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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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Friday, November 22, 2019

Rich Smyth's Where Are They Now? Opposite Sides

Samuel Jefferson Jones, who would later be called the “Bogus Sheriff” of Douglass County by the Free-staters in Kansas moved west from his birthplace of Virginia, arriving in Missouri in 1854. A southerner through-and-through, he was also a supporter of slavery. Jones moved to the Kansas Territory where he was first appointed postmaster of Lawrence, before taking the position of county sheriff.

Jones was instrumental in suppressing the rights of free-state men by destroying ballot boxes, and supporting proslavery militia during the Wakarusa War. He and his followers raided, pillaged and set fire to Lawrence, Kansas, with the intent of destroying free-state newspaper presses. During his reign, too, a number of anti-slavery men were gunned down.

Likely image of Samuel Jefferson Jones
(Watkins Community Museum
Lawrence, Kansas
--> On March 21, 1856, a free-state reporter for the New York Tribune in Lawrence described Jones as “the immortal bogus Sheriff Jones, a tall, muscular, athletic loafer, with a cruel Mephistophelean expression, clad in the Border Ruffian costume-blue military overcoat, large boots, skull cap and cigar in mouth.”
In 1857 Jones resigned his position as sheriff, and along with his wife, Mary Carter Frayser Jones and family, moved to New Mexico.  There, in September 1858, Jones accepted an appointment as collector of customs at Paso del Norte.  The family bought a ranch near Mesilla in the southern portion of the state.

Samuel and Mary possibly had eight children; William T. (1849-1879), Mollie (1852-1859), Nannie (1859-1860), Ida May (1862-?), Jennie (dates unknown), Samuel J. Jr. (1866-1901), Henry W. (1869-1888) and a stillborn unnamed infant (Jennie?).

During the Civil War Jones held a number of positions including lawyer for the Confederate administration in New Mexico, was then commissioned in August 1866 as a captain in the Confederate Army during its occupation of the New Mexico Territory and army sutler at Ft. Fillmore. After the war he took up farming. The 1880 census lists him as a retired merchant with partial paralysis.1

It is believed that Samuel died on December 10, 1886.  This information is obtained from the markers from his first and second burial locations. He was initially laid to rest in the (Independent Order of) Odd Fellows cemetery in Las Cruces, New Mexico.2 Samuel’s wife, Mary, died on July 26, 1908 in El Paso, Texas and was buried with her husband. She was 82 years old.

Jones was initially buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery,
Las Cruces, New Mexico
The Odd Fellows Cemetery is located on the southeast corner of Brown and Compress streets, across from the Masonic Cemetery. When that cemetery was abandoned (circa 1930s) the Jones daughter Ida May moved both sets of remains to the Masonic Cemetery across the street where they erected a new monument and left the father’s old broken marker at the original location.3

Note that this cemetery also contains the remains of another famous lawman, Patrick Floyd Garrett, well known as Pat Garrett. Garrett was the sheriff that allegedly gunned down the American folk icon, Billy the Kid. The Masonic Cemetery is located at 760 South Compress Road, Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, New Mexico. With permission from authorities in 2013, the old marker was reassembled and shipped to Lecompton, Kansas where it now rests on a small concrete platform near Constitution Hall with a another marker explaining its absence in the Odd Fellows Cemetery.4  

Samuel and Mary Jones grave, Masonic Cemetery, Las
Cruces, New Mexico (Find A Grave contributor #48390766)    
Marker placed by Lecompton Historical Society at original site
of Jones' grave in the Odd Fellows Cemetery
(Image courtesy of Find A Grave contributor #47506434)

James Henry Lane also known as “Jim Lane” or "The Grim Chieftain,” was one of the leading partisans during the Bleeding Kansas period that immediately preceded the American Civil War. Perhaps no other person is more widely known for his anti-slavery battles during that time. Lane communicated through letters with John Brown while Brown was in Tabor, Iowa about bringing men and supplies to Kansas. In August 1856 Brown joined Lane in the fight to keep the state free of slavery. 
James Henry Lane
(Library of Congress)    

Lane was also one of the more controversial figures of the era. He was not an Abolitionist and could be ruthless. It was reported that he shot and killed a neighbor in 1858 over a boundary dispute. His detractors, then and now, describe him as "unbalanced.”

