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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Catch Him if You Can: The True Story of Alexander Ross, John Brown’s Fraudulent “Friend”

A. M. Ross
Alexander Milton Ross (1832-97) was a distinguished Canadian physician and a specialist in the study of North American animal and plant life. As a youth he worked as a newspaperman and studied in New York City, earning a degree in medicine at the age of twenty-three. In a colorful and adventurous career, Ross was decorated by European royalty and was renowned in his own nation as an outspoken leader in the medical community as well as a preeminent naturalist.1 Ross also embraced Spiritualism, which in the 19th century was an avant garde religious movement that often attracted unconventional religious thinkers and socially-minded activists, including many abolitionists. 

Ross is also remembered by many Canadians as a strong abolitionist and a daring activist who used his studies in naturalism as a pretense to assist fugitives escaping from slavery. During the years of the Civil War, Ross served as the vice-president of the Anti-Slavery Society in Toronto, Ontario, and was well known among his countrymen as an anti-slavery orator and writer. Later in life, he enjoyed the reputation of one who had smuggled many of the enslaved to freedom in Canada, and wrote two memoirs pertaining to his activism. He is undoubtedly best known for his 1875 publication, Recollections and Experiences of An Abolitionist.2 It is Ross’s involvement with the anti-slavery movement that allegedly brought his story in contact with that of John Brown the abolitionist. 

In his memoir, Ross records meeting with John Brown twice within two years of the Harper’s Ferry raid, and also claimed to have had correspondence from him as well. According to Recollections and Experiences, Ross claimed one meeting lasted late into the night, and that Brown presented him certain “letters from friends in Boston and Philadelphia” which he carefully examined.3  To round out his story, Ross wrote that not only did he do advance surveillance in Virginia for Brown, but after the failure of the Harper’s Ferry raid, he tried to get Governor Wise of Virginia to permit him to see Brown, but was instead forced to leave the state, whence he returned to Canada and prepared for another underground railroad mission.4   

But this was the story that Alexander Milton Ross published in two editions over the years, and which eventually helped him to gain access to Brown’s contemporaries and adult children.  In reality, Ross was a complete fake.  He may have been a minor-league antislavery figure in Canada, but his relationship with Brown and involvement in his story was a complete fraud.  In fact, Ross was such a good liar that he was never discovered in his lifetime.  Fortunately for history, however, despite the extent of his deception, one man finally interrogated, exposing the the complete deception of Alexander Milton Ross. But no one since Stutler has examined Ross closely since then even though more documentation has further confirmed his fraudulence.  So in this episode, you will finally get the whole story.

Boyd B. Stutler

In the mid-20th century, Boyd B. Stutler, the foremost documentary scholar of John Brown, became increasingly convinced that the testimony of Ross was not trustworthy. Stutler was an exacting and tireless researcher who had amassed myriads of primary and secondary sources, and could analyze with the mind of a historian and sniff out the scent of questionability with the nose of a journalist.5 In an independent scholarly career that spanned five decades, Stutler was not only the most conversant in John Brown literature, but was well-versed in collateral historical and biographical material pertaining to the antebellum and Civil War periods. He was particularly frustrated by the anti-Brown bias that permeated the writing of leading Civil War scholars in the mid-20th century.6

Naturally, Ross’s memoir must have been appealing to Stutler at first. But the more he examined Ross’s book, the more he became convinced that Ross could not be trusted. “Too bad,” he wrote to the Reverend Clarence Gee, his life-long colleague, since Ross had long been considered “a good witness for the defense.” But now Stutler had become certain that Ross was a false witness. In fact, according to his research, Ross had not only fabricated stories about John Brown, but he had also lied about his war time collaboration with President Abraham Lincoln. Stutler wrote to Gee in 1953 that “we can safely write Dr. Ross off as one who invented intimacies in order to bask in the refulgent light of reflected glory.”7 Following Stutler's brilliant lead, my own examination of evidence regarding Ross only confirms that the beloved Canadian abolitionist was one of the greatest frauds in North American history. 

