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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rich Smyth's Where Are They Now? BEGINNINGS

Owen Brown, father
of John Brown
It seems as if John Brown was born fighting the evils of slavery. His father, Owen, believed that slavery was sinful. Owen worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and withdrew his support from Western Reserve College in Ohio because it refused to admit blacks. Owen once wrote, “Ever since, I have been an Abolitionist; I am so near the end of my life I think I shall die an Abolitionist.”1 

The son, inheriting his father’s traits was color blind, not physically but deep in his soul. He truly believed that all men were created equal, as directed by a higher authority than the United States Constitution which was less than truthful on the subject. That document, formulated by the countries founding fathers, many of which were slave owners, projected slaves as property with no rights whatsoever and as human beings…less than whole.2 

"I Consecrate My Life": Brown made
this daguerreotype image a decade
after making his Hudson vow
The issue of slavery began tearing at the fabric of the country from its humble beginnings. On November 7, 1837, a pro-slavery mob stormed a warehouse containing the printing press of Abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy. Confronting the armed crowd, Lovejoy was hit five times with slugs fired from a shotgun. The printing press was tossed out the window, then broken up and the pieces thrown in the Mississippi River. Abolitionists deplored the murder and called for action.3  

Laurens P. Hickok, a professor of theology at Western Reserve College spoke about the murder at the Hudson, Ohio’s Congregational Church stating, “The crisis has come.” John Brown quietly sitting in the church rose and raising his right hand pledged, “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery.”4  Like Father, like son. 

Elijah Lovejoy
His realization early on that the “peculiar institution” could not be ended peacefully with words, shaped his life. Brown would spend his whole adult life fighting slavery, first in Kansas where he fought pro-slavery forces Then in Missouri where he rescued slaves from their masters by gunpoint, escorting them north to freedom. And finally…the reckoning in Virginia.


Elijah Parish Lovejoy died on November 7, 1837 and is buried in Alton Cemetery in Alton, Illinois. The stone in front of his grave marker reads…”whose death at the hands of an angry mob…made him an enduring symbol of the fight for human liberty and freedom of the press.”5 
Lovejoy's resting place,
Alton Cemetery, Alton, Ill.
(courtesy Connie Nisinger)
Initially on November 9, 1837, Lovejoy was buried in an unmarked grave in the Alton City Cemetery. William “Scotch” Johnson, a Black man who assisted in the burial would be instrumental in locating the grave years later for reburial of the remains.  Decades had passed when his body was exhumed and reinterred in its present site in the Alton Cemetery, with the monument being dedicated on November 7, 1897, exactly sixty years after his murder.
Lovejoy's resting place, Alton, Ill.
(courtesy Connie Nisinger)
In 1835, Elijah married Celia Ann French, and they had two children; Edward Payton (1836-1891) and Ella F. Lovejoy Burrill (1854-1937). On March 19, 1835, Elijah wrote his mother describing Celia as “tall, well shaped, of a light, fair complexion, dark flaxen hair, large blue eyes, with features of a perfect Grecian contour. In short …very beautiful…pious…intelligent, refined…of agreeable manners…sweet-tempered, obliging, kind-hearted, industrious, good-humored, and possessed alike of a sound judgment and correct taste (and)…she loves me…”Celia died on July 11th 1870 in Weaverville, California. There is a cenotaph for her in Alton Cemetery. The exact location of her burial is not known. Alton cemetery is located at 600 Pearl Street, Alton, Illinois.


Hickok's resting place, Center 
Cemetery, Bethel, Conn. 
(Courtesy Gary Boughton

Find A Grave Contributor 

Laurens Perseus Hickok was the pastor that informed the congregation, including John Brown, of Lovejoy’s murder. Laurens was married to Elizabeth H. Taylor Hickcok (1805-1895). In 1866, he became president of Union College. Two years later he retired to Amherst, Massachusetts where he continued to study and write. A collection of his works was published in Boston in 1875. Hickok died on May 6, 1888 and was buried in Center Cemetery, Bethel, Connecticut.6  Elizabeth died on January 13, 1895 and was buried with her husband. Center Cemetery is located on South Street in Bethel, Connecticut.

