Thursday, October 29, 2009

Treasure Thursday - John Brown Christmas Ornament

The treasure I am sharing with you today is a Christmas ornament featuring my great, great, great grandfather, John Brown.

The ornament was commissioned by the National Abolition Hall of Fame and features Joe Flores' unique likeness of John Brown. This image was used in the 2008 induction ceremony.

Want to find out more about the National Abolition Hall of Fame, John Brown or purchase abolitionist items? Visit the NAHoF store or website!

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!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - NAHOF Induction of John Brown

Dot Willsey and Alice Keesey Mecoy
John Brown Induction to National Abolition
Hall of Fame, 2008
Photo Taken by Fred Mecoy

If you would like to post pictures or articles from my blog somewhere else on the internet, please ask my permission first. Thank you.

Tombstone Tuesday - Annie Brown Adams and children

Annie Brown Adam's grave site was thought to be lost for a number of years. Historians and my father tried to locate the grave site and were unable to do so, not because it had moved or they had the wrong address, but because the graveyard was completely overgrown with weeds and brambles making identification of the individual graves impossible.

My father's cousin, Dede, was instrumental in getting the cemetery cleaned up and de-thorned. In 2008, my father and I traveled to Rohnerville Pioneer Cemetery to take pictures of the famly graves there. If you look through the hole in the redwood burl sign at left, you can see  the grave of Annie Brown Adams, John Brown's daughter who worked as housekeeper and watcher at the Kennedy Farmhouse in the summer of 1859.

Annie's grave is a long rectangular block of rough stone with a small marble headstone that reads "Annie Brown Adams 1843-1926." No mention of her historical significance nor are there any references to her infamous father, John Brown. Next to Annie are the graves of two of her 10 children, Lolita and Grace, as well as the grave of her grand twin Kenneth Cook. Annie's grave is in need of repair: it is not level, the right side is jutting up from the ground and Lolita's headstone is broken on the ground. My Great Aunt Alice, Annie's granddaughter, remembers visiting Annie's grave once after one of the great floods and finding the entire topstone displaced and the coffin sticking out of the ground. 

Below are closeup photographs of each of the headstones.
Close up of Annie's head stone

 Annie Brown Adams

Close up of Lolita's head stone lies broken on the grass

Dau. of
S.S & Annie Brown
Died Oct. 2, 1874
Aged 1mo. 4 ds
Of such is the Kingdom of heaven

Close up of Gace's head stone

Our Gracie
Dau of
S.S. & Annie Brown
Died March 12, 1878
Aged 1 yr. 10 mo. & 12 ds
He doeth all things well

Close up of Kenneth's head stone

Kenneth Cook

Kenneth was the 6th child of Annie's daughter Bertha (my great grandmother). Kenneth and Clinton were twins. Kenneth lived for 1 month and 2 days..

Asos buried in this cemetery is Cora, Salmon and Abbie's 17 year old daughter who died after being thrown from a horse. Not long after her death, Salmon and his family left the Rohnerville area of California and moved to Oregon, leaving Cora behind.

Closeup of Cora's Head stone

Cora A.
Daughter of
S. & A.C. Brown
May 19, 1877
17 yrs 4 mos 3 days

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fun Fact Friday - 2 free music downloads

Two Great Musicians are offering downloads of their John Brown music free this month.

David Rovics - songs with a conscience. Excellent singer reminiscent of Harry Chapin and Arlo Guthry. David is a believer in the rights of humanity and offers his songs via download for free.

Directions to download John Brown by David Rovicks

Go to his music website
1. Click on the music link on the left hand menu bar
2. Scroll halfway down page and click on John Brown
3. Click on "Full song info"
4. Click on "download" and follow the prompts. 
See David on YouTube singing John Brown

Alastair Moock- bluesy edgy folk music is the best way to describe Alastair's music.
In honor of the 150th Commemoration of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Alastair is offering his song, Cloudsplitter, inspired by the novel by the same name, for download free through October 31, 2009

Directions to download  Cloudsplitter by Alastair Moock
Go to this special webpage
Follow the directions

These two wonderful musicians have written some amazing music honoring "The Old Man".  Hope you enjoy them as much as I have and do!

