Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Garrison Photo

Autographed CDV of Wm. Lloyd Garrison. Owned by Keesey Family

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2, 1859

A Great Man is executed

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - 4 Children dead

 In September 1843, John and Mary Brown experienced a terrible tragedy. In the course of a 12 day period, four John and Mary's seven children, ranging in age from 1 to 9 years old, died from disease. Charles, age 6, died September 11, 1843. The next three, Austin, age 1, Peter, age 3, and Sarah, age 9, followed on September 21, 22 and 23 respectively.

Accounts differ as to what the disease was - diphtheria, dysentery and cholera are the three most likely culprits - but we may never know for sure which one was the actual cause.

What we do know is that Mary, seven months pregnant with my great-great grandmother, Annie, and John, father of a total of 13 children, were devastated by the death of nearly a third of his children, more than half of their younger ones.   Two days after the fourth death, John wrote the following to his eldest son John, Jr:

Richfield 25th Sept 1843
Dear Son
God has seen fit to visit us with the pestilence since you left us, and four of our number sleep in the dust, and four of us that are still living have been more or less unwell but appear to be nearly recovered. On the 4th Sept Charles was taken with the Dysentery and died on the 11th, about the time that Charles died Sarah, Peter, & Austin were taken with the same complaint. Austin died on the 21st, Peter on the 22nd & Sarah on the 23rd and were all buried together in one grave. This has been to us all a bitter cup indeed, and we have drunk deeply, but still the Lord reigneth and blessed be his great and holy name forever. In our sore affliction there is still some comfort. Sarah (like your own Mother) during her sickness discovered great composure of mind, and patience, together with strong assurance at times of meeting God in Paradise. She seemed to have no idea of recovering from the first, nor did she ever express the least desire that she might, but rather the reverse. We fondly hope that she is not disappointed. They were all children towards whom perhaps we might have felt a little partial but they all now lie in a little row together…

The following is an account of a neighbor who helped the family with the sick children. The information is located at the Richfield Historical Society - Oviatt Family Chronology, compiled by Leah & Lynn Krulik. 
"John Brown, the famous abolitionist, lived in three different houses in Richfield. The first home was in the vicinity of Fountain Rd or Boston Mills Rd as it's now called. It was there that four of his children fell ill with diphtheria, a potentially fatal bacterial infection. Sophie Sheldon, a neighbor to the Brown family who had helped to nurse the children became worn out. 
A buggy pulled up to the front door and Fanny Oviatt stepped out. 'Go away, Aunt Fanny. You can't come in here. It's a house of death.' 'Of course I can,' Fanny replied. 'You don't suppose I am afraid of sickness, do you? How is the little boy?' 'Dead. Dead, I tell you. And Sarah doesn't know us anymore when we talk to her. Go home before your children get it too.' 'Sophie, your father is waiting for you outside and you are to go home with him. When you get there, take off your clothes in the woodshed and burn them, every one. Then wash yourself all over with lots of soft soap and water before you go into the house. You'll not get it or give it to anyone else'. 
Fanny turned to Mrs Brown and said ' My husband Mason didn't want me to come but I said to him "Mason Oviatt, what would you think if it was our children sick and no one to help?". He was ashamed of himself then and said of course I should come.' Later, two children Austen and Peter, lay dead. And the third, Sarah, which she cared for, died during the night. They were buried the next day in one grave beside their brother Charles, who had died ten days before. They are buried in the East Richfield cemetery.
"Due to the precautions taken by Fanny, none of her eleven children contracted the deadly disease."
As a mother, my heart hurts to read these accounts. Losing not one, not two, but four children so quickly, not being able to do anything more for them than trying to make them comfortable, watching them go to sleep and never awaken. How hard that must have been. And poor Mary, the fear she must have carried with her for the next two months - would the baby she was carrying be okay? I am sure that John and Mary spent many hours in prayer in the latter part of 1843.

The four children share a grave at the Richfield Cemetery in Richfield, Summit, Ohio. Next time I am in Ohio, I will be paying my respects to my distant cousins, who never got a chance to grow up.