Dr. Thomas Mordecai Hope (August 8th 1813 - October 15th 1885) claimed he was the one that murdered Elijah Lovejoy. In 1835, he married Elizabeth Pope, daughter of U.S. District Judge, Nathaniel Pope. In 1842 he was appointed U.S District Marshall. He ran for Governor of Illinois but was defeated. He was seventy-two-years-old when he died in Alton, Illinois. He is buried in Alton Cemetery (the same cemetery as Lovejoy), Alton, Illinois, block OY lot 296.

--Rich Smyth


      1 Quoted from Owen Brown’s 1850 autobiographical sketch in F. B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown (1885; reprinted New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969), 11.

      2 The Three-Fifths Compromise, is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution, which reads:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
      3 “Elijah Parish Lovejoy Was Killed by a Pro-slavery Mob," The Saint Louis Observer, The Library of Congress; John Brown’s father, Owen opened a tannery in Hudson, Ohio. His apprentice was Jesse R. Grant, father of future general and U.S. President, Ulysses S. Grant.

      4 John Brown’s quote from David S. Reynolds, John Brown, Abolitionist (New York: Knopf, 2005), 65; The following quotation is taken from Edward Brown, “Pioneer Days of the Western Reserve," Northwestern Congregationalist [Minneapolis] (Oct. 21, 1892)
Among the earliest of the pioneers at Hudson, O., was Owen Brown, my father's brother, in after years a trustee, of Oberlin College. His eldest son, John, a very bright and energetic young man, making a religious profession at sixteen years of age, was desirous of studying for the ministry, incited thereto chiefly by that ardent founder of the American Board, Samuel J. Mills, a kinsman. Unable to furnish him money, his father gave him two horses, which he took, riding one and leading the other, to Connecticut and sold. Then he went to Plainfleld, Mass., where, at an academy and under the private instruction of one Moses Hallock, he was fitted to enter the junior class of Yale College, which he was prevented from doing by a chronic disease of the eyes. . . . With his father he was among the earliest of Abolitionists. He had been a surveyor in the mountains near Harper's Ferry, Virginia and had often remarked that, with a good leader, the slaves, escaping to those fastnesses and fortifying themselves, could compel emancipation.
      5 "Shooter Arrested," The Utica Morning Herald [N.Y.], Sept. 22, 1862. "Dr. Thomas Mordecai Hope, of Alton, Illinois, who boasts that he was the man who shot the anti-slavery martyr, Lovejoy, was arrested a few weeks since for using treasonable language."

      6 Ancestry.com gives the date of Hickok's death as May 7, 1888.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A John Brown Ambrotype Goes to Auction


Ninth Plate Ambrotype of Abolitionist John Brown on Cowan's Auction

October 30-31, 2018
Period copy of the famous 1857 half plate daguerreotype taken by Whipple and Black in Boston and curated at the Boston Athenaeum. Housed in full pressed paper case.
Image has some tarnish and discoloration present around edge where mat meets image, along with some spotting to upper portion of image. Case with heavy wear to spine and moderate wear to edges.

