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John Brown Farm Aiding African Hunger Campaign

I found this interesting article tonight while searching through Newspapers on Line. While reading it, I realized that I own one of the lithographs that were sold in 1975 to raise money for the relief of hunger in drought stricken Africa.

Here is my lithograph
In the bottom right it says "For the Washington County Committee for African Hunger Relief"

Here is the article about the lithographs and Kennedy Farm from The Daily Mail, Hagerstown, MD Monday February 24, 1974 Page 9

John Brown Farm Aiding African Hunger Campaign

By Gloria Dahlhamer

SAMPLES MANOR – The 180-year-old farmhouse from which white abolitionist John Brown led his famous raid on the federal government arsenal at Harpers Ferry back in 1859 is being put to use again to help black people.
The brick-covered log house served as the slavery opponent’s headquarters while he planned the attack upon the United States arsenal which some historians have maintained was the real beginning of the Civil War: n the middle of this century, it served as a national headquarter for the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World and was they memorial to Brown as the “forerunner of Abraham Lincoln” in serving the cause of freedom for American Slaves.

Today, the John Brown Farm is being used as the focal point for a campaign to feed starving black people in drought-stricken Africa.

Lithographs of an original pencil sketch of the farmhouse done by the Rev. R Benjamin Jones, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church are being sold here by the Washington County African Hunger Relief Committee to raise funds for feeding Africa’s hungry millions.

Monies realized through the sales of the lithographs will be channeled through CROP, a church-oriented organization, directly to the countries where a six –year drought has affected between 50 and 100 million people.

According to Robert Brandi, chairman of the Washington County African Hunger Relief Committee, the money will be used not only for the immediate purchase of food to feed the hungry but also for seeds and tools to help the people feed themselves.

He said the John Brown Farm was chosen as the subject for the picture not only because of its place in Washington County history but also because of its significance to black people.

The 250-acre farm which bears the name of the anti-slavery leader was originally known as the Kennedy farm. According to historical accounts, Brown rented the farm from Judge Jacob Fiery, who was administering the estate of Dr. R.F.Kennedy, using the name of Isaac Smith. Some accounts report that Brown intended to use the farm as a base for conducting guerrilla warfare against slave owners throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, liberating slaves and turning them against their masters. One old newspaper account says one of Brown’s men tried to organize a slave uprising in Washington Country before the raid on the Harpers Ferry arsenal.

Brown and his “troops” secured the federal armory on October 16-17, 1859. However, he eventually was trapped inside the arsenal and was captured by U.S. Marines. He was taken to Charles Town, W. Va., (then Virginia) where he was indicted for conspiring with slaves for the purpose of insurrection, treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, and murder. He was tried, convicted, and hanged.

The Samples Manor farmhouse which stills bears his name was occupied by private citizens in the years which followed.

In 1948, the Tri-State Association of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World (Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia) headed by its president, Leonard Curlin of Hagerstown, negotiated the purchase of the farm. The property, in turn, was sold to the Grand Lodge of the IBPOE for the development of the Elks’ John Brown Shrine.

A year later, in 1949, the Elks published the “John Brown Reader,” in which J. Finley Wilson, then the grand exalted ruler, and W.C. Hueston, the grand commissioner of education, put forth the suggestion of a memorial to John Brown and the erection of Freedom Tower to “emphasize his (Brown’s) contribution to the cause of freedom and the Negro.

The black Elks owned the farm for a number of years. According to Mr, Curlin, the Elks hoped to maintain the farm as a national shrine, with the approval of the U.S. Department of Interior, setting up a museum depicting the life of Brown, the history of the IBPOE of the World, and the Negro in Americas life.

The Elks did build a dance hall on the property, along with several houses, and use the farm for years as the site of gatherings

However, they were never able to get their plans for a national shrine off the ground.

The property changed hands a number of times in recent years. In 1973, is was again purchased by four men from the Washington D.C. area, who plan to restore the property and open it to public viewing,  The property has been named as a National Historic Landmark.

According to Chairman Brandt, the African Hunger Relief Committee has already raised about $1,600 through the sales of the John Brown Farm lithographs and an auction of Rev. Jones’ original sketch.

Lithographs, at $5 apiece, still can be obtained at the following locations: Benjamin Art Gallery on Pennsylvnia Ave., The Book Store and Christian Book Store in downtown Hagarstown, Howard’s art and frame,  Dual Highway, Books ‘n Things,  long Meadow Shopping Center, Nussear’s Glidden Plaint Center, Northern Ave., Scherlie’s Art Gallery and Bast of Boonsboro, both in Boonsboro.

They also can be ordered by mail by writing to: African Hunger Relief. c/o Antietam Bank., P.O. Box 491 Hagerstown.

The Daily Mail, Hagerstown MD

Monday, February 24, 1975

Page Nine


Touring John Brown Farm

Howard and Carol Mendelsohn, at right, members of the Washington County African Hunger Relief Committee, vistit the John Brown Farm near Samples Manor, with James Jones, left, of Elks Lodge 278 of Hagerstown , as their guide. The farmhouse which once served as abolitionist John Brown’s headquarters was owned for a number of years by the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, who had hoped to maintain it as a national John Brown Shrine.  Lithographs of the farm are being sold by the African Hunger Relief Committee to raise funds for providing food for Africa’s starving millions.

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