Find a grave registrations
Austin Brown 38560582
Charles Brown 38560420
Peter Brown 38560502
Sarah Brown 38560313

Sunday, October 21, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Sunday

Beatrice, 5; Georgie, 2; Marjorie, 3

This is a picture of my grandmother and two of her younger sisters. I estimate that it was taken around 1908 based on the ages of the girls.  My great aunt, Alice, who was their baby sister, helped me identify the girls, and told me how her father insisted on his daughters wearing white frilly dresses.

The white frilly dresses with all those yards and yards of lace and ruffles, were made by hand by the girls mother, Bertha, and their grandmother, John Brown's daughter, Annie. My great grandfather, George Madison Cook, believed that little girls should always be clean and proper and dressed in white.  It must have been very time consuming for Bertha to keep all of those frilly white dresses clean and pressed.

George and Bertha had a total of 9 children, five of which were girls. I can not imagine the amount of bleach that Bertha must have gone through over the years keeping all the dresses white.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Life with the "Invisibles" at Kennedy Farm

In the summer of 1859, my just shy of sixteen year old great-great grandmother, Annie, and her just shy of seventeen year old sister-in-law, Martha, joined John Brown and his band of followers at the Kennedy Farm in Maryland just a few miles across the state line from Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

John Brown, going under the assumed name of Isaac Smith, rented the Kennedy Farm to use as a base of operation for his planned attack on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry and subsequent slave uprising that he was certain would follow his daring raid. He had written home asking Mary, his wife, to come and keep house for him and the men. He suggested that their eldest daughter, Annie, also come to help. Mary declined, siting her poor health and the needs of the younger children, as the reasons she could not fulfill her husbands request.

Annie and Martha, the eldest girls at the farm in North Elba, NY volunteered to go. Annie was anxious to assist her father, and Martha wanted to be with her husband of four months, Oliver, who was at Kennedy Farm preparing to fight at his father's side. Martha elected herself head housekeeper because she was an older married woman. One or two months pregnant, Martha slipped off the loft ladder the day they were leaving and severely twisted her ankle. But nothing was going to keep her from being with her husband.

Martha did most of the cooking, while Annie was the all-important lookout, who warned the men to go into hiding when ever a noisy neighbor happened to come near the house. 

Annie wrote about the first night they arrived at the farm, and gives an inside view of what the men, and the young girls, endured during that summer. She included the reminiscence in letters sent to her friend, Dr. Alexander Ross of Canada. It is an endearing description of two young women trying to take care of the "invisibles" as Annie later called the men.

"We commenced housekeeping at Kennedy Farm sometime in July.  I cannot now remember the date, although I remember the day well.  Father and my brothers went to The Ferry to purchase a stove and necessary articles, Martha and I went to the house and tried to surprise them with a dinner which we tried to cook in an old fireplace.  We had been boarding for a few days at a neighbors who lived nearby.  We succeeded after making several attempts in getting a poor fire to burn, and boiled some potatoes and onions which tipped nearly over several times, spilling out a few each time. We was trying to make some kind of bread when the boys arrived bringing bread and rusks from the bakery, relieving us of that source of worriment to older housekeepers than we. 

We ate our dinner camp fashion and began housekeeping in real earnest.  Our family at that time consisted of six persons, Father, J G Anderson, Owen, Oliver, Martha and I.  Kagi had gone to Chambersburg and they had not found Cook yet. He had done to Harpers Ferry the year before and was teaching school there.  He had married the daughter of the woman he boarded with about the time we went down there.

The first addition to our family was my brother Watson, and William and Dauphin Thompson who came on a few weeks after Oliver, Martha and I did.  Then followed the rest over, two, three and four at a time. These last arrivals all came secretly by way of Chambersburg. Father and some of the rest going there with a light covered wagon, in which they rode or else walked a part of the way. They would hide in the woods and come in to the house before daylight in the morning or else after dark at night.

They all lived up stairs over the dining room, coming down to their meals, and at any time that there was no strangers or visitors about. It was my special business to keep watch on the porch and signal to them with my hand, if any one approached when they would disappear quietly up the stairway closing the door after them, while I remained and entertained the company directly under them, as if nothing unusual had happened.

