Five Famous Locals Who Were Veterans

Published : Thursday, November 9, 2017 | 9:27 PM

L-R: Owen Brown, Henry Harrison Markham, General George S. Patton Jr., Edwin Hubble, Paul Fussell, Jr.

As America celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, Pasadena remembers five local residents who served in some of America’s greatest conflicts.

Owen Brown (1824-1889)

Owen Brown was the third son of the abolitionist and notorious anti-slavery activist John Brown. Born in Hudson, Ohio, Owen Brown fought with his father and participated in the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, escaping capture. A few years earlier, he also served under his father’s command in Kansas as a guerrilla warrior during a bloody period of slavery-related unrest. He is believed to have taken part in the massacre of five unarmed pro-slavery militiamen there, acting on his father’s orders.

Brown went on to serve as an officer in the Union Army in the American Civil War.

After the war, he followed his sister to Pasadena, where locals looked up to him as a hero and the last surviving participant in the Harper’s Ferry raid, which is widely considered to be the first “shot fired” in the Civil War.

He died in 1889 in Pasadena. A decade later, he was buried in a funeral ceremony attended by thousands and a headstone was placed at Brown’s gravesite which read: “Owen Brown, Son of John Brown, the Liberator, died Jan. 9, 1889.”

His story doesn’t end there, however.

The marker mysteriously disappeared in 2002, along with the concrete base and surrounding rail fencing, after the property on which it was located was sold.

Another decade passed before the missing headstone was found a few hundred feet from the gravesite.

A replica stone has been placed in a park on Altadena Drive near Lake Avenue. The original is now in a secure location, unknown to the general public.

Henry Harrison Markham (1840-1923)

Henry Harrison Markham was a Republican U.S. Representative from California from 1885 to 1887.

During the Civil War, Markham enlisted as a private in Company G, 32nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment; he was later promoted to second lieutenant and was part of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864. He was wounded at the battle of Whippy Swamp in 1865 and discharged.

After the war, Markham settled in Milwaukee, where he studied law and passed the bar in 1867. He practiced law in the state and federal courts of Wisconsin and moved with his family to Pasadena in 1879. Markham was on the school board and was one of the founders of the Pasadena Public Library. He was also part of the Calico Union Mining Company.

Markham declined a run for reelection to Congress in 1886 but later ran a successful campaign to become the 18th governor of California. He served from 1891 until 1895.

During his run for governor he was referred to as “the dashing colonel from Pasadena.” He died in his adopted hometown and is interred in Mountain View Cemetery in nearby Altadena.

General George S. Patton Jr. (1885-1945)

As portrayed by George C. Scott in the 1970 movie “Patton”), General George S. Patton Jr. is remembered on account of his dashing and aggressive leadership in World War II, which saved countless lives and helped to shorten the duration of the war in Europe.

Patton was born in 1885 to a wealthy California family and was educated at Dr. Stephen Cotter Clark’s Classical School for Boys in Pasadena, and later went on to Pasadena High School. His family’s residence was in San Marino.

From an early age, Patton wished to pursue a military career. He enrolled in the military academy at Virginia, before graduating from West Point in 1909. After graduation, he was given a commission in the 15th Cavalry Regiment. (He even found time to compete in Paris Olympics in the modern pentathlon in 1912!)

He reached the high point of his military career during World War II when he led the U.S. 7th Army in its invasion of Sicily, then swept across northern France at the head of the 3rd Army in the summer of 1944. Later in the year, his forces played a crucial role in defeating the German counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge, after which he led them across the Rhine River and into Germany, capturing 10,000 miles of territory and liberating the country from the Nazi regime.

Patton died in Germany in December, 1945 of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Patton’s father, George Smith Patton, is said to have been appointed the first City Attorney of Pasadena and he served as the Los Angeles County District Attorney from 1886 to 1887.

Edwin Hubble (1889-1953)

American astronomer and father of Hubble telescope joined the military after the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. He rushed to complete his Ph.D. dissertation so he could do so.

Hubble volunteered for the U.S. Army and was assigned to the newly created 86th Division, where he served in the 2nd Battalion, 343 Infantry Regiment. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and was found fit for overseas duty on July 9, 1918, but the 86th Division never saw combat.

After World War I, Hubble spent a year in Cambridge, where he renewed his studies of astronomy. He was offered a staff position at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Mount Wilson Observatory, near Pasadena. He remained on staff at Mount Wilson until his death in 1953. Shortly before his death, Hubble became the first astronomer to use the newly completed giant 200-inch reflector Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.

Paul Fussell, Jr. (1924-2012)

Paul Fussell, Jr. was a cultural and literary historian, author and university professor, born and raised in Pasadena. Fussell’s writings cover a variety of topics, from scholarly works on 18th-century English literature to commentary on America’s class system.

In 1941, Fussell attended Pomona College until he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army in 1943.

During World War II, Fussell served in the 103rd Infantry Division and was wounded in action in France. Upon his return to the U.S., Fussell wrote extensively and held several faculty positions, most prominently at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Fussell is best known for his writings about World War I and II which explore what he felt was the gap between the romantic myth and reality of war — he made a “career out of refusing to disguise it (war) or elevate it,” according to an Economist article written after he died in May, 2012.