For more information or to bid, visit Cowan's here

Monday, October 22, 2018

John Brown and Jerome Savonarola

Brown in jail
Savonarola's study
          It is noteworthy that the fiery Italian monk, Girolamo Savonarola—in many respects a controversial figure in European church history, not only has had the benefit of many different biographies and studies, but also the focus of the late Donald Weinstein, an eminent scholar who wrote his first biography of the monk in 1970.  After years of studying Savonarola and the religious, social, and political context of Renaissance Italy, Weinstein not only produced other books relating to his favorite subject, but another biography of Savonarola in 2011.  During the forty years between his first and second biographical studies, Weinstein undoubtedly perceived issues of depth and dimension that do not readily come from a first book’s labor—no matter how skilled and insightful the writer may be. 
Girolamo Savonarola

            Weinstein notes how Savonarola represents the medieval period but transitioned to the Renaissance, and was both “embraced and exalted” by the latter. He observed that in the span of his studies, he gradually “arrived at a new understanding of Fra Girolamo and his reception. "In so doing I had to discard the conventional labels that distort him and also to reject the practice of freezing history into such hard and fast designations as ‘Middle Ages’ and ‘Renaissance.’” After studying Savonarola for forty years, Weinstein concluded that the monk had been limited by “historical labels” and “the limitation of moral judgments—such as ‘saint,’ ‘fanatic,’ ‘charlatan,’ and ‘demagogue’—in explaining the behavior and ideas of charismatic figures.”  He also came to appreciate “the complex psychological, social, political and ideological reasons behind peoples’ belief in and rejection of their heroes and leaders."*
Execution of Savonarola by
Stefano Ussi (late 19th C.)
      This is an extremely helpful insight for the John Brown student too.  First, one cannot help but recognize the benefits of a life-long scholarship for any subject.  Brown has suffered from too many one-time biographies and studies--I call them "drive-by" efforts--by writers, whether academic or journalistic.  Some are notable works—some notably good, others notably bad, but they are often the only work the writer does on Brown before moving on to another topic. In the 19th century, only Franklin B. Sanborn devoted decades of reflection and writing on Brown, although his work is often diminished—and sometimes unnecessarily so—by scholars as having been partisan to the point of adoration.  Boyd B. Stutler, a life-long researcher and authority on John Brown, never produced his much-needed biography (or at least, the manuscript never made it to press).  Richard O. Boyer sadly died before he could write the second volume of his planned two-volume study of the abolitionist.  

Execution of John Brown
      I recently saw a video where it was remarked that there a profuse amount of scholarship on John Brown.  This is hardly the case in comparison to Abraham Lincoln or the military history of the Civil War.  Given his antebellum profile, Brown is not a minor historical figure and actually he merits far more--and far better--scholarship.  Consider how many thousands of books have been written about Lincoln. Despite Lincoln's importance, one might almost suggest that there is too much writing about him; but the same cannot be said about Brown.  What Lincoln has enjoyed, and what Brown deserves, is an extended, in depth, and well-developed biographical focus by scholars.  

            With exceptions here and there, many writers on the John Brown them traditionally privileged the same old sources and anecdotes without exploring (to borrow from Weinstein’s model) how Brown represents the colonial and post-colonial era, and yet has been both “embraced and exalted” by the modern era—not to mention, scorned and attacked too. And, if Savonarola has been victimized by “historical labels,” John Brown has more so been saddled with everything from “saint” and “fanatic” to “mad man” and “terrorist.”  None of these labels can accurately Brown’s life and actions, especially those that demean his sanity and criminalize him. Certainly, too, an extended and reflective study of John Brown necessarily entails coming to terms with “the complex psychological, social, political and ideological reasons” underlying people’s often strong response to Brown, either for him or against him.--LD

       *See “Donald Weinstein—On his book, Savonarola: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Prophet. Cover Interview of February 29, 2012,” Rorotoko (New York). Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/2q4ThZd.

