“He was born Sept. 22, 1919, into deep poverty on the Narragansett Ashaway Reservation in Rhode Island to Byron and Grace (Babcock) Brown. He grew up in a shack. A sportswriter called him ‘a penniless redskin.’ It was said he didn’t show bitterness about the prejudice toward him, though he wasn’t oblivious to it. He once said he had to go to the barber in New London, Conn., because the barber in Westerly, R.I., wouldn’t cut his hair.
Ellison Brown was his American given name, but he was known as Deerfoot by his tribe. He was intensely proud of his Narragansett roots and married a Narragansett woman named Ethel Wilcox.
Tarzan Brown seemed to run whenever he felt like it. He loved the outdoors and would disappear into the woods, living off the land for a week at a time.
One reason he ran was that he hoped to win the attention of an employer. He worked as a stonemason and a shell fisherman, but sometimes had to sell his trophies and medals to feed his wife and four children.”
-New England Historical Society