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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane was grieving over the suicide of “Doc” Brown, a prominent pioneer gambling figure.

Brown had been the proprietor of the Owl, one of Spokane’s biggest gambling houses. After open gambling was banned in Spokane in 1904, Brown went on to operate gambling halls in Oregon, Nevada and California, winning and losing several fortunes in the meantime.

He became despondent over setbacks in California and shot himself in the head in an Oakland, Calif., city park.

Brown was regarded with an astonishing amount of respect in Spokane. The city’s street inspector said he was “one of the most honorable men who ever lived in Spokane.”

A Spokane police detective said Brown “gave more money to charity without making any fuss over it than any man in Spokane.”

Yet it was money that finally drove him to despair. Authorities found on his body hundreds of dollars in pawn receipts. They also found two letters “pathetic in the extreme,” addressed to his beloved wife.

Doc Brown’s body was being brought back to Spokane, where plans were being made to bury him “under the auspices of the local Elks, all of whom were proud to number Doc Brown as a friend.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1775: Paul Revere began his ride from Charlestown to Lexington, Mass., warning that the British were coming. … 1906: A devastating earthquake struck San Francisco, followed by raging fires.