We had one neighbor, our nearest one, a very little woman, but she often caused us a good deal of trouble, by coming at such unreasonable hours to call, bringing her four children.

I attended to the dining room, waiting on the men. I used to call them my "invisibles." If any on approached while they were at their meals I would let them know, when they would each take articles of food and dishes, clearing the table and disappear as usual, while I kept the person or persons on the porch as long as I could.

The men used to sing, play games and read to pass away the time. Kagi who was stationed at Chambersburg always sent them a bundle of papers and magazines whenever the wagons made a trip. It was very tiresome for them to be shut-in the house without exercise so long.  They would go out in evenings and walk to rest themselves"
Annie's hand drawn map of the farmhouse

 In the late 1800s until her death in 1926, Annie wrote letters and articles about her father and her time at Kennedy Farm.

Photo by Fred Mecoy 2009

The Kennedy Farm was purchased by a black Hagerstown minister, Reverend Leonard W. Curlin, in 1949, and sold to a white private developer, South T. Lynn, in the early 1970s. Capt Lynn has spent more than $100,000 in personal, state and federal funds to restore the Kennedy Farm house back to the 1859 appearance.

In 1974 the Kennedy Farm was designated a National Historical Landmark

In 2009 I had the great honor of participating in the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Harpers Ferry Raid and one of the most moving events I participated in was the re-enactment of the night of Oct 16, 1859 when John Brown and his men hiked from Kennedy Farm to take control of the Harpers Ferry Armory. I stood on the upper porch and spoke words of my ancestors. It was an unforgettable night for me.
Photo by Fred Mecoy 2009

In this photo, Dennis Frye, Harpers Ferry Historian, Capt. South Lynn, Alice Keesey Mecoy, Capt. Lynn's son.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I cannot believe that he is an elected official! Off Subject

Okay, I know that we live in a freedom of speech country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I believe this right to be valid, important and worthy of defending, but really? To state in writing that one of the darkest eras of American history might have been "a blessing" for the very people who suffered through the horrendous physical, mental and spiritual hardships, seems small minded and downright ignorant to me. But for the writer to be an elected official makes it reprehensible to me.  Tell me what you think in the comments. Now, please excuse me while I take a shower and wash the trash off of me.

 Jon Hubbard, Arkansas Legislator, Says Slavery May 'Have Been A Blessing' In New Book

Jon Hubbard, a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, has written a new book in which he says slavery was "a blessing" for African-Americans, among other questionable statements. 

Hubbard, a first term Republican from Jonesboro, Ark., makes a series of racially charged statements in the self-published book, including saying that integration of schools is hurting white students, that African slaves had better lives under slavery than in Africa, that blacks are not contributing to society, and that a situation is developing the United States which is similar to that of Nazi Germany. 

The questionable statements in Hubbard's book, "Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative," were first reported by Arkansas Times and
Regarding slavery, Hubbard wrote:

“… the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.” (Pages 183-89)

  (click here to read entire article on the Huffington Post  if you can stomach anymore of this bunk)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Some Things Never Change

I had to have a molar pulled a few days ago. I broke my tooth on my breakfast cereal last Monday. On cereal!?! Really?!?!

While I was sitting at Baylor Dental School awaiting my turn to see the dentist, I remembered a letter that Annie wrote in 1887. One hundred twenty years ago she was writing about the poor state of Americans' teeth. Some things never change..........

Letter from Annie Brown Adams to Dr Ross, December 28, 1887
Held by Gilder Lehrman Museum in New York index # GL3007.18 
"The American of this great state do not “dig their graves with their teeth[i]”. They part with their teeth before they get out of their “teens”.  It is not uncommon now to find persons between fifteen and twenty, with false teeth, in this vicinity.  One man I know, paid fifty dollars to get his young daughter’s teeth filled.  Now what is the cause of this early decay?  I think it must be the consumption of so much sweets, candy, etc.  We Americans consume more sugar than any other nation, and take more and better care of our teeth (while we have them) than any other people do.  Indians, Negros, and nearly all Foreigners have good teeth.  Some say that it is caused by the use of too much fine, white flour bread stuffs.  We use several preparations of wheat to make mushes, rice, cornstarch, sego[ii], tapioca, cornmeal instead of the nationalpie”.  I make puddings, and brown bread, and corn bread, for a change from the white."

