LE>Orson Pratt Brown - Life, Times, Family

Home Button

Menu button

Page Top button

Page bottom button

Website Link Index

Orson Pratt Brown's Father, Uncles, and other Relatives

section header - Biography

Joseph Bracken Lee

Born: January 7, 1899 at Price, Carbon County, Utah
Died: October 20, 1996 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Compiled by Lucy Brown Archer

By Linda Thatcher

Beehive History 18

Joseph Bracken Lee was born on January 7, 1899, in Price, Utah, the son of Arthur James Lee and Ida Mae Leiter Lee. He was the second of six children that included Flora Lee Nicholson, Arthur Lewis Lee, Robert E. Lee, Alice Lee Rich, and Ruth Lee Fraser. Their father served as Price town president during 1904-5. In 1906 the family moved to Fruita, Colorado, where the father worked as a real estate speculator and banker and also served a term as mayor. In 1913 the family returned to Price where Lee entered high school and his father became an agent for the Gilsonite Company in the Uinta Basin. Lee's mother, Ida Mae Lee, a beautiful and resourceful woman, was known as one of the best cooks in Carbon County.

Lee's family came from a Mormon background, but he professed no church affiliation. He was active in the Masonic Order, though, obtaining the thirty-second degree. Lee attended Carbon County High School but did not graduate because he chose to enlist in the army in April 1917, two months before graduation, to serve in World War I. Discharged on March 2, 1919, as a sergeant, he served in the Army Reserve as a second lieutenant until 1935. He entered the real estate business in 1921 and later established a successful insurance business.

He married Nellie Amelia Pace on September 20, 1920, and they had one child, Helen Virginia L. Nelson. His wife died on January 1, 1926, from Hodgkin's disease. To pay the hospital bills accumulated during her illness, Lee rented out his home and lived in the garage, surviving on only a hamburger and a quart of milk a day. He paid off his bills in two years and vowed never to go into debt again. He married Margaret Ethel Draper on February 23, 1928, and they had three children: James Bracken Lee (md. Evelyn Wilson Brown), Jon Lee (md. Margaret Taylor), and Richard Lewis Lee.

Lee started his political career in 1935 when he was elected mayor of Price. He served six two-year terms from January 1936 through December 1947. His accomplishments as mayor included putting the city hospital in the black, paving streets, and installing a new water system. Lee's tenure as mayor was not without controversy, though, as he was accused of allowing liquor to be served openly and ignoring prostitution and gambling in the city.

In 1940 Lee attempted to gain the Republican nomination for governor but was defeated by Don B. Colton. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1942 and governor in 1944. In 1948, however, his determination paid off and he was elected governor, defeating incumbent Herbert B. Maw, principally because of alleged mismanagement of the state's liquor monopoly. He garnered 151,253 votes to Maw's 123,814. When Lee ran for reelection in 1952, he defeated Salt Lake City mayor Early Glade by 180,516 votes to 147,188.

Governor J. Bracken Lee, governor of Utah and Mayor of SLC

As governor, Lee almost immediately gained national attention because of his battle against the federal income tax and his ideas on economy and reform in state government. Although Utah had no bonded debt when he took office and indeed had a surplus of some nine million dollars, Lee nevertheless called for additional reserve funds and deep cuts in many state agency budgets. This insistence on strict economy won widespread approval at the outset of his term. His first message to the Legislature in 1949 made specific recommendations regarding the earmarking of funds, the reorganization of the welfare and highway departments, liquor management, conditions at the state prison, and public education. He established a state motor pool and abolished the state liquor enforcement agency and the Publicity and Industrial Development Department, viewing the latter as a Maw boondoggle. A Tourist and Publicity Council with a more restricted mandate was set up.

Although corporation franchise and motor fuel taxes were increased, Lee convinced the Legislature to lower individual income taxes. He also influenced the simplification of the state's fiscal structure and maintained Utah's debt-free status. He vetoed many bills and deleted numerous appropriations in agency budgets during his eight years in office.

