Columbus State University Archives and Special Collections

Brown-Gunnels Collection (MC 394)


Brown-Gunnels Collection (MC 394)


This collection spans two generations of the Brown and Gunnels family of Columbus, GA beginning with the marriage between John "Wright" Brown and Laura Elizabeth "Betsy" Gunnels in 1928. The bulk of the information relates to the following family members:

John "Wright" Brown was born in Louisville, Jefferson County, Georgia on June 27, 1897 to James Franklin Brown and Julia Hunter. He graduated from Louisville Academy and a received a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1920. He worked as an insurance agent and a movie theater manager before taking a position with the Woodruff Company, which he later became partner. Wright Brown passed away on September 30, 1964 in Columbus, Georgia. He was 67.

Laura Elizabeth "Betty" Gunnels was born in March 1900 in Georgia to Columbus Lee Gunnels and Mae Corrine McCarity. Columbus Lee dies in 1905 and mother Mae remarries to Robert Bailey . Betty married Wright Brown on December 22, 1928 and together settled in Columbus, Georgia to begin their family. She died in a car accident on March 2, 1956 while coming home from Macon, Georgia.

Robert "Bob" Lee Gunnels is the older brother of Betty Gunnels. He was born January 9, 1903 in Tignall, Wilkes County, Georgia . He married Jane Branson Fox on February 12, 1947. They had no children. Bob retired as Executive of International Operations for the Coca-Cola Company in 1966, a job which required extensive travel to destinations such as Berlin, South Africa, and London. Robert Lee Gunnels died on January 20, 1985 and is buried at Riverdale Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.

Barbara Hunter Brown was born on February 16, 1931 in Columbus, Georgia and is the oldest daughter of Wright and Betty Brown. She is a 1948 graduate of Columbus High School and a 1952 graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She married first, Elliott Spear Waddell, Junior in 1956 and together have two children, Wright Brown Waddell and Elliott Spear Waddell, III. Elliott Waddell, Jr. passed away in 1977 and she married William Marion Page in 1985. Barbara worked at the United Nations in New York and served in many society associations and groups and was a talented artists.


Materials include personal correspondence, family photographs, and other memorabilia associated with the Wright and Betty Brown, their two daughters, in-laws, and friends.

This collection is arranged in the following series:

1. John "Wright" Brown (1898-1964)
2. Elizabeth "Betty" Gunnels (1903-1985)
3. Robert Gunnels (1903-1985)
4. Barbara Gunnels Waddell Page (1931-2017)
5. Miscellaneous/Multiple Generations
6. Photographs and Negatives (1930-1945)

1900-2017 11 boxes (6 l.f.)

Access Rights

Permission to publish material from the Brown-Gunnels Family Collection must be obtained from the Columbus State University Archives at Columbus State University. Use of the following credit line for publication or exhibit is required:

Brown-Gunnels Family Collection (MC 394)
Columbus State University Archives
Columbus, Georgia

Collection Items

Photo of Grand Theatre outdoor lobby display, circ. 1924
A large photograph of the Grand Theatre's outdoor lobby display for the film "Why Men Leave Home" (1924). Photo has some water and adhesive damage. Likely photographed by J. Wright Brown then-manager of both the Rialto and Grand theatres.

"Brewster's Millions" Ad campaign money
A fake-US bill used in the ad campaign for the Paramount Pictures' feature "Brewster's Millions" (1921) starring "Fatty" Arbuckle. The reverse side is stamped with the location and time of the screening.

Letter from M. S. Hill to J. Wright Brown
Letter from Hill to Brown. Hand written portion reads "Should you come over, but please don't let me personally influence you---Monty"

Letter from the office of Harold B. Franklin (Paramount Pictures) to J. Wright Brown
Watermarked letter addressed to J. Wright Brown concerning his work as a theater manager
View all 8 items

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