A Dozen Set Fires a Sign of Slave Resistance?

A Dozen Fires Following John Brown’s Raid – And 589 Escaped Enslaved – Suggest The Long-Stated Assertion That No Local Blacks Sided With Brown Needs Re-Consideration

This is a chronology of events in Jefferson County, Va. immediately following the raid in October, 1859 at Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, his family, and men, as reported in newspapers, locally and nationally, along with a long detailed letter by a resident and people-owner.

Security enforced by armed patrols of militia along all roads was so tight that even then-Virginia Governor Henry Wise on one occasion, and Lead Prosecutor Andrew Hunter, were both detained by these details by mistake.

Persons unfamiliar to local residents were scrutinized in the extreme, lending credence to the view that the fires were set by people in the community.

It should be noted that the fires mentioned by Edmund Ruffin occurred at his farms not in the County – but his highly influential views in the State reflect the possible conclusions that can be made that the fires locally were, indeed, set by those enslaved.

The 1860 Census’ Slave Schedules for Jefferson County, which are delineated in the blog after this one, lay out 589 escapes by those enslaved in just Jefferson County. No adjacent Counties reported any if very, very few such escapes in the same Census, even though all other circumstances were comparable.

John Browns’s Raid Begins Sunday – October 16, 1859

Harper’s Ferry – Monday, October 17, 1859

Battle at Harper’s Ferry – Monday, October 17, 1859

Raiders Captured at Harper’s Ferry – daybreak Tuesday, October 18, 1859


Court Proceedings Begin – Tuesday, October 25, 1859

Two days later, Brown was declared fit for trial by a doctor and was thus faced with a jury trial for murder, conspiracy, and treason.


Fire George Fulk’s – Thursday, October 27, 1859

“FIRE! – “We regret to learn that the Barn, Stabling, etc. belonging to Mr. George Fulk, near the Swan Pond in Berkeley County, was destroyed on Monday (October 27-ED) morning last by fire, the work of a negro boy. Mr. F.’s loss is supposed to be $4,000 as wheat, hay etc. were consumed. No insurance (was) upon the property.”
SOURCE: “Virginia Free Press” Thursday, October 30, 1859.

John Brown Convicted, Sentenced – Wednesday, November 2, 1859
After 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury finds Brown guilty of conspiracy, murder, and treason. Brown is sentenced to be hanged in public on December 2nd.

On Monday, October 31st, the defense had concluded its case, having argued that Brown killed no one and he owed no duty of loyalty to Virginia, and thus could not be guilty of treason against the state.

Fire William Lucas’ – Thursday, November 10, 1859
“A rick of wheat belonging to the Hon. William Lucas, containing about 450 bushels was burned on Thursday (November 10-ED) morning last. It was undoubtedly the work of an incendiary. A white man was observed by Mr. L. prowling near the field where the wheat was shocked, and it is supposed that he is the individual who set the fire. “
SOURCE: “Virginia Free Press” Thursday, November 17, 1859.

William Lucas, Sr., 59, farmer, with $126,000 in real estate; $12,100 in personal property; William Lucas, Jr. 29, lawyer; Virginia Bedinger Lucas, 21.
SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide page 119.

Lucas’ enslaved fifteen persons, seven of whom escaped: three men, ages 50, 36, and 24; one infant boy; a woman, aged 32, and two girls, aged 11 and 8 years.
SOURCE: 1860 Federal Census Slave Schedules Jefferson County, Virginia, p. 30.

Over-Reactions and Poetry – Thursday, November 10, 1859
“Forebodings of a coming storm were in the air, in everyone’s heart and mind and mouths. Every natural phenomena was clothed with peculiar significance. The great comet that flamed across the heavens was taken as a sign of approaching war. Strange celestial lights, which nightly illuminated the heavens for weeks with a lurid brazen glow, the like of which had never been seen before by the people; filled their minds with morbid dread. Every one seemed on an intense strain. The slightest incident shattered the nerves.

“A few amusing things transpired which I will relate to give an idea of the popular feeling. At 11 o’clock Thursday night, November 10th, one of the pickets on the first line, stationed along the Winchester and Harper’s Ferry railroad, became nervous and shot at a cow in Mr. Ranson’s cornfield. The shot caused great excitement. Word passed from mouth-to-mouth that an army of northern men were at the edge of town bent on rescuing John Brown. It caused intense excitement. The pickets were called in, the long roll was sounded by muffled drums, the shrill piping of fifes was heard, the rattle and clatter of arms and the tramp! tramp! of the soldiers disturbed the quiet of the night. Cannons were planted all around the jail, the soldiers formed a hollow square around the building and remained drawn up in line of battle until daylight.”
SOURCE: Avey, pp. 31-32.