Lee continued to be controversial while governor. He appeared to relish confrontations with individuals such as Milton B. Taylor, a member of the Finance Commission who refused to resign at Lee's request, and E. Allen Bateman, state school superintendent, whose salary was raised by the school board despite Lee's strongly worded objections. Over the years these feuds filled many pages in the newspapers and sometimes ended in court. His biggest battle, though, pitted him against educators. Lee's often-stated low opinion of teachers and administrators made it difficult for him to deal with school financing. Moreover, his attacks on individuals and on the educational system itself clouded the issues and eventually allied the entire educational establishment against him.

In October 1955 Lee announced that he had deposited part of his anticipated federal income tax assessment in a trust account and would pay it only upon a court order. He apparently hoped to obtain a court test of the legality of certain congressional appropriations, such as foreign aid, but previous court rulings precluded that aim. Lee's battle with the Internal Revenue Service continued for many years, and he became a hero to tax rebels throughout the country.

Lee decided to run for a third term in 1956, but by then he had lost the Republican Party's support and was forced to run on an Independent ticket. He racked up 94,428 votes, a tribute to his enduring popularity, but that was only good enough for third place against winning Republican George D. Clyde with 127,164 votes and Democrat L. C. Romney's 111,297.

In March 1957 Lee was appointed national chairman of For America, a group organized to fight super-internationalism and seek a return to "constitutional government." He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1958, again as an Independent. The following year he purchased the Utah Statesman (a Republican weekly newspaper) to promote his political views and changed its name to American Statesman. In 1959 Lee ran for and won the mayorship of Salt Lake City, a nonpartisan position. He served three terms--twelve years--as mayor, retiring from politics in 1972 at the age of seventy-three.

Mayor Lee and press - Mayor J. Bracken Lee faces press following his abrupt firing of Chief Skousen

Controversy followed Lee into the mayor's office. In March 1960 he fired Salt Lake City police chief W. Cleon Skousen, a man widely admired for his conservative views, professional law enforcement background, and tough stand on vice. The firing sent shock waves though the community, and once again Lee was thrust into the local and national limelight as accusations flew back and forth between the two men. While mayor he waged unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate in 1962, losing to Wallace F. Bennett in the GOP primary, and for governor in 1964, losing in the Republican convention to Mitchell Melich and D. James Cannon.

Lee was without doubt the most colorful and controversial governor that Utah has had. It remains arguable that his rigid economic measures saved tax dollars in the long run, as many building projects deferred during his administration required a greater outlay of state money later. Still, many endorsed his goal and admired him for expressing his views in a forthright manner. His ideas and philosophy of government attracted a large and loyal following, brought him national attention, and won for him a total of thirty-two years in elective office.

Joseph Bracken Lee with Maurice Abravenal
J. Bracken Lee with Richard Nixon

Lee's biographer, Dennis Lythgoe, regards his greatest contribution his terms as mayor of Salt Lake City, where he brought fiscal responsibility and capital improvements to the city. With age having moderated his temper somewhat; he was more effective in office while remaining true to his principles.

Lee was an avid hunter and outdoorsman, particularly enjoying the high desert in eastern Utah near his native Price. He played semi-professional baseball as a young man. He was also an extraordinary handiman, with skills in jewelry making and painting. He was a member of the Freemasons; Shriners, and the Elks. Lee died in Salt Lake City on October 20, 1996, and is interred there in a family plot at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

section header - children

Helen Virginia L. Nelson
James Bracken Lee, 1952 graduate from West Point; md. Evelyn Wilson Brown
Jon Taylor Lee
Richard Lewis Lee

J. Bracken Lee - Salt Lake Tribuen 1957
Governors of Utah series - Salt Lake Tribune - 1957

Right Click mouse on image - then click on view image - to see enlarged photo


PAF - Archer files = Captain James Brown + (7) Phebe Abbott > Orson Pratt Brown + Martha Diana Romney > Orson Juarez Brown + Evelyn Wilson : Evelyn Wilson + (2) James Bracken Lee < Joseph Bracken Lee + Margaret Draper < ....William Draper 1807-1886.

Dennis L. Lythgoe, Let 'em holler : a political biography of J. Bracken Lee. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1982.

Powell, Allan Kent, ed. Utah History Encyclopedia. 'J. Bracken Lee', by Dennis L. Lythgoe. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994.

http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/utah_today/colorfulandcontroversialjosephbrackenlee.html by Linda Thatcher.

