Clara Brown was born a slave in Virginia in 1800. At 9, she & her mother were sold into Kentucky. By 18, she married & then gave birth to 4 children. At 35, she was sold at auction & separated from her husband & children. Freed by her 3rd owner in 1859, she traveled to Denver by working as a cook on a wagon train in exchange for her transportation. Brown is said to be the first black woman to cross the plains during the Gold Rush.
In Central City, Colorado, she set up shop as a laundress, worked hard, & saved money. After Emancipation, she returned to Kentucky to search for her lost children in 1866 with no luck. On this trip, she helped ex-slaves relocate to Colorado & later took in needy ex-slaves. In 1879, when she was nearly 80, she traveled to Kansas to help poor freedmen "exodusters" relocated on Kansas farms from the South. In 1882, she finally found her daugher Eliza Jane, who had been sold into slavery as a girl & helped her relocate to Iowa with her grandaughter Cindy. She died in 1885.