"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

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Brown Family Notes--
The Site of Owen Brown's Pasadena Funeral, 1889

[Pasadena, Calif.] In 1888, the Methodists needed a larger hall and built what was called The Tabernacle, facing Marengo Avenue just south of the large Methodist Episcopal church at Marengo and Colorado.

The Tabernacle is pictured above during the funeral for Owen Brown, son of John Brown, on January 10, 1889.

The Tabernacle served as a sort of civic auditorium in addition to being for church events. It was a large wooden hall, with balconies, seating perhaps 2000.  In those days there was no amplification so large voices and good acoustics were needed.

Excerpted from Sid Gally, “Pasadena History: Songs at the Tabernacle,” Pasadena Star-News [Pasadena, Calif.], 17 July 2011

7 comments:

Deb said...

A little off-topic here I know, but I thought I'd seek a "biographers" POV on this NYT piece I just read: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/john-brown-marches-on/?ref=opinion&nl=opinion&emc=tya3

Thoughts?

Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. said...

Hi Deb--Thanks for writing. Yes, I read the NYT piece on "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." I thought it was a thoughtful effort, but it probably echoes what I've previously written about it in my books on Brown but especially on this blog. If I'm not mistaken, the piece about the enslaved people singing "John Brown's Body" in the fields is something I introduced from my research. As for the argument made about the song, I think my blog entry from last June (2010) provides a closer and more politically enunciated understanding. Feel free to check it out:

http://abolitionist-john-brown.blogspot.com/2010/06/essay-word-of-hour-from-john-brown-song.html

or search this blog under the title, "the word of the hour."

Perhaps you can let me know what you think ; )
Regards--LD

Deb said...

No problem, and thanks for the linked response. I appreciate the information you bring (You were very kind to Mrs. Howe I must say and - Thank the Lawd! - honest, about "The Great Emancipator."

I also agree, the abolitionists were in the business of framing and shaping - "The Message."

It's amazing to me that, trawling the internet, I've learned more about the Freedmen and abolitionists who built the HBCU from which I graduated in '78 - than I did when I was actually there (Amistad murals notwithstanding)!

What I think is, if Black children like me, all of us, had been able (and by that time, willing) to partake of TRUE history, rather than the "Lies My Teacher Told Me" - served up by the Oblate Sisters of Providence (an all-Black order), and overseen by Jesuit priests - in mid-1950s, SC - we'd have been different people long before I'd even gotten to college.

Anyway, it's crazy how my brain works. After reading the NYT piece, I couldn't get the song out of my head (54 y/o-old Black woman, three-generations-removed from slavery, in the Deep South - see where I'm going here?)! And why? Cuz when I was little, we used to sing it - ALL THE TIME!! Only it was different.

I don't know why, or from where, this version came, but here goes:

"John Brown's baby had a cold upon his chest,
John Brown's baby had a cold upon his chest,
John Brown's baby had a cold upon his chest,
and he rubbed it with the camphorated oil-l-l"


As my grandmother used to say - "Ain't what dey say, it's what dey do!"

That's what I knew about this white man when I was growing up (that, and all that, "Stars-n-Bars" kinda love white folk had for him in Charleston!)

I'm happy to have stumbled upon your site - it confirms what my grandmother always told me about separating the wheat from the chaff. Thx...

Deb said...

LD...apologize for the semi-long rant last night. It was just that your post at the link was at once, a welcome, yet unsettling piece of pedagogy. Welcome, because one never stops learning - and unsettling, because even HALF of the "more politically enunciated understanding" you provide here, in this space, would have made a huge difference to the lives of so many! Thx again...

Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. said...

Deb, no need to apologize for your "rant." It was interesting and I appreciate the feedback and sharing. Stay tuned. . . .

Carmyn Samuel said...

My 3 year old came home singing this song today. I had never heard it before but just by the tone it sounded "deep" so I looked it up. This is the website it brought me to. I'm am confusing they will be aiming this for our Spring Arts Festival. Any information and enlightenment is much appreciated. I read you short bio and it's very interesting.

Carmyn Samuel said...

My 3 year old came home singing this song today. I had never heard it before but just by the tone it sounded "deep" so I looked it up. This is the website it brought me to. I'm am confusing they will be aiming this for our Spring Arts Festival. Any information and enlightenment is much appreciated. I read you short bio and it's very interesting.