Additions, bold, [bracketed], some photos, etc., added by Lucy Brown Archer

Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.orgor="white" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"> FAMILY GET TOGETHERS

... Lily Gonzalez Brown 80th Birthday Party-Reunion
July 14, 2007 in American Fork, Utah

...Gustavo Brown Family Reunion in October 2007

Send Additions and Information to:


...... Wives and 35 Children Photo Chart
...... Chronology
...... Photo Gallery of OPB
...... Letters


...... Biographical Sketch of the Life Orson Pratt Brown
...... History of Orson Pratt Brown by Orson P. Brown
...... Journal & Reminiscences of Capt. Orson P. Brown
...... Memories of Orson P. Brown by C. Weiler Brown
...... Orson Pratt Brown by "Hattie" Critchlow Jensen
...... Orson Pratt Brown by Nelle Spilsbury Hatch
...... Orson Pratt Brown by W. Ayrd Macdonald

- Captain James Brown 1801-1863

...... Wives and 29 / 43 Children Photo Chart
...... Captain James Brown's Letters & Journal
...... Brown Family Memorabilia
...... Mormon Battalion 1846-1847
...... Brown's Fort ~ then Brownsville, Utah
...... Chronology of Captain James Brown

- Phebe Abbott Brown Fife 1831-1915

- Colonel William Nicol Fife - Stepfather 1831-1915


- James Brown of Rowan County, N.C. 1757-1823

- Mary Williams of Rowan County, N.C. 1760-1832

- Stephen Joseph Abbott of, PA 1804-1843

- Abigail Smith of Williamson, N.Y. 1806-1889

- John Fife of Tulliallan, Scotland 1807-1874

- Mary Meek Nicol, Carseridge, Scotland 1809-1850 


- Martha "Mattie" Diana Romney Brown 1870-1943

- Jane "Jennie" Bodily Galbraith Brown 1879-1944

- Elizabeth Graham MacDonald Webb Brown 1874-1904

- Eliza Skousen Brown Abbott Burk 1882-1958

- Angela Maria Gavaldón Brown 1919-1967


- (Martha) Carrie Brown (child) 1888-1890

- (Martha) Orson Pratt Brown, Jr. (child) 1890-1892

- (Martha) Ray Romney Brown 1892-1945

- (Martha) Clyde Romney Brown 1893-1948

- (Martha) Miles Romney Brown 1897-1974

- (Martha) Dewey B. Brown 1898-1954

- (Martha) Vera Brown Foster Liddell Ray 1901-1975

- (Martha) Anthony Morelos Brown 1904-1970

- (Martha) Phoebe Brown Chido Gardiner 1906-1973

- (Martha) Orson Juarez Brown 1908-1981

- (Jane) Ronald Galbraith Brown 1898-1969

- (Jane) Grant "Duke" Galbraith Brown 1899-1992

- (Jane) Martha Elizabeth Brown Leach Moore 1901-1972

- (Jane) Pratt Orson Galbraith Brown 1905-1960

- (Jane) William Galbraith Brown (child) 1905-1912

- (Jane) Thomas Patrick Porfirio Diaz Brown 1907-1978

- (Jane) Emma Jean Galbraith Brown Hamilton 1909-1980

- (Elizabeth) (New born female) Webb 1893-1893

- (Elizabeth) Elizabeth Webb Brown Jones 1895-1982

- (Elizabeth) Marguerite Webb Brown Shill 1897-1991

- (Elizabeth) Donald MacDonald Brown 1902-1971

- (Elizabeth) James Duncan Brown 1904-1943

- (Eliza) Gwen Skousen Brown Erickson Klein 1903-1991

- (Eliza) Anna Skousen Brown Petrie Encke 1905-2001

- (Eliza) Otis Pratt Skousen Brown 1907-1987

- (Eliza) Orson Erastus Skousen Brown (infant) 1909-1910

- (Eliza) Francisco Madera Skousen Brown 1911-1912

- (Eliza) Elizabeth Skousen Brown Howell 1914-1999