Fire McCormick’s neighbor, Clarke County – Friday, November 11, 1859
“On Friday last Col. ??? in Clark County lost 4,000 bu. of wheat, barns stabling & all done by his negros. Two of them are now in jail together with some of McCormick’s, his neighbor.”
SOURCE: Letter Sarah. D. Briscoe to “my Dear Sister” – Saturday, November 19, 1859.

Fire McCormick’s – Friday, November 11, 1859
“On Friday last Col. ??? in Clark County lost 4,000 bu. of wheat, barns stabling & all done by his negros. Two of them are now in jail together with some of McCormick’s his neighbor.”
SOURCE: Letter Sarah. D. Briscoe to “my Dear Sister” – Saturday, November 19, 1859.

Cyrus McCormick, 55, farmer, with $60,000 in real estate; $57,000 in personal property; Samuel McCormick, 71; George Marlon, 20, laborer. SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Clarke, County-wide, page 51.

Fire Tate’s – Saturday, November 12, 1859
“On Saturday (November 12-ED) evening last, a stable belonging to George H. Tate, Esq. together with his two carriage horses were burned. This was also supposed to be the work of an incendiary. Whilst part of our citizens had gone to the place of conflagration, a suspicious looking individual who has been working about the vicinity for some time past, attracted the attention of the Town Guard, and was arrested as the incendiary. The negro boy who had seen the man at Mr. T’s. was sent for, but he could not identify him as being the person, although he looked very much like him.”
SOURCE: “Virginia Free Press” Thursday, November 17, 1859.

Abigail N. Tate, 72, lady, with $36,000 in real estate; $8,000 in personal property; George W., 46, farmer, with $6,000 in real estate; $5,700 in personal property; Mary Daugherty, 25, with $1,200 in real estate; $200 in personal property; Maria Humphreys, 47, with $2,000 in real estate. SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide, page 121.

George Tate enslaved nine persons, three of whom escaped:
three men, ages 30, 25, 21.
SOURCE: 1860 Federal Census Slave Schedules, Jefferson County, Virginia.

Gunshot Lucas’, Security Tightened – Saturday, November 12, 1859
“A shot fired under his (William Lucas) window, another night, led to the belief that the judge had been marked for assassination, and induced the mayor, Thomas C. Green, on November 12, to order the removal from Charlestown of all strangers who could not give a satisfactory account of themselves. Among those forced to leave on that day were George H. Hoyt, who was, however, ready to go, as he had finished his legal work for Brown, and a representative of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Paper, who was charged with the grave offence of being a correspondent of the New York Tribune.” SOURCE: Villard, p. 520.

Richmond Papers Keep Reporting Fires
“But the fires continued to be recorded in almost every issue of the Richmond papers from November 12 on. The resultant dread and nervousness of the citizens were intensified by repeated false alarms . . .” SOURCE: Villard, p. 520.

Fires Ruffins’ Farms – Sunday, November 13, 1859
(Edmund Ruffin arrived at Jefferson County November 26, 1859-ED)
“Nov. 13. Sunday. This is the fifth house-burning that has occurred to the properties of my different children, & four of them by design, within a few years. Yet in the 44 years in which I was head of a farm, there was not the slightest loss by house-burning, either accidental or other . . . . A stormy day of rain & wind, at intervals, & dark & gloomy through out. No one went to church. Dr. Dupuy & Charles came, bringing the bad news of a great loss to the latter. Last night, before 9 o’clock, fire was put to his stable, & that with his only three mules were burnt, together with another building containing all his saved fodder. Neither Charles nor his overseer were at home, but all his negroes were. There is every appearance that they were guilty of the designed burning-which is worse than the pecuniary loss by the fire. This is the continuation of a dreadful state of things.

“Nov. 14. Edmund . . . went to Charles’ farm, where met Julian, Dr. Dupuy, & several others of the neighbors. They spent nearly all the day in investigating the circumstances of the fire.