A John Brown-Savonarola Parallel from The Topeka Daily Capital, 23 June 1882, p. 3

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Rich Smyth's Where Are They Now? RICHARD REALF


Every month John Brown the Abolitionist Blog will be featuring an installment of Rich Smyth's "Where Are They Now?"  Thanks go to Rich for sharing from his extensive quest and study of the final resting places of John Brown's associates and contemporaries.--LD

Richard Realf was a poet journalist and correspondent for several eastern newspapers who helped plan the raid on Harper's Ferry. His life consisted of adventure, vagrancy, idealism and romance. An Abolitionist, above all he was a romantic. Realf: June 14th 1832 - Oct. 28th 1878.
Some of John Brown’s contemporaries and even today’s historians label Realf a traitor to the Abolitionist cause. After Brown’s execution Realf was arrested and testified before the Senate Committee Investigating the Attack at Harper's Ferry, which resulted in what would become known as the Mason Report. Realf named names and in a private letter was critical of Brown.1
Richard Realf (Library of Congress)
Growing up in England as a young child protégée in poetry, he was introduced into upper class English society. In 1853 Lady Byron, wife of George Gordon (Lord) Byron assisted Richard in obtaining training in estate management by having him apprentice on one of her land holdings in Leichestershire.2 
Lady Byron’s nephew was the current steward of the property and Richard lived with the family.  Caroline Noel a young blue-eyed, blond had come to live with her uncle, the current steward, after both her parents succumbed to diphtheria.3
Soon, Richard (21 years old) and Caroline (14 years old) were meeting in the library at night. They held hands, kissed and exchanged locks of hair, his dark, hers – honey blond.4 

One day on the way back from a local fair, the two stopped in the forest and it was from that encounter that Caroline became pregnant.5
Regardless of protests that he loved her and wished to marry her, he was forced to leave the estate and not return.
Though he would never forget his first love, he left Europe dejectedly, for the United States.
Arriving in New York, he worked as a missionary in a lower Manhattan Bowery slum before joining a party of free-state emigrants to Kansas, where he became a journalist and correspondent for several eastern newspapers.
It was in Kansas that Richard met John Brown accompanying him to Canada where he was to be secretary of state in Brown’s provisional government.

When John Brown launched his raid on Harpers Ferry in October, 1859, Realf was in Texas.  He was arrested as an accomplice and sent to Washington, D.C., where he testified before the committee investigating the raid.
During the Civil War (1862) he enlisted in the 88th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. On June 10th 1865 he married Sophia Emily Graves whom he met in Indiana. While he was away they communicated frequently and appeared to be very much in love. But, during the course of his travels, he met a belle of Washington society and was smitten. When the war ended, he moved to the capitol where he was also commissioned in a colored regiment until mustering out in 1866. He never saw Sophia again. 6
Sophia died in October 1882 at the age of 52 in Merriville, Indiana. 7

On October 26th 1867 he married Catherin (or Catherine) Cassidy of Rochester, New York. Realf later claimed to have been intoxicated during the ceremony to Catherin. This marriage was a nightmare for Realf and he filed for divorce. One writer, who did not have nice things to say about the wife, classified Catherin as a prostitute. 8
Winsor House (1892) which was located on
the SW corner of 9th and Washington Streets
(Oakland Public Library, Oakland History
Room and Maps Division
In 1868 he established a school for freedmen in South Carolina.

His third marriage (between 1871-1875) was a common law marriage to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Whappen (AKA Eliza Wapham “1846-1926”) who bore him four children. Only later did he learn that his divorce from Catherin did not go through and he was still legally married to her. A bit crazed and knowing Catherin would cause him and his family trouble, he fled to San Francisco and rented a room with a family named Meade on Mission Street while working at the U.S. mint. He hoped to bring Lizzie and the children west and escape the reaches of his second wife. 9

It is interesting to note that a few years after Richard’s death both Sarah Brown (daughter of John Brown) and her mother Mary obtained positions at the same mint.10 
One night upon returning to his room, he found Catherin Cassidy there. He immediately fled finding accommodations at the Winsor House in Oakland, California. He spent his last money for a bottle of laudanum and drank it in his room. Waiting for the poison to have its effect, he wrote a final poem on scraps of paper. The last lines (see below) were blurred by the poison which had numbed his hand. 
And all His arching skies were in eclipse.
He was a-weary, but he fought his fight
     And stood for simple manhood; and was joyed
To see the august broadening of the light.
     And new earths heaving heav'nward from the void.
He loved his fellows, and their love was sweet—
     Plant daisies at his head and at his feet.

