Monday, November 30, 2009

I have been awarded the "Kreative Blogger's Award "

Robyn (of Reclaiming Kin), made my day today when she emailed me to tell me that she awarded me the "Kreative Blogger's Award." I am honored to be in such great company and hope that I can continue to both entertain and educate with my blog.

My research into my ancestor, John Brown, and his descendants has taken me all over the United States, and introduced me to many, many new friends. When I was younger, I never imagined that I would be friends with College Professors, Historians, Published Authors, History Buffs, Descendants of Frederick Douglass, Bloggers and many others who just share an interest in my ancestor.

I enjoy writing the blog, although I have been lax in my writing lately due to all my John Brown travels. I am on my last two trips this week, and things should quiet down around here after the commemoration of his burial in North Elba, NY on Dec 8, 2009.

This award comes with the responsibility of sharing 7 things about myself and passing the award on to 7 more bloggers.

Seven Things You May Not Have Known About Me:

1. All through my children's 12 years of schooling I answered to the name "The Twins Mom" (I am the mother of identical twin boys, now 23 years old)

2. I make really cool, outlandish, over-the-top Bows (I used to own a Gift Basket Company)

3. I can crochet, tat, needlepoint, cross stitch, crewel, embroider, quilt, smock, candlewick, weave, but I can not Knit!!! (anybody want to teach me?)

4. I have known my "Bestest Friend in the Whole Wide World" Cheryl for 48 years, ever since we collided on our tricycles.

5. I am fascinated by Serial Killers, and read every book I can find on the subject.

6. I refuse to cook fried food (If you want fried chicken, KFC is down the street!)

7. My favorite folk group is Twice as Far. My very good friend and neighbor, Judi,  is in the group and I go to all of her concerts! (You can listen to thier music on their site)

I hereby award the Kreative Blogger Award to the following  Blogs that I read and enjoy!

The Family Curator
The Tangled Branches of My Family
The Olive Tree
We Tree
Footenote Maven
The Heart and Craft of Life Writing
John Brown The Abolitionist: a biographers blog

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I need help with a numbering challange

I hope some of the genealogist that read my Blog can help me with a Henry Numbering System question.

The work I am doing on the descendants of John Brown is a continuation of years of work started by Dr Clarence Gee. Dr Gee assigned the Henry Numbering System to each person in the data collection. Since Dr Gee's work has been referenced for years, I wanted to continue the established numbering system.

We start with Capt John Brown and his number is B1
His son Owen was his 8th child so his number is B18
John Brown is Owen's fourth child so his number is B184
John's 20 children are numbered B1841, B1842, B1843, B1844, B1845, .......B184X, B184XI, B184XII etc to Ellen, the 20th, with number B184Xx

Great, everything is going well until today I was trying to enter a cousin's line and she has 2 ties back to John Brown. Her Grandfather is descendant from Ruth Brown Thompson and her grandmother is descendant from Solmon Brown. This means that both grandparents have a unique Henry Number.


This is making my head ache. Does anyone have a solution to this strange problem?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Owen Brown - my gggg Grandfather

John Brown's father, Owen Brown (1771-1856) is buried in the Old Hudson Township Burying Ground, located on Chapel Street in Hudson Ohio. Also buried here are Owen's first wife, Ruth Mills Brown (1772-1808), his second wife, Sally Root Brown (1789 - 1840) and Owen and Sally's son, Watson (1813-1832). Owen is buried between his wives, with Watson next to Sally.
The graves are shown in the picture at right.  From left to right: Watson, Sally, Owen (base only), and Ruth. Owen's headstone has broken off the base.

When Owen's headstone fell, it fell face down, and to prevent the possibility of more damage to the stone being caused by well meaning public trying to turn the stone over, the City of Hudson Park and Recreation Department have placed the headstone face up in front of Ruth's headstone. The P&R Department is working on a plan to not only repair Owen's headstone, but also preserve all historic headstones in Hudson.

 As early as the 1920s,  the descendants attending the annual Brown Family Reunions, expressed concern about the maintenance of the Brown's headstones. They discussed commissioning the building of wood and glass enclosures,  similar to the one around John Brown's headstone in North Elba NY, to protect the headstones of Owen, Ruth and Sally from the elements and the effects of time. This subject was discussed at numerous future reunions, but no final decision was ever made. And so the effects of time continue to take their toll on these headstones.