“Each of the negroes was questioned apart from the others- & nothing could be learned to indicate the actual perpetrator. It is certain that the burning must have been made by malicious intention-& scarcely possible to have been without the action or knowledge of some one or more of the negroes, all then at home & close by.”
SOURCE: Ruffin, Edmund. (1972). “The Diary of Edmund Ruffin: “Toward independence, October 1856-April 1861.” William Kauffman Scarborough, (Ed.). Baton Rouge, LA.: Louisiana State University Press. p. 351.

Smith Crane Detained By Mistake – Thursday November 17, 1859
“Old Smith Crane ???? of Harpers Ferry on Thursday & not being able to make the guard believe who he was, they detained him until someone identified him today.”
SOURCE: Letter from Sarah. D. Briscoe to “my Dear Sister” Saturday, November 19, 1859.

Ex-Gov. Wise, the Hot-Headed Instigator – Wednesday, November 16, 1859
“That all of this had its effect on Governor Wise’s nerves appears clearly in his letter of November 16 to Andrew Hunter, which has only recently been brought to light: ‘RICHMOND, VA , Nov. 16th , 1859. MY DEAR SIR, -Information from every quarter leads to the conviction that there is an organized plan to harrass our whole slave-border at every point. Day is the very time to commit arson with the best chance against detection. No light shines, nor smoke shows in daylight before the flame is off & up past putting out. The rascal too escapes best by day; he sees best whether he is not seen, and best how to avoid persons pursuing. I tell you those Devils are trained in all the Indian arts of predatory war. They come, one by one, two by two, in open day, and make you stare that the thing be attempted as it was done. But on the days of execution what is to become of the borders? Have you tho’t of that? 5 or 10,000 people flock into Chastown & leave homesteads unguarded! When then but most burnings to take place? To prevent this you must get all your papers in Jeff: Berk: & Fredk & Morgan & Hamp: to beg the people to stay at home & keep guard. Again a promiscuous crowd of women & children would hinder troops terribly if an emeute of rescue be made; and if our own people will only shoulder arms that day & keep thus distinct from strangers the guards may be prompt to arrest & punish any attempt. I have ordered 200 minie muskets to be sent to Charlestown at once with fixed amt u and the Col 8 of Berkely, Jeff: & Fred: to order regt 8 to be ready at a moment. I shall order 400 men under arms. Then, ought there to be more than one day of execution? Judge P. ought to have thought of this, but he did not. If Ct Appl don’t decide before 2nd Decr I ’1l hang Brown. If they do & sustain sentence will it not be best to postpone his ext n with the rest. He ought to be hung between two negroes & there ought not to be two days of excitement. Again it gives Legislature the opportunity of uniting with Executive in hanging Brown. Another question. Ought / to be there? It might possibly be necessary in order to proc: M. law. Say to Col. Davis that I have ordered him to act as Commissary Gen 1 for all the troops in Jefferson and he must remain & act until we are through. The Gov* may pay out of contingent fund & I gave Mr. Brown the forms of U. S. army the other day, shall of course call on Gen1 Assembly for an appropriation the first week. The guards must be kept up until 16th Dec. Watch Harper’s Ferry people. Watch, I say, and I thought watch when there. Gerritt Smith is a stark madman, no doubt! Gods, what a moral, what a lesson. Whom the Gods wish to make mad they first set. to setting others to destroying. . . . Yrs. truly HENRY A. WISE’”.
SOURCE: Villard, pp. 521-522.

“Another outbreak of fear at Harper’s Ferry, two days after Governor Wise wrote this letter, led him hastily to call out four hundred men in Richmond and Petersburg, and go with them in person, on November 20, to that place and to Charlestown, which, in great excitement, were momentarily ‘expecting from one to two hundred armed men from the West to rescue Brown.’

“One hundred and fifty more soldiers reached Harper’s Ferry with cannon on November 21, but they were destined to stay only a short time, for the impulsive Governor ordered them back that night. The railroad men were at a loss to know why the Governor had called out so many men, but thought he ‘must be in possession of information we have not to justify him.’ All except one company were on their way back again by the 22d. Four days later, Governor Wise began the concentration of troops for the execution, and with it came the end of what may truthfully be called the reign of terror in Charlestown and Harper’s Ferry.” SOURCE: Villard, pp. 522-523.

