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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

David and Agnes Brown

Agnes Brown

Agnes Brown, originally from Amber Valley, Alberta, is the granddaughter of one of the more known Black Pioneers, Jefferson Davis Edwards. Although retired for some time, she and her mother and sisters, known collectively as the Sneed Family Singers, were performing gospel music professionally across Alberta. Her nephew, Quenten Brown, beginning at the age of 11, performed with them as pianist; he is currently pianist/organist/tenor with the Black Pioneer Heritage Singers.

Mrs. Brown is featured as a guest soloist on the Black Pioneer Heritage Singers' CD of orginal Amber Valley gospel.

Baseball Games
Agnes Brown discusses the joy synonymous with baseball games and church picnics: the opportunity to enjoy homemade ice cream, socialize, and visit with others one has not seen in some time.
(Running Time: 0:42)

Big Momma and Big Poppa
Agnes Brown shares her recollections of her grandparents Mattie and Jefferson Edwards, to whom she refers as Big Momma and Big Poppa.
(Running Time: 1:11)

Church Choir
Agnes Brown discusses her involvement with the church and with various church choirs in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Her involvement with a travelling choir culminated in a trip to Compton, California.
(Running Time: 3:37)

Family Band
Agnes Brown discusses her love of music and shares her reminiscences of old LP records on the family gramophone, talent shows, and singing with her sisters and mother and, later, with her son and nephew. She also shares her love of the banjo, Negro spirituals, and gospel music.
(Running Time: 3:03)

Hobbies and Cooking
Agnes Brown discusses her love of music, cooking, and entertaining.
(Running Time: 0:24)

After graduating from high school, Agnes Brown moved to Edmonton and washed dishes in a restaurant, washed cars in a car wash, and held miscellaneous other jobs before finding a good job.
(Running Time: 0:37)

Meeting her Husband
Agnes Brown remembers meeting her husband David at a cousin's wedding.
(Running Time: 0:58)

Overcoming Discrimination
Agnes Brown remembers how morality and integrity were impressed upon her and how her family overcame discrimination.
(Running Time: 1:30)

Pioneer Parents
Agnes Brown discusses growing up in Amber Valley.
(Running Time: 1:01)

Agnes Brown attended Grades 1 to 6 in Amber Valley, Grades 6 to 9 in Calgary, and high school in Amber Valley, eventually graduating from high school in Grassland.
(Running Time: 0:43)

Struggles of the Previous Generations
Agnes Brown discusses her grandparents' settling in Alberta at the turn of the 20th century and some of the hardships faced by Black pioneer settlers. Their strong sense of community and togetherness was instilled in, and helped strengthen, future generations.
(Running Time: 3:01)

Teachers' Retirement Fund
Agnes Brown describes her work at Griesbach Barracks prior to applying to the Alberta Teachers' Retirement Fund.
(Running Time: 1:55)

David Brown

David A. Brown, husband of Agnes Brown, grew up and went to school in Amber Valley and helped his father James B. Brown farm their homestead. David has an intense passion for baseball, no doubt having watched his father play ball as an original member on the Amber Valley Baseball Team. David was, and is, an active spiritual and family man, devoted to his children and grandchildren, and he continues to support his wife Agnes in her music ministry.

David Brown, a sports fanatic whose father played on the Amber Valley Baseball Team, describes playing slo-pitch in the church league until 2007.
(Running Time: 1:04)

Driving the Family Band
David Brown describes driving the family band into various provinces. These trips typically took place on long weekends and would require that the family often drive late into the night, but, as David and Agnes explain, bringing joy to others through music made it all worthwhile.
(Running Time: 3:00)

Family Farm
David Brown describes his love of country living and farm life. He also recounts how, after his father's passing in 1994, he and his siblings decided to sell the family farm.
(Running Time: 1:00)

Family Heritage
David Brown's paternal grandparents were Oklahoma Blacks Pete and Viola Brown. His maternal grandmother was Momma [Anna] Bowen.
(Running Time: 1:10)

Growing up on the Farm
David Brown talks about his brother and three sisters, the oldest of whom died of rheumatic fever when David was six or seven years old. Each had his or her chores to do (e.g. fetching water and firewood, feeding the stock, helping with the harvest).
(Running Time: 1:24)

Horse and Sleigh
David Brown describes how, during the winter, the horse and sleigh were the primary mode of transportation. Other farmers at the time had cabooses, some of which were equipped with wood stoves, but David's family did not and relied on blankets and straw for warmth.
(Running Time: 2:49)

Meeting his Wife
David Brown describes knowing Agnes but delaying in pursuing her until they were both mature enough to make decisions about their future together. It was not until he was 16 that he decided to court Agnes.
(Running Time: 0:58)

SAIT — Highways and Transportation
David Brown attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary to take a diesel mechanical course prior to embarking on a 35-year career as a heavy duty mechanic with the Government of Alberta's Highways and Transportation.
(Running Time: 0:41)

School Days
Born in Amber Valley, a small farming community, David Brown remembers having to walk three and a half miles to the local school. During the winter, he and other schoolchildren travelled to school by horse and sleigh. He later attended high school in Athabasca and, like many young men at that time, stayed in the boys' hostel there.
(Running Time: 2:22)

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