The poison worked as intended and Realf died on October 28th 1878. Along with the poem was a letter to his friend Richard Josiah Hinton (Abolitionist and John Brown biographer) in which he issued the following request concerning Catherin Cassidy:
"On no account is the person calling herself my wife to be permitted to approach my remains. I should quiver with horror, even in my death, at her touch………I have had heavy burdens to bear, such as have sent stronger men than I reeling into hell. I have tried to bear them like a man, but can endure no more." 
He also wrote out his last will and testament:

Oakland, Cal. Oct. 28, 1878
“I, Richard Realf, poet, orator, journalist, workman, do hereby declare that I have deliberately accepted suicide as the only final relief from the incessant persecutions of my divorced wife… My poems and the MS of certain lectures to be found scattered promiscuously in my room, on the table, and in my trunk, are to be put in the possession of Gen. John F. Miller, who at his discretion will, or will not, surrender them to Col. R.J. Hinton, of the Post… But…she…who once bore my name, and who is now in San Francisco, must on no account be informed of the residence of my wife, who would be in constant danger…Now, God bless all. God pardon me as I pardon all. I love Gen. John F. Miller, Col. Tappan, Col. Hinton, Mr. Mariner Kent, John Finigan, E. Levy, Col. J.J. Lyon, and many others. 

“there is, or should be, a tied lock of hair in the form of a rude bracelet, lying on the bathroom window sill of my boarding house. I should be glad to have it placed around my wrist. 

Richard Realf”
The bracelet of blond hair, now a quarter of a century old was the gift of Richard’s first true love.  He had kept the relic through all his travels, his turmoil’s and other loves. To be buried with Caroline’s hair was his last request. The bracelet was placed with Realf in his grave.  Realf was originally buried in Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery plot 100F.  
He was reinterred in San Francisco National Cemetery on January 31, 1933, section OSA, row 72, grave #4, located in the Presidio of San Francisco, California.

Grave of Richard Realf (Source: Poems by Richard Realf, Poet. . .Soldier. . .Workman.
Edited with a memoir by Richard J. Hinton (1898)
Cemetery map showing location of Realf's grave (Source: John Brown-Boyd B. Stutler Collection, West Virginia Division of Culture and History (http://bit.ly/2y9U4wh)

Realf’s standard marble military marker indicates he was a lieutenant in the U.S. Colored Infantry. 
The address of the cemetery is 1 Lincoln Boulevard, Presidio of San Francisco. The cemetery is located in the northern section of San Francisco. From San Francisco International Airport, take Hwy. 101 North to San Bruno/Hwy. 380 exit to Highway. 280 North. Take 19th Ave., exit (approximately 50 yards from the Golden Gate Toll Plaza). Yield right to Lincoln Blvd. Turn left onto Lincoln Blvd. and continue to the corner of Lincoln and Sheridan Blvd’s.                                              
* The author has included information obtained from: Helen Delay, "Richard Realf, Poet and Soldier," The Home Monthly (8 May 1899), pp. 10-11.

--Rich Smyth


     1 James Redpath in his preface to his John Brown autobiography labeled Richard Realf a Judas.

     2 “A Passport to Hell, The Mystery of Richard Realf,” by George Rathmell, pp. 21-25.

     3 Ibid.

     4 Ibid

     5 Ibid

     6 Sophia received letters from Richard including the last one on February 24th 1866 saying he was on his way home after the war and mustering out. She never heard from or saw him again. In the 1880 census she was living with her younger sister Louisa Maria Graves and her husband Edwin Leigh Furness in Furnessville, Indiana. Sophia was 50 years old and teaching school.

     7 WikiTree has Sophia’s middle name as Jane and her year of death as 1883.

     8 John Stauffer, The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery Vol. 1, Vol. 7 by Junius P. Rodriguez, p. 543.

