Charles W. Brown married Mary Vetter

~Married: August 23, 1910, Sunnyside, Washington

Charles W. Brown was one of the sons of Ben L. Brown & his wife, Ida Marie (Wolford) Brown. Their wedding took place at Mount Carroll, Illinois. They came to LeMars the month following their wedding, farming in Washington Township, Plymouth County.

Charles W. Brown & his wife, Mary, were in the restaurant business in LeMars, Iowa, for many years. Their place of business was known to all as Brownies Lunch.

LeMars Globe-Post Ad, March 10, 1949

Brownies Lunch was located in LeMars, Iowa, at 122 Plymouth Street SW. (Located on the south side of Plymouth Street in the block between the Union Hotel and the First Baptist Church.) ***If anyone out there reading this has any specific stories about Brownies Lunch and/or any photographs taken of the Brown couple, their customers, or the building itself, please do not hesitate to contact this website's coordinator. Use this email link. Would love to post your stories/memories and photos would be wonderful, too.

Above New Years Greetings-- LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, Dec. 28, 1951

Brownies Lunch -- Old Newspaper Items:

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
January 5, 1951
(front page headline)

Pools of Blood, Yes;
But No Alley Murder

Gore Was That Of Deer
Killed Near Hinton

It was certainly a bloody business, the way the stories went. They told of a man (or men) with their throat cut ear to ear, suggested a knife fight in a dark alley in the wee hours of the morning, and death.  It was murder—or manslaughter at the very least.

The story swept through LeMars like wildfire, even reached Sioux City, where at least one radio station was reported to have broadcast the event, carrying the story back into even more LeMars homes.

Many people called the Sentinel. They were certain somebody had been killed, and they wanted to know who. And they all had heard about the blood.

Well, there was lots of blood—that much was true. It was frozen in the snow of the alley a half block west of the Union hotel, just to the rear of the Adler auto repair shop.

But it was the blood of a deer, not a human. The big doe had been killed when she collided with a car driven by Wayne Lanis of Spencer about 2 a.m. two miles south of Hinton on highway 75.

A herd of deer were crossing the road, Mr. Lanis told Sheriff Frank Scholer, and this one started to cross as his car approached, coming from Sioux City.

He braked the car, and swerved, but the rear of the auto, a Dodge sedan, skidded forward, and the doe hit the right side of the car, doing about $150 damage to the vehicle.

The sheriff was called, and he brought the dead animal, estimated to weigh about 180 lb., back to LeMars riding on a front fender.

By then it was about 4 a.m., and he stopped for a cup of coffee at Brownies Lunch.  Charles Brown, the owner, was there, and Oscar Weidenfeller and Pete Miller.  Sheriff Scholer told them about the deer, and then he remembered the dead animal hadn’t been blooded. He asked Mr. Brown for the loan of a butcher knife to do the job.

He was planning to take the animal out to the country—but was dissuaded. So they drained the blood from the animal near the back of the lunch room in the alley.

But the next morning a lot of people noticed the pool of blood, and questions were asked. Somehow, everybody concerned with the event forgot to mention the species of the dead animal.

Perhaps it was suggested in one or two conversations that somebody—or something’s—throat was cut.  The suggestion of murder, or a knife fight gave the tale the speed of a rocket.

And there was no denying, the presence of the pool of blood.  At the police station people started inquiring about the “murder” early Thursday morning.

By mid-morning Chief Fay Terpenning said, he couldn’t put his head out the door before someone would be asking who had been knifed, for the truth was much slower than the original fiction.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Scholer took the “corpus delicti” to Wells lockers to be cut up for distribution free to county institutions, who will be the only people to get their teeth into the meat of the story.

LeMars Daily Sentinel
June 20, 1960



Elsewhere in today’s paper is an ad offering Brownies Lunch and building in which it is located for sale. In addition to the lunchroom, the building contains a four-room apartment upstairs.

Mrs. Mary Brown, who assisted her husband, the late Charles Brown, in operating the lunchroom for many years, told the Sentinel that she does not feel capable of re-opening the business and operating it by herself.

She hopes to sell the business as it is, fully stocked and ready to go; she also wishes to dispose of the building, if possible to the same party who buys the restaurant.

LeMars Daily Sentinel
September 19, 1960



Bill Pew and Leo Flaherty have purchased the former “Brownies Lunch” and building on Plymouth St., and plan to move their offices (now located on First Ave. NE) into the former café.

Bill told the Daily Sentinel that he and Leo have sold the café equipment to Mike Mullally, and it will be removed from the building to permit the ground floor space to be remodeled into offices for Pew and Flaherty.  They hope to move in to their new offices by Nov. 1, Bill said.

LeMars Daily Sentinel
October 31, 1960



Bill Pew Realty Co. and Leo Flaherty State Farm Insurance opened for business Monday morning in their new and completely remodeled office headquarters—the former location of Brownies Lunch at 122 Ply. St. SW.

Mr. Pew and Mr. Flaherty have purchased the building from the estate of the late Charlie Brown, longtime operator of Brownies Lunch.

Both firms formerly rented office space in what was the Pratt Implement Co. on 1st Ave. NE.  That building is now owned by Paul Traufler, who now operates a refrigeration service there.  New tenants in the Traufler building have not been announced.

The move to the new offices was begun Saturday, Mr. Pew said.  There is one large office room in the front for Mr. Flaherty, Mr. Pew’s associate Elmer Athens and receptionist Marge Kramer.  Mr. Pew’s private office is in the rear of the building.

Remodeling includes new light mahogany wall paneling, mahogany doors, gray vinyl floor covering and florescent lighting.


Children of Charles W. & Mary Brown:

Blanche Kathleen, b. 26 May 1911; d. 15 Apr 2005 (married Arthur W. Kramer, 30 Aug 1930) Her Obituary
Florence Mildred, b. 24 Nov 1912; d. 13 Sep 2005 (married Elmer Thoms, August 1933) Her Obituary
Glenn L., b. 7 Dec 1914; (married Margaret)
Ray B.
Frank L.



Charles W. Brown
b. 3 Aug 1889, LeMars, Iowa
d. 6 Jun 1960, LeMars, Iowa

His Obituary


Mary Elizabeth Vetter Brown
b. 1892
d. 10 Aug 1964, LeMars, Iowa

Her Obituary

**If anyone has any photos and/or family data they would like to submit for this family please notify the Plymouth County Coordinator.



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