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On August 30, 1899, a funeral was held for 8 of John Brown’s men who were killed or soon died after the October 1859 raid in Harper’s Ferry, in North Elba, New York. Two additional men who were killed by hanging in March 1860, were also memorialized during the funeral.

Lewis Sheridan Leary, who was with John Brown during his infamous raid in Harper’s Ferry, was one of the men killed at the Ferry. Leary was born free in Fayetteville, North Carolina on March 17, 1835 and met John Brown in Cleveland. During the Brown party’s retreat across the Shenandoah River after the raid, Leary was shot and died several hours later from his wounds. Several weeks before the raid, John Brown sympathizers living in Philadelphia, sent great “blanket shawls” to the Kennedy farm as gifts.

“On the night of the raid each man had taken one of these shawls and used it instead of an overcoat. … The men had evidently been buried in these shawls, for great masses of woollen (sic) texture were found enveloping each body.”

From The New England Magazine, March – August 1901.

Lewis Sheridan Leary courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lewis Sheridan Leary courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ten of John Brown’s men were killed during the raid (Watson and Oliver Brown, William and Dauphin Thompson; Stewart Taylor; John Henry Kagi; Jeremiah G. Anderson; William H. Leeman; Dangerfield Newby and Lewis Sheridan Leary. Those who survived either escaped or were captured. Those captured were tried, convicted and executed in Charles Town. Two of John Brown’s men who were killed during the raid, Jerimiah Anderson and Watson Brown, were considered “fine anatomical specimens” and were sent to a Winchester, Virginia medical school for anatomical study. Watson Brown’s body was later recovered in 1881 and was buried next to his father in North Elba, NY. Anderson’s body was never recovered.

The remaining eight bodies which were recovered from near the Potomac or Shenandoah rivers, were denied burial in any of the local Harpers Ferry cemeteries. Soon after the raid, James Mansfield (who, at the time of a 1901 article in The New England magazine, still lived in Harpers Ferry) was given instructions to bury the bodies. He bought two boxes and divided the bodies between them and ultimately buried them about .5 miles from Harpers Ferry along the Shenandoah river where they remained until 1899, when the two boxes were found and transported for burial at North Elba, NY.

1901 MAR - AUG New England Magazine John Brown, The Final Burial There is no Question(2)

On August 30, 1899, there was a funeral held for John Brown’s men in North Elba.

1901 MAR - AUG New England Magazine John Brown, The Final Burial Funeral Attendees Photo(2)

1901 MAR - AUG New England Magazine John Brown, The Final Burial Grave Photo

Leary was married to Mary Patterson, whom he met at Oberlin. Mary Patterson Leary later married Charles Henry Langston. They had a child named Caroline, who married James Nathaniel Hughes. They had a child, James Mercer Langston Hughes, known as Langston Hughes, in February 1902.

In 2013, a book was published, entitled “My Dear Boy : Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926-1938which reproduced dozens of letters by Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston Hughes Clark, mother of Langston Hughes. While Carrie was not the daughter of Sheridan Leary, Langston Hughes had a special attachment to the shawl worn by him during the raid. Langston Hughes lived with his grandmother, Leary’s widow, for several years and it was with this shawl that she covered him while he slept.

According to the book, “Former president Teddy Roosevelt honored [Mary Leary] at a commemorative ceremony in Osawatomie, Kansas, where he delivered his re-nowned ‘New Nationalism’ speech, on August 31, 1910.” p. 45 FN 2.

Langston inherited the shawl from his grandmother and he put it into a safe deposit box in New York City in 1928.  In about 1930, Langston’s mother was in dire need of money and suggested that he sell the shawl.

Say here in Cleveland Antiques are all the rage and I was just wondering if we could not sell the Harper’s Ferry Shawl? I almost know we could and it would give us all a few dollars. Do you know where it is or do you have a receipt or anything for it. A man told me here last week I ought to get $500.00 for it. I have been in some of the antique shops here and they have old rugs, spreads, quilts &ct. I don’t know just thought I’d ask about it.

My Dear Boy, at p. 51.

