Michael
"Mikey"
Brown


 

MICHAEL BROWN was born Michael Cianfrani in Pennsylvania around 1887, the son of Italian immigrants. He eventually moved to Camden NJ, settling in Camden's 8th Ward. Known popularly as "Mikey" Brown, he became involved in local politics, he served as a ward leader at one time or another for both the Republican and Democrat Parties.  

Politics in the Eighth Ward in Mikey Brown's time was a contact sport, and the ward was know as "the bloody Eighth" for good reason. Joseph 'Mose’ Flannery, sometimes an ally and sometimes an opponent of Brown, was gunned down at a Kaighn Avenue saloon in September of 1928. A victory parade after a May 1934 primary election ended in a riot at outside William Tansky's saloon South 6th and Viola Streets. Brown himself was charge with assaulting an election official in 1931. In May of 1933 he ran for office as Republican County Committeeman for the Eight Ward, but was defeated by four votes in an election that may well have been rigged. In August of 1933 two shots were fired through the window of Brown's neighbor and fellow saloon owner, Thomas "Bluch" Golding, at 650 Central Avenue.

Mikey Brown had come to Camden by the end of 1919. He was in business for himself, buying and selling horses. By 1927 he had purchased the bar at 629 Ferry Avenue, which operated under a soft drink license, allowing the sale of near beer. He also operated a stable nearby. The 1930 Census shows him living on premises with his wife Louise, brothers Angelo and Thomas, and his Uncle Edward. Angelo also worked in the business as a bartender, before passing in the 1930s. Michael Brown operated this saloon as late as 1931. Michael Brown operated different saloons in the city before he moved to Runnemede NJ, around 1935, where he engaged in the fertilizer business. He had returned to Camden before Pearl Harbor was attacked in December of 1941. He lived at 1745 Van Buren Street, where he had a stable up until about the time of World War II. Camden still had milkmen using horse-drawn carts till around 1950. He was still living at the Van Buren Street address as late as 1947, and may have kept an interest in the stable for a few years thereafter. 

Michael Brown subsequently moved to the Hilltop section of Gloucester Township NJ, where he sold used trucks and cars. His brother Thomas passed in the middle 1950s. Louise Brown died in June of 1959. Michael Brown passed away in November of 1962.

Michael Brown was second cousin the late Henry J. "Buddy" Cianfrani of South Philadelphia, who was prominent in state and local politics.

Camden Courier - January 25, 1925

John Cleary - Michael Brown - Thomas Golding - Bertha Chamberlain
Ferry Avenue - Central Avenue

Camden Evening Courier - January 24, 1928
Editorial Page

ENLIGHTENED SUPPORT FOR SUPPORT FOR BILL NO. 10 

Camden may well be proud of its showing in Trenton yesterday.

Camden showed the rest of the State that its leading citizens are intensely interested in civic affairs.

For did not two busloads of them journey up to the State capitol to attend the hearing on Senator Forsyth’s Bill No. 10?

Headed by that outstanding civic leader, “Mikey” Brown, of the Eighth Ward the flower of Camden’s patriotic citizenry, invaded the Senate gallery, and showed their intense interest by cheering or jeering every speaker for or against the bill.

As one of Mr. Brown’s cohorts described it to the editor of The Courier:

“Did we give them Simple Service guys the raspberry—and how.”

“This here Senator Forsyth certainly had the gang with him. ‘Mickey’ is one swell cheerleader. I yelled meself hoarse. An elegant time was had by all.

“And to think I might of missed the whole jamboree if I hadn’t bumped into Mikey at Jones soft drink, emporium when I was getting my morning glass of buttermilk.

“Hello, Foghorn,” says Mikey. “Ain’t you the guy what used to holler ‘Rags-any-­old-rags’? How’s the old pipes today?”

“As good as ever when I keeps ‘em moist, but very poor when, they’re dry,” I tells Mikey.

“Come along and we’ll keep ‘em moist,” says me friend Mickey.

“And that was the way I got in on the party.

“You ask me what it was all about. Gosh, you’re ignorant for an editor.

Senator Forsyth’s Simple Service bill to make it simpler to get jobs for guys what do their bit on election day?.

The Courier congratulates Senator Forsyth on the enlightened support which his bill has evoked..

Camden Courier-Post * May 6, 1930

...continued...

Philip DePalo - Michael Brown - Samuel M. Shay - Samuel Ungaro
William C. Gottshalk - Ernest Steubing
Harry Metzer - Frank Binker - Edward Trotman
Ferry Avenue - Sylvan Street - South 5th Street - South 5th Street - Hale Street
Chestnut Street - Benson Street - Van Hook Street

Camden Courier-Post - December 1, 1930

629 Ferry Avenue

This was Mikey Brown's saloon and home address at the time of this incident

A. Dumont
Clifford A. Baldwin
Harry Ireton

Camden Courier-Post * February 1932

MIKEY BROWN TRIAL DELAYED TO FEB 14
Third Hearing on Election Charges Postponed by Heavy Calendar

The third trial of Mikey Brown on election violation charges, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed until February 14, It was announced Saturday by Prosecutor Clifford A. Baldwin.

The prosecutor stated that when he set Monday as date of trial, he did not know Judge Samuel M. Shay would conduct naturalization court on that day and would hear Orphans Court matters during the remainder of the week.