[i] Greedy eaters dig their graves with their teeth.  French Proverb
[ii] Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii, is a bulbous perennial which is endemic to the Western United States. It is the state flower of Utah.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

1927 Brown Family Reunion Meeting in Hudson, Ohio

I have started transcribing the minutes and associated letters and papers from the Hudson Library Collection of Owen/John Brown Family Reunions.The Reunions began in 1926 and continued through the 1960's, except for two years during WWII, due to the high cost of traveling.

Here are the minutes from the 1927 meeting.  Note that the numbers in { } are the numbering system that Dr. Clarence Gee started tracking the family with, and I have continued to use.  Please enjoy.

Minutes of the Brown Reunion

June 5, 1927

Meeting was opened by the President, John Owen Brown{B18732}of Fort Wayne, Ind., greeting all and expressing his pleasure that so many of the family were present, happy to see some new faces’ and regretting that a few were missing.
In the absence of the Secretary, Doris Brown Malone, the President called as Secretary pro tem Edna Brown Kalbrunner, {B187311} who read letters from Mrs. Nellie Lusk and Doris Brown Malone, regretting their inability to be present. Doris Malone’s letter coming from Capris, Italy, where she is now living. Also a letter from our Historian, Lydia Crothers {B18792}, regretting her absence, due to illness in her family.  She reports in the year past, no marriages, two births – daughter [Dorothy Stiles {B1873451}]to Mr. and Mrs. Newell Styles  B187345}, Washington D.C. – a son [Perry Crothers, Jr {B1879241}]to Mr. and Mrs. Perry Crothers {B187924}, Tacoma, Washington.
The grim reaper having taken four* members of our family:
Lucien Brown {B1867}, St. Andrews Fla. (son of Oliver Owen Brown {B186} – grandson of Owen {B18)
Charles P. Brown {B18422}, Akron Ohio (Son of Jason {B1842} – grandson of John {B184})
Charles Brown {B18632} (Son of Lemual Brown {B1863}– grandson of Oliver {B186})
Lucien Brown {B18XIII1}, Portland, Oregon (Son of Edward Brown {B18XIII} – grandson of Owen {B18})

