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.



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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

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Ukiah Republican Press
October 13, 1926


Daughter of John Brown Died Monday
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.
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1 comment:

PO said...

Hi Alice, I am an African American woman who greatly admires your ancestor, John Brown! In fact, my family regard him as a Hero! I am so glad that you are honoring your family with this website. Sincerely, Pam O.