Bulah Tobey (spelling later changed to Beulah) was born in a small community, Jay, in upper New York State. Here family was described as poor and just before her 18th birthday she married Warren Brinton of Connecticut who was a skilled foundry man. His work took them to Vermont, Missouri and Michigan. Warren attained a position in a steel mill in Wyandotte, Michigan in 1862. The mill was actually owned by Beulah’s cousin Eber Ward Brock of Detroit who after the Civil War would purchase 114 acres on the south side of Milwaukee to build the first Bessemer steel process iron mill in the U.S. 27 acres were dedicated to construction of the mill and 77 acres were set aside for a workers community that Brock called “Bay View”.
As this was an English style mill Brock sought laborers with experience from England, Scotland and Wales to operate the new mill. These workers would form the early population of Bay View, Milwaukee’s first suburb with Warren Brinton and his wife moving to Milwaukee in 1870. It is reasonable to assume that Beulah’s relation to Brock has something to with the move. In the context of living in a community of new immigrants Beulah found her calling in reaching out to the community in arranging educational opportunities, developing a library, social center and providing social and emotional support. In many respects she could be characterized as a settlement worker in the tradition of Chicago’s Hull and others. She was also a published author of two books and prepared the local newspaper, Bay View Herald in the 1880s.
Beulah and Warren would build one of the early gothic style homes in Bay View at the corner of S. Superior and Pryor Avenues. This house remains as a signature location for Bay View, currently housing the Bay View Historical Society. An additional legacy is the Beulah Brinton Recreation Center, originally started by her in the early 1920s in an old fire station, but now housed in a modern facility as well as a park named for her adjacent to Russell Avenue in Bay View. Beulah Brinton is remembered for her willingness to reach out and share within her community and her organizing to support the social well-being of the new immigrant.
December 12, 1836 – March 18, 1928