More Troops and Gov. Wise – Monday, November 21, 1859
“Charles Town has had for some weeks three companies of soldiers stationed here with two cannon. Yesterday another company came from Alexandria and today another company comes there with two more brass cannon and tomorrow Governor Wise will bring 500 more regular troops.” SOURCE: Letter Sarah. D. Briscoe to “my Dear Sister”, Saturday, November 19, 1859.

“Some of the Virginians disapproved of Gov. Wise having so many state troops at Charlestown, which put the state to an unnecessary heavy expense. He reviewed the troops every Wednesday afternoon, telling them the object of the North and what the slave states might expect. I never failed to attend these drills. Wise was a good talker and as stated in my lecture a red-hot secessionist. “
SOURCE: Avey, p. 49

Fire Shirley’s – Friday, November 18, 1859
“and last night Our neighbor, Walter SHIRLEY’s crop of wheat & barn with all his outbuildings. . . “
SOURCE: Letter Sarah. D. Briscoe to “my Dear Sister” Saturday, November 19, 1859.

Walter Shirley, 35, farmer, with $30,000 in real estate; $9,000 in personal property; Elizabeth, 31; children: James A. (4), John E. (2).
SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide page 147.

“To add to the nervousness of the authorities, there occurred in the neighborhood of Charlestown a number of fires, all of them doubtless accidental. They continued through November, instances being the burning of the barn and stock-yards of Mr. Walter Shirley, three miles from Charlestown, loss four thousand dollars, and also those of George H.
Tate and John Burns, all three of whom had been on the jury that decided Brown’s fate.”
SOURCE: Villard, p. 520.
NOTE: John Burns was on the jury of John Brown.
SOURCE: Circuit Clerk Records of John Brown Trials, Jefferson County, WV.

Fire at Burns’ – November, 1859
John Burns, 32, farmer, with $26,4000 in real estate; $5850 in personal property; Martha E. Burns, 32; Nancy Burns, 61, lady, with $2,500 in real estate; Mathew Doran, 25, laborer; children: Mary E. (7), Fanny E. (1). SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide page 159.

Sarah Briscoe Describes Fires and Foreboding – Saturday, November 19, 1859

“my Dear Sister:
I wrote you a letter last week, but the unsettled state of the county prevented my sending it . . .I was much relieved by hearing through old uncle Bob that Molly M. had a letter from Fannie telling her you were much better . . . John has just returned from his mountain trip and came to see if I had heard from you. . . . he was sure the change would help you and Nelly too. And in the dreadful state we are in, it is all for the best that you are away from this alarming state of things. The whole country is under Martial law, No person, who is not well known, permitted to pass without giving an account of where they are going. Old Smith Crane ???? of Harpers Ferry on Thursday & not being able to make the guard believe who he was, they detained him until someone identified him today. Charles Town has had for some weeks three companies of soldiers stationed here with two cannon. Yesterday another company came from Alexandria and today another company comes there with two more brass cannon and tomorrow Governor Wise will bring 500 more regular troops. Smith CRANE brings word that ??? hundred men are coming on from Ohio to ??? in the insurection, which I looked for hourly as the negros show every sign of disposition to rebel being more than usually insolent. Mr. W. Lucas ???? yard was burned last Monday. Mr. Tate ??? carriage house and horse on Wednesday and last night Our neighbor, Walter SHIRLEY’s crop of wheat & barn with all his outbuildings. On Friday last Col. ??? in Clark County lost 4,000 bu. of wheat, barns stabling & all done by his negros. Two of them are now in jail together with some of McCormick’s his neighbor. And no doubt all the rest was the work of their own slaves. No one feels their property or even their ??? safe. Such a state of things was never worse in any country. Farmers guarding their property & the products of their industry from the black miserable wretches that they have reared & fed & who, it has been proven, could not, would not work to feed them selves. But depend on their freedom to commit every enormity & crime they can, and yet their precious friends, the Abolitionists of the North, encourage them to do this and more. Why the miserable prisoners were not executed to prove to those miserable fanatics of the North that they should all ???? of Virginia’s sovereign laws, whilst the lives of such men as TURNER and BECKHAM, sacrificed by them, require in all justice Lynch Law only. Frederick asked old BROWN, why he did not escape from the Ferry. He answered: “I don’t know. I can’t tell why I did not. I intended to do it & I intended to kill the prisoners, Washington and other. Why I did not I can not tell for I determined to do it.” I will answer why. Twas an all-wise God prevented the murderous deed. And again Smith CRANE’s overhearing at a publick house where he staid for the night, a lot of the abolitionist planning their attack on us. Is a special interposition of Providence as it enables the troops to be prepared. That an attempt at a rescue of the prisoners is what I fear. For, if rescued, they will commence their work again. I am sorry I have nothing cheerful to write. Even now Henry & Will are out with their muskets to guard their property. While I am in the house with doors bolted, wishing God & he alone can tell how it will all terminate. Do be careful. My best love to Netty & all. Write soon.”
SOURCE: In the possession of Earl Jackson in Charles Town. Transcript – Belle Boyd House, Martinsburg, WV.