Missing from the Record 

First, it seems peculiar that Ross is largely absent from the major biographical sources on John Brown, whether primary or secondary. Given his repeated claims of having been well acquainted with the abolitionist, his absence from contemporary eyewitness accounts and related correspondence is quite telling. Nothing that survives from the writings of Brown or his colleagues includes a reference to Alexander Ross—nothing, that is, except alleged correspondence that Ross presented in his dubious memoir. So, for instance, when Richard Hinton mistakenly included Ross in his popular 1894 book, John Brown and His Men, the only source he had to do so was Ross himself.8

Secondly, for one purporting to have been a trusted associate of John Brown, Ross is missing from the Brown family’s correspondence until he appears by self-introduction in the 1870s. In fairness, it is not necessary that Brown’s sons and daughters would have had correspondence with Ross prior to the Harper’s Ferry raid. However, if Ross’s claims were true, one would think that John Brown Jr. and Owen Brown, who were both in their father’s inner circle, would have had some knowledge of Ross, or at least some knowledge of him in the preparatory phase of the raid. 

In his bogus memoir, Ross presents himself as having been a key figure of interest to John Brown, being sought out by him in 1857-58, and later being asked by him to take a daring assignment at the crisis hour in 1859. Yet there seems to be nothing about him in any of the several major collections of Brown family correspondence except that which he himself initiated in the 1870s and afterward. Ross likewise is not mentioned in Brown’s memorandum books, now held in the Boston Public Library collection, in which the abolitionist kept a careful record of his correspondence and contacts.9 

As biographers go, it is likewise notable that Oswald Garrison Villard, the grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, made no reference to Ross in his monumental biography of John Brown, first published in 1910. Although Villard’s interpretation is biased in significant respects, his work undoubtedly was the most well-researched scholarly effort regarding Brown up to that point.10 Writing fifty years after Brown’s death, Villard drew from rich resources based almost entirely on the field research of his assistant, Katherine Mayo.11 

The fact that Villard made no reference to Ross in either the text or the note section of his book is not simply evidence of a lack of historical presence in the John Brown story. A search of Villard’s papers at Columbia University revealed that he actually had two significant items on Ross, but he elected not to include them in his work. Not surprisingly, too, researcher Mayo had made thorough notes from the second edition of Ross’s Recollections and Experiences of an Abolitionist (1876). Why did Villard choose to overlook the inspiring account of Ross’s interaction with John Brown as well as his claim to having been a daring “undercover” abolitionist in the South? He likewise made no mention of a letter written by his famous grandfather, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to Ross in 1875, apparently in response to Ross’s request for John Brown materials. Garrison’s letter to Ross conveys no sense that he was writing to one who was familiar to John Brown.12  It seems clear that biographer Villard overlooked Ross altogether because he had quietly determined that the Canadian’s memoir was untrustworthy. 

Ross and the Browns 

If the absence of Alexander Ross from prominent historical record is significant, so are his rigorous efforts to correspond with the Brown family in their later years. While Ross seems to have been sincerely interested in befriending the surviving Browns, his motivations also appear to have included a desire to gain personal papers and information, as well as to bolster his self-styled role as John Brown’s friend and compatriot. 

If not the earliest, at least one of the earliest letters between Ross and the Browns was written to John Brown Jr. and Owen Brown on November 15, 1877. In this letter, Ross made no familiar greeting, nor any familiar reference by way of introduction. Instead, he had enclosed photographic copies of the last written words of John Brown, made for one of the Charlestown jail staff on the day of his hanging in 1859 (this is the famous so-called prophecy where Brown predicts that slavery would have to end in widespread bloodshed).13 In the letter, Ross repeatedly used “thy” instead of “your,” apparently to create the favorable impression that he was an antislavery Quaker. Ross claimed that he had received the document from a “gentleman” in Charlestown, Virginia, which was true—although Ross had clearly obtained it for opportunistic reasons, not only for display, but in order to wile his way into the Brown family’s confidence.14