During the Civil War, Lane served as a United States Senator and as a general who fought for the Union. On July 1, 1866 Lane shot himself in the head as he leaped from his carriage in Leavenworth, Kansas. Allegedly, he was deranged, depressed and had been accused of financial irregularities. He died ten days later on July 11, 1866 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery Lawrence, Kansas. He was 52 years old.  His wife, Mary Elizabeth Baldridge Lane, died 17 years later in Columbus, Ohio and was brought back to be buried with her husband. The couple had five children together; Ellie Lane Adams (1844-1874), James Henry (1848-1893), Anna Lane Johnson (1852-1928), Mary A. Lane Warren (1854-1874) and Thomas D. (1864-1922). In Lawrence take East 13th Street to Oak Hill Avenue to the cemetery.   Rich Smyth

James H. Lane grave, Oak Hill Cemetery,
Lawrence, Kan.
--> (Find A Grave contributor #767)

     1 The author is indebted for information on Samuel Jones taken from Tim Rues “Samuel J. Jones” Historic Lecompton. See http://bit.ly/2KMeNN1. The image featured here of Jones is provided courtesy of  Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St, Lawrence, Kansas. 
      Readers should note that actually there are two different images of Jones extant, both of which have been claimed to be that of Samuel Jefferson Jones.

    2 Information on the marker and grave site courtesy of Shirley Funk, a Lecompton Historical Society (Kansas) member and genealogist.

     3 Image courtesy of Find A Grave contributor Buck (#47506434). Information on the marker and grave site courtesy of Shirley Funk, a Lecompton Historical Society (Kansas) member and genealogist.

      4 The Topeka Capital Journal, June 19, 2013.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Magpie's Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino Reprise "Sword of the Spirit" at Charles Town

Greg Artzner & Terry Leonino
portray John and Mary Brown in
"Sword of the Spirit" (Magpie Music website)
On Saturday, November 2, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., the Old Opera House in Charles Town, West Virginia, presents “Sword of the Spirit,” a one-act play based on the letters of John and Mary Brown. The play was written by husband-wife team, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, known also as the musical duo, Magpie.  The play, which was also written by Richard Henzel, is seventy-minute-long and one act, features Artzner and Leonino in full costume and character as the Browns.  

The play is set in late November, 1859, when John Brown is facing execution and his wife is staying at the home of abolitionist Lucretia Mott in the Philadelphia area. "Sword of the Spirit" thus explores  the last days of John Brown before his execution on December 2, 1859 during which he had received many visitors, given interviews and composed over one hundred letters to acquaintances, friends, and members of his family, including his wife Mary. In the play, the audience learns about Brown's  story, his beliefs, and what he believes to be his God-given mission to destroy the evil of slavery. On the same stage, the audience sees his soon to be widowed wife Mary writing to him and speaking to the audience about her life with the famed abolitionist.

According to Tricia Lynn Strader of the Martinsburg [West Va.] Journal:
Artzner and Leonino have played music in the area before. They’ve been internationally renowned folk musicians for 46 years. Artzner said their work in music and cultural history is one of their most ardent and passionate interests. They have researched the stories of these figures in American History for three years, culminating in this work of theatre. They said their portrayals of the Browns give audiences an opportunity to see them from a new perspective, not as mythical, fanatical icons, but as human beings, people with human feelings, human strengths and weaknesses.
In an interview with Artzner, the musician and actor stated that they had presented the play many times at Harpers Ferry, including performances of their song cycle, which bears the same title the play, "Sword of the Spirit." The song cycle presents other stories of Brown’s family, friends and associates. However, the only music in the play takes place Artzner's John Brown and Leonino's Mary Brown sing hymns without accompaniment.  “We decided to keep the musical telling of the story separate from the stage play," Artzner explained. "There are dialogue segments based on the letters the Brown’s exchanged over the years, but most of the rest is based on two historical premises." One of these segments has Brown speaking to the audience as if they were reporters, something that was included in the play because of the extensive number of interviews Brown actually gave to journalists and visitors during his last days in Charles Town (then, Charlestown) jail. 
Artzner in Harper's Ferry (Greg Artzner photo)

Artzner told his interviewer how he and Leonino actually grew up and met in the city of Kent, in northeastern Ohio, “John Brown Country.” Interestingly, the first place they lived together was on River Street, right across from the site of the old Haymaker House, which Brown rented for his family's residence in the 1830s, and where Brown and his family made a vow to oppose slavery.
Preparation for the writing of the play took four years of reading, studying, and doing primary source research. This took place before internet access was available, and their research entailed extensive travel to major historic centers and research collections.  “In those days none of what we needed was available on the internet, so we traveled to Harpers Ferry National Park’s research library, the Library of Congress in D.C., Columbia University in New York city, and the Hudson, Ohio library. We corresponded with the historical associations in West Virginia, Ohio and Kansas. "We were principally looking for Mary’s letters and other documents pertaining to her, her relationship to her husband, and her role in the story," Artzner said. "We found quite a few of her letters, more than any single archive held. We transcribed them and donated our transcribed collection to Harpers Ferry.”

"Sword of the Spirit"
Presented on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at the Old Opera House, 204 N. George Street, Charles Town
Information & tickets: tickets $15. Call 725-4420 or www.oldoperahouse.org