She also reports on Decoration Day – she stood beside the graves of Grandfather Frederick Brown {B187} and father Salmon Brown {B1879} in the Kilbourn, Wis. Cemetery. Her grandfather died in 1877 and she has only a few remembrances of him, but many of his expressions were often repeated by her father, the one “Filled with pardonable pride” comes to her and it applies very well in speaking of our ancestry. She also recalled how her father looked singing “Land where my fathers dies, land of the Pilgrims pride,” and she realized the ownership he felt.
She thinks to, we should instruct our children in our family history that they may be filled with pardonable pride in their ancestors service to this our country, and in this way help safe guard their integrity.
There also was a letter from Mrs. F B Alexander {B18412} of Put-in-Bay who is the daughter of John Brown {B1841} the eldest son of Captain John Brown {B184} and Wealthy Hotchkiss Brown, thanking Mrs. Shiley for her kind invitation and owing to business reasons she would be unable to be with us. She also states that John Brown {B1841} came to Put-in-Bay after the insurrection at Harpers Ferry and that she, Mrs. Alexander, was born, married and is still living in the same house.
Two interesting papers were read. One was the story of the life of Owen Brown {B18}, early settler of Hudson, by himself for his daughter Marion Brown Hand {B189}, and was a wonderful description of the hardships endured after the Revolution and yet the devote attitude which over came and helped bear all the trials.
The other paper was an accurate description of the John Brown home on the lane, connecting two main roads, this home is still standing.
Both papers may be had from the Secretary for inspection.
Mr. Charlie Brown {B18731} then moved the date for this annual reunion be changed from the first Sunday in June to the last Sunday in June, and his motion was adopted.
Mrs. Aura Styles requested we express our appreciation by letter to our absent Historian Lydia Crothers {B18792}, and the Secretary was so instructed.
Our President called on Mr. A N Waite who gave us a very interesting and humorous talk on the apprenticeship of his grandfather to Owen Brown, he also told us that the staircase which stands in the home now occupied by the Snedon family in Hudson was built by John Brown himself.
Rev. John Logan Lindlay of the Congregational Church of Hudson then told us that Owen Brown {B18}was a charter member of his church, and because of this connection he was very much interested in the Brown family, and wondered where the family Bible given to Lawrence Pease by Owen Brown was, and he expressed a desire to see it returned to the Brown family. He also suggested we assume care of the Brown graved in the Hudson Cemetery. He further extended an invitation to us to attend the 125th anniversary of Hudson, beginning September 4, 1927 with morning services at his Church.
Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers Miller, who now lives in the Old John Brown home in Hudson extended an initiation to us to her home.
The following officers were elected for the ensuing year:
President                     John Owen Brown {B18732}
Vice Pres                     Mrs. Eliza Lavina Reed
2nd Vice Pres               Salmon Brown
Secretary                     Edna Brown Kalbrunner {B187311}
Assistant                     Isabel Brown  {B187913}
Historian                     Lydia Crothers  {B18792}
Assistant                     Mrs. Flora Bartsche {B18XIII2}

Our President requested we sing “God be with you ‘till we meet again” which we did, and after all together repeating Mizpah, we adjourned, and accepting the kind invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Earl John Johnson, who now occupy the John Brown Farm, we walked down the roadway to their home, where we saw the site of the old tannery, the old burial vault, the deed to this vault in Mrs. Johnson’s possession, the old home and all had a drink of cool water from the old, old well.
After which we returned to the Hine Home to bid adieu to each other and to thank our kind host and hostess for our very happy day.
Edna Brown Kalbrunner

*Additional deaths are list at the end of the minutes. They must have been announced at the meeting.

Doris Jeannette Brown {B186325}– daughter of Charles S {B18632} and Hannah Brown,    Died Jan 22, 1927, aged 28 years

Charles Stores Brown {B18632} – son of Lemuel Stores {B1863} and Julia Brown       Died March 31, 1927 aged 65 years

Both are buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery Cleveland Ohio

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Page From Annie's Autograph Book - HDCW Hill

Miss Brown:
            Borne on times tempestuous way:
            Rolling surges hast the day;
            On to that last flickering ray;
            Wilt thou not as a friend O say!
            Note FEI, and skating day!

                                      Truly your friend,
FEI March 4th 1863        HDWC Hill
                                        Schroon Lake

Henry Dollitt W. Christon Hill, was born in Schroon, Essex County, New York in 1939, the third child of Gilson and Harrietta Hill.

On the 1850 census, we find Gilson (30), Harrietta (30), George G (18), Mary S (16) and Henry DWC (11), living in Schroon, Essex County, New York on the Hill's farm. On the 1860 census 11 year old Rosetta M. has joined the family.

March of 1863 we find Henry DWC Hill attending Fort Edward Institute with Annie Brown in Fort Edward, New York. He is 24 years old, and Annie is 19. His signature page in Annie's Autograph Book is written in prose, each line beginning with the letters of her last name.  It is a charming prose, and I can't help wondering what happened at "skating day?"

A year and a half later, August 29, 1864, a 25 year old Henry enlisted at Plattsburg, New York as a Private into 142nd Infantry, Company H to serve for one year. He was wounded in the neck during the "Battle of Fair Oaks & Darbytown Road" also known as the "Second Battle of Fair Oaks" in Virginia on October 27, 1864. During the 2-day battle, the Union had 1,603 deaths and casualties, while the Confederates only had 100. Henry was lucky to just be injured in the neck. He and his entire Company mustered out on June 7, 1865, at Raleigh, North Carolina.

