The Museum recently began the undertaking of compiling all of Margaret and J.J. Brown’s quotes. Along the way, we asked one of our Museum Specialists to write about the project and here is what she had to say:

For the past few months I have been chipping away at what feels like an insurmountable task. This task is to collect and organize direct quotes from Margaret Tobin Brown, James J. Brown, and other family members. This should be easy right? Just pull quotes from books, newspapers, family documents, etc. Right, but also wrong.

The hardest part about studying someone as fabled as Margaret Tobin Brown, is that over the years the line between reality and myth can become blurred, if not erased. Over the years we get the myths of her burning money, working in a saloon, and being saved by Mark Twain. The reality of her life and the myth of her character become more and more intertwined. It’s important that we take the time to sort through what can be fact checked, and what is just hear say. Eighty-eight years after Margaret’s death, this task is only getting harder.

Unfortunately a large amount of “quotes” from Margaret Brown have no cited source. No newspaper, interview, or personal document is referenced as to where these quotes came from. Since these “quotes” come from thin air, it’s safe to assume they aren’t real.

Despite this, there is still a massive amount of quotes that can be traced to a source from Margaret, J.J., and related family members. These quotes are what I have been collecting for the past few months. Although my collection of Margaret quotes is at 13 pages in length, I am nowhere near finished in my search.

I would love to share some of my favorite quotes from Margaret and James J. Brown. Let’s start with Margaret:

Margaret reflecting on her life:

“I am a daughter of adventure. This means I never experience a dull moment and must be prepared for any eventuality. I never know when I may go up in an airplane and come down with a crash, or go motoring and climb a pole, or go off for a walk in the twilight and return all mussed up in an ambulance. That’s my arc, as the astrologers would say. It’s a good one, too, for a person who had rather make a snap-out than a fade-out of life.”[1]

“Money can’t make man or woman…It isn’t who you are, nor what you have, but what you are that counts.”[2]

“Let me say here that I’ve been all over the world. I have known more or less intimately the greatest people in the world from kings down, or up, as one cares to view them, and I’ve never met or expect to meet a finer, bigger, more worth-while man than J.J Brown. They don’t make them like him anymore.”[3]

Regarding the sinking of the Titanic:

“As I went on the deck [when] the boats were being lowered, I found many opportunities to be useful and I was glad to be. The less you think of yourself at such times, the better off you are.”[5]

“I think I have been misrepresented to my Denver friends. I simply did my duty as I saw it. I knew that I was healthy and strong and was able to nurse the suffering. I am sure that there was nothing I did throughout the whole affair that anyone else wouldn’t have done. That I did help some, I am thankful and my only regret is that I could not have assisted more.”[6]

“I don’t know what my destiny is, but it isn’t to be sunk in the sea or blown into the air.”[4]

Margaret wasn’t the only one with interesting things to say. Here are some of my favorite J.J. quotes:

Correspondence between J.J Brown and James G. Ducey:

“You can lose with proper spirit and that you do not propose to get cold feet on account of spilt milk.”[7]

“Don’t you know that good things come slow.”[8]

“I wish you would steam up and extend some of your energy in this direction.” (regarding the closing of Mammoth mine.)[9]

Correspondence between J.J and his son Lawrence “Larry” Brown:

“O, yes, and while wide awake we are subject to dreams, a vision of what we may do tomorrow or next week or it may be in the following year but without the spur of action it will all come to naught.”[10]

“Like the Irishman who once cleverly said: “What the devil is the use of thinking, sure, it is action we are in need of. And without this action we may as well smother the thought.”[11]

“You cannot succeed, in anything which you do not like, because you must be interested before you can succeed.”[12]


By: Cassidy Nemick, Museum Specialist



[1] Denver Post, August 9th, 1923.

[2] Denver Post, April 27th, 1912. P5.

[3] Denver Post, “Rugged Men of West Superior to Sweet Scented Europeans, “Unsinkable” Mrs. Brown Says,” November 12th, 1922.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Denver Post, April 27, 1912. P5.

[6] Marshall Everett. Story of the Wreck of the Titanic, The Ocean’s Greatest Disaster. Chicago: L.H. Walter, 1212. Pg 67.

[7] Molly Brown House Museum Archives. Ducey Papers, JJ Correspondence. April 27, 1905.

[8] Molly Brown House Museum Archives. Ducey Papers¸ JJ Correspondence. 1906.

[9] Molly Brown House Museum Archives. Ducey Papers, JJ Correspondence. March 31, 1908.

[10] History Colorado Center. Lawrence Brown Collection MSS.84, Box 4A F22. September 27, 1920.

[11] Ibid.

[12] History Colorado Center. Lawrence Brown Collection MSS.84. Box 4A FF17. May 6 1919.