Saturday, February 27, 2010

GeneaBloggers Winter 2010 Olympics Final Score

Okay, I did not do as well as I thought I would, mostly from lack of time. I have been devoting all my time and energy to the fight to prevent the closing of the John Brown Farm in North Elba, New York.

{drum roll and playing of instrumental strains}

My final total for the Winter 2010 Olympics 3 Gold and 1 Platinum

1. Go Back and Site Your Sources
2. Back up your data


3. Organize Your Research
 6. Reach Out and Perform Random Acts of Kindness



Friday, February 26, 2010

21st Smile for the Camera - "Give Their Face A Place"

The word prompt for the 21st Edition of Smile For The Camera is "Give Their Face A Place." March is Women's History month and you are asked to picture women back into history. The unknown, known and unsung women who are often the foundation of our family history. Give their face a place. The interpretation is yours.

Women - there are so many women to choose from in the John Brown Family Line. So many of them played important rolls in his life and work. After careful consideration, I decided to shine the light on my Great Aunt, Alice Cook Hunt. 

Alice is the youngest of the Cook children, born 14 years after the birth of the eldest child, Beatrice (my grandmother). She is a great granddaughter of John Brown and is to the best of my knowledge the closest living descendant of John Brown. My father was born only nine years later, and grew up idolizing his Aunt Alice. He honored her in 1959 by naming his second daughter, me, after her. The past few years Alice has assisted many scholars by reminiscing about her Grandma, Annie Brown Adams, John and Mary Brown's eldest daughter.

This is an interview of my aunt that Jean Libby of Allies for Freedom did in early 2009. The original interview is viewable here

"My name is Alice Louise Hunt. I am the great granddaughter of John Brown.  I suppose I am the oldest living descendant of his having  celebrated my 92nd birthday Mar.27 this year. I am the youngest child  of Bertha and George Cook.  My mother being Anne Brown Adams daughter. I have many memories of Grandma Anne.  She came to live in a house just down the block that my parents rented for her.  This was about the time I was ready to start school. This was in Holmes Flats, Humboldt County, CA.  The expense war to much for my folks so they rented a farm at Shively, CA. It had a small house on the property that became Annie's home. Since I was the youngest and smallest of my parents nine children it was my job to button Grandma Annie's shoes and also assist her in any way she required including carrying in her meals that were prepared in our home.  I was about ten when Grandma died of cancer.  She had a horrible passing.  We buried her at  Rohnerville, CA.  I remember taking my mom to her grave site years later.  We found the site flooded and the grave marker slab in bad shape.  My husband Melvin and I went to the cemetery association and arranged for the needed repairs.  Many years have passed but I think of those times frequently. I still have the small tintype picture of Grandma Annie. My [mother] gave it to me in November 1937."

Alice has since donated the tintype of Annie Brown Adams to the Saratoga Historical Society in Saratoga, CA. I was fortunate to be there speaking when they unvieled the tintype for the first time to the public.

My Aunt Alice is an amazing woman. She has faced incredible heartache and buried both of her daughters and her husband, the love of her life, Melvin.  She has been a nurse, a teacher of English as a second language, a secretary, and for a time assisted Melvin as an insurance inspector. 


My Great Aunt Alice, my highlighted women in the 21st Smile for the Camera -Give their face a place.



Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Winter GeneaBloggers Olymics Update

I have been so busy the last few days writing letters and making phone calls to save the John Brown Farm, that I have not had time to update my Olympic standings.

Just like the currently televised World Olympics, my genealogy Olympics have been plagued with broken skis, horrific crashes, and even broken skate laces. After a rocky start, I think I am now on the right track.