     9 Eliza Ann Whapham and Richard had four children; Richard (1875-1950), Alice (1878-?), Mabel (1878-?), and Minnie (1878-1971).

    10 Sarah obtained her position as assistant weigher in 1882 and was dismissed in 1884.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Little Retro-Shaming: Found Guilty by Slaveholders

It is a matter of record that after his defeat at Harper's Ferry, John Brown and his men were rushed to trial by Virginia authorities.  The technical excuse given pertains to the closing of the trial period of that circuit of the Virginia courts.  But these institutional deadlines were hardly imperatives; Brown and his men might have been held over as prisoners until the opening of the next trial period had the Virginians been willing to give him a fair trial.  Certainly, had the federal government not handed Brown and his men over to Virginia, a trial in the federal court would have been a far more extended matter (recall that Brown attacked a federal facility at Harper's Ferry).  Nevertheless, as I have noted in Freedom's Dawn, the initial intention of Virginia probably was to hold Brown's trial immediately and hang him almost as quickly.  Brown's boy-faced defense attorney, George Hoyt, later recalled how his "judicial murder" was intentionally being rushed, and how he had to intervene by speaking with Judge Parker, which allowed Brown a month between sentencing and execution.1
John Brown during his trial, lying on his cot, an unflattering
sketch by Virginia artist David H. Strother, published
in Harper's Weekly, Nov. 12, 1859

In retrospect, the prosecuting attorney, Andrew Hunter--who was the driving force behind Brown's trial and execution--misrepresented these facts.  In 1887, Hunter wrote that Brown was "for hurrying the trial and having done with it," but this was a lie.  Actually, Brown had expressed disdain at the onset when he and his men were obligated to stand before an unusual Virginia examining court (which even Hunter called "a very anomalous system, peculiar to Virginia").2  Assuming the examining court was his trial, Brown understandably disdained the process as a "mere form" and a "mockery" of a trial. "I do not even know what the special design of the examination is," Brown declared.  "I do not know what is to be the benefit of it to the Commonwealth." As such, he told the magistrates, he preferred to forego pseudo-legalities and face the penalty.3  However, when he was apprised that he would have a conventional trial, Brown immediately asked for a delay so that his wounds could heal  and so he could send for attorneys from the North.  Hunter himself opposed any delay and pushed the trial forward with haste.  Thus, his narrative of the trial published in 1887, including his accusation that Brown was carrying out some kind of "ruse," was a self-justifying misrepresentation that reflected the hubris of an unrepentant Virginia slaveholder.

The Jury Selected

In his definitive work, John Brown's Trial, Brian McGinty describes the process by which jurors were selected for the trial.  McGinty notes that on October 25, 1859, about one week after his defeat at Harper's Ferry, Brown's jury candidates were summoned by the sheriff through writ issued by the court.  Twenty-four freeholders--all white males above the age of twenty-one, and not older than sixty years.  Another criterion for selection was that the prospective jurors were "remote" residents in regard to the location of Harper's Ferry.  McGinty concludes that this inevitably meant the jury would be comprised of middle-aged white males: "All would be more or less affluent, and all would be either committed to, or at least tolerant of, slavery." McGinty likewise points out also that a further necessity, according to Virginia law, was that jurors must be supportive of the death penalty.  "This ensured that the jurors who would judge John Brown would all approve of the death penalty, and it probably made it more likely that they would find him guilty."4

The twenty-four freeholders thus were summoned and examined in the voir dire phase (meaning they were to tell the truth when examined).  McGinty observes that the prospective jurors were questioned briskly, the primary question being whether they held any opinion that would prevent them from making an impartial decision in the trial.5  Of course, this was only social pretense; men of their station would invariably have had a decided opinion against Brown.  Otherwise, they were asked if they were directly involved with the Harper's Ferry raid by reason of presence, or if they held opinions presupposed as to guilt or innocence.   Prospective jurors who were present at the Ferry during the raid were dismissed; then Brown's (initial) Virginia attorneys followed the appointed procedure of moving to dismiss eight from the list of the called.  This left sixteen candidates, from which a jury of twelve men finally was chosen. McGinty notes that John Brown was present during this process, but that he quietly reclined on his cot with his sheet pulled up under his chin.6

