, Nestucca Sawmille-Manufacturing Company. He traveled to Santa Barbara, California approximately January 7, 1895 to become foreman for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company.
While with the Santa Barbara Lumber Company, Van Brown sold the Loughhead Brothers (later changed to Lockheed) their first spruce lumber for their first seaplanes that they built in Santa Barbara in 1916. John K. Northrop was an engineer for Loughead Co. about the same time. Northrop was in Santa Barbara High School at the same time as Van Brown's daughter Aura was. The concrete forms for construction of the Loughead planes sat at the northwest corner of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard for many years. There is a motel and nice restaurant at that spot now. The lumber yard that Van Brown was foreman of was located on the ocean side of Cabrillo Blvd. southeast corner. Lumber ships would dock at Stearns Wharf, the motorized lumber crawlers would pick up piles of lumber off loaded from the ships and trundle them down the wharf to the yard.
Considering what has happened with Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin and also Northrop, the marvelous history of the airplane and now the space crafts and missiles, the simple fact of an ex-rider growing up and selling the first pieces of wood to these aviation pioneers is a salient part of history in America's transportation and communication.
Van E. Brown was also a member of Woodmen Of The World Lodge.
Information provided by Jack Moller, July 2001. He states further:
"When Van Brown was telling his stories there was no one writing them down. I was only a child in the 1930's and early 1940's and didn't have the foresight to capture what he said. "