Here are my current standings:

1. Go Back and Site Your Sources
GOLD MEDAL - I have gone back and updated, corrected, and cleaned up over 50 citations.

2. Back up your data
 GOLD MEDAL and half way to DIAMOND
* Task A: Prepare a comprehensive backup plan for your digital research files and a security plan for your hard copies and photos. COMPLETED
* Task B: Secure your hard copies and photos in waterproof containers. COMPLETED
             * Task C: Backup all your data using a flash drive, an external drive, CDs, DVDs, or an online               resource  COMPLETED

             * Task D: Have all your hard copies and photos scanned and secure them either in a fire-proof safe or offsite in a safety-deposit box/secure environment All DATA COMPLETED, Still working on Photos

             * Task E: All your data is backed up digitally and secured physically and you can recover from any disaster while losing only one month or less worth of research In Progress

3. Organize Your Research

* Task A: Organize at least 20 hard files or ancestral items (books, fabrics, inherited items) into file folders, boxes, envelopes, containers, etc.; archival-quality where appropriate. COMPLETE

    * Task B: Organize at least 20 digital files into folders, label, add metadata, add descriptions, add tags, etc. COMPLETE

    * Task C: Organize at least 20 photos into photo albums, scrapbooks, collages, protective holders, boxes, etc. COMPLETE

     *Task D: Organize at least 20 digital photos into folders, label, add metadata, add descriptions, add tags etc. COMPLETE

    * Task E: Create at least 20 data entries in your database, or scan 20 photos, or scan 20 documents. COMPLETE

    * Task F: Create a master list of your files and notify your family members of where it is stored. COMPLETE
4. Expand Your Knowledge

I have not done anything towards this medal. Sigh, maybe this week.

5. Write, Write, Write
I have not done anything towards this medal. Sigh, maybe this week.

 6. Reach Out and Perform Random Acts of Kindness
* Task A: Comment on a new (to you) genealogy blog.  See the New Genealogy Blogs tag at GeneaBloggers for the newest blogs.  COMPLETED Visited and commented on 3 new blogs.

    * Task B: Post one or more gravestone photos at Find A Grave. COMPLETED Posted Martha B Brown gravestone

    * Task C: Invite other genealogists to join Facebook, GenealogyWise, Twitter or some other social media network where genealogists meet.

    * Task D: Assist another researcher with a research request or lookup. See AnceStories “Random Acts of Kindness Week” posts for ideas for this item and Item E

    * Task E: Participate in an indexing project.

    * Task F: Join a genealogical, historical, heritage or lineage society. COMPLETED I am taking credit for this one because I already belong to numerous societies (Collin County Genealogy, Dallas Genalogy, Saratoga Historical, California Genealogy, Humboldt County Historical, Harpers Ferry Historical, Gilder Lehrman, Blackjack Battlefield, National Abolition Hall of Fame)

    * Task G: Use the Follow feature on a Blogger-based genealogy blog and follow one or more blogs.

 Grand Total:  3 GOLD MEDALS and one PLATINUM MEDAL

This has been a lot of fun and I am looking forward to completing more of the tasks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tarantino to Free the Slaves Next?

Tarantino to Free the Slaves Next?
Photo: Getty Images
 Please somebody stop him from doing this!!!!!

 Quentin Tarantino has been claiming for years that he'd someday make a film on the life of abolitionist John Brown, the director's "favorite American who ever lived," whose armed insurrection at Harper's Ferry in 1859 helped start the Civil War (he told Charlie Rose last August that it would likely be years in the future, and possibly his final movie). With the commercial success and impending Best Picture victory for his WWII-shortening Inglourious Basterds, though, it sounds like he's interested in whimsically improving history again sooner rather than later.
According to the Daily News, this is Tarantino describing his next movie:
"I'd like to do a Western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject that everybody is afraid to deal with. Let's shine that light on ourselves. You could do a ponderous history lesson of slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. Or, you could make a movie that would be exciting. Do it as an adventure. A spaghetti Western that takes place during that time. And I would call it 'A Southern.'"
Commence casting rumors for John Brown (Robert Forster, maybe?) and speculation over how many years before Lincoln Tarantino will end slavery (at least three, for sure).
Quentin Tarantino: Brad Pitt does not smoke pot while acting; I don't smoke while directing [NYDN]

Originally posted at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Letter from CORE - Letter to Gov to save John Brown Farm

As many of you are aware, the John Brown Farm in North Elba, NY is in danger of being shut down due to budget cuts. Many John Brown fans have been writing, calling and emailing various officials in NY in an effort to prevent this from happen.  This is a letter that the director of CORE.