Newspaper sketch ca. 1880s
John Brown Jr.
In the same letter, Ross wrote that he had “the good fortune to meet thy father on several occasions & entertain feelings of profound veneration & admiration for his noble character.” Ross also mentioned his published memoir, but apologized that he had no copy to send them, but would send them the new third edition when it was published in the spring of 1878. It is telling that Ross did not expand much more on his alleged association with John Brown in this initial letter to his sons. In his next letter to John Brown Jr., Ross slightly continued the fraud, writing: “I knew your illustrious father and loved & respected him and revere his memory.” Perhaps it seemed strange to John Jr. that Ross had waited so many years before establishing communication with Brown’s family, but it seems that Junior was somewhat credulous if not eager for attention from outsiders because he had always enjoyed the greatest share of public attention given to John Brown’s family. 

Still, Ross was as thorough as he was cunning in his ploy. In 1877 he also initiated correspondence with Brown’s widow, Mary Brown, by then living in California. This enabled Ross to passingly mention that he had received a letter from her only “a few months ago.” In fact, Ross referred to Mary Brown as “thy mother,” which may suggest that Ross did not know that Mary actually was Junior’s stepmother.15 Ross continued to correspond with John Jr., frequently asking for photographs of the family, replete with endearing references to the interest of his son Garibaldi Ross in the Brown story. Meanwhile, Ross made certain to provide the rest of the Browns with photographic copies of their father’s last writing, as well as sending off ten copies of the new edition of his Recollections and Experiences for Mary Brown and the rest of the family.16 By elevating their correspondence to an exchange of materials between himself and the Browns, Ross established a strong foothold that would now enable him to entrench himself in the Brown’s family’s confidences and exploit them further for primary documents that would in turn be used to lend credence to his own fraudulent story.

For instance, by the following May 1878, Ross had acknowledged the gift of an original John Brown letter, ostensibly sent by John Brown Jr. for Ross’ daughter—no doubt a gift that Ross himself had obtained through endearing insinuation. Emboldened by Brown’s generosity, Ross then asked for “some Little relic or memento of your illustrious father” as a favor to young son, Garibaldi Ross. Sure enough, John Jr. (who was generous to the point of foolishness in giving away the family’s historical treasures17) promised a special John Brown relic to Ross’s “little son.” When the treasure he sought did not come with immediacy, Ross persisted. In October 1878, he again wrote to John Jr.: “If you can send my Little Garibaldi an autograph Letter of your father or any memento by him, it will be highly prized and sacredly treasured while he Lives.”18 Meanwhile, Ross was enjoying the royalties and reputation resulting from the sales of his fraudulent story. 

Common Bonds 

Alexander Ross further was able to exploit religious commonality between himself and John Brown Jr. At the end of December 1878, Junior had written to Ross, confiding that he and his brother (apparently Jason Brown) were in communication with dead friends in the spirit world. “We are Spiritualists,” Junior wrote.19 Ross was delighted to learn this; perhaps he had refrained at first from informing the Browns that he was also a Spiritualist because he assumed they were evangelicals like their late father. In fact, many of the Brown children had begun to leave Christianity while their father was still alive, and the elder sons, especially Junior and Jason Brown seem to have been easily taken in by the faddish Spiritualism of the day.20 On January 5, 1879, Ross wrote a lengthy letter to John Junior, declaring, “I feel a bond unites us and makes us brothers indeed.” Ross revealed that he had been a Spiritualist for fifteen years, and that he had published his lectures and essays on Spiritualism against “the orthodox tyrant” of Christianity.21 Junior was probably delighted by this rhetoric, since he was happy dismiss his father’s religious convictions, just as he had disregarded John Brown’s disdain for secret fraternal orders by joining the Masons in later years.  

