"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass

Search This Blog & Links


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Jefferson County Jail, West Virginia, Where John Brown Spent His Last Days

From his arrest his October 1859 until his execution on December 2 of the same year, John Brown the abolitionist was held prisoner in the jail at Charles Town, Virginia, now West Virginia. The original jail, pictured in this undated, colorized image, was also residence of the jailer John Avis and family. Brown and his surviving men from the Harper's Ferry raid were all incarcerated here until their executions, the last of which took place in March 1860.

Recently photographer J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia, has visited and photographed the Charles Town Post Office, which now stands on the site of the old jail in town. Several of his photos are posted on the Historical Markers Datebase (see link below), two of which are posted here showing the post office as the original site where Brown was held prisoner by the State of Virginia.

The inscription reads:

"On the site of this Post Office stood the Jefferson County Jail where John Brown and his fellow prisoners were confined after their raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859. After court trial John Brown was taken from the Jail here to his death on the gallows December the Second in the year 1859. From the Post Office in Charles Town, West Virginia, was started the first Rural Free Delivery service in the United States, under Postmaster-General Wm. L. Wilson, October the First, 1896. Erected 1932 by the Jefferson County Historical Society of West Virginia."

According to the Historical Marker Database, the location is 39° 17′ 19.5″ N, 77° 51′ 36.18″ W., at the intersection of South George Street (West Virginia Route 115) and Washington Street (West Virginia Route 51), post office area Charles Town WV 25414, United States of America.


PassMeTheRock said...

Mr. DeCaro,

I'm spending many of my hours doing the work you've clearly been doing for many years on JB. I have a project in mind that a correspondence with you could really help with. I realize that you are a busy man, but had hopes with this message to find access to a private channel of communication, email maybe? As I know this is not the first of such requests, I will understand if you don't divulge. I have to ask because it's clear with your body of work that we share some of the same passion on the subject of JB, albeit that yours is a lot more developed than mine. As well as that request, I was wondering if you have any sources you would recommend that reflect a pro-slavey stance on the subject as it seems (thank God) that most of the ones I've come across are more down the vein of acknowledging the martyr. Granted, I haven't been playing Splinter Cell and fighting the JBA, but it seems I'm having a hard time finding the erudite position from the Border Ruffians. All crazy enclaves seem to have some smart guy they've convinced to write their stance into posterity. Thank you for your time and work.


Jeremy Maness

Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. said...


I would be happy to communicate with you. Contact me through my seminary email, Louis.DeCaro@nyack.edu.