Henry Richard Brown was born in Boston on Kendal Street in the South End on October 8, 1893 (some sources give the year as 1895). In 1900 the US Census shows that his family was then living at 136 Whitfield Street. His parents were Allin (or Allan) Brown, a janitor, and his wife Ellen, and they lived in a large household, including Allin’s sister Lizia, two boarders and four sons, of whom Richard was the youngest. Allin was 65 years old in 1900, and he does not appear in subsequent census records, so he may have passed away before 1910. Ellen did not have an occupation in 1900, but in the 1910 Census her occupation was entered as laundress.
By the time of Henry’s entry into the US Army, the family was living on the north side of Woodrow Street at number 21, just next to the railroad trestle near Norfolk Street. His draft registration card described him as short, of medium build with black eyes and black hair. He was working for Taylor Bros. in Dorchester as a laborer.
He entered the US Army on February 6, 1918, and joined the American Expeditionary Force on June 10th of that year. He was with the AEF until February 17, 1919, and was honorably discharged from Camp Devens in April, 1919.
When he returned home, he lived with his mother and brother, Thomas J. Brown, at 21 Woodrow Avenue. Henry became a clerk at the US Post Office in 1925 or 1926 and continued in that occupation. The last entry for his mother Ellen in the list of Boston residents was in 1935, when she was 85. The next year, Henry and Thomas continued living at 21 Woodrow in 1936.By 1937,Henry had moved to 133 Norfolk Street and was married to May (or Mae) Brown, who had been born in Jamaica. The last recording of them at this address is in the 1940 Census.
The 1940 census reports the couple as white, although Henry had been described in previous records as Colored, Negro, African or Black in records where race was mentioned.
Henry worked for the US Postal Service out of the Grove Hall Post Office. His registration card for World War II gave his home address as 28 Gaston Street, Roxbury.
The US Veterans Administration Master Index has the date of his death penciled in as April 28, 1967.
Boston Resident lists from 1922 to 1940
Massachusetts State Library, Photo Collection of World War I service members
Service Record card from National Guard Museum, Concord, MA
US Census 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 on FamilySearch.org
World War I draft registration card on Ancestry.com