“‘His soul is marching on,’ like they say in the song.”
That’s Donna Coburn who, along with her husband, Gary, owns the Crawford County farm where abolitionist hero John Brown once lived and worked.
She’s quoting the old battle hymn, “John Brown’s Body.” And while the tune has the contentious historical figure “a-moldering in his grave,” the ideals that Brown fought and died for, and the era that witnessed it, will once again come to life during the John Brown Spirit of Freedom Weekend.
The event is Saturday and Sunday at the John Brown Farm and Museum on Route 77 in New Richmond, beginning around 10 a.m. both days and running until sundown on Saturday and approximately 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The John Brown Museum [left], a delightful alcove of memory and history presented by Donna and Gary Coburn [right]. Photos by L. DeCaro Jr., Nov. 2003.
“It’s a celebration of his life and his spirit,” said Coburn. “Actually, (Brown’s) great-great-granddaughter, Eleanor Blangstead, named it. She lives in California and I got to fly out and meet her in 2002 and she came up with the name.”
Coburn and her husband have been hosting an annual event in Brown’s honor since 2001. It was formerly called the John Brown Picnic, but they recently gave it a new title.
“People thought they had to bring food,” Coburn said. “So we called it the Spirit of Freedom Weekend.”
New Richmond Methodist Church will once again be selling food at the event — so, no need to bring the picnic baskets.
The event will also feature the 150th Bucktails Regiment, the Civil War re-enactors named in honor of the actual Pennsylvania regiment that fought in the war. They’ll be setting up camp and running drills all weekend long at the farm.
The 150th will be joined by Cushing’s/Taylor’s Battery, an artillery unit out of Union City that will bring down their cannon, adding a little thunder to the event.
Meanwhile, the women of the 150th will get those in attendance into the spirit of the 1860s .
“The guys will be doing drills throughout the days,” said 150th member Penny Dallas. “But we’ll be doing different stuff in camp; a fashion show, music, a church service on Sunday morning. We’ll dress somebody up, show people all the different layers. Do toys and games with the kids, and the adults too.”
Live music will also be on the itinerary.