History, Research, and Current Themes

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

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

From the Field--
History for Sale: A Note from Scott Wolfe
Photo courtesy of H. Scott Wolfe

Interested in purchasing a Provisional Army shrine? Seeking to enjoy this snowless winter, I meandered over into an adjacent state today, to photograph the home and grave of Charles Wesley Moffett....Kansas freestate partisan...trainee at Springdale....delegate to the Chatham convention....and a Provisional Army member who ultimately chose love, not war.  Lo and behold, the place is for sale. You can have the farmhouse (built of lumber shipped by wagon from Iowa City) fashioned by Moffett's own hands....along with six acres of ground, for only a little over 75 grand. Not exactly New York prices, eh? I wish I were rich, and not merely good looking. It would be a grand base from which to study the boys.

From the field,

H. Scott Wolfe

* H. Scott Wolfe is the Historical Librarian of the Galena, Illinois, Public Library District and now a regular correspondent and contributor to this blog. He has devoted many years of grassroots research on John Brown, the Harper's Ferry raiders, and related themes.

Photo courtesy of H. Scott Wolfe
History Notes on Charles W. Moffett

"There were a good many colored men from Canada in the convention, and a good many from the United States in the convention. Fred Douglas[s] was expected, but finally at the last moment Fred backed down and didn't come. If any man has any idea that it was planned to go into the South for robbery and murder, or for treason against the United States, I would ask him to study that provisional government and see how we intended to govern the men that went in there."  Charles W. Moffett, Montour, Iowa, interviewed in "John Brown: A Reunion of his Surviving Associates," Topeka Capital (24 Oct. 1882), trans. in BBS RP02-0196 

Charles Moffett was born in 1827 in New York, and went to Kansas in 1855.  He was among those drilled in Iowa in John Brown's group.  He was heavily criticized for not joining JB at Harper's Ferry, but was prevented by "obligations from which he could not be released."* Notes from a letter of Amanda M. Sturtevant [Moffett's sister], to James Redpath, April 17, 1860, in Moffett, Chas. W. file, Box 12, Oswald Garrison Villard - John Brown Papers, Columbia University Rare Books and Manuscript Collection.

* Scott Wolfe informs me that these obligations pertained to Moffett having fallen in love with one Emma Manfull, whom he had met at Springdale, Iowa, while training with Brown's men.

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