People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

Daniel Taylor Brown

Daniel Taylor Brown

About Daniel Taylor

Patrick Daniel Brown was born in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the 29th April 1872, the son of Thomas Grey and Catherine Brown (née Taylor).  His father was an accountant and book keeper.  It is not known when or why Dan changed his forenames to omit “Patrick”, and add his mother’s family name “Taylor”.

For a time he became an apprentice marine engineer in Scotland, and then he immigrated to Toronto, Canada.  It’s not known how long he stayed in Toronto, or what he did there, but on the 8th July 1898, he crossed the border into the United States of America.  He stated he was a clerk by occupation.

On the 9th July 1898, the day after he crossed over the border from Canada, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, joining the 2nd U.S. Artillery in New York City as a private soldier.  The Spanish-American War ended five weeks after he enlisted, and he was discharged on the 12th May 1899 in New York City.  What he did in the months after he was discharged are not known, but on the 7th December 1899 he was in Las Malangas, Cuba, were he re-enlisted in the U.S. Army, this time joining the U.S. 10th Infantry Regiment.  Sometime after he re-enlisted, the U.S. 10th Infantry Regiment was posted to the Philippines.

At the end of the Spanish-American War, the Treaty of Paris saw Spain ceding the Philippines and other former Spanish colonies to the United States of America.  The government of the First Philippine Republic objected to the terms of the treaty and fighting broke out between the forces of the United States of America and the First Philippine Republic on the 4th February 1899.  The First Philippine Republic declared war on the United States of America on the 2nd July 1899 and hostilities continued until the 2nd July 1902.  The U.S. 10th Infantry Regiment was one of the U.S. Army regiments involved in the war, which is recorded in history as the Philippine-American War, or the Philippine Insurrection.

Dan Brown was discharged from the army on the 26th August 1902, at Zamboanga, Philippines.  His service record states that he was discharged due to “Promotion to Another Service”, but no further details are known with regard to this.

He returned to the United States of America and found work as a clerk in Los Angeles, California, however; his health began to fail and he was diagnosed with cardiac hypertrophy, and he also required two operations for resection of his lower bowel.  Unable to work, he decided to retire and live off his meagre military pension and other benefits.  On the 7th October 1914 he went to live in a Soldier’s Home in Sawtelle, Los Angeles, California, probably because it was affordable, and also to benefit from their medical care.

It appears at this time that Dan was very ill and he decided to return to Scotland for a short visit to meet his brother.  On the 16th April 1915, he discharged himself from the Soldier’s Home, and he made his way to New York City where he booked second cabin passage on the May sailing of the Lusitania from New York to Liverpool.  He joined the liner at her berth at Pier 54 in New York on the morning of 1st May 1915, in time for her scheduled 10 o’clock sailing.

The liner’s sailing was then delayed, as she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner Cameronia, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war service as a troop ship, at the end of April.  She finally left port just after mid-day and just six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20 off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland.  At that stage of her voyage she was only 250 miles away from her destination.

Although nearly 380 second cabin passengers were killed as a result of this action, Dan Brown was fortunate enough to have been one of the 230 who survived.  Having been rescued from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he managed to make his way to the home of his brother, James, at 11. Queen Street, Glasgow.

Dan Brown returned to the United States of America on the 31st May 1916, having sailed from Liverpool to New York on board the St. Louis.  Shortly after his arrival, he was admitted to the Erie County Hospital in Buffalo, New York State.  Whilst there, he was interviewed by a reporter from the Buffalo Evening News, and this was published in the 9th June 1916 edition of the newspaper.  It was mentioned in the report that he was ‘sick, penniless, and alone’: -

… “How did I happen to be on the Lusitania?  Well, it’s rather interesting if you care to hear it.” said Brown yesterday and he paused to be told to go ahead.

“I had been operated on for cancer at the Soldier’s Home in Los Angeles.  I was very sick.  The doctors said I couldn’t live.  I begged to be permitted to go to New York to sail back to Glasgow to visit my brother before I died.  I came across the continent alone, the conductor on the train caring for me, and from New York, I shipped on the Lusitania, after being at Bellevue hospital there for a few days.

“I would never have known what struck the ship had I not lived,” he continued.  “It was in the afternoon.  I was under the care of the ship’s doctor and was in my bunk, dozing.  Suddenly I felt myself rolled out of the bunk.  The water was up over the ports.  The lights were out and it was dark as a cemetery.  I was in the second cabin on the starboard side.  That was the side she listed on.  I started for the top deck.  I had to crawl along on my hands and knees like a cat.

“Reaching the top deck, I stood around with 20 or 30 other helpless passengers.  A big Irish-American citizen was among them.  He had a spare lifebelt and he strapped it on me.  After that I saw a man go down the side of the ship on a rope and let himself into the water.  I decided to try that but I was so weak that I had to go down slowly before I reached the water the ship went under drawing me below the surface with it.

Clawing for Breath.

The next thing I knew I was under water clawing at my throat for breath.  I was shooting up, though, and I soon came to the surface, finding myself in a seething mass of foam filled with dead and alive.  In a short time I was picked up by one of those collapsible boats.  There were a number on it and we had to stand up like a lot of gulls.  The sea was very quiet, but we had to stand perfectly still.  We were finally rescued and taken to Queenstown on the Irish coast.  There were three women on our boat.  One of them afterwards died.  In Queenstown I searched for the Irish-American who gave me the lifebelt, but I was unable to get any trace of him.”

The interview gave an insight into what Dan did after he recovered sufficiently to continue his journey: -

Brown made his way to Glasgow, visited his brother and was again operated on in a hospital there.  Then he went to London, when he was again taken to a hospital and operated on.  He left Liverpool only a short time ago, arriving in this country on May 13. …

He returned to the Soldier’s Home in Los Angeles on the 18th August.  He became a naturalized U.S. citizen on the 20th July 1917.  He filed a claim for compensation for injuries sustained in the sinking of the Lusitania, and the loss of his personal effects, however; The Mixed Claims Commission refused to make any award to him as he was a British subject at the time of the sinking.

Curiously, a man named Daniel Brown also lodged a claim with the Canadian authorities for compensation for loss of property as a result of the sinking of the Lusitania, and this case was settled in 1926.  According to surviving records, this claimant was stated to have been born in Scotland in 1897 – 25 years after Daniel Taylor Brown was born, and had immigrated to Canada in 1907.  The claim was made for the loss of a large sum of money and carpenters tools, which had been concealed beneath the false bottom of the claimant’s trunk.  The commission, being satisfied that the claim was genuine, awarded the claimant $2,222 for the loss of the money and tools.  As far as can be determined, there was only one person by the name of Daniel Brown on board the final voyage of the Lusitania – either as a passenger or member of the crew, and therefore mystery surrounds this case.

Daniel Taylor Brown resided in the Soldier’s Home until the 16th August 1920, and thereafter he resided in various rented properties until he died at Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, California, on 6th March 1937.  His remains were interred at Los Angeles National Cemetery, a U.S. Armed Forces Veterans Cemetery, in Section 92, Row H, Site 8.

Scotland Select Births and Baptisms 1564 – 1950, 1881 Census of Scotland, 1891 Census of Scotland, 1900 U.S. Federal Census, U.S. Naturalization Records 1795 – 1972, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Mixed Claims Commission Docket No. 2265, Canadians Claims Case No. 859, U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers 1866 – 1938, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, U.S. Veteran Gravesites 1775 – 2006, U.S. Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries 1862 – 1960, U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925 – 1963, San Francisco Examiner, U.S. Veterans Gravesites, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.

Copyright © Peter Kelly.

Daniel Taylor Brown



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