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

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Take Note--
Here's Something About Mary (in California)

10 March 2016

Dear Readers,

A celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mary Brown is in creation at the Saratoga Blossom Festival in California on March 19, 2016.

The program will honor Alice Keesey Mecoy, direct descendant and native of Santa Clara County, where Mary and 17 family members are interred at the Madronia Cemetery.

We celebrate the early life of Mary Ann Day in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where she lived in childhood, marriage to John Brown, and is honored by the John Brown Heritage Association there today.

A special treat is in store with the sharing of an 1874 letter from James Fablinger, the husband of Ellen Brown, which was found in Galena, Illinois by history librarian and author Scott Wolfe.  The event takes place at the City of Saratoga Civic Center, which is the orchard property owned by James and Ellen Fablinger in the 19th and early 20th centuries, acquired from their daughter in her elder years in the 1950s.

The revised supplement to the John Brown Photo Chronology will be available to benefit the Saratoga Historical Foundation, where the largest collection of research materials about Mary and her last home are housed.  The supplement is also available for order online.

Your kind attention and support is appreciated.

Jean Libby
Allies for Freedom, Mary Brown and Her Daughters Documentary Project

MARY BROWN’S BIRTHDAY  (1816 -- 1884)

MARCH 19, 2016  3 pm                                

Charcoal photo portraits of John and Mary Brown by their daughter, Sarah, 
resident of Saratoga from the 1880s-1916.  Saratoga Historical Foundation



John Brown's  Family History by JEAN LIBBY is  “A  GEM OF CALIFORNIANA”

Mary Ann Day Brown is celebrated as a popular permanent resident of the Madronia Cemetery in
her own place in history as well as association with her abolitionist husband John Brown, executed
in Virginia in December 1859 for attempting to arm slaves and establish self-governing enclaves in
the western Territories.  John Brown’s raid is often called the spark that started the American Civil
War, which formal hostilities began in April 1861.

Mary was the second wife of John Brown, community leader and business owner of a leather
tannery in Meadville, Pennsylvania.  His first wife, Dianthe Lusk Brown, was buried there after her
death in childbearing in 1832, leaving four growing sons and a daughter in need of care.  John
Brown asked young Mary who was helping the household to be his wife.  They married a year later
when Mary was seventeen years old.  She bore thirteen children, only six of whom survived to
adulthood.  Two of their sons were killed at Harpers Ferry.

Mary was born on April 15, 1816 in Granville, New York.  Her father was a widowed blacksmith,
married a second time to Mary Ann Little.  Her older sister, Martha, married Thomas Delameter in
New York.  The families emigrated to Crawford County, western Pennsylvania, ca. 1824.

Jean Libby traveled to Meadville in September 2014 and experienced the history guided by the
longtime secretary and editor of the John Brown Heritage Association in Meadville, Mr. Edward
Edinger.  We drove the post road where Brown was appointed by President John Quincy Adams.
We stopped at Delameter’s Stand, the extant lovely residence where the wedding reception for
John and Mary was held, and allowed to photograph the parlor.  We visited the tannery where there
is historical interpretation of Mary as well as her husband.  The John Brown Tannery at Richmond
Township is on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.

Please welcome Jack Mallory, a Saratoga Historical Foundation member and native of Meadville to
the commemoration of the 200th birthday of Mary Ann Day Brown, who came  to Saratoga to live in
1881.  Associated properties are on the maps distributed with the program.  The celebration takes
place on the grounds of the City of Saratoga Civic Center, which was acquired from the last living
daughter of James and Ellen Brown Fablinger in the 1950s, having been their orchard property
while they lived in Campbell.

We honor today a direct descendant of John and Mary Brown who was born in Santa Clara County,
Alice Keesey Mecoy.  Her study of ancestry goes well beyond genealogy with active association
of anti-racist and anti-slavery activities in the present day.  This is in keeping with the example of
her great great great great grandmother Mary, who continued to battle against racism and peonage
labor until the end of her life.  That heritage continues as a beacon in our world now called Silicon

Mary and her daughters Ellen and Sarah are interred at the Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga with headstones that honor John Brown.

--submitted by Jean Libby, Allies for Freedom

Friday, March 04, 2016

Local News--
Salmon Brown Recalled in Oregon Newspaper

Salmon Brown
(Oregon Digital
Newspaper Project
Notwithstanding a gratuitous comparison between John Brown's Harper's Ferry raid with the recent occupation of the Federal Malheur Wildlife Refuge, a journalist named Kylie Pine has written a thoughtful article for the Statesman Journal [Salem, Or.] recalling that Salmon Brown once lived in that vicinity.