He didn’t sell it. On April 30, 1943, he donated the shawl to the Ohio Historical Society, where it remains.

The original 1901 article, “The Final Burial of the Followers of John Brown” by Thomas Featherstonhaugh in The New England magazine, is available for purchase from Steam at Harper’s Ferry. Please inquire at info@steamatharpersferry.com.

 

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Steam at Harper’s Ferry has 5 editions of The National Intelligencer newpaper dating from April 10 through April 22, 1823. They are all addressed to “E.D. Howe Painesville via Pittsburg.”  This newspaper was a leading political publication and was founded in Washington, DC in 1800. The founder, Samuel Harrison Smith was married to Margaret Bayard Smith who wrote the book “The First Forty Years of Washington Society.”

E. D. (Eber Dudley) Howe was the founder and editor of the Painesville Telegraph which was published and edited by him in Painesville, Ohio from 1822 to 1835. The paper continued its publication until 1987. While living in Painesville, his wife, sister and niece converted to Mormonism. Howe became interested in the religion’s history, which was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the 1820s. His interest resulted in the 1834 publication of a book entitled “Mormonism Unvailed” (sic).

Howe was an abolitionist and his home was used as a station for the Underground Railroad. His wife was one of the first women in the region to join the anti-slavery movement.

Though it is most likely that Howe read the newspaper because of its political content, he may have been just as interested in the slave sales advertised within its pages. On the front page, for example, there is an advertisement for

“A NEGRO WOMAN, about 25 years of age. She is a good cook, washer, and ironer and can be recommended as strictly honest. Apply at the new City Auction and Commission Rooms, corner of 7th Street and Pennsylvania avenue, Opposite the Centre Market. , P. Mauro, auctioneer.”

On the same page is an article about Major General La Fayette,:

“The President of the United States, in commemoration of the distinguished services of Major General La Fayette, during the Revolutionary War, has directed that the fortress recently erected at the Narrows, near New York, an hitherto called Fort Diamond, shall hereafter be known by the name of Fort La Fayette[Note:  Fort La Fayette was used for Confederate prisoners from 1861 – 1866]. The ceremony in conformity thereto, took place on Monday last, at 1 o’clock, P. M.”

[Fort Lafayette.]

Fort La Fayette was used for Confederate prisoners from 1861 – 1866.

Promoting revolution and slavery in the nation’s capital circa 1823.

These newspapers and others are available for purchase from Steam at Harper’s Ferry. Please contact us for prices and shipping fees.

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To give you an idea about how old this original copy of American Railroad Journal is, consider that it is one year older than when the B&O reached Harper’s Ferry. Published in New York, it was edited by D.K. Minor.

It contents include:

Suspension Bridges

Hydraulics as a Branch of Engineering

Public Lands

Agriculture

Literary Notices

Foreign Intelligence

Poetry (!)

There is an unusual account of the proper storage for butter that has been salted, yet not intended to be eaten for several months.

The quantity of salt for butter that is not to be eaten for several months after salting, should not be less than half an ounce of salt, mixed with 2 drachms of sugar and two drachms of nitre, to sixteen ounces of butter. The sugar improves the taste, and the nitre gives the butter a better color, while both of them act with the salt in preserving the butter from rancidity.

Miscellaneous news

Temperance Meeting of Mechanics – We were led by the call of a public meeting, published in the papers, and numerously signed by some of our most respectable mechanics, to look in at Chatham-street Chapel last evening, and we know not when and where we have seen a more gratifying spectacle, than was afforded by the gathering there, in such a cause, of more than 2000 persons, most of whom were, we have little doubt, mechanics.

It is to be regretted that the taste for music is not more prevalent in this country. It has a humanizing and gentle influence upon the character of a people, and affords a source of refined and innocent delight which nothing else can supply. A taste for music encourages all the social virtues; it furnishes an amusement which delights without danger, and affords instead of the dull and sating pleasures of dissipation, a source of delight as refined as it is endless. The ladies are particularly interested in this matter. – When a taste for music becomes more general in the other sex, they may depend not only on having more of their company, but having that company rendered more agreeable by the charms of gentleness, refinement and harmony.