Not only was Ross now able to wrap himself in the confidence of John Brown Jr., but he found another Brown sibling who was even more credulous and exploited this new connection even more.  Ross now also began an extensive communication with Anne Brown Adams, Junior’s younger half-sister, who was thirty-six-years old in 1879 when they began their correspondence. Anne was a teenager at the time of the Harper’s Ferry raid and had kept house for her father and his raiders at their Maryland headquarters in 1859. In later years, Anne’s writing could be cranky and eccentric, and she claimed to know more about her father’s intentions than she probably knew at the time. Yet she remained one of the most valuable historical eyewitnesses, ultimately outliving all of John Brown’s raiders. Anne corresponded with Ross over a sixteen-year period, ending in 1895. In her letters to Ross, she often recalled incidents from youth, or vented frustrations and shared personal details concerning various players in the John Brown story. To no surprise, Ross seems to have persuaded Anne to write a lengthy, descriptive essay about the Harper’s Ferry raiders, once more allegedly as a favor to his son Garibaldi.22

The Problematic Ross Testimony 

If anything, the passing of years and intimate access that Ross had to the Brown family probably tempted him to become even more daring in his claims. In discussing Ross a half-century later, Boyd Stutler thus advised his friend Gee that Ross’s “tales grew taller as he grew older.” “He tells about his intimate connection with J[ohn] B[rown],” Stutler continued, “yet I am convinced that he never knew him and had no dealings with the man in the flesh."23

In historical retrospect, Stutler’s judgment has been more than borne out by the evidence. In his day, Stutler apparently did not have access to the Ross-Brown correspondence that I have read in the Gilder Lehrman Collection here in New York City. But Stutler was absolutely correct in surmising that Ross indeed  “rangled some letters from the family long after J[ohn] B[rown] had passed.”24 Stutler reasoned that Alexander Ross seems to have had no connection with Brown, not even in terms of manuscripts. Further, Stutler cited an 1865 letter from Ross to George L. Stearns, one of John Brown’s “Secret Six” supporters–written a decade before the publication of his bogus memoir. In the letter Ross lies about meeting Brown during his secret convention in Chatham, Ontario, in 1858—a meeting that Ross definitely did not attend. In his letter, the lying Ross then tried to get some “slight memento” from Brown as a gift for his children.25

As Stutler observed, as early as 1865, Ross was fishing for an original John Brown document. A decade later, when Ross published his fradulent Recollections and Experiences, he claimed that he had at least two different letters that Brown had written to him personally in Brown’s own hand. Stutler concluded that Ross was self-condemned by his own 1865 letter to Stearns–and that his own writings exposed him as a “monumental liar” whose own testimony weighs heavily against his later claims.26

Ross’s Historical Sleight of Hand 

Without owning any real letter in Brown’s hand, Ross at first used a deceitful method of inventing documents for his memoir, sometimes by plagiarizing other published Brown letters. For instance, he appropriated a letter Brown sent to someone else inviting him to the Chatham convention. Interestingly, the version of Brown’s letter that he plagiarized was itself a paraphrase made from memory and does not follow the actual letter form that Brown had sent out. Furthermore, the alleged invitation to Ross from Brown exists nowhere in any archive. In the book, Ross used printed text for the letter and appended an image of Brown’s signature.27 A complete fake.

Ross fabricated another document for his memoir, claiming that Brown had written to him from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, two weeks before the Harper’s Ferry raid. In the counterfeit letter, Ross has Brown telling him he would begin the raid toward the end of October and wanted his help “in the way promised.” He signs the letter, “Your friend, John Brown,” although anything Brown wrote from Maryland in 1859 was either unsigned, or signed with the pseudonym, “Isaac Smith.”  But since Ross had no copy of letters written by Brown in late 1859, he simply appended a copy of John Brown’s signature, a fraud that seems to have been overlooked, even by the Brown family.  The invention of these fabricated letters from John Brown proved to be the nails in Ross’s historical coffin.  These letters are nowhere found in any archive, and if he had real letters from John Brown, Ross would not have written to Stearns in 1865, asking for something in Brown’s hand. 