These are lovely violets that I found growing wild in the cemetery. Small, yet prolific, they add a spark of color to this small cemetery.
On a non John Brown note: I found this headstone, for Stephen Thompson, Jr who served as a drummer boy in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. His stone has brass markers to show he was a veteran of each of these wars. He is buried one row behind Owen and his family.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday Treasure - Recording of John Brown's Body

Over the past 30 years, I have been the recipient of some fascinating letters, emails, FaceBook notifications, and phone calls from people regarding John Brown.

One such FaceBook connection occured in June of this year and resulted in today's featured treasure. Emeritus Professor of Mycology at Cornell University, Richard P. Korf wrote me the following:
I assume you are the lady I read about in an article sent to me by my cousin from her local paper, indicating that you are a great-great-great-granddaughter of John Brown of Harpers Ferry fame. I have a strong connection, in that I was very influenced by the story, and particularly the book-length poem called John Brown's Body by Stephen Vincent Benét, which received the Pulitzer Prize in 1929. Probably you have read it. Oddly enough it never was made into an audio book. I finally discovered that there is a copyright issue, and managed to get permission to do a "not for sale" version (I am now 84, and a lifetime actor) which I recorded in 2006. I have a few copies left and would be happy to send you one (it is on 12 CD discs, 13-1/2 hours long!). You can send me your postal address if so.

Richard P. Korf
Emeritus Professor of Mycology. Cornell University 
Think about this, Professor Korf was so enthralled with  John Brown's Body by Stephen Vincent Benét, that he spent considerable time, effort, and his own money to manufacture 100 limited editions of a 12 CD set that he cannot sell due to copyright regulations.

I immediately responded that I would be honored to receive one of his recordings. A few days later I received a package in the mail with a professionally packaged, produced set of CDs. Professor Korf's voice is a joy to listen to, and the set is amazing. The front cover of the box features the Stephen Benét postage stamp, while the back is the 1859 photograph of John Brown with his full beard. Inside each CD is labeled and tucked into its own pocket.

From the Liner Notes: 
Dick Korf's thoughts about this audio book
     This recording was made in 2006, a last gasp of an 80-year-old lifelong actor, the culmination of a 20-year dream. It is dedicated to my actress daughter, Mia Korf, for encouragement, and to my wife, Kumi, for everything.  
     I grew up as a ravenous reader, encountering Stephen Vincent Benét's John Brown's Body at the age of 14, I was captivated by the book, which I read and reread over the ensuing sixty-some years. It surely helped form me into an anti-war activist.
     My acting career began at an early age in Riverdale Country School in New York City, eventually being cast in major roles in three annual outdoor productions of Shakespeare's plays. These contributed immeasurably to my appreciation of both drama and poetry.
     Poetry has a very special place in my heart, and as a youth I began reading and writing poetry. I agree with Stephen Vincent Benét: poetry begs to be read aloud. The skilled poet may embed in his poems frequent "stage directions" in the chose of typographic tools (punctuation, the use of parentheses, italic typeface, paragraphs, long dashes, indentations), and of course changes in meter or rhyme. Benét's use of these tools simplified my narration of the poem; these are treated here as not only readers' but narrator's guidelines.
     This recording is intended to bring this important poem about our American Civil War, the most destructive was in American history, to the attention of my family and close friends. While I recognize this is not a professional recording, it remedies the lack of an audio book version in the commercial market.
     The theatre has been my lifelong passion. I performed during my college years at Cornell University (where I later became a professor) and I continued, both on stage and in radio dramas. While on my final sabbatical leave before retirement I took a fling at off-off-Broadway performances of three plays while in New York City.
     I gratefully acknowledge the contributions of my granddaughter, Maia Vidal, for her vocal solo and Emoretta Yang for a guitar version of the song John Brown's Body. My eldest daughter, Noni Korf Vidal, contributed a violin version and is mainly responsible for post-recording production; her unstinting help and my wife Kumi's generosity made this audio book a reality. Pete Wetherbee helped me develop the reading with initial recording sessions in 2002 in San Bruno, CA, and later edited the discs. One of my twin sons, Ian Korf, helped me with recording techniques in 2005 in Davis, CA. My other son, Mario Korf, edited these liner notes.                              Dick Korf
A truly impressive presentation. It is a shame that due to copyright legalities, Professor Korf is not permitted to offer his incredibly moving rendition of this important work of literature, but I am truly blessed to have received a copy from him. I am holding onto this treasure. When I walk past my bookshelves and see the case, I always think fondly of the Professor whom I have never met, yet he felt inclined to share his lifelong dream with me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Descendant Celebrates Ancestry