Please help us in this important battle. Thanks!

 February 16, 2010

Hon. David Patterson
Governor, State of New York
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Patterson:

         It is with great concern that we have recently learned that your proposed 2010-2011 State budget includes the possible closing of John Brown’s Farm in North Elba, New York among other State parks and historical landmarks.

         While we understand the magnitude of the States’ fiscal crisis and the need for cut-backs and other cost-saving measures, we strongly disagree with the office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s recommendation that John Brown’s Farm be among those state parks slated for closure.

         As you know, John Brown was a leader in the anti-slavery abolitionist’s movement of the 1800s. He was an ally of Harriet Tubman. His farm was one of the “safe houses” used by her “Underground Railroad” to rescue fleeing slaves.  He and his followers we men of action who opposed southern pro-slavery aggression with force when called for. His anti-slavery activities have been credited with sparking circumstances that eventually led to the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery in our country. He is truly an American hero and one of the early leaders of the struggle for human rights for all people.

         Each year for the past several years, I and the Chairman of our Advisory Committee, Mr. Joseph Lovece, Jr., have visited John Brown’s farm in North Elba to pay our respects to this remarkable man. In December 2009, both of us and the organization participated in several events commemorating the 150th anniversary of his death and subsequent interment on the farm. The turn-out was tremendous and included civil rights, human rights and other activist from a broad spectrum of opinions. We laid wreaths on his grave and the graves of his sons and followers who were buried beside him in a special plot on the farm.  It would be a great tragedy if this historical site and the significant role it played in the American Civil Rights Movement were closed to the public.

         I urge you to reconsider the suggested closing of John Brown’s Farm in North Elba, and do all in your power to keep this important part of history open and accessible to the public. Closing John Brown’s farm would be an insult to all those, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who have given their lives in the struggle for civil rights in America and a slap in the face to those of us who continue the struggle today. As Governor of the State of New York you cannot and must not allow this to happen.

Roy Innis
Roy Innis
National Chairman & C.E.O.
CORE- Congress of Racial Equality

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Olympic Games

I have been invited to participate in the Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Olympic Games. The games run from now through Feb 27, 2009. The opening ceremonies include showing off our unique flags and announcing what events we will be participating in.

My flag represents the three countries that my great great great grandfather John Brown visited during his fight against slavery - America, Canada and England.


The events are I will be participating in are
1.  Go Back and Cite Your Sources
 When I first started reseaching my family line, I did not know about citing your sources, so as I go back through old items I have to stop and figure out where the information came from and add the citation. I have learned my lesson and I now cite every single item I add.  My goal for the Olympics is to research and cite at least 5 old facts a day.
2.  Back Up Your Data
I am preaty good about this, as I had to participate in the reserection of data on the job once. I do full computer back ups and evey three months take new cds to the bank safedeposit box, but I am sure there are other data back ups I need to review. My goal for the Olympics is to complete 4 of the 5 tasks during competition
3.  Organize Your Research
I have spent the last year indexing and organizing my paper archives, but my photos are a shambles. My goal for the Olympics is to organize, label and index at least 100 photos.
4.  Expand Your Knowledge
I am excited about this category - Google maps, Time Toast, Find a Grave, Wordle and various research sites are waiting for me to explore and expand my knowledge. My goal for the Olympics is to visit, learn to use and incorporate at least 5 new sites into my genealogy research.
5.  Write, Write, Write!
I need to write more - blog entries, research compliation, articles for submission to magazines and online journals, and of course I need to spend more time writing my book. My goal for the Olympics is to pre write at least 5 blog posts, and complete one chapter of my book.
6.  Reach Out and Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness
How fun! I love random acts of kindness, and I am looking forward to doing some this month. My goal for the Olympics is to sign up and transcribe at least 15 documents for Family Search.
Let the Games Begin!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Family Artifact - Oliver Brown's Bible

At the John Brown Remembered Academic Symposium held at Harpers Ferry, WV in October 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting Ian Barford. Ian is an actor, documentary film maker, and the proud father of twins! Last week, Ian traveled to Texas to do interviews for the documentary he is currently working on about John Brown. He traveled to Austin first to interview my good friend Evan Carton, author of Patriotic Treason. He then drove up to Allen to interview me. While he was here I showed him my prized family artifact - Oliver Brown's Bible that he carried throughout his years in Kansas.

The Bible is small, 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches and just over an inch thick. Just the right size to be carried in an inside pocket of a wool overcoat. The cover is black leather embossed with an ornate design. On the spine, the words Holy Bible are embossed in gold. For a book that is over one hundred sixty years old, the binding is realitively tight, the cover only slightly torn.

On the inside back cover the following is written in pencil, in an ornate old-timey script:
This Bible was carried all through the Kansas troubles by Oliver Brown.
On the left hand inside back page is written the name of the original owner of the Bible, Oliver Brown, in ink and in a beautiful calligraphic hand. 

But it is what can be found on the front inside cover that makes this Bible so valuable to me personally --  in pencil, written over and over again, in the handwriting of a young girl perfecting her signature, is the name Annie Brown. It makes me smile to think of young Annie, my great-great grandmother, scrounging around for a piece of paper to practice her penmanship on, and noticing a clean white space inside the cover of big brother's Bible. The temptation was more than she could resist. I imagine that she got into a great deal of trouble when it was discovered that she used the inside cover of the Lord's word for her penmanship practice.

Annie had the Bible in her possession when she moved to California in 1863, and it is one of the items that escaped the fire that distroyed her house and most of her belonging in 1896. Annie passed the Bible to her granddaughter Beatrice Cook Keesey, my grandmother.

Faintly written on the title page is 19-14 Psalms. I looked up the verse - "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults."  Hmm, I wonder who found this verse so compelling that they wrote it in the front of the Bible?

I decided to look through the Bible and see what other verses were highlighted or underlined. Between the pages of Bible I found the following pieces of paper:
  • Within the book of Judes Chapter XX, an undated, un-sourced newspaper clipping of a lovely poem called "After the Funeral" I have transcribed it at the end of this posting. On the reverse of the poem are news bites from a California paper. I was not able to find any of the articles on-line.
  • Within the book of II Chronicles, chapter XXIV, an undated, un-sourced newspaper clipping of a strange little petition (poem) that begins "My little boy, six years of age, brought me yesterday a 'reward of merit' from his teacher....". I have transcribed it at the end of this posting also. On the reverse of the petition are reviews of 2 newly published books. I looked up "Double Play: or, How Joe Hardy Chose His Friends" by William Everett and found that it was published in 1871.
  • Also in II Chronicles, chapter XXIV, a scrap of lined stenopad paper with 1 Kings 8:5-6 written on it. The handwritting looks like it could be my grandmothers? The verses read: "And King Soloman and all the congretation of Israell, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, scrafincing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. And the Priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims."
  • Within the book of Psalms, chapter LXXXIII, is a 1-inch square piece of perferated paper cross-stitched with a cross and ivy. I do not know who did the cross-stitching. Perforated paper cross-stitching became popular in the mid 1800s in America.
  • Within the book of St. John, chapter XVI, is another scrap of lined paper with Acts 1:4 written on it. Again, the writing looks very similar to my grandmothers."And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me."
  • Within the book of Romans, chapter XV, is a scrap of fabric, a rough triangle 3-inches by 1 1/2 inches, grey with tiny black cross shapes.  Is there some sinifigance to this scrap of fabric - is it a piece from a much loved dress? A blouse? A tie? A dolls blanket? Or was it just something handy to use as a book mark?  
  • Within the book of I Corinthians, chapter XV, is a small collection envelope. The front of the envelope reads: "For Our Vacation Church School. This school is open to all boys and girls without tuition fee. The cost however and average of operating the scholl is about twenty-five cents a week for each pupil, On Thursday of each week an opportunity to given the partents to contribute to this fund as they feel able. FREE WILL OFFERING - BRING TO SCHOOL FRIDAY"  I have no idea what church this is from or the date it was acquired. 
  • Within the book of Ephesians, chapter III, is a small piece of pinkish paper with a fortune. It reads "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. - Prov. XV, I."
 It is amazing that so many interesting pieces of history, and so many unanswered questions can be found in such a small book. 

The Poems

This first one is about a mother that has lost her newborn. Annie, her daughter Bertha, and her daughter Beatrice all experienced this loss first hand. I wonder which one of these brave women cut this poem from the paper and saved it in the bible, and did it bring some closure or understanding to them to read this touching poem?
How can I pass this night of loneliness,
  Of Sorrow, and or rest that is not rest?
How can I teach my restless arms to know
  There is no chold to slumber on my breast?
How can I, with the waiting cradle near,
Teach my poor hear that baby is not here?

Oh! in the world there are this very night
  Mothers whose arms are full of happiness!
And dainty cribs, whose pillows white as snow
  Many a little golden head doth press.
And there are lullibies, sweet lullabies,
To woo soft slumber into baby-eyes.

And I - it is not very long ago -
  Ah me! not long ago since also I
Could take my little child within my arms.
  And sing with happy heart a lullaby,
While near my side the cradle-pillow white
Waited it tiny burden for the night.

Last night. Oh! sad last night! and little one
  Was still with me, but not upon my breast.
I only knelt beside the little crib
  And wept because my darling in her rest
Was whiter than the snow, and still, and cold!
The baby whom I never more should hold.

To-day they laid her 'neath the daisied ground
  Oh, God! to think that she is sleeping there,
Beyond the reach of loving mother-arms!
  Beyond the reach of mother's warchful care
Back to my arms their loving burden bring:
Once more my lips their slumber song would 

A Petition, with this prefix: "My little boy, six years of age, brought me yesterday a 'reward of merit' from his teacher, and said 'Little mamma, keep my ticket for me; and If I ask God every night to make me good, I'll get another next week - won't I?'

"Oh, mamma!" (and he gently came and nestled at my side). "Dear mamma, keep my ticket, and be very sure you hide it, please, where naughty fingers cannot find it to destroy." And his arms were clasped around me, my gentle, noble boy.

"And, mamma, - little mamma," (and his voice to wishpers grew,) "if I'll be good to Johnnie, to my papa, and to you, - "If I'll 'notice little sister,' and 'member 'bout my hat, will I get another ticket, say, mamma, just like that?

"And say my 'Now I lay me,' very slow, and always let my brother have the nicest place, and kiss you 'fore I get in my trundle near the cradle, where little sister lies, I'll get another ticket if I'm good? You know I tries."

As I clasped him to my bosom, the tears my eyelids wet: I told my boy of Jesus, and I bade him ne'er forget  that He loved good little children. "Pray, darling, while He's near: Ask Him to make you 'good,' my child: He turns no deaf'ning ear."

Father, I tremble often as I meet these earnest eyes: through the burden's sweet, 'tis heavy: to nurture such a prize. As this, fair, pure, spotless child, I must pure and spotless be: Help, Father, that I bring It unpolluted unto Thee.

Thou, "who gavest to my guiding hand this wand'rer" to lead through paths that oft are lone and dark, where feet so often bleed, bruised and pierced by cruel thorns, oh, leave me not alone. To guide him to those gates of pearl, Thou he must lean upon.