Salmon Brown was born to John Brown and his second wife, Mary, in Hudson, Ohio, on October 2, 1836.  Salmon was born only about one year following his family's return to Ohio after having lived in northwestern Pennsylvania for nearly a decade.  John Brown had left Hudson in 1826, yet married to his first wife, Dianthe Lusk Brown, who died in Pennsylvania in the summer of 1832.  Brown was left with six young children, which probably lessened the time of mourning.  By the following summer, Brown had developed an interest in a seventeen-year-old domestic worker, Mary Ann Day, and married her in July 1833--eleven months after Dianthe's death.   While the brevity of his mourning and his choice of a teenage bride has invoked criticism by contemporary authors, it is overlooked that such practice was common in the agrarian world of the US in the19th century. Brown's father, Owen, was similarly widowed in 1808 at thirty-eight years of age, and remarried a young woman of twenty years the following year.
Young Salmon Brown
(Stutler/West Va. Div.
of Culture and History

Salmon was the third-born child of John and his young wife.  (Their first born, Sarah, died at nine years of age in 1843.   Three years later, Mary gave birth to another daughter, named Sarah in honor of her deceased sister).  Salmon apparently was named for a paternal uncle, Salmon, who had died three years prior (that Uncle Salmon himself seems to have been named for an elder brother of the same name, who had preceded him in death in 1796).

Pine writes that she was initially cautious about accepting local lore, and when she tried to find Salmon Brown in conventional sources like census and city directories, she got nervous.  "Luckily, Brown was a bit of a celebrity," she writes, "and newspaper records contain countless articles by him and about him that start to give view to his experience."  With no apparent background in Brown studies, Pine provides brief background to Salmon, noting his "claims to have participated in the Battle of Black Jack" in June 1856, something the journalist could have verified by consulting any good Brown biography.  Surprisingly, Pine mentions nothing of Salmon's involvement as one of the Pottawatomie killers of May 1856, when Brown, his sons, and some free state associates conducted a preemptive strike against a cadre of proslavery conspirators, effectively snuffing out a plot to attack the Browns in their own settlements near Osawatomie.

Salmon in 1914
(Topeka Capital)
Interestingly, in consulting local newspapers, Pine writes that Salmon's wife, Abbie Hinckley Brown, said the reason that her husband did not join his father at Harper's Ferry in 1859 was that one of the sons had to stay at home.  "That lot fell to Salmon.”   Villard's biography, presents a different excuse.  According to Salmon, the reason he did not join his father's effort in Virginia was because he believed he would delay due to a propensity to detail.  While I have not made exhaustive study of the point, I find both explanations questionable, especially the latter.  The latter seems most likely "20/20 hindsight" based on the outcome of the raid and the actual reason for Brown's failure to get out of Harper's Ferry in a timely fashion.  It is possible that Salmon did refrain from going to Virginia because his two brothers--Watson and Oliver--were intent on going.  Assuming this was the case, Salmon would have been the only son of John and Mary Brown left behind, and as it turned out, both brothers did not return alive.  Still, it is not clear that Salmon was in any way constrained to remain home.

Pine writes that Salmon's family association with the controversial abolitionist "would affect the course of the rest of his life," which was undoubtedly true of all the Brown children.   Pine notes that when the Civil War broke out, Salmon enlisted and was set up to become an officer in New York's 96th Infantry but never saw action on the field. Various accounts are offered, but Pine found that "the most interesting one states that fellow officers petitioned that he be removed from their ranks," fearing that their unit would be placed in greater jeopardy if they fell into the hands of rebel soldiers if the son of John Brown was among them.  There was a pervasive hostility toward the Browns in the South, so this may be the case, although the point needs greater consideration by historians.

Pine notes the westward movement of Mary Brown and her children, along with Salmon, who made a dangerous journey to California during the Civil War, arriving there in1864.  Salmon eventually ended up settling in the Englewood neighborhood of Salem, Oregon, and in later years kept flocks and ran a meat market according to local sources.   "By all accounts," Pine writes, Salmon "very much resembled his famous father."  A local reporter thus wrote: “Looking closely at the portrait of John Brown and then again at his son, one can see a strong resemblance, which Mrs. Brown says is growing as her husband becomes older. The same determined look is set on the face, while in the wearing of his hair and the trimming of his mustache, the son has followed his father closely.”

Pine says that Salmon enjoyed something of a popular status in these later years, and that his letters can be found in opinion pieces in local newspapers.  Salmon and Abbie moved to Portland around 1901, notes Pine, and in his last years he suffered with the physical effects of an accident in earlier life.  In his very last years, Salmon was mostly bedridden.  Sick and discouraged, Salmon decided to end his own life.  "He died in Portland from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1919," Pine writes.  It may be significant that he chose to kill himself on May 10, the day after his beloved father's birthday. In 1908, he told interviewer Katherine Mayo that he had been among one of John Brown's most devoted family members.  "Father depended on me, too," Salmon concluded.

See Kylie Pine, “Heritage: Armed occupier’s son a Salemite.”  Statesman Journal [Salem, Or.], 4 March 2016.  (http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/life/2016/03/04/heritage-armed-occupiers-son-salemite/81317208/)