News Article about my cousin Mary Ward Buster - John Brown's Half Second Great Grandniece

News - Osawatomie
Written by Brandon Steinert
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 07:00
John Brown’s descendants relived the raid on Harpers Ferry, W.Va., during the event’s sesquicentennial on Oct. 16.

Mary Buster, who grew up in Osawatomie and lived here until she was 23, is a direct descendant of Brown. Brown’s half-sister, Florella Adair, is her great-great-grandmother.

Buster made the drive to West Virginia to participate in the 150-year observance of Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, which was a plan to spark a revolt of slaves in the area and to arm them with weapons that Brown planned to capture from a federal arsenal.
The plan failed, and Brown and his men made a long last stand in a firehouse. The sesquicentennial involved a reenactment of this violent event.

“I loved just the excitement of getting to be where it all happened,” Buster said. “I felt like I was standing on holy ground.”
She said Brown’s plan had been lost on her until this trip, when it finally made sense to her.
“(It helped) getting to hear it from the authors there and the people who were talking about John Brown,” she said. “It was an excellent plan. People say he was crazy to think he could do this, but if it hadn’t been for one or two accidents, it probably would have worked. He really thought it out.”

Months prior to the attack, Brown stayed with his men at the Kennedy farmhouse four miles north of Harpers Ferry. The farmstead is still standing today, and Buster said that was her favorite part of the trip.

“I got a personal tour by the man who owns the house, through the entire house,” she said, “including the room Brown and his men hid for the months leading up to the raid.”

Buster also encountered a group in possession of the last letters John and Mary Brown exchanged during their final hours.
“It shows the human side of John Brown,” she said.

Her plan is to get the letters to Osawatomie to be displayed for next year’s Freedom Festival.

“It was amazing to be so far from home and still have people talk about John Brown all the time,” Buster said. “It’s obvious in that park that John Brown is viewed as a hero. Every African-American I met threw their arms around me and hugged me. It was wonderful. (They were) very positive toward the man and what he was trying to do, and that was very nice to see.”

During her three-day stay, she met descendents of Brown’s men, townspeople of Harpers Ferry and others whose lives were affected by the event in some way.

“I am extremely proud,” she said. “The more I read about John Brown and his sister Florella, the more I am proud to say I am related to them.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Continuation of Dr. Clarence S. Gee's work on Brown Family Line

Dr. Clarence Stafford Gee (1884 – 1975), a Congregational Minister from Ohio, was also a highly respected John Brown historian. He specialized in the genealogy of the Browns and once said of his collection, "My interest is not that of a collector, save a collector of facts." This dedication to the facts helped to establish his credibility in the numerous articles he wrote about John Brown and items related to John Brown.

Dr. Gee's introduction into the intriguing world of John Brown occurred in 1921, while he was reviewing parish records at the Hudson (Ohio) Congregational church. He discovered that, as a youth, John Brown had been a member of the Hudson Congregational Church, which at the time met in a small hand-hewed log church on the green. His further research revealed that the wedding of John Brown to Dianethe Lusk, in June of 1820, was one of the earliest events to take place in the newly built and larger church building located at East Main and Church Street.

During his daily interaction with church members, Dr. Gee learned that there were old-timers in town who had personally known both John and his father Owen, as well as younger parishioners who had grown up hearing stories about the abolitionist family from their parents. He began interviewing the townsfolk and documenting their memories. He continued to study Brown and his descendants for the next 54 years.

His most valuable contribution to the history of John Brown was his detailed study of the family lines from John Brown's father, Owen, through the 1950s. He carefully documented his findings on "genealogy sheets," which now reside in the Hudson Library and Historical Society, in Hudson, Ohio.