According to his Military Records, Henry was 6 feet tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He listed his previous occupation as "student" on his war records, and he must have continued his education after he mustered out, because in the Lawyers Record and Official Register of the United States, published in 1872, Henry was admitted to the Schenectady New York Law Registry on April 7, 1869.

Between 1865 and 1870 Henry married Edna Jennie [last name not known]. In the 1870 census we find Henry, Edna and baby Harry living in Whitehall, Washington, New York, where Henry worked as a lawyer and Edna kept house. Henry was obviously doing quite well as the census shows him with Real Estate valued at $2000 and personal property also valued at $2000. A fortune in 1870. An internet search for HDWC Hill + Lawyer returns many examples of his work as a lawyer. On the 1880 census the family has added 4 year old Newton.

I haven't found much else about good ol' skating Henry, though I did find two personal genealogy family trees that list his year of death as 1899.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Follow Up to the Charles White Movie

I emailed the Fun with History group to let them know that I had linked to the film on their website. I got this cool email back from Chris, showing just how small the John Brown World is.


What great story! I live 45 mins. from Harper's Ferry and have been to the old Firehouse there many times. Even more interesting, I was riding with my friend one day to see a car that was for sale. He took me to see where he used to live. As we drove down the old driveway, I looked up and saw we were driving right next to the house on the Kennedy Farm. My friend used to rent the house directly behind it.

I'm glad the video helped you make a connection. If you want a better copy of the video, it is in the public domain and can be downloaded at:

Thanks again for sharing your story.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Los Angeles Times story about Owen's headstone

Reporter Gail Holland interviewed me for this story.....30+ minutes on the phone and I get a one line mention! Oh well. Read the Los Angeles Times article here

BUT...... the article did mention a documentary that I went in search of and it is amazing!

Background info:
Ian White found the Owen Brown headstone in August 2012. His father was Charles White, an artist featured in the 1971 documentary, "Five Artists."  When Ian was a lad, the family lived at the base of Little Round Top (aka Brown Mountain). The film shows Ian and his sister running up the mountain to the Owen Brown grave site, and then shows the children examining the headstone. Charles White was an amazing artist and clearly admired John Brown: in fact John Brown and Abraham Lincoln were the only white men he did portraits of. (See items below)
This film is thirty minutes long, and Charles White is the second artist featured on it. There is no timer on the film, so I can not give you an exact time stamp, but the film is worth watching.

So without further ado, I present to you this amazing film. Please enjoy!

5 Artists - 1971 30 min
Five African-American artists - Charles White, Romare Bearden, Richard Hunt, Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Betty Blayton are featured in this 1971 documentary.

Abolitionist John Brown

John Brown

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finding Owen's headstone - part 2

Article from Pasadena Star (I am quoted in the article!) Also below are more pictures of the recovery of the headstone. 

Thanks to all your support!

Please support the effort to reset the headstone
C/O Paul Ayers, Esq.
700 N. Brand Blvd., Ste. 400
Glendale, CA 91203