Fire Larue’s – Thursday, November 24, 1859 “Clarke county – Incendiaries: On last Thursday (November 24-ED) night, three large straw ricks belonging to Mr. John D. Larue, of this county, were entirely destroyed by fire. Supposed to be the work of an incendiary.”
SOURCE: “Virginia Free Press,” December 1, 1859.

John D. LaRue, 43, farmer, with $16,472 in real estate; $4870 in personal property; Maria, 20; Juliet, 77; Anna, 2.
SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Clarke, County-wide, page 51.

Fire Willis’s – Thursday November 24, 1859
“Another fire – The barn of Thomas H. Willis of this county was destroyed by fire Thursday night last. Mr. Willis’s loss is about $2,000 apart from the $2,000 insurance on the barn. The hay was consumed.”
SOURCE: “Virginia Free Press,” December 1, 1859.

Willis, Thomas H (b: 1801)
Household:
Willis, Elizabeth F (b: 1808) Willis, Fannie E (b: 1834) Willis, Roberta (b: 1837) Willis, Nathaniel H (b: 1842) Willis, Emma E (b: 1844)
SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide. p. 134

Fire Stephenson’s – Friday, November 25, 1859
“Clarke county – Also on Friday night, (November 25-ED) the granary and carriage-house of Dr. Stephenson, near Castleman’s Ferry, were destroyed by fire. A large quantity of wheat was in the granary – some 1,300 bushels – but only about 300 bushels of it was destroyed. This is also supposed to be the work of an incendiary. Dr. S.’s loss is about $1,000.”
SOURCE: “Virginia Free Press”- Thursday November 30, 1859.

James W. Stephenson, 37, farmer; with $20,000 in real estate; $1700 in personal property; Gertrude, 33; children: William (10), Henry (7), Charles H. (3); Isabella (1).

SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Clarke, County-wide, page 54.

Col. Smith Sees Fire Plan with Ruffin – Sunday, November 27, 1859
“. . .Some discreet men here think that there are unknown agents in this village,& that it is to communicate with them that the rockets are fired in the mountains, as signals. Col. Smith, in whose opinion I place more confidence than in any other, thinks that if any rescue is attempted, it will begin by setting fire to the town. The patrol duty, in the village, & through the surrounding country is strict, & very severe on the military, & also those not in military service. For my part, I wish that the abolitionists of the north may attempt a rescue. If it is done, & defeated, everyone engaged will be
put to death like wolves.” SOURCE: Ruffin, p. 362.

Sabotage Castleman’s – late November, 1859
“The stock of Mr. Castleman and Mr. Myers in the same neighborhood, had (also) died very mysteriously. The excitement caused by this was very great. Col. Davis had the Fauquier Cavalry in readiness to go out and inquire into the truth of the report about the fire. The body of Brown arrived by the special train, and will be taken on by Mrs. Brown and friends by express direct to Albany. It is desired to avoid all public demonstration, and it is determined that the body shall not be visible anywhere on the route. . . “
SOURCE: “The New York Times,” Saturday, December 3, 1859, p. 1.

Henry Wm. Castleman, 39, farmer, with $46,600 in real estate; $1300 in personal property; Charles Grimm, 15, his laborer; Catherine Wilson, 50; Duanna Sinclair, 26; children: Emily (10), John (8), Mary (7), Estelle (5), Henry (2).
SOURCE: Record Group 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide, page 154.

Henry Wm. Castleman’s chopping mill had a $1,000 capital investment, processed yearly 3000 bu. corn, rye; his plaster manufactory had a $900 investment and used yearly 100 tons plaster; he invested $300 in his saw mill and yearly sawed up 400 logs.
SOURCE: 1860 Census, Products of Industry, Virginia, Jefferson County, p. 209.


