CHAPTER 13 – When The Somber Men Wept by Jim Surkamp.

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With support from American Public University System ( The sentiments expressed do not in any way reflect modern-day policies of APUS, and are intended to encourage fact-based exchange for a better understanding of our nation’s foundational values.

Click Here on the video and it will take you to the portion in the longer video where this story begins.

John Brown hanged – Strother, David Hunter; John Brown (W1995.030.394pg20b) – West Virginia and Regional History Center; John Brown hanged unmasked – Strother, David Hunter; Untitled (W1995.030.394pg31a) West Virginia and Regional History Center; “Execution of John Brown” by David Hunter Strother December 2nd, 1859 – ; John Brown wrote his last prophecy on December 2 of 1859 –; John Brown hanging site today – The Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Center

Not very far away in December, 1859, Jasper’s future wife and life partner – Dolly – standing about a mile from the Walnut Hill farm, where she usually lived, and witnessing on Samuel Street in Charlestown, the history-sundering hanging of the warrior against slavery – John Brown.

Dolly Thomnpson – courtesy Monique Crippen-Hopkins

Family historian Monique Crippen-Hopkins:
My first person I’ll probably go to is Dolly because my grandmother – that’s first-hand knowledge – my grandmother Marie actually lived with her grandmother Dolly Irvin Thompson.

Dolly Thompson – this story was passed down orally – was actually at the hanging of John Brown and my grandmother would tell this story time and time again. And whenever she told this story it was like this glazed look on her face – like she could actually relive whatever her grandmother told her. Now it is interesting to me, (but) when I was younger, I really wish I’d paid attention. So Dolly was married to Jasper Thompson. Dolly’s an Irvin (pause) really, her last name was Barr she would say, but she had to take her mom’s name Irvin.

Earth-shaking blows land at the doorsteps of Charlestown, Va.

Shields Green, one of John Brown’s Negroes going to Execution (W1995.030.394pg24b) by David Hunter Strother West Virginia and Regional History Collection; John A. Copeland – Boyd B. Stutler Collection – ; John E. Cook – Boyd B. Stutler Collection – ; John A. Copeland – Boyd B. Stutler Collection –
Howell Brown Jefferson County, Virginia Map 1852 – ; Aaron Stevens – Boyd B. Stutler Collection – ; Albert Hazlett – Boyd B. Stutler Collection –
Jim Surkamp

Six other raiders are hanged.

The Richmond Convention on Secession where things fall apart – and, Sumter.

Richmond in Ruins, 1865, War Department: Office of the Chief Signal Officer ; Confederate flag flying. Ft. Sumter after the evacuation of Maj. Anderson – interior view Creator(s): Pelot, Alma A., photographer; 1861 April 16.

More than one historian has called the conclusion of the Virginia Secession convention on April 17th, 1861 as the most fateful moment in American history.

Minute-by-minute, the silent ones even, will say they are sad. Proud men bared their souls and emptied their hearts – shedding tears – because their world was ending – the United States. Existential sorrows hollowed solemn voices.

George Wythe Randolph –
Jubal Early –
George McC. Porter – Hall, Granville D. (1901) “The rending of Virginia, a history.” Chicago, IL.: Mayer & Miller.
p. 180.
Waitman T. Willey – Contributed by Allison Fredette
John Tyler –
John Francis Lewis –
Logan Osburn – Donald Amoroso
John Janney –
John Brown Baldwin –
Benjamin Wilson – Seitz, George –
Bombardment of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, April 12 and 13, 1861 – Hand-colored lithograph, ca. 1861 – ; Ordinance of Secession (Calligraphy Version) – Acc. 40586. State Government Records. Record Group 93, Library of Virginia. Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia ; E. Hergesheimer, Map of Virginia – Secession Vote. C. B. Graham, Lithographer (Washington, D.C.: Henry S. Graham, 1861),
Abraham Lincoln by Byers, 7 May 1858 –

That day Confederate firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor prompted President Lincoln to call up 75,000 volunteers – including Virginia.

With all delegates sworn to secrecy, the closed session Convention voted 88 to 55 to secede, pending affirmation by the populace in a May 23rd referendum.

Jefferson County’s delegate, Logan Osburn, voted “Nay.” Alfred Barbour was absent and was hurrying back to Harper’s Ferry, knowing a plan was afoot to capture the arsenal regardless of any future referendum.

courtesy the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park