Certainly, these initial fabrications were essential to Ross in validating himself as a key figure in the John Brown story, a lie that he continued to inflate in later years. Indeed, as late as 1893, Ross deceived biographer Richard Hinton, claiming that John Brown had confided in him at the time of the raid.28 Like so many others, Hinton accepted Ross’s story at face value, just as well-meaning Canadians also embraced the Ross deception as proud fact. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a number of noteworthy publications proudly cited Ross as a colleague of John Brown as well.29

Recall that when it came to introducing himself to the Browns in the late 1870s, Ross had sent John Brown Jr. “photographic copies” of the last words written by his father. In fact, he was quite generous in offering to make duplicates for as many of Brown’s children as were living at the time. Stutler points out that the original document resurfaced during the Chicago World’s Fair of 1892-93, which included a major John Brown exhibit. At that time, Ross sold the document to another collector, at which point it was revealed that he had only recently purchased it from Brown’s former guard through the agency of the former jailer in Charlestown. According to Stutler, however, Ross pretended to have owned the document for quite some time.30

But it seems that even Stutler did not know the extent of Ross’s deceit in the matter. If indeed Ross had only obtained the document shortly before the 1892-93 World’s Fair, it is clear that he had pretended to own it from the 1870s, especially when he sent photographs of the document to the Browns in 1877. Ross may have borrowed the original. But it is more likely that he had gotten a photograph of the document for himself through his correspondence the jailer, and then continued to pursue the document’s owner until finally purchasing it. So, in 1870s, when he frauded his way into the Brown family circle, he only had an image of the original document and had made second-generation reproductions to distribute John Brown Jr. and the others.

Ross fabricated other documents for his publication, including fake written orders of Governor Wise of Virginia (to which he also appended a facsimile signature). And most appalling, Ross manufactured a “last letter” from John Brown, which Ross dated December 1, 1859, the day before the abolitionist was hanged.31 (see "A Liar's Souvenir," Apr. 27, 2020)  To no surprise, these letters are nowhere to be found and certainly have never been documented by any historian or collector–perhaps the most pathetic testimony to both Ross’s fraudulence and his admiration for John Brown–the epitome of his fantasies as well as the deceptions he wormed into the pages of history. These fake letters also suggest how Ross both plotted and then pored over the many published letters by Brown, and then skillfully appropriated the characteristics of Brown’s personal correspondence in order to forge his own. Lastly, Ross constructed his own memoir somewhat cleverly according to his own studied and reconstructed history of John Brown’s activities. In order for him to set himself into the record as Brown’s colleague and collaborator, he cleverly selected the most dramatic and detailed period of the abolitionist’s life in the later 1850s, when Brown’s life was full of movement, secret meetings, and seemingly endless travel. The fabric of his public career at this time had pockets of dramatic mystery that Ross could exploit, bogus interviews with Brown that would not be easily questioned.  

A Legacy of Deceit 

But the truth of his duplicity could not remain buried forever, and in the 20th century Canadians who knew the real Ross whispered their suspicions. Not wanting to play the role of iconoclasts, no doubt, they seem to have talked among themselves, and a few of the old-timers were overhead calling Alexander Ross a “humbug.” In correspondence with Boyd Stutler, Canadian historian Fred Landon acknowledged that Ross “took in people very widely.”32

Fortunately, Stutler was unrelenting, and the more he sought, the more the noose of history tightened around the neck of Alexander Milton Ross. In 1953, the Chief of the Manuscripts Division of the Library Congress responded to inquiries made by Stutler about Ross. Apparently, the Library had transcripts of both an antislavery speech that Ross had given in 1864, and an antislavery tract that he had published in 1865. It seemed odd to Stutler that Ross did not mention knowing either John Brown or Abraham Lincoln in either document. The Librarian agreed that Ross had proven a hustler.  Stutler must have smiled when he read the Librarian’s own conclusion: “That, I submit, is like cheating at solitaire.”33

Alexander Ross first begged and then bought an original John Brown manuscript, only to sell it for a profit, just as he also profited from publishing three editions of his fake story, a self-glorifying myth that he inflated to shameless proportions over three decades. His was an ambitious and successful program of deceit that probably even deluded Ross himself into thinking his place in history was secure. But if the Browns never knew that Alexander Milton Ross was a fraud and a charlatan and never knew their famous father, at least history exposed him before the world. “Yea, verily,” Boyd Stutler wrote to his preacher friend Clarence Gee. “Alexander Ross was a liar and the truth was not in him.”34




1“Dr. A. M. Ross,” Canadian Illustrated News (March 31, 1877), 196, with the letters of A. M. Ross in the John Brown Jr. Papers, Charles E. Frohman Collection (FR-5), Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. Hereinafter, JBJR; “Alexander Milton Ross,” in Virtual American Biographies, at Virtualology.com. Retrieved in 2003. 

