Edith Belshaw Brown Litton (1856-1929) ─ A Story of True Love from Pioneer Times
Underneath a pair of laurel trees –just north of the GAR Civil War Memorial –you will find a love story. The trees’ branches appear to be growing hand-in-hand.
At rest in the cool shade below is a musical couple: Edith Belshaw Brown Litton and her first husband John H. Brown.
Edith was born to Thomas and Maria Belshaw. They were early Lane County pioneers who crossed the plains by ox team in 1853 to open the first drug store in Eugene. On Edith’s seventh birthday, her father gave her a square boxed piano that he had shipped around Cape Horn. (Today, a similar piano resides at the historical Shelton -McMurphy House.) Edith grew into a talented singer and pianist who taught music lessons as a young lady.
At the tender age of 16 Edith fell in love with John Brown, a prominent band director in Eugene who was far older than she. They married when she was 18. Harmoniously they lived on a farm across the Ferry Street Bridge beyond the Willamette River. The couple appeared in many of the first programs to be given at the UO in its founding years.
Several years into their marriage, Mr. Brown was shot dead following an argument with a tenant farmer over a sack of potatoes. Edith went on to marry Mr. T.D. Litton, the owner of a hop yard on South Willamette Street, which was the original site of the Eugene Country Club.
Mrs. Brown Litton raised two daughters and a son in Eugene and Burns, Oregon. She was known as a friend to struggling musicians and encouraged musical talent in those around her, including her children and many grandchildren.
On her death bed Edith left instructions that she was to be laid to rest next to her first love, John Brown, in Block 234 in the Eugene Pioneer Cemetery.
Today, if you pass by the Brown Litton lot, you will find a pair of lovely large laurel trees shading two songbirds at rest together.
[Note: These two trees were damaged in a recent windstorm and had to be removed.]