Dr. Gee regularly corresponded with numerous members of the Brown family and attended nearly all of the Brown Family Reunions that were held every year from 1921 to 1965 (excluding the three years of World War II). He often presented charts, histories, and updated information on the many branches of the family. His contributions were so highly regarded within the family that during the 1932 meeting the following resolution was passed:

Whereas, the Rev. Clarence S. Gee has shown such an interest in and devotion to the study of the life and activity of John Brown; and because of his faithful attendance upon the annual meetings of our family; and because of his valuable and willing contribution to our reunion meetings,
Therefore, be it resolved that Rev. Gee and family be admitted as honorary members of this family, and,
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be transmitted by the Secretary to the Rev. Clarence Gee and family, and that a copy be written into the minutes of this meeting.

                                                                                                    Signed Committee on Resolutions

In May of 2009, I visited the Hudson Library and Historical Society to prowl through the archives. I too have been interested in the genealogy of John Brown and his descendants and wanted to review Dr. Gee's work for myself. What I found fascinated me, and I eagerly stood at the copy machine and copied all of the pages in the 6-inch binder. Once home I set about the momentous task of comparing Dr. Gee's mountain of data against my large database (Legacy 7.0). Some additions here, some corrections there, more research needed over there, and I finally completed merging the two sets of information into one database. For some of the family lines I had more information than Dr. Gee had, on other lines Dr. Gee's information far surpassed my information. I am now ready to continue collecting and updating the family history.

I am looking forward to many more years of research and communication with other Brown family members.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thursday Treasures - Bee Keesey Fuchsia

Bee Keesey Fuchsia
Originally uploaded by fuchsiajp

 The treasure I am sharing today is the beautiful Fuchsia named "Bee Keesey" (Pennisi, USA 1972). This fuchsia was developed and named in honor of my grandmother, Beatrice Cook Keesey.

Beatrice Cook Keesey (1902-1992) was a great granddaughter of John Brown, the abolitionist. She was very active in the American Fuchsia Society (AFS) and the local Santa Clara Valley Branch from 1960 through the late 1980s. Her dedication to these intriguing  flowers was legendary in the Santa Clara Valley. She taught seminars about growing, pruning, and  propagating the hundreds of varieties of these graceful flowers. She was an accredited fuchsia judge in great demand throughout the state of California. Her own small garden was filled with 400 + varieties of fuchsias, as well as begonias, African violets and roses. She served as President of the AFS in the 1980s and was influential in organizing the first annual AFS convention.

Description of the Bee Keesey Fuchsia -- Double. Tube white, thick, short sepals white with green tips, long, standing straight out. Corolla wisteria-blue with white veriegations, large, full, box type. Growth, trailer with weights, easily trained as a weeping standard. Source: Find That Fuchsia website

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by Alice Keesey Mecoy and remain the property of Alice Keesey Mecoy. If you would like to use a photograph or post on your site, please ask for permission first and give proper credit. Thank you!

Wordless Wednesday - I hang out with really cool people!!

Taken in Hudson Ohio 2009

Louis DeCaro, author of   "John Brown: The Man Who Lived,"  "John Brown--the Cost of Freedom" "'Fire from the Midst of You': A Religious Life of John Brown"Alice Keesey Mecoy,  David Reynolds, author of "'John Brown, Abolitionist' The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights"

Tombstone Tuesday - When there are no graves.

While I was searching through my database deciding whose gravesite to feature on today's Tombstone Tuesday, I thought that I would feature my Mother, since her birthday would have been November 5.

Let me begin by saying that my family doesn't "do funerals". Both sets of my grandparents and my mother have passed away and I have never been to a family funeral. I was 30 before I ever visited the grave of a relative. I know for sure that my paternal grandparents and my mother were cremated and their ashes scattered in the ocean. I need to find out if my maternal grandparents were buried or cremated.

 Norma Jean Fullerton Hancock Keesey

 Born: Nov 5, 1931 in Los Angeles, CA

Died: Dec 30, 1997 in Palo Alto, CA

My mother died peacefully after a long battle with diabetes.