PS if you like the songs please consider supporting them by purchasing their albums or donating to their causes. Thank you

Monday, October 19, 2009

Incredible Week at Harpers Ferry!

To all the wonderful people that I met over the past week during the Harpers Ferry Commemoration,  

Thank You for making the week the best time of my life!

I will have updates, pictures and stories posted soon, but today I am resting up! 

Love and Hugs,
Alice Keesey Mecoy

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Loong Day in Harpers Ferry -Tired but Happy!

We have been to 3 sessions about John Brown, had lunch on a covered patio while it was 30 degrees and raining, toured Charles Town courthouse and museum, had yummy Chinese food for dinner, attended a book discussion about John Brown's Trial, attended an excellent play about John Brown and his wife, Mary, and their correspondence. Gave 2 interviews, made many new friends, hugged old friends Louis, Jean, Larry, Brenda, and many more. My cousin Mary left me a voice message and I met some of Brenda's 55 relatives that are here. Wow am I tired! good night

Monday, October 12, 2009

Salvery is still a problem....

Many people believe that John Brown's vision of a world with out slavery has been achieved, and while great victories, such as the Emancipation Act and the 13th amendment to the Bill of Rights,  have been recognized around the world, slavery is STILL an issue around the world.

Women are kidnapped and forced into the sex industry; immigrants are forced to work for years to pay off unjust travel fees; children as young as 6 and 7 are forced to work 12-hour days in unsafe factory conditions - these are just some of the heart-wrenching examples of modern slavery.

How does this apply to me, you ask? As long as even one person is enslaved, the value of the entire human race is diminished. Join the fight against slavery now, today, this instant. As John Brown said in 1858, "Talk-talk-talk! That will never free the slaves! What is needed is action-action." 

Ways you can take action against slavery in 2009:

1. Research companies work conditions before you make purchases. Beware of the "cheap" knockoffs offered on street corners and discount houses. Many are made with slave labor as shown in this article, "As You Were Saying...Human Cost Not Bogus"

2. Support organizations that oppose slavery such as The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, which was started by the great, great, great grandson of Frederick Douglass.

3. Prostitution/Sex industry is a large part of the slavery market - do not participate in an industry that degrades and exploits women and children.

John Brown gave his life for the eradication of an unjust institution. The proprietors of slavery no longer stand in the limelight shouting "It is my right to own slaves and to treat them anyway I see fit," now they hide behind corrupt foreign governments, bogus companies, and unbridled greed.

As we commemorate the 150 anniversary of John Brown's attempt to end slavery, let us all take a vow to continue to fight this ugly and degrading practice and work to eradicate it once and for all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"THE" big week is almost here!

Fred and I leave for West Virginia Sunday morning, and I am so excited I can hardly sit still, let alone sleep.

Looking forward to having dinner with Lynn and Ron Widmyer on Tuesday. 

I will be presenting my paper on Wednesday, the first day of the academic symposium. I am on a panel with two incredible scholars (who I have had email discussions with for over a year) - Sandra Webber and Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz.

I will be giving my presentation "John Brown and Family Remembered: life after the hanging of John Brown" in the author tent on Friday at 3:00.

I have made arrangements with lots of people to meet with them during the week - distant relations that I have not met yet, relations of raiders and Kansas fighters, authors, historians, actors, friends I have met before and friends that I have not met yet.

