History, Research, and Current Themes

"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

Search This Blog & Links


Thursday, December 16, 2010


This segment was broadcast on the PBS program, "Antiques Road Show" sometime in 2005, though I'm sorry that I do not have specifics.  It features a direct descendant of John Brown who has brought two letters and a water-stained image of Brown to be appraised.  My guess is that the woman is a descendant through Salmon Brown, the son of John Brown and his second wife, Mary Day Brown.  I would very much like to obtain either a copy or a literal transcription of these letters, although one of them has been published in years past.  If she happens to read this, I hope she will get in touch with me, or with her cousin, Alice Keesey Mecoy, who keeps a wonderful blog called "John Brown Kin." If I can recover the specific information about this episode, I'll post it here.  By the way, Richard Lecky, the agent from Christie's Auctioners who is discussing the letters here, does not know or cannot say how to reach this descendant, so please don't contact him.  Mr. Lecky does a decent job here, although he mistakes the name of Brown's former Ohio business partner as "Samuel" Perkins, when it was actually Simon Perkins (Jr.).  He also has to throw in the Pottawatomie killings--without context, of course. 

Addendum: Jean Libby Writes

Thank you for posting this video from Antiques Roadshow. As always, my interest is following the photographs.  This is the first time I have seen a print inscribed by Brown on June 22, 1859.  A previous one, June 18, 1859, is in the Gilder Lehrman Center.  (It is Image 12 in Jean's Photo Chronology, which every student of John Brown should have in her/his library--LD).

Villard documents Brown's movements in Ohio on June 18 and June 22 (pages 400-402).  June 18 he is at West Andover; June 22 he is in Akron, at Jason's home.  JB is picking up his son Owen, traveling with Oliver and Jeremiah Anderson.  He is documented at Pittsburgh, Bedford, and then in Hagerstown, Md. on June 30.  He signs the hotel register as Isaac Smith & Sons.  Oliver signs it too, for himself and Owen.

Therefore, I believe the descendant in the video is more likely from John Jr., or Jason, than Salmon.  Another possibility is Ruth.  That is because most of the photo prints that have surfaced in the last 100 years or so have come from her and her descendants.  She had access to the photos on several occasions with her brothers, including the time she lived on Put-in-Bay (Ohio) in the 1870s.

After 1863, when Salmon left for California, she did not see him again.  An 1888 reunion with JB Jr., Owen,Jason, and Ruth, also younger sisters Annie, Sarah, and Ellen, in southern California, was not attended by Salmon.  His sons were there in force, however. Perhaps he was suffering from the bad fall he had from a horse that permanently crippled him.

I hope this descendant can be found.  Best regards and thank you again for your excellent blog with such treasures,

Jean Libby


Alice Keesey Mecoy said...

The descendant can not be from John Jr., as he only had two children and neither of them had children.

Bartleby's said...

A friend just pointed out this blog post to me. I am the descendent in the video, descended from Jason. I can furnish you with a copy of the letter if you are still interested. Please let me know where to send it.

Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. . . said...

Dear Bartleby's,

It was very kind of you to reach out. You can tell that I am more than interested in your great ancestor's letters, and have devoted a good number of years of tracking them for biographical and scholarly purposes. So I'd be most grateful to obtain a copy of both letters, although if you can only provide one, the one to Perkins is entirely unknown to me. I am glad to learn correctly of your descent from noble Jason's line, which was discerned somewhat by scholar Jean Libby. Please do email me at:
louis.decaro@nyack.edu. This is something of a Christmas gift for me, and I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.--Lou DeCaro Jr. PS please thank your friend for passing word to you about the blog--LD