It has a great masthead and is in good condition.

1835 American Railroad

This and other original Victorian Era newspapers are available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry. Contact us for purchase price and delivery options. In most cases, there is only one copy.

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Steam at Harper’s Ferry has a copy of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper dated June 24, 1876. Among its contents is an article about Queen Victoria’s visit to the London Hospital:

On Queen Victoria’s recent visit to the London Hospital she spoke to a boy eight years of age, who had his leg broken by having been run over. After he left the hospital the child wrote of his own accord, and without his father’s or another’s knowledge, a letter to the Queen, bought a stamp and posted it. The letter bore no other address than the words “Lady Queen Victoria.” The letter was delivered to the Queen, and Her Majesty, finding on inquiry that the writing of the letter was the boy’s own act, sent him a gift  of 3 pounds through the Rev. T.J. Boswell. Since this incident was made public the London cab-drivers find it impossible to get through the city for the crowd of small boys waiting to be run over.

London Cabmen

Hard to know whether to laugh or cry…

This newspaper, along with many others, is available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

 

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One of many reasons why Steam at Harper’s Ferry opened was to offer an opportunity to learn about Harper’s Ferry in all its historic glory. Steam sells many historic newspapers from the Victorian Period, but the one especially loved is The Ladies’ Garland, published by John S. Gallagher. One recent acquisition is dated October 21, 1826, volume 3, no. 37.

Ladies Garland October 21, 1826

This particular edition contains an article on Female Education, reprinted from the Edinburg Review. Here is a sample:

“A great part of the objections made to the education of women, are rather objections made to human nature, than to the female sex ; for it is surely true, that knowledge, where it does produce any bad effects at all, does as much mischief to the one sex as to the other, and gives birth to fully as much arrogance, inattention to common affairs, and eccentricity among men, as it does among women. – But it by no means follows, that you get rid of vanity and self-conceit, because you get rid of learning. Self-complacency can never want an excuse ; and the best way to make it more tolerable, and more useful, is to give to it as high and as dignified an object as possible. But at all events, it is unfair, to bring forward against a part of the world, an objection which is equally powerful against the whole. When foolish women think they have any distinction, they are apt to be proud of it ; so are foolish men. But we appeal to any one who has lived with cultivated persons of either sex, whether he has not witnessed as much pendantry, as much wrong-headedness, as much arrogance, and certainly a great deal more rudeness, produced by learning, in men, than in women.  …

We are quite astonished on hearing men converse on such subjects, to find them attributing such beautiful effects to ignorance. It would appear from the tenor of such objections, that ignorance has been the greatest civilizer in the world. Women are delicate and refined, only because they are ignorant ; they attend to their children, only because they know no better ! Now, we must really confess we have all our lives been so ignorant as not to know the value of ignorance !  … Let any man reflect too upon the solitary situation in which women are placed, the ill treatment to which they are sometimes exposed, and which they must endure in silence, and without the power of complaining – and he must feel convinced, that the happiness of a woman will be materially increased, in proportion as education has given to her the habit and means of drawing her resources from herself.”

Purchase this and other limited editions of The Ladies’ Garland at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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Another reason to love historical fiction!

The first work I read by Joyce Carol Oates was “The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese“. Then I read her Gothic novels, “Bellefleur,” “A Bloodsmore Romance,” and  “The Mysteries of Winterthurn.” I took a break from her work for a very long time, and recently picked up “The Accursed” which lead me to my post on Woodrow Wilson, who was a character in this story during the time when he was president of Princeton University (1902 – 1920).

This week, I finished reading the second book from an additional favorite  author, Lyndsay Faye, “Seven for a Secret,” the second of the Timothy Wilde series, the first being “Gods of Gotham“, both of which take place in 1840s New York.

Timothy Wilde, a “copper star,” learned about a particularly vile form of law enforcement, “blackbirders” who kidnapped free northern blacks and sold them into slavery. The book contains several quotes and, not surprisingly, quotes from “Twelve Years a Slave, Narrative of Solomon Northrup, a Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City and Rescued in 1853 from a Cotton Plantation near the Red River in Louisiana” which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Picture  – Drama and  has been nominated for nine Academy Awards.