A Jury of Slaveholders and the Artist Who Sketched Them

At the time of John Brown's incarceration in Virginia, Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, based in New York City, had two artists on the ground in Charlestown to capture images for its readers.  Initially, the German-born Albert Berghaus, the head of the paper's illustration department, contributed sketches, but returned to New York.  This left his associate William S. L. Jewett to provide appropriate images and episodes for Leslie's.  Unfortunately, Jewett found that he had enemies in Charlestown, but not through any fault of his own.  As it turned out, clandestine reports from Charlestown were being featured in the New York Daily Tribune--an antislavery newspaper.  Since only proslavery journalists were allowed in town, the town leaders became obsessed with discovering the "spy" who was embarrassing them before the country.  Jewett became suspected of secretly feeding stories to Horace Greeley, the despised editor of the Tribune.  In a short time, suspicion grew into accusation, and accusation became so hot that by mid-November, Jewett was forced to depart from Charlestown and return to New York.7

William S. L. Jewett sketched a three-panel series reflecting his dramatic--and forced--retreat from Charlestown in November 1859, due to suspicions that he was a journalistic spy for the New York Tribune.  This series appeared in his newspaper, Frank Leslie's Illustrated News on November 26, 1859.

Nevertheless, prior to his northward flight, among his many sketches, Jewett had made portraits of all of John Brown's trial jurors.  These images were published in Leslie's on November 12, 1859, about the time that Jewett had hastily retreated from Charlestown.  Meanwhile, the real clandestine journalist, Ned House, was never discovered and slipped out of Charlestown only after Brown was hanged on December 2.

McGinty, a thorough researcher, provides a list of the same jury members sketched by Jewett for Leslie's.  He writes: "How many of them owned slaves is uncertain; the seven who were known to be slaveholders owned a total of fifty-four slaves."8  McGinty clearly consulted the so-called Slave Schedules from the Federal Census (presumably) of 1860.  However, after having consulted the same source, I believe that this record provides certainty that eleven of the twelve jurors were slaveholders.  What follows, then, are Jewett's sketches and the information culled from the 1860 Slave Schedules.

Note: the Slave Schedules distinguish between black and "mulatto" and I have preserved this distinction; often the presence of a "mulatto" was the sire of the so-called master or of another male member of his family.

Here, then, is a little Charlestown history, for the record. . .

Slaveholding Juror 1: John C. Wiltshire
Enslaved the following persons:

female age 65, male age 50
male age 40  female age 26
male age 24
male age 16, 
male 14
female ("mulatto") 5

Six (6) persons enslaved in 1860.

The schedules also list a George D. Wiltshire and Mary Wiltshire, both of which were slaveholders with similar numbers of enslaved people.  Some or all of their enslaved people might have been part of Wiltshire's household.

Slaveholding Juror 2: Thomas Watson
Enslaved the following persons:

female ("mulatto") age  24,
female ("mulatto") age 4
male age 1

Three (3) persons enslaved in 1860.


Slaveholding Juror 3: Jacob Miller
Enslaved the following person:

female age 12

The schedules also list Martha, Lydia, and Albert Miller as slaveholders.  Some or all of their enslaved people might have been part of Miller's household.