Sabotage Myers’ Farm – late November, 1859

“The stock of Mr. Castleman and Mr. Myers in the same neighborhood, had (also) died very mysteriously. The excitement caused by this was very great. Col. Davis had the Fauquier Cavalry in readiness to go out and inquire into the truth of the report about the fire. The body of Brown arrived by the special train, and will be taken on by Mrs. Brown and friends by express direct to Albany. It is desired to avoid all public demonstration, and it is determined that the body shall not be visible anywhere on the route . . . “
SOURCE: “The New York Times,” Saturday, December 3, 1859, p. 1.

Joseph Myers, 59, farmer, with $26,000 in real estate; $10,000 in personal property; Wm Myers, 19, blacksmith apprentice; Samuel Strain, 27, blacksmith; Elizabeth Myers, 56; Joseph, 22; Thomas F., 18; George W.; 12; Lucinda, 24.
SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide, page 156.

Joseph Myers was a juror in the trial of John Brown.
SOURCE: Circuit Clerk, Jefferson County.

Joseph Myer’s blacksmith business required a capital investment of $800 and used eleven tons of iron and coal annually.
SOURCE: 1860 Census, Products of Industry, Virginia, Jefferson County, p. 209.

John Brown Hanged – Saturday, December 2, 1859
“I had in my possession my employer’s field glasses and with the aid of these powerful lenses brought the principle actor in this awful drama as close to me as you are. Brown stood on the scaffold facing the south, with his arms tied at the elbows and his legs tied at the ankles. He was asked if he had anything to say, but with an expression of weariness on his face he only responded: ‘No, I have nothing to say. I shall not detain you. Whenever you are ready, go ahead’ Sheriff Moore then pulled the white cap over his face, placed the hangman’s noose about his neck, adjusted the knot under the left ear. “He stood waiting for death. ‘Captain Brown’ said the sheriff, ‘you are not standing on the drop, will you come forward’ ‘I can’t see,’ was his firm answer; ‘you must lead me.’ The sheriff led him forward to the center of the drop. ‘Shall I give you a handkerchief, and let you drop it as a signal?’ ‘No, I am ready at any time, but do not keep me needlessly waiting.’ The sheriff then came down off the scaffold, took a hatchet and cut the rope, which ran down the right hand post from Brown. This tripped the trap on which he stood and the victim dropped with lightning quickness, the four-and-one-half feet which made the fall. His neck was instantly broken. He drew his legs up twice and turned facing the southeast, and when twenty minutes had transpired, Dr. Strath felt his pulse and pronounced him dead. John Brown died as he lived tragically, bravely, as a lion to the last. His body was cut down and placed in the casket which George Sadler, the undertaker, had made for him from walnut.”
SOURCE: Avey, p. 42-43.

A Previous Comment by Brown to Wise:
“Governor, I have, from all appearances, not more than fifteen or twenty years the start of you in the journey to that eternity of which you kindly warn me; and whether my tenure here shall be fifteen months, or fifteen days, or fifteen hours, I am equally prepared to go. There is an eternity behind and an eternity before, and the little speck in the centre, however long, is but comparatively a minute. The difference between your tenure and mine is trifling and I want
to therefore tell you to be prepared; I am prepared. You all [referring to slaveholders] have a heavy responsibility, and it behooves you to prepare more than it does me.”
SOURCE: Villard, p. 71.


Fire/Sabotage Wm Turner’s, George Turner’s – Dec. 2, 1859

“While on the scaffold, Sheriff Campbell, asked him (John Brown) if he would take a handkerchief in his hand to drop as a signal when he was ready. He replied: ‘No, I do not want it – but do not detain me any longer than is absolutely necessary.’ Shortly before (?-ED) the execution, and whilst the body was being taken to the depot great excitement was raised by the arrival of a horseman, announcing that Wheatland, the late residence of George W. Turner, who was shot at Harper’s Ferry, was on fire, and that the fire was extending to the farm and buildings of William F. Turner. “The latter, who was in town, said that he had left home around 10 o’clock in the morning. He said that several of his horses had died very suddenly, and also some of his sheep. He intended to have their stomachs analyzed as he believed them to have been poisoned.”
SOURCE: “The New York Times,” Saturday, December 3, 1859, p. 1.