 Owen Brown gravestone, missing for 10 years, found in Altadena
By James Figueroa, SGVN
Posted:   08/27/2012 07:16:40 PM PDT
ALTADENA - Lost for 10 years, the gravestone belonging to Civil War abolitionist Owen Brown turned up again only a few hundred feet from his final resting place in the Altadena hills.
Ian White, an artist who lives near the gravesite in the Meadows neighborhood, found the stone marker while walking with his 1-year-old son on Thursday.
The engraving wasn't visible, but White recognized a metal ring on the gravestone signifying the end of slavery. Owen Brown was the son of John Brown, who is credited with sparking the Civil War by leading an 1859 revolt to free slaves in Harpers Ferry, in what is now West Virginia.
White called Paul Ayers of Save the Altadena Trails, and they moved the marker to a secure location, carefully wrapping the stone in cloth and using a furniture dolly.
"I knew what it was, and I didn't want to attract any interest to it," White said.
Save the Altadena Trails now hopes to return the gravestone to its rightful place, but will have to contend with legal questions about who owns it and how to ensure it will be preserved.
For now, the gravestone's discovery has become a hot topic among Altadena locals, historians and the Brown family.
"It was absolutely amazing," Ayers said. "I had for a number of years been preparing to fabricate a new stone. I had no expectation we would see it again."
The stone disappeared in 2002, just as Save the Altadena Trails was preparing legal battles with area property owners over access to the gravesite. The organization since then has won court decisions granting the public access to the gravesite.
Ayers had suspicions about who might have disturbed the site, but nothing was ever proven.
"Whoever did this committed a crime against the community of Altadena," he said. "There are certain things that are touchstones in a community, and this one was."
There have been lengthy searches for the stone marker through the years, and the area is popular among hikers, so the stone's reappearance so close to the gravesite seems strange.
White, however, believes the marker's weight would have severely hindered anyone trying to move it far from the area. A rope was next to the stone when he found it, he said.
"I think maybe through some rainstorms it gradually pushed itself down more and more," White said. "And with some brush clearance, all of a sudden I was able to see it.
"Numerous hikers go through this area, but it looks like debris because there's other concrete and rock that are around the area. So I think it was just overlooked, to be honest."
Several of John Brown's children moved to California in the aftermath of the Harpers Valley revolt, and many of his descendants from daughter Ruth Thompson live in the Pasadena area.
Owen Brown, who had been waiting with horses across the Potomac River and escaped when his father was captured, eventually wound up living in a cabin with his brother Jason in Altadena.
Brown family genealogist Alice Keesey Mecoy, John Brown's great-great-great granddaughter, said she did a "happy dance" upon learning the gravestone had been found.
During the sesquicentennial of Brown's revolt in 2009, a movement emerged to disinter Owen's remains and move them to the New York farm where his father was buried.
Mecoy initially favored the idea, but soon changed her mind.
"This is where he loved, this is where he wanted to be, this where he lived the last years of his life," she said. "He was very active in the town, he was very active in Masonic organizations. He needs to stay there."
Mecoy hopes fly in from Texas to visit the Altadena gravesite, which she's never seen, when there is a rededication ceremony sometime in the future.
The gravestone's discovery could also provide a "teachable moment," said Altadena historian Michelle Zack, who is currently researching the Civil War era.
The Pasadena area was attractive to the Brown family because of strong anti-slavery sentiments, Zack said.
"When you find something like this that's been lost, and it’s a dramatic find, it's a rare opportunity to talk about what the Civil War meant here out in the West," she said.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Owen's Gravestone Found!

I originally wrote about Owen Brown and his missing headstone in this post on June 21, 2011.

Setting of headstone
Owen was a son of John and Mary Brown. He participated in the Harper's Ferry Raid, escaped, and went on to live to the ripe old age of 64. He was buried at the top of Little Round Top, a mountain just outside of Altadena, CA. The mountain is also known as "Brown's Mountain" an old name left over from the days when the Brown Brothers, Jason and Owen lived at the top of the mountain in a small one room cabin.

Owen's headstone went missing years ago, no one knew what became of it.  Some thought it was tossed down the mountainside by the current land owner. All that remained of the headstone were old photos.   
Norman Marshall with headstone

Headstone on grave

Today, I received an email [see below] informing me that the headstone HAS BEEN FOUND!!!!  I have been doing a happy dance all day!!!!  What a great way to end the week!!

email from Save The Altadena Trails:   
Save the Altadena Trails takes great pleasure in announcing the recovery of the Owen Brown Grave Stone which disappeared from the top of Little Round Top in 2004. The grave stone was found by Ian White and his son Thursday morning, a team was quickly assembled and the stone is now secure.
It is STAT’s intention to take all necessary legal and logistical steps necessary to restore the grave stone to its rightful place marking Owen Brown’s grave at the top of Little Round Top.  We will keep you informed of our progress.
STAT asks for your support in our effort to restore the grave stone. Please send your donations to:

C/O Paul Ayers, Esq.
700 N. Brand Blvd., Ste. 400
Glendale, CA 91203
Please note that donations are not tax deductible.
Thank you for your support.