Alexander Milton Ross, Recollections and Experiences of An Abolitionist: From 1855 to 1865 (Toronto: Roswell and Hutchinson, 1875; rpt., Northbrook, Ill.: Metro Books, Inc., 1972). 

Ibid. 20-24.


4 Ibid., 48-65.


5 Boyd Blynn Stutler (1890-1970) was indeed both a first-rate journalist and historian. He began his career as the owner and editor of a Grantsville, West Virginia, newspaper at the age of sixteen, a position he held until being elected mayor of that town at the age of twenty-seven. He afterward worked as a war time correspondent for the American Legion Magazine, and as editor of other newspapers. An authority on the history of his home state, Stutler also served as president of the West Virginia Historical Society in the late 1950s. He wrote several books on state history and numerous articles about John Brown. See “Historian, Ex-Legion Editor Dies,” The Charlestown Daily Mail (Feb. 19, 1970). Stutler’s documentary and historical contributions to the John Brown story, though often unsung, remain unparalleled. Fortunately for students and scholars, a large part of his Brown collection is available on the excellent  West Virginia Archives and History website.

 6 For instance, Stutler wrote that he was disappointed in the portrayal of Brown in Allan Nevins’s Emergence of Lincoln, especially because he had been the author’s consultant. Though he greatly admired Nevins’s writing style, Stutler was frustrated by his bent toward treating Brown harshly, even though “his strictures were softened considerably” in the final draft of the book. He felt that many historians were clinging to “untenable ground” in their negative evaluations of the abolitionist. Boyd B. Stutler to Clarence S. Gee, Dec. 11, 1950, 1, in Stutler-Gee Correspondence, Hudson Library & Historical Society, Hudson, Ohio. Hereinafter, Stut-Gee. 

 7 Boyd B. Stutler to Clarence S. Gee, Apr. 20, 1953, 1, Stut-Gee. 

 8 Richard J. Hinton, John Brown and His Men (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1894). Hinton apparently takes Ross’s word for it by saying that the doctor was “a faithful friend of John Brown, efficient as an ally also” (p. 171). It is interesting that Hinton, himself an associate of Brown, places Ross nowhere in the story except where Ross has placed himself. 

 9 For instance, significant correspondence of Brown’s children can be found in the Henry Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif., the Gilder Lehrman Collection, currently at the New York Historical Society, New York, N.Y., and the Hudson Library & Historical Society, Hudson, Ohio. Of course, other important archives hold Brown family correspondence dating from before the time of the raid and afterward. 

 10 See Louis A. DeCaro, Jr., “Black People’s Ally, White People’s Bogeyman: A John Brown Story,” in Andrew Taylor and Eldrid Herrington, The Afterlife of John Brown (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 10-25. 

 11 Oswald G. Villard’s John Brown Papers, including research notes, chronology date books, primary and secondary sources, correspondence, and the author’s handwritten manuscript are held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Collection of the Columbia University Library, New York, N.Y. Hereinafter, OGV. 

 12 See William Lloyd Garrison to Alexander M. Ross, Aug. 25, 1875 in “J.B. Estimates of” folder, Box 3, OGV; and Katherine Mayo’s notes on the second edition of Ross’s Recollections and Experiences, in “JB Jail Letters 1859" folder, Box 5, and “Mrs. John Brown and Family” folder, Box 6, OGV. 