- (Angela) Silvestre Gustavo Brown 1919-

- (Angela) Bertha Erma Elizabeth Brown 1922-1979

- (Angela) Pauly Gabaldón Brown 1924-1998

- (Angela) Aaron Aron Saul Brown 1925

- (Angela) Mary Angela Brown Hayden Green 1927

- (Angela) Heber Jedediah Brown (infant) 1936-1936

- (Angela) Martha Gabaldón Brown Gardner 1940


- Stephen Abbott Brown 1851-1853

- Phoebe Adelaide Brown Snyder 1855-1930

- Cynthia Abigail Fife Layton 1867-1943

- (New born female) Fife 1870-1870

- (Toddler female) Fife 1871-1872


- (Martha Stephens) John Martin Brown 1824-1888

(Martha Stephens) Alexander Brown 1826-1910

(Martha Stephens) Jesse Stowell Brown 1828-1905

- (Martha Stephens) Nancy Brown Davis Sanford 1830-1895

(Martha Stephens) Daniel Brown 1832-1864

(Martha Stephens) James Moorhead Brown 1834-1924

(Martha Stephens) William Brown 1836-1904

(Martha Stephens) Benjamin Franklin Brown 1838-1863

(Martha Stephens) Moroni Brown 1838-1916

- (Susan Foutz) Alma Foutz Brown (infant) 1842-1842

- (Esther Jones) August Brown (infant) 1843-1843

- (Esther Jones) Augusta Brown (infant) 1843-1843

- (Esther Jones) Amasa Lyman Brown (infant) 1845-1845

- (Esther Jones) Alice D. Brown Leech 1846-1865

- (Esther Jones) Esther Ellen Brown Dee 1849-1893

- (Sarah Steadwell) James Harvey Brown 1846-1912

- (Mary McRee) George David Black 1841-1913

- (Mary McRee) Mary Eliza Brown Critchlow1847-1903

- (Mary McRee) Margaret Brown 1849-1855

- (Mary McRee) Mary Brown Edwards Leonard 1852-1930

- (Mary McRee) Joseph Smith Brown 1856-1903

- (Mary McRee) Josephine Vilate Brown Newman 1858-1917

- (Phebe Abbott) Stephen Abbott Brown (child) 1851-1853

- (Phebe Abbott) Phoebe Adelaide Brown 1855-1930

- (Cecelia Cornu) Charles David Brown 1856-1926

- (Cecelia Cornu) James Fredrick Brown 1859-1923

- (Lavinia Mitchell) Sarah Brown c. 1857-

- (Lavinia Mitchell) Augustus Hezekiah Brown c. 1859


- (Diane Davis) Sarah Jane Fife White 1855-1932

- (Diane Davis) William Wilson Fife 1857-1897

- (Diane Davis) Diana Fife Farr 1859-1904

- (Diane Davis) John Daniel Fife 1863-1944

- (Diane Davis) Walter Thompson Fife 1866-1827

- (Diane Davis) Agnes Ann "Aggie" Fife 1869-1891

- (Diane Davis ) Emma Fife (child) 1871-1874

- (Diane Davis) Robert Nicol Fife (infant) 1873-1874

- (Diane Davis) Barnard Fife (infant) 1881-1881

- (Cynthia Abbott) Mary Lucina Fife Hutchins 1868-1950

- (Cynthia Abbott) Child Fife (infant) 1869-1869

- (Cynthia Abbott) David Nicol Fife 1871-1924

- (Cynthia Abbott) Joseph Stephen Fife (child) 1873-1878

- (Cynthia Abbott) James Abbott Fife (infant) 1877-1878


- (Diana) Caroline Lambourne 18461979

- (Diana)  Miles Park Romney 1843-1904

- (Jane) Emma Sarah Bodily 1858-1935

- (Jane) William Wilkie Galbraith 1838-1898

- (Elizabeth) Alexander F. Macdonald 1825-1903

- (Elizabeth) Elizabeth Atkinson 1841-1922

- (Eliza) Anne Kirstine Hansen 1845-1916

- (Eliza) James Niels Skousen 1828-1912

- (Angela) Maria Durán de Holguin 1876-1955

- (Angela) José Tomás Gabaldón 1874-1915












Contact Us:
Orson Pratt Brown Family Organization
P.O. Box 980111
Park City, Utah 84098-0111