William F. Turner, 47, farmer with $78,000 in real estate and $25,000 in personal property.
SOURCE: Record Group: 29 NARA Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, compiled 1860 – 1860 M653. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedules. Virginia, County: Jefferson, County-wide, page 130.

Copeland, Green, Coppic and Cook Hanged a the same location John Brown and the others were. – Saturday, December 16, 1859

Beginning of the War Against Slavery – Andrew Hunter
That Hunter and Governor Wise realized that the State would profit largely by the drill and experience the troops obtained at Charlestown, Mr. Hunter admits in these words:
“From facts disclosed in the trials, from the intercepted correspondence of Brown and his followers, and from other sources, a new view of the case was opened to us in respect to the political significance of this movement of John Brown; we began to see that,all it meant was not on the surface. My views were from time to time conveyed to Governor Wise, and before the trials both he and became convinced, that this Brown raid was the beginning of a great conflict between the North and the South on the subject of slavery, and had better be regarded accordingly. This furnishes an additional explanation of the reason Governor Wise assembled so large a military volunteer force at Charlestown and the neighboring points. It was not alone for the protection of the jail and the repelling of parties who were known to be organizing with the view of rescuing Brown and the prisoners, but it was for the purpose of preparing for coming events.”
SOURCE: Villard, p. 527.

References:

Avey, Elijah. (1906).”The Capture & Execution of John Brown: A Tale of Martyrdom.” Chicago, IL: Hyde Park Bindery. Print.

Avey, Elijah. (1906).”The Capture & Execution of John Brown: A Tale of Martyrdom.”
Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 17 April 2011.

Ruffin, Edmund. (1972). “The Diary of Edmund Ruffin: “Toward independence, October 1856-April 1861.” William Kauffman Scarborough, (Ed.). Baton Rouge, LA.: Louisiana State University Press. Print.

Ruffin, Edmund. (1972). “The Diary of Edmund Ruffin: Toward independence, October 1856-April 1861.”
Google Books. 19 July 2008. Web. 17 Feb. 2010.

Villard, Oswald Garrison. (1910). “John Brown 1800-1859: A Biography Fifty Years After.” 1910, London: Constable & Co. Print.

Villard, Oswald Garrison. (1910). “John Brown 1800-1859: A Biography Fifty Years After.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 Oct. 2010.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1967).
“Population schedules of the eighth census of the United States, 1860, Virginia [microform] (Volume Reel 1355 – 1860 Virginia Federal Population Census Schedules – James City and Jefferson Counties).” Jefferson, Kanawha, King George, King and Queen, and King William Counties).”
Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1967). “Population schedules of the eighth census of the United States, 1860, Virginia. [microform]
(Volume Reel 1392 – 1860 Virginia Federal Population Census Schedules Slave – Henrico, James City, Jefferson, Kanawha, King George, King and Queen, and King William Counties).”

Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Sept. 2010.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1964). “Population schedules of the seventh census of the United States, 1850, Virginia.” [microform] (Volume Reel 0953 – 1850 Virginia Federal Population Census Free Schedules – Jackson, James City, and Jefferson Counties).” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 31 July 2008. Web. 3 March 2011.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1964). “Population schedules of the seventh census of the United States, 1850, Virginia. [microform] (Volume Reel 0988 – 1850 Virginia Federal Population Census Slave Schedules – Hampshire, Hancock, Hanover, Hardy, Harrison, Henrico, Henry, Highland, Isle of Wight, Jackson, James City, and Jefferson Counties).” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 31 July 2008. Web. 3 March 2011.

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1967). 1860 Census, Products of Industry, Virginia, Jefferson County.

“The New York Times,” Saturday, December 3, 1859, p. 1.

“Virginia Free Press”- Thursday November 30, 1859.

Sarah Briscoe Letter, Saturday, November 19, 1859; In the possession of Earl Jackson in Charles Town. Transcript – Belle Boyd House, Martinsburg, WV.

Jefferson County Circuit Clerk, Jefferson County

TAGS: John Brown, Henry A. Wise, Andrew Hunter, Resistance, Fires, Edmund Ruffin, The Civil War, Jefferson County, Elijah Avey, Castleman, Burns, Myers, Stephenson, Sarah Briscoe, Villard, New York Times, Virginia Free Press, George Fulk, LaRue, McCormick, William Turner, George Turner, Trial, Charles Town, Hanging, American Public University System, Jim Surkamp, http://justjefferson.com, http://apus.edu

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