One (1) person enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 4: Richard Timberlake
Enslaved the following persons:

female age 70
male age 15
male age 13
female age 11
female age 9
male age 5
female age 2

Seven (7) persons enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 5: George Tabb [Tapp]
[According to Slave Schedule, but listed by McGinty and Leslie's as Tapp]
Enslaved the following persons:

female age 70
male age 45
female age 45
female ("mulatto") 26
male age 21
female age 20
male age 19
female age 17
male age 11
female ("mulatto") age 2
female ("mulatto") age 1

Eleven (11) persons enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 6: Isaac Dust
Enslaved the following persons:

female age 30
female age 20
female age 9
male age 7
male ("mulatto") age 2
male age 1

Six (6) people enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 7: John McClure 
[listed as M’Clure in Leslie's]
Enslaved the following persons:

female age 17
female ("mulatto") age 17
male ("mulatto") age 12
male ("mulatto") male age 12

Four (4) persons enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 8: Thomas Osbourn 
[listed as Oborne in Leslie's]
Enslaved the following persons:

male age 60
male age 35
female age 30
female age 25
male age 12
male age 8
male age 7
female age 6
female age 4
female age 2

The schedules show other Osbourns in Jefferson County with a good many slaves, so some of these might also have been part of Thomas Osbourn's household.

Ten (10) persons enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 9: Joseph Myers
Enslaved the following persons:

male age 60
female age 50
male age 32
female age 28
male age 21
male age 12
female age 10
female age 9
female age 8
female age 6
female age 2

Eleven (11) persons enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 10: William Righstine 
[listed as Rightodale in Leslie's, as Rightstine by McGinty)
Enslaved the following persons:

male 84
female 65
female 15

Three (3) people enslaved in 1860.

Slaveholding Juror 11: George Bowyer
[listed as Doyer in Leslie's and as Boyer by McGinty)
Enslaved the following persons:

female age 11 
male age 10

Enslaved two (2) people in 1860.

William A. Martin
Not Listed as Slaveholder in 1860

McGinty concludes that although he is uncertain about the number of jurors who kept people enslaved, he counted fifty-four enslaved people in the households of seven of the jurors.  I am not certain how he arrived at this number.   I have found in the same schedules that eleven of the jurors in John Brown's trial were slaveholders, and the total number of people being held in bondage in their homes in 1860 totaling sixty-four.  Again, this does not count the possibility that additional enslaved persons may also have been the property of spouses and children living in the same household.

This should give us pause to remember that John Brown was not simply given a hasty trial, driven by state and local officials intent on getting him to the gallows.  He was tried by Virginians hostile to him on principle, eleven of the twelve jurors being slaveholders--the very group that John Brown had hoped to undermine. 

More importantly than the injustice that Brown faced is the fact that even in a humble, agrarian center like western Virginia, in the upper south, the enslavement of human beings--men, women, and children--was a normal part of life.  John Brown was a victim, but far more victimized were the human beings kept in bondage by the southern Christian slaveholders--the labor, lives, and bodies of these victims exploited and demeaned by the "institution" for generations.

Finally, we must remember that it took all the force of the federal government to pry these humans from the grip of this tyranny disguised as a Christian society.  Indeed, as Brown finally surmised, the enslaved population would have to be pried from their cold, dead hands.  Having failed to undermine the institution and thwart the regular operations of slavery throughout the South, John Brown knew that his accusers and judges would shortly have to face a judgment of their own.   There is some small comfort in knowing that even his jurors could not escape that hour.


      1 Louis A. DeCaro, Jr., Freedom's Dawn: The Last Days of John Brown in Virginia (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 97-98.
     2 Transcript, pp. 2 & 5, of Andrew Hunter, "John Brown's Raid; Recollections of Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Hunter," Times-Democrat [New Orleans, La.], 5 Sept. 1887, in Andrew Hunter folder, Box 10, Oswald G. Villard-John Brown Papers, Columbia University Collection.
     3 Brian McGinty, John Brown's Trial (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 100.
     4 Ibid., 123. 
     5  Ibid., 123-24.
     6  Ibid., 124.
     7 DeCaro, Freedom's Dawn, 143-47.
     7 McGinty, John Brown's Trial, 126.