Criminal court sessions are usually begun on Monday, but Joseph Dillon, U. S. naturalization examiner, will interrogate 84 aliens before Judge Shay today. The jurist stated he has urgent Orphans Court matters which will require hearing on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week, so that the first available day for the Brown trial will be Tuesday of next week, as Monday will be the legal observation of Lincoln's birthday  anniversary. The Eighth Ward Republican leader has twice been acquitted by criminal court juries of charges growing out of the 1931 primary election. The remaining indictment charges that he interfered with and prevented a legal election from being held in the Second precinct of his ward in the general election on November 3, 1931. The indictment, returned by the grand jury on December 1, 1931, also contains a count against Brown of assault and battery  upon John F. McGuire, Democratic election officer. Prosecutor Baldwin stated he has two North Jersey attorneys who claim to have witnessed the alleged assault.

Baldwin announced that at the conclusion of the Brown case, he will immediately move for trial the murder indictment against Peter DeVito, alleged slayer of Justice of the Peace Giuseppe Pirella..

Camden Evening Courier * March 28, 1932

26 MEN AND 6 WOMEN ARE ARRESTED IN RAID

Lieutenant Herbert Anderson and patrolmen of the Fourth district, raided a house at 1812 Mulford Street early yesterday, held Hobart White, 27, colored, of that address, as the alleged proprietor, and 25 men and 6 women as material witnesses for hearing today.

White was released in $500 bail and the others in $100 bail, which was furnished by Mikey Brown and Jake Foos. 

Camden Evening Courier - June 2, 1933

GRAND JURY PROBES 8TH WARD STUFFING
Fifth District Box Had Too Many Ballots, Prosecutor Told

Another investigation into the mysteries of Eighth Ward elections was begun yesterday when the April grand jury probed ballot-box stuffing in the Fifth District at the May 16, primary.

Prosecutor Clifford A. Baldwin requested the investigation after he "couldn't make head nor tail" of the fact that 25 ballots remained in the box even after 232 Republican ballots the number of persons of that party recorded as voting had been counted.

Although unconfirmed, it was declared that all of the ballots were marked for Edmund A. Walsh, incumbent, who defeated Mikey Brown for election to the G. O. P. Committee.

It is understood the prosecutor pointed out that the ballots were in bundles of five or six, and apparently had not been cast singly.

Baldwin learned that the extra ballots were not counted by the election board, each member of which was called to the grand jury room yesterday afternoon. All expressed ignorance of how the ballots could have been placed in the box, it is understood.

When Baldwin was informed of the mystery he personally inspected the box, which has been impounded in the office of City Clerk Frank S. Albright.

"I couldn't make head nor tail of it, so I presented the case to the grand jury," Baldwin said. He refused to comment further.


Camden Evening Courier - June 3, 1933

Mikey Brown Says Jury Has Plenty To Probe In Eighth Ward Voting
PRINCIPAL FIGURE IN MANY BATTLES WELCOMES QUIZ
'Stuffing' of Ballots Reported in Fifth and First Precincts
RUMORS ARE CHECKED

"The prosecutor and the grand jury have plenty to investigate in this ward concerning the last primary election."

Mikey Brown, central figure in many Eighth Ward election squabbles and thrice accused in election irregularities, had that to say yesterday when informed that Prosecutor Clifford A. Baldwin and the April grand jury is investigating al­leged ballot box stuffing in the ward at the last primary, May 16.

Disclosure of ballot box stuffing in the Fifth precinct of the ward, which the prosecutor said he asked the grand jury investigate was followed by reports yesterday that similar irregularities prevailed in the First precinct at the primary, and possibly in other districts.

Reports Checked

In extending his probe of ward political conditions, Baldwin said he is checking reports that a Brown challenger at the May election had refused to let the First precinct election board count what he declared were "stuffed ballots."

The challenger is reported at close of the polling place to have said as he lifted a ballot box for the election board and spectators to see:

"There are ballots in this box that don't belong there. They cannot be counted. I won't permit it. And remember, Mikey Brown didn't stuff this box today, as he had been accused falsely of doing at previous elections. Mikey wasn't in this polling place, so you can't blame him,"

Brown had been three times in Camden County Criminal Court for ballot box stuffing and other alleged election irregularities. He was exonerated twice, and there was a disagreement in the jury in the third case. At the May primary, he opposed Edmund A. Walsh in a contest for Republican county committeeman from the Eighth ward, but was defeated. Walsh was re-elected.

Asked what he knew about the latest Eighth ward situation, Brown said:

"All I can say is that the prosecutor and the grand jury will have plenty to investigate pertaining to the May 16 primary in the ward."

Box Not Impounded

The first precinct ballot box has not been impounded by City Clerk Frank S. Albright, as was the case of the box of the fifth precinct. Baldwin said he was checking rumors one of the first precinct boxes contained about 50 or 60 stuffed ballots. Baldwin said that if the situation be found by him to be as reported, he will request the grand jury to summon witnesses.

Baldwin said he also is checking reports that the names of dead persons were "voted" at the ward primary. 

Camden Courier-Post * February 5, 1936

MIKEY BROWN IN COURT ON BUSINESS CONFLICT

When Mikey Brown, former stormy petrel of Eighth ward politics, moved to Runnemede recently he thought his appearances in Camden courts were over. But it was not to be. 

Mike, who is engaged in the fertilizer business, appeared before Judge Joseph Varbalow in District Court yesterday on complaint of Ross J. Brown, of Mendenhall, Pa., near Villanova.

The Mendenhall Brown claims that on November 14, 1934, he paid the Runnemede Brown $712 for fertilizer. Mikey delivered $462 worth, and refused to deliver the rest, according to the complainant. Ross Brown demanded his $250 worth of fertilizer or the money back.

Mikey Brown, in a counter-claim, said Ross owes him $489 for fertilizer he delivered and for which he never was paid.

Judge Varbalow dismissed the counter-claim and gave Ross Brown a judgment for the $250.

The Browns, incidentally, are not related. 

Michael Brown is remembered by John Cianfrani

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