 13 Written on a small piece of paper in Brown’s hand is a kind of prophecy of the coming Civil War: “Charlestown Va 2d December 1859[.] I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land: will never be purged away but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed: it might be done.” The original is now in the Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, Ill. 

14 Alexander M. Ross to John Brown Jr. and Owen Brown, Nov. 15, 1877, JBJR. In subsequent letters, however, he did not continue to use this Quaker affect. 

 15 Alexander M. Ross to John Brown Jr., March 18, 1878, JBJR. Ross probably did not know that Mary Brown was actually John Junior’s stepmother, but the children of Brown’s first wife, Dianthe, often referred Mary as “Mother” anyway. 

16 Alexander M. Ross to John Brown Jr., Apr. 2 & 28, 1878, JBJR; Ross’s son was actually named Norman Garibaldi Ross, his middle name taken in honor of the Italian liberator, Giuseppe Garibaldi. 

 17 For instance, John Brown Jr. gave a letter in his father’s handwriting to an enthusiastic Presbyterian minister. When the minister wrote a moving letter of thanks, Brown gave him a second letter. Upon learning that the Browns had clipped and sold John Brown’s signatures from other letters, he expressed interest in buying the mutilated letters as well. Besides those that were sold by other Brown siblings, there is no telling how many John Brown letters have been lost to history as a result of such generosity or financial need. See Henry G. Martin to John Brown Jr., Dec. 31, 1885 and Jan. 23, 1886, JBJR 

 18 See letters from Alexander M. Ross to John Brown Jr. dated May 9 and 23, and Oct. 22, 1878, JBJR. 

 19 John Brown Jr. to Alexander M. Ross, Dec. 27, 1878, #3007 pt 2/3, in the Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York Historical Society, New York, NY. Hereinafter, GLC. 

 20 While Brown’s daughters seem to have maintained their father and mother’s evangelical faith in later years, the sons seem never to have returned to the fold, especially John Brown Jr. See my discussion in Louis A. DeCaro Jr., “Fire from the Midst of You”: A Religious Life of John Brown (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 207-09.


21 Alexander M. Ross to John Brown Jr., Jan. 5, 1879, JBJR. 

 22 A significant collection of letters written by John Brown Jr. and Anne Brown Adams to Alexander M. Ross can be found in GLC. Anne’s lengthy description of the raiders is found in Anne Brown Adams to “Master Garibaldi Ross,” Dec. 15, 1882, #3007.03, GLC. 

23 Boyd B. Stutler to Clarence S. Gee, Sept. 18, 1951, 1, Stut-Gee. 

24 Boyd B. Stutler to Fred Landon, Jan. 26, 1953, RP11-0035 A-I, in the Boyd B. Stutler Collection, West Virginia State Archives web site. Hereinafter, Stut-Web. 

25 Alexander M. Ross to George L. Stearns, Jan. 22, 1865, MS09-0021 A-C, Stut-Web; Stutler discusses this letter in Stutler to Gee, Sept. 18, 1951 in Stutler to Landon, Jan. 26, 1953. 

26 Ross, Recollections and Experiences, 53; Stutler to Landon, Jan. 26, 1953. 

27 See Stutler to Landon, Jan. 26, 1953. The bogus invitation is found in Recollections and Experiences, 53. 

 28 Hinton, John Brown and His Men, 174 (n. 1, par. 1). 

 29 Fred Landon to Boyd B. Stutler, Jan. 31, 1953, RP11-0035 A-I, Stut-Web. 

 30 Stutler to Landon, Jan. 26, 1953.


31 Katherine Mayo’s literal transcription from the second edition of Recollections and Experiences, in “JB Jail Letters 1859" folder, Box 5, OGV. 

32 Fred Landon to Boyd B. Stutler, Jan. 20, 1953, RP11-0035 A-I, Stu t- Web. 

33 Report of David C. Mearns, Chief, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., to Boyd B. Stutler, Apr. 17, 1953, in A. M. Ross file, Gee Papers, Hudson Library & Historical Society, Hudson, Ohio.

34 Stutler to Gee, Sept. 18, 1951.

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