Hang on, this is going to be a wild ride!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Online exhibit offers easy access to John Brown documents

Gov. Joe Manchin and officials from the state Division of Culture and History on Tuesday announced the launch of an online exhibit called "His Soul Goes Marching On: The Life and Legacy of John Brown."
The site, which includes more than 300 images and dozens of documents, is meant to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Brown's Oct. 16 raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. It can be viewed at
Visitors can find digital images of materials like the proclamation for Brown's execution, his personal correspondence, and newspaper sketches of Brown's raid, trial and burial.
"Primary sources are what we're all about here," said state Archives and History Director Joe Geiger.
Most of the material comes from the state's Boyd B. Stutler collection, one of the largest compilations of John Brown memorabilia. The online exhibit includes 14 chapters, starting with Brown's birth and ending with the legacy he left after death.
The site is set up so that visitors can either skim over the material or delve in to each chapter -- much like taking a trip to a museum, Geiger said.
The exhibit also includes lesson plans for teachers whose classes are learning about Brown. Most of the lessons focus on the raid at Harpers Ferry, said Bryan Ward, Archives and History assistant director. 
"It's pivotal to what happens later on with West Virginia's statehood," he said.
In recent years, the state has stepped up efforts to digitize its archives, said Geiger, who added that most visitors to the Archives Library are genealogy buffs researching their family history. People can now find birth, death, and marriage certificates on the division's Web site as part of the Vital Research Records Project.
Officials hope to create another online exhibit on the Civil War, he said.
Through December, 40 images of Brown and the raid will be displayed in the north wing of the Culture Center's Great Hall.

Characters Unite

Characters Unite

Join the Movement. Characters Unite is working to bring about the type of world that John Brown envisioned for America.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009


John Brown used photographs to raise funds and recruit followers to fight for liberation of slaves.

Fourteen photographic portraits are on exhibit in the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in October, 2009, for the 150th anniversary of the raid. It is also on display at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in Philadelphia beginning in October 2009. This full-color catalog of the exhibition adds many historic details and context of his life and movements.

Most of Brown's his original portraits were daguerreotypes. The prints are as close as possible to the original source, resulting in detail that is astonishing when compared with the familiar renditions in textbooks and the Internet.
Abolitionist and Free-State emigration sponsors of several of the sittings wanted to utilize his charismatic force evident in the new medium.

The editor describes the practices of photography at the time, such as painted photographs, photographs projected onto canvas, as well as making reproducible negatives from the single-image daguerreotype with original photography copyright.

Association of some photographers with the Underground Railroad shows compelling evidence of John Brown s motivation and actions. Others were inventors and creators of new processes and techniques, which John Brown eagerly adapted, just as he wanted the newest weapons

Major collections of John Brown papers and artifacts are described by historians and archivists for readers who want to look for John Brown in their travels or research, and online. The definitive aspect of the exhibition and catalog is the dispersal of the early photographs into many institutional collections, which in turn copyright and reproduce them. This process is respected.

The images are grouped into three distinct time periods between 1848 and 1859: the Fugitive Slave Law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott Decision.

Jean Libby is a longtime chronicler of events and people associated with the John Brown raid. She began this independent journey in 1977 with assistance from the African American community in Jefferson County, West Virginia. As each decade brought new research and experiences, Jean developed a collection of reproductions of the original photographic portraits of John Brown.

In 2002 she began focusing on the images with the contribution of forensic analysis Dr. Eileen Barrow of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge for identification and aging. Jean Libby s analyses were published in the annual of The Daguerreian Society Annual 2002-2003 and by Palgrave MacMillan in a collection of essays, The Afterlife of John Brown in 2005 ( John Brown, Bearded Patriarch ).

About the Author

Jean Libby is a retired instructor of U.S. History and Ethnic Studies at community colleges in northern California. She has written, edited, and photographed widely on John Brown the abolitionist since 1978.

She is now a small publisher named for the ad hoc group of teachers, librarians, and local historians formed in 1999 who published John Brown Mysteries by Allies for Freedom.

After completing a Professional Photography A. A. degree in 1978, she enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, as a re-entry student, completing her B.A. in Social Science / African American Studies in 1986. Jean was awarded a President s Undergraduate Fellowship at the University of California to document her thesis on John Brown, Mean To Be Free: John Brown s Black Nation Campaign on videotape for the cable classroom series.

She holds an M.A. in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University, receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student award at the School of Ethnic Studies in 1991.