She met Erhardt von Braun at some point in 1908, after he arrived in Hill Valley, California from his birthplace of Germany, and they later married. In 1914, she and Erhardt had a son they named Emmett. Around this time, Erhardt changed the family name to Brown due to rising anti-German sentiment in the United States during World War I.
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929 occurred, she developed a distrust of banks — and even safes — and kept her money in the house. In 1931, her husband considered her as stubborn as Emmett, while Emmett described her as "gentle and sweet and endlessly patient."
At some point prior to 1968, Judge Brown died, and she started seeing a new suitor, J. Carlton Ellsworth. Emmett feared that Carlton might be solely dating his mother for her money; thus, he took the money and buried it in the woods, leaving a map indicating where it was hidden on the back of a painting of his mother commissioned by his father.
Some time later, Emmett realized that he needn't be worried once he discovered that Carlton was from the wealthiest family on the western coast of the United States. Emmett needed money to finance his time machine experiments, however, and so he dug up the money himself, without telling his mother.
She and Carlton married and after his death in 1972, she moved back to Hill Valley. Emmett helped his mother move into her new house. By this point, he felt that she was overbearing, as when he met Professor Marcus Irving, who had claimed he was selling physics encyclopedias, Emmett said that it was always nice to have a new buffer between his mother and himself.
On June 24, 1972, Joey Baines was sent into her house by Biff Tannen and his gang. He was caught, and Mrs. Ellsworth told the police that $85,000 was stolen. George McFly, the husband of Joey's sister Lorraine, tried to convince Doc to not press charges. However, since Joey did steal the painting his father had commissioned of his mother, and because he didn't want to admit to his mother that he had spent the money himself, Doc declined and Joey was convicted. As he did not name any accomplices, he was incarcerated in Folsom Prison.
Since the thieves took the painting with the map, Doc buried his inertial buoyancy displacement convector instead as a trap to catch the accomplices should they ever use the map. When Joey was paroled in 1986, Biff sent Joey the painting with the map, together with a note inside that stated "together we can find the loot". Doc's trap worked as intended, lifting Biff up into the air when he unburied it.
Behind the scenes
- In the commentary to Back to the Future Part III, Bob Gale says (during the scene where Doc and Marty enter the Delgado Mine) "In case you're wondering what the "L" stands for in ELB...Lathrop. Doc's mom's maiden name."
- The 1988 draft script revealed that her family had lived in Hill Valley since at least the 1880s.
- It is speculated that her first name is Sarah, but it isn't verified even in the script.
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- "Hill Valley Brown-Out" (Doc, being confident in his disguise states that even his own mom wouldn't recognize him.)
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)