I miss you mom.

Photo Credit: Paul Keesey (my Dad)

Unless otherwise noted, all Photographs taken by Alice Keesey Mecoy and remain the property of Alice Keesey Mecoy. If you would like to use a photograph or post on your site, please ask for permission first and give proper credit. Thank you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

John Brown Sentenced to Hang Today in 1859

On November 2, 1859, John Brown faced the court and heard his sentence of hanging from the neck until dead. His sentence was scheduled to be carried out on December 2, 1859. When asked if he had any words for the court, Brown stood and addressed the court with what many feel is the second most important speech of the antebellum era, surpassed only by Lincoln's Gettysburg address.
"In the first place, I deny everything but what I have all along admitted, of a design on my part to free the slaves. I intended, certainly, to have made a clean thing of that matter, as I did last winter when I went into Missouri and there took slaves without the snapping of a gun on either side, moved them through the country, and finally leaving them in Canada. I designed to have done the same thing again, on a larger scale. That was all I intended to do. I never did intend murder, or treason, or the destruction of property, or to excite or incite the slaves to rebellion, or to make insurrection.... This court acknowledges, too, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament, which teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to remember them that are in bonds as bound with them. I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done - as I have always freely admitted I have done - in behalf of His despised poor is no wrong but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments - I say, let it be done!"
For the next thirty days Brown sat in his cell in Charlestown, Virginia where he conducted what may have been one of the earliest PR media blitzes. He gave interviews to both Northern and Southern journalists, greeted and spoke to almost all of his visitors, wrote prolific amounts of letters, and refused to even consider plans to break him out of prison. He had come to realize that his death, as a martyr, at the hands of the government of Virginia, would be the best way for him to strike a blow against slavery.

Now 150 years later, we see that his martyrdom did in fact bring the conflict into the light of day, and was a catalyst for the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, but did not bring about the end of the horror of slavery.

Today you have a chance to do something. Join one of the great organizations listed below; boycott products that use indentured workers, particularly children; participate in the United Nations International Abolitionist Day;  JUST DO SOMETHING.

Frederick Douglas Family Foundation
Free the Slaves
U. N. International Abolitionist Day


Sunday, November 1, 2009

John Brown's Favorite Hymn

     John Brown was a man of action. Whether drilling his raiders, fighting for equality, or leading the family in daily religious services, John Brown both expected and demanded participation of those around him. However, there was also a softer side to John Brown.

     Brown was a loving, compassionate father of twenty, who enjoyed singing hymns to his children. Eight of his children outlived him, and in their letters and written remembrances, we find many references to their father singing them to sleep, and nursing them through sickness.

     Brown's favorite hymn was "Blow Ye the Trumpet Blow," by Charles Wesley (1707 – 1787). Wesley, who also wrote "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," was a founding father of the Methodist movement in England. On the Methodist calendar, May 24 is recognized as "Wesley Day," commemorating the date of his spiritual awakening.

     Brown's great love of the hymn "Blow Ye the Trumpet Blow" was well known by his acquaintances. Lyman Epps, a North Elba neighbor, sang the hymn during Brown's funeral in 1859. On December 8, 2009, this hymn will once again be heard at John Brown's gravesite, during the John Brown Coming Home events. Join me in North Elba as we raise our voices in unison....
The year of jubilee is come!
The year of jubilee is come!
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

     Take a moment to read the words of this simple, yet powerful hymn. The melody can be heard by clicking here

Blow ye the Trumpet, Blow!

Blow ye the trumpet, blow!
The gladly solemn sound
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound:

The year of jubilee is come!
The year of jubilee is come!
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

Jesus, our great high priest,
Hath full atonement made,
Ye weary spirits, rest;
Ye mournful souls, be glad:


Extol the Lamb of God,
The sin atoning Lamb;
Redemption by His blood
Throughout the lands proclaim:


Ye slaves of sin and hell,
Your liberty receive,
And safe in Jesus dwell,
And blest in Jesus live:


Ye who have sold for naught
Your heritage above
Shall have it back unbought,
The gift of Jesus’ love:


The Gospel trumpet hear,
The news of heavenly grace;
And saved from earth, appear
Before your Savior’s face: