Monday, December 12, 2011

My Head Hurts from Keeping Them All Straight!

I realize that reusing a name, and passing a family name on to the first child is a long honored tradition.  I have all the Brown family "duplicates" straight in my mind and records. Frederick, Ellen, Sarah, Owen, Mary - just some of the names that are seen in each generation, and sometimes in the same generation as one child dies, and another is named the same name.

But on Sunday I actually had to close my books and genealogy program to take a break because I was having trouble following all of these --

Brewster Higley  married Esther Holcombe --  They had a son
 Brewster Higley II  who married Esther Holcomb -- They had a son
  Brewster Higley III who married Esther Owen -- They had a son
    Brewster Higley IV who married Naomi! 

And if that is not enough Brewsters and Esthers for you, 3 of Brewster's siblings named children Brewster and Esther, and Esther Owen's mother was also named Esther!

Family gatherings must have been confusing:

Hey Brewster, would you please get me a cider? No not you dad, no not you son, I was talking to my nephew. Which nephew - that one there standing near the cider crock.
 Who made the mincemeat pie? Esther did? Which Esther? Esther Higley?  But which one???

Okay so I am making a joke at the expense of my ancestors, but it is really confusing to keep them all straight. I had to undo and redo 3 hours work the other day because I was on the wrong Brewster/Esther combo when I started to enter children.

Hope you can keep all of your ancestors straight!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Two Pages from Annie's Autograph Book


Bring each your gifts to holy Friendship’s shrine
Rarest of gems upon her robes to shine;
Of flowers the fairest round her brow to twine,
While loves ripe vintage pours its joyous wine.
Nor be ye absent from the feast divine,
             Ye classic muses mine!

      Very Truly Yours
     Joseph E King
                           Fort Edwards Institute NY
Dec 2 1862


Very sincerely your friend

Melissa B. King

Fort Edward N Y

Dec 1862


Reverend Joseph E. King was born November 30, 1823 in Laurens, Otsego County, New York to Reverend Elijah King and Catherine Olmstead King. 

On July 22, 1850 he married Melissa Bayley in Newbury Vermont. Melissa Bayley (sometimes spelled Bailey) was born April 4, 1828 to Colonial Amherst Bayley and Melissa Stevens Bayley.

Joseph and Melissa had 3 daughters:
Mary Ellen who married Dr.M. W. Van Denberg
Alice who married Professor W.W. McGilton
Helen M. who married J. Earl Cheesman
Joseph E King graduated from Wesleyan College with distinguished honors in 1844. He taught Natural Science and Latin at Newbury Seminary in Vermont from 1849 to 1854, when he took charge of the Fort Edward Institute, which had been erected for him to operate.

Melissa King  taught along side Joseph at the Fort Edward Institute until her death on October 16 1887. King remained as the head of education and finance at Fort Edward Institute until 1910, when the old school building burned down. Three years later he passed away.

Joseph and Melissa are buried together in section 5, lot 5 of the Union Cemetery in Fort Edward, Washington County, New York.

Photo Credit - Anne Dickinson


Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2 -- A day for Reflection

1859 -- Charles Town, Virginia
John Brown is hanged for his crimes against the state of Virginia

1949 -- The United Nations
The UN declares Dec 2, as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Today is a day for reflection, contemplation, and honoring those who have been affected by the horrors of slavery.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The "Mary Day Brown" Curtains

One of my cousins sent this too me. I find it fascinating

"Hi Alice,
Doing some cleaning and found a diary of expenses, etc., that my Great Aunt Ada Remington kept from 1949-1951.  This woman writes just one line for each day usually, but, pinned to a page is a cut out newspaper article from the Lake Placid News, dated July 27, 1951."

"A rod-less curtain has been invented by Mrs. Inez Carter which, she said, was the outcome of an idea which came to her in a dream.  She has named it the Mary Day Brown curtain in honor of the 2nd wife of John Brown and in keeping with the name is hanging them at the windows of the John Brown homestead.  The curtains have buttonholes which button on tapes suspended at the windows.  Mrs. Carter is president of the John Brown Memorial Association and vice-president of the national organization.  She states that they would be particularly valuable during shortages of metal"

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Page from Annie's Autograph Book

Another page from Annie's Autograph Book
Adam C. Works
June 18, 1863
F.E. Institute


Adam Clark Works was born in Feb 1834 in New York. His parents were George Washington Works and Julia [Coolidge] Works. Adam graduated from Fort Edward Institute in 1856, and began teaching there in Aug 1857. He taught mathematics until 1868 and then taught Natural Sciences until his departure in 1872.   
He went to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, Lima, N.Y., in September, 1872, as a teacher of natural science until his death, June 17, 1908. 

He married Ellen Mihill in 1870. They had 4 children Nellie, born 1872 - Norris, born 1873 - Ralph, born 1875 - and Ruth Elida born 1881.  According to a short bio page on Works at the Univeristy of Rochester, hw was married previously for a very short time to Elida Van Sickle, until her untimely death in 1869. I could not find any information on her or this wedding in my short research time frame.

When I started the transcriptions of these pages, I thought they would all be fellow students. I have today located 3 teachers in addition to Adam Clark Works. More to follow soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yes, I do read the encyclopedia for fun!

Okay, I admit it - I am a nerd. I read dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, even phone books for fun, entertainment, and education.

But today I out did myself - I read through 40 pages of the 1860 Census of Fort Edward, Washington County, New York - not because I was looking for someone or trying to breakdown a brick wall, but because the occupation "Marble Dresser" caught my eye. I was on the phone with my sister at the time and I started to read her some of the interesting occupations I found. We continued chatting a few more minutes and then hung up, but I kept on read the occupations. 40 pages worth!

Fort Edward was established in 1818 and in 2000 had a whopping population of 5800 residences. It was the home of the Fort Edward [Collegiate] Institute. Annie Brown attended the FEI in 1863, and my sister has Annie's autograph book, which I am transcribing and trying to find out what I can about the people who signed her book.

Now I do have to explain that I read a great many census pages in the course of my research, but most of the Brown family lived in rural settings where everyone was a farmer, housewife, or student. This amazing diversity of occupations was exciting and thought provoking to me.

So, if you are a nerd like me (and your probably are if you have been bitten by the genealogy "bug") here are some of the many occupations I found:

Marble Dresser
Harness Maker
Grain and Lumber Dealer
Cabinet Maker
Cart Man
Manuf. Small Beer
Boot Black
Liquor Dealer
Inn Keeper
Boot and Shoe Maker
Pump Maker
Furnace Man
Fan Mill Maker
Collector of Tolls on Canal
Music Teacher
Saloon Keeper
News Depot
Meat Market
Stage Driver
Hat, Cap & Fur Store
Sash & Blind Maker
Folding Paper
Paper Finisher
Conductor in Cars
Paper Maker
Teacher in Union School
Editor Ft Edward Ledger
Putting up Lightening Rods
Pattern Maker
Lock Tender

What is the difference between "Housewife" and Housewifery" ?
A "Fan Mill" separates the grain from the chaff through a series of screens.
"Small Beer" refers to beer manufactured in small quantities with steam.
"Moulder" refers to a wood cutting machine used in furniture manufacturing.
What does a "Paper Folder" do all day?
A "Lock Tender" works the locks on the canal ways, he does not tend a flock of locks!
Interestingly the richest person was the Liquor Dealer. 

Hope you enjoyed this side trip.  I had fun finding all the cool jobs!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A page from Annie Brown's Fort Edward Institute Signature Book 1863

Miss Brown
"Please accept the best wishes of your "northern friend"
George J Whipple
Malone, NY
F.E.I May 7, 1863

George J Whipple was born May 1844 in Malone, Franklin County, New York. His parents were Herry and Sarah Whipple. He appears to have spent his entire life in Malone, Franklin, New York. The 1880 census shows George married to Mary A (Thompson). In 1883 George was a Deacon at the First Congregational Church of Maolne.
The 1880 census shows that George was a furniture dealer. I found these ads in the Malone Directory 1889-1890.

The 1900 Census shows George as a Librarian, the 1910 census shows him to be a Clerk for the Board of Education, while the 1920 census shows him to be a Clerk for the Board of Education as well as a Librarian.
I have not been able to locate any further information on George after the 1920 census.

As I find out more about the 50 or so other autograph signers, I will post more of these items.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Archibald A Adams

Archibald A Adams was born 1 OCT 1799 in Pennsylvania and died 23 SEP 1866 in Gardner Township, Johnson County, Kansas. He is buried in Plot #10 in the Gardner City Cemetery, Gardner, Johnson County, Kansas. In 1825 he married Mary Ann Grannis. She was born 19 FEB 1806 in Pennsylvania, and died 17 Sep 1880 in Prophet Town, Whiteside County, Illinois. 

Due to an error on the death certificate of their son, Samuel S Adams, Archibald's wife is often erroneously listed as Mary Crossett.

Archibald and Mary Ann had thirteen children. The eldest son, Samuel S Adams, married Annie Brown, daughter of John Brown, the abolitionist of Harper's Ferry fame. Stories passed down through the Adams family relate the fact that Archibald and his family lived near Owen Brown in Ohio and were friends with John Brown, and Archibald was a dedicated believer in John Brown's work to eradicate slavery. In 1857 Archibald moved his family to Kansas, near the Brown cabin just outside of Osawatomie, Kansas. One descendant of Archibald recalls the fact that one of Archibald's sons (John Adams) was born in Kansas and grew up hearing about John Brown his entire life.

Archibald, the story goes, was so angered by "Robert E Lee hanging John Brown" that he joined the Union Army at 62 years of age! He was mustered into Company G Kansas 5th Cavalry which was merged into Company I Kansas 5th Cavelry, on 14 Nov 1861.  According to his military record:

1861, November 14 – Fort Lincoln, KS Archibald A. Adams is 62 years old with an occupation of Blacksmith. He enrolled as Private in I Company, 5th Regiment, Kansas Cavalry, at Fort Lincoln, KS at the age of 62 by Capt Hayes. on the side of the Union. His son, Augustus, enlisted in the same Regiment exactly one month later on December 14, 1861. (Film Number M542 roll 1)
1862, February 7 – Fort Scott, KS (per Muster Roll) or Fort Lincoln, KS (per Descriptive Roll) Archibald was mustered into service by Lieut Bowman. His physical description is 5', 10 1/2", dark complexion, dark eyes, grey hair. 1862, July and August Reported as "Deserted", but in fact went home on "sick furlough" on December 2 (or 27th), 1861 and was home sick in January, 1862. Left home on May 1 to report back to his Company, but sickness caused him to turn back home".

1862, November – Kansas City, MO Archibald was hospitalized for "amaurosis" (blindness).  1862, Winter – Fort Lincoln, KS Archibald is attacked with neuralgia of the right leg and thigh and couldn't stand while on guard duty at Fort Lincoln.

1863, January 5 – General Hospital, Kansas City (MO) Archibald was "discharged on Surgeon's Certificate of Disability at Kansas City, MO". Cause: Amaurosis of long standing and general debility consequent upon old age. His eyes failed him on account of old age and is otherwise unfit for duty on account of the infirmities consequent to old age. He has been reported a deserted since Mar 31, 1862 but has really been sick and in hospital ever since that date. No further information on file" (US Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865, Film No M542, Roll 1).

His Gravestone reads 

Archibald A Adams
Co. G 5th Cavalry
Co. I 5th Cavalry
Oct 1 1799 - Sept 23 1866
Friend and follower of 
John Brown

Monday, October 3, 2011

85 Years Ago Today - A great Woman Left This World

In the front room of her daughter Bertha's house, on the makeshift sickbed she had occupied for weeks, Annie Brown Adams breathed her last on 3 October 1926. She had lived for 82 years, 9 months, and 22 days when she passed away.

She was the last of the "John Brown Children."

John Brown fathered twenty children; seven with his first wife Dianthe, and thirteen with his second wife Mary. Only eight of his children outlived him - four daughters: Ruth, Annie, Sarah and Ellen - four sons: John Jr., Jason, Owen and Salmon.

Annie's passing was written up in many newspapers across the United States. Her passing was seen as "the last of the Harpers Ferry story" because she had spent the summer of 1859 helping to hide the raiders at the Kennedy Farm.


 I have collected thirteen of Annie's obituaries, and everyone of them contain mistakes.

Mistakes such as
  • Annie was present at the hanging (she was in North Elba NY)
  • Annie was married before she came to California (she married Samuel Adams in Redbluff, CA)
  • Annie died on Oct 4 or Oct 5 (Annie died on Oct 3, 1926)
  • Annie was 20 the summer of 1859 (she was 15 years, 5 months old that summer)
  • Annie was at John's side during the trial, jail time, and hanging. (no family member was there)
  • John Brown was shot during the capture (John was stabbed and then beaten, but not shot)

Today, to honor this woman who is most dear to me (behind my mother and my namesake Aunt Alice) I present some of her obituaries. With or without the mistakes in her obituaries, Annie Brown Adams was a remarkable woman.


The Helena Daily Independent
October 24, 1926

Marched On!
            Mrs. Annie Adams is dead, at Rohnerville, California.
            Reads like a very ordinary news item. But Annie Brown Adams was the last member of one of America's most remarkable families.
A.    D. 1850, John Brown, "Ossawatomie," Harper's Ferry!
The south with its whip over the backs of man, woman and child slaves. The north politically divided over the abolition of human slavery. The nation's soul racked by futile compromise, subterfuge, makeshift Reason atrophied.  Religion figuring on the property at stake. Patriotism shaking off the blood of past martyrdom to stand forth as a nonentity. A shapeless mountain of kerosene-soaked kindlings. Harper's Ferry, the match.
John Brown, this Annie Brown Adam's father, his two sons and three others, making their last stand in the engine house at Harper's Ferry, against the shameful status quo. Two sons riddled by the bullets of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Old John, shot through[1], bleeding upon the corpse of his boys. Annie, a girl of 20[2] years, ministering to her wounded father, standing beside him during the trial, bidding him goodbye as they hang him[3]. Then, for a half-century, a woman's quiet, peaceful life amidst a California village's flowers, watching the soul of old John Brown go marching on.
Dead: Annie Brown Adams, aged 87[4] years. Friends of the family invited to the funeral, etc., etc.
What history is in a two-line obituary!

[1] John Brown was not shot during his capture.  Lieutenant Israel Greene stabbed Brown with his dress sword and then beat him about the head, causing severe injuring. 
[2] Annie was actually 15 years 5 months old when she and her sister-in-law, Martha,  joined John Brown at the Kennedy Farm for the summer in 1859.
[3] None of John Brown's family, or any other civilians were witness to his hanging. Charlestown, Virginia was on a military lockdown requiring all residents to stay inside their homes.
[4] Annie Brown Adams was actually 82 years, 9 months and 22 days old at her death


Ukiah Republican Press
October 13, 1926

Daughter of John Brown Died Monday
Woman Whose Father Is Famous In History Long Lived Here
Northern California came into the limelight last week when the death of Annie Brown Evans[1] at Eureka uncovered the fact she was the daughter of John Brown, famous war character of 1859, who was hanged that year for his part in seizing the arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia at the head of a band of abolitionists.

Saw Father Executed
Mrs. Adams, a woman of 20[2] at the time, was with her father during his trial for murder and treason against the state of Virginia[3], and she alone, of all his eighteen children, endured the agony of witnessing his execution[4]. She came west with her husband, Samuel Adams, and sought oblivion in northern California the following year[5] where they were joined in later years by the widow of John Brown and three other daughters[6]. A house built by them still stands in Humboldt country. Mrs. Adams was very reticent regarding the great tragedy in her life. She is survived by several children, 28 grandchildren, and one great grandchild[7].

[1] Should read Annie Brown ADAMS
[2] Annie was actually 15 years 5 months old when she and her sister-in-law, Martha, joined John Brown at the Kennedy Farm for the summer in 1859.
[3] No family members were present during the trial
[4] None of John Brown's family, or any other civilians were witness to his hanging. Charlestown, Virginia was on a military lockdown requiring all residents to stay inside their homes. 
[5] Annie met her husband, Samuel S. Adams in Redbluff, CA in 1869, four years after her arrival in California
[6] John Brown's widow, Mary, moved to California with her son Salmon and his family, and her three daughters, Annie, Sarah, and Ellen in 1864.
[7] My Father, Paul M. Keesey


Titusville Herald
October 26, 1926

John Brown's Daughter
Crawford county has a peculiar interest in John Brown because he once lived in Richmond township, where his old tannery and farm are being preserved. It is doubtful if many persons in this county knew that John Brown has a daughter well along in years, and the fact would probably have gone unnoticed but for a news dispatch the other day which conveyed the information that she had just died.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has this interesting comment to make about the passing of the daughter.
            "Annie Brown Adams died the other day in California. The name commonplace enough will mean nothing to the average reader. But Annie Brown Adams was not a commonplace person. She was one of the twenty children of John Brown and the only members of his family to see him hanged, on December 2, 1859[1]. For sixty-seven years she had borne a memory etched in horror. She must have been a woman of exceptionally strong character to have risen above this handicap to the life of usefulness and happiness which is indicated by the fact that she left eight children.
            Mrs. Adams was 20[2] at the time of her father's execution; old enough to understand the fanatical zeal for the freeing of the slaves which animated that stormy petrel of pre-rebellion years, to comprehend the gravity of his offence against the government and to appreciate the bitterness of his disappointment when the slaves failed to rise at his signal. Her soul, too, 'goes marching on.'"

[1] None of John Brown's family, or any other civilians were witness to his hanging. Charlestown, Virginia was on a military lockdown requiring all residents to stay inside their homes
[2] Annie was actually 15 years 5 months old when she and her sister-in-law, Martha,  joined John Brown at the Kennedy Farm for the summer in 1859.


The Oakland Tribune
October 17, 1926

John Brown's Daughter

            When those dramatic events of the last days of John Brown, abolitionist, were being enacted at Harper's Ferry in 1859, Annie Brown, a daughter of the man who is now called hero, martyr, and fanatic, was 20 years old[1]. The other day, as Mrs. Annie Brown Adams, she died at Shivley, California, near Eureka, the possessor of many interesting memories. She was with her father in that summer of 1859 when his mind was busy with planning an attack upon the southern stronghold, one which has been called mad and heroic, has been sung in verse, and lives in story. She helped gain information for him and shared his belief that he had a chance to free every slave with one act. So was she with her father through the trial and conviction at the hands of enraged Virginias – and she saw him die[2]. Then she came to California with her husband, Samuel Adams[3], to build a home at Rohnerville. Later John Brown's widow and three children joined the Samuels family and four women of the number built a two story home which still stands. When Samuel Adams died the widow moved to the Santa Clara Valley, but a few years ago she returned to Humboldt county to make her home with a daughter. She leaves twenty-eight grandchildren to carry on the strain of old John Brown of Virginia.

[1] Annie was actually 15 years 5 months old when she and her sister-in-law, Martha,  joined John Brown at the Kennedy Farm for the summer in 1859.
[2] None of John Brown's family, or any other civilians were witness to his hanging. Charlestown, Virginia was on a military lockdown requiring all residents to stay inside their homes.
[3]  Annie met her husband, Samuel S. Adams in Redbluff, CA in 1869, four years after her arrival in California.


The Ogden Standard Examiner
October 6, 1826

John Brown of Harper's Ferry

            How near we are to the closing of the last pages of the history of the Civil war was disclosed by the death on Tuesday, near Eureka, California, of Annie Brown Adams, last of the family of John Brown of Harper's Ferry.
            John Brown was an abolitionist who conceived the idea of seizing the arsenal at Harper's Ferry and he led a raid which ended in his capture, trial and execution by the state of Virginia.
            The whole affair was so dramatic and tragic that it added to the feeling of the abolitionist over slavery and intensified the bitterness on both sides of the slavery question, and played its part in hastening the day when the north and the south drew apart.
            The abolitionists sang, "John Brown's body lies a' molding in the grave, as his soul goes marching on." And his soul did go on to influence the people of the North and finally develop a conflagration.
            Annie Brown was a girl of 20[1] when Harper's Ferry arsenal was attacked. She remained with her father during his trial for treason and was with him when he was executed[2]. Sixty-seven years have elapsed since then to soften the asperities and to heal the wounds. To the present generation, the Civil War is in the dim past, but it is still a part of the living history of our country, and will continue so until the last of the Grand Army is gone. That day is not far distant.

[1] Annie was actually 15 years 5 months old when she and her sister-in-law, Martha,  joined John Brown at the Kennedy Farm for the summer in 1859.
[2] None of John Brown's family, or any other civilians were witness to his hanging. Charlestown, Virginia was on a military lockdown requiring all residents to stay inside their homes.

The Lancaster Daily Eagle
October 5, 1926

Daughter Who Saw John Brown Hung is Dead

            Eureka, Cal. Oct 5 – (AP)
Mrs. Annie Brown Adams, 87[1], only surviving daughter of John Brown of Harper's Ferry fame, died today[2] at the home of her daughter at Shively, Humboldt country. Mrs. Adams was the only member of the family of John Brown to witness the hanging of her father in 1859[3]. Eight children of Mrs. Adams survive.

[1] Annie Brown Adams was actually 82 years, 9 months and 22 days old at her death
[2] Annie Brown Adams died on October 3, 1926
[3] None of John Brown's family, or any other civilians were witness to his hanging. Charlestown, Virginia was on a military lockdown requiring all residents to stay inside their homes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

31 Weeks to a Better Blog

Okay, so after weeks of standing in the shadows and reading the blogs about  31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog, I am finally jumping on the bandwagon and joining in this challenge.

This week the challenge is to update at least one page of your blog.  Clean up, make it easier to navigate, freshen the look, etc.

Here is what I have done so far:

  • Changed my blog layout.
  • Added a "Societies I Belong To" page
  • Added "About Me" page
  • Added a "Contact Page"
 So grab a cup of tea and spend some time checking out my changes and let me know what you think about the "new blog"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Aspen Tree Best Describes The John Brown Family Tree

A large grove of aspen best describes the John Brown Family Tree.
Above ground, it looks like each-and-every family member is standing alone – some a few feet from the next family member and some miles and generations away. Never interacting, never sharing stories, because a relationship to John Brown has the perception of being somehow shameful, something to hide.

The wind blows the branches of the large group of trees back and forth, and occasionally the branches and leaves of one tree touch another. As if the trees are saying, "Yes, we are family and I am willing to share some of my information with you. But only a little bit, then I will stand up straight and be alone again."

However, just like the large groves of aspen that develop from a single root system, the many John Brown family members share the strength and stability of a single unified root system that spreads for miles connecting one to another.

The Brown family was well aware of the need of unification and the need to share in the early 20th century when annual Brown Family Reunions occurred in Hudson Ohio. These gatherings of extended family celebrated the kinship and family bonds of the descendants of Owen Brown, John Brown's father, until the early 1960s.

A spider web of roots connects the wide spanning Brown family into a cohesive community. I am trying, with my genealogical research and communications, to get the family back together. I look forward to the day when all of the "Brown Descendants" are proud of their interconnecting family tree roots.

Entire groves of aspen trees commonly develop from a single root system. This means that large groups of aspen trees can be essentially one organism growing together as a clone.

This post was written for the Carnival of Genealogy Blog # 110 What tree best represents your family’s history? 

Monday, September 26, 2011

John Brown in the News

25 Notable Kansans

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced the 25 Most Notable Kansans between Aug 15 and Sept 18, 2011. The full list and exhibit information is here. Each week the Governor unveiled 5 of the Notable Kansans at a special event. The list was compiled as part of the 150 year celebration of Kansas.

John Brown is, of course,  included on the list of Notable Kansans. 

True West Museums of the Year

The September Issue of True West Magazine has a story the Best Western Museums and exhibits of 2010, and the John Brown Museum in Osawatomie Kansas is # 5 on the list!  Tip of the Hat to Grady Atwater, the curator of this amazing piece of history! (and thanks to cousin Mary for alerting me to this honor)

Cousin Mary in the news!

Cousin Mary is at it again. She portrays Florella Brown Adair, John Brown's half sister, at the Freedom Festival at the above mentioned John Brown Museum in Osawatomie, each year. News article about her here