A quote that Ms. Faye included in her book was one that struck me particularly. Here is the complete paragraph from pages 206 & 207 of the Narrative:

“There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones—there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there surely are those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust, and barbarous one. Men may write fictions portraying lowly life as it is, or as it is not—may expatiate with owlish gravity upon the bliss of ignorance—discourse flippantly from arm chairs of the pleasures of slave life; but let them toil with him in the field—sleep with him in the cabin—feed with him on husks; let them behold him scourged, hunted, trampled on, and they will come back with another story in their mouths. Let them know the heart of the poor slave—learn his secret thoughts—thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of the white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night—converse  in trustful confidence, of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and they will find that ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation, and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves.” [emphasis added.]

This Narrative was published in 1853, one year after the publication of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,  or Life Among the Lowly.” Theodore Weld wrote “American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of A Thousand Witnesses” and it was published in 1839.  I can’t help but think that Solomon Northrup was directing this comment toward Harriet Beecher Stowe and Theodore Weld followers. These two authors fell from different branches on the abolitionist tree. Harriett Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist along the lines of gradual emancipation and “returning” the slaves to Africa, otherwise known as colonization. Theodore Weld, who attended Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father, Lyman Beecher’s school, the Lane Theological Seminary School located in Cincinnati, Ohio, was of the immediate emancipation branch. Weld broke away from the school in 1834 when the school’s trustees prohibited the discussion of slavery, and Weld held debates anyway for 14 days in February 1834, while Lyman Beecher was out of town. When Weld was kicked out of Lane, he took the financial backing of the Tappan brothers. Lewis and Arthur, with him to Oberlin College.

In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act, part of the Compromise Act, was passed to strengthen the existing Fugitive Slave Act of 1783, which was also passed to enforce Article 4, Clause 3  of the United States, which stated:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

This was the foundation upon which fugitive slaves were to be returned to their owners. Article 4 on the whole is fundamentally an article outlining the relationship between the states and the federal government. On the up side, it requires the states to recognize the laws of public acts, records and court proceedings of other states. This article is extremely important to civil rights in the United States, starting with slavery, to inter-racial marriage, violence against women and same-sex marriage.

Harriet Beecher Stowe often stated that it was the Fugitive Slave Act which compelled her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Every once in a while, I have to remind myself that the federal government used slave labor (and was sometimes sued for non-payment for services), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that congressional representatives at the time would, more likely than not, reflect the sentiments of that government. In the newspaper, Radical Abolitionist, dated July 1856, Dr. James C. Jackson, of Glen Haven, NY said:

What new thing is it with us, that a man like Charles Sumner is knocked down?

And if you don’t recall, Charles Sumner was nearly killed on the  Senate floor two days after giving his speech, The Crime Against Kansas: The Apologies for the Crime; The True Remedy, in May 1856, the same month John Brown and his volunteers killed five men associated with the pro-slavery Law and Order Party  in Pottawatomie, Kansas. So much for the other parts of the Constitution – the Second Amendment.

It was in this same  publication that the Radical Abolitionists nominated Gerrit Smith (one of John Brown’s Secret Six) for President of the United States. It was also reported that at the Republican Convention, Mr. Lincoln of Illinois received 110 votes for Vice President, second to Mr. William Dayton of New Jersey who received 259 votes in the informal ballot.

Dr. Beriah  Green, a close associate of Gerrit Smith, who made a speech at the Radical Abolitionist convention,  made what I think sums up the federal government’s complicity in slavery correctly.

It has been affirmed, more than once, by names making a prominent figure in the sphere of politics, and enjoying a large amount of the general confidence, that slavery, from the very commencement of our political history, has been especially,  prominently, and constantly, a cherished and petted  “institution” of what bears the name of Government.  … The thing has not only been endured by the Government – it has not only been cherished by the Government, but it has been regarded as pre-eminently, controllingly, the object to which, in the measures they might devise, they have been devoted. … I know it  is claimed that the people at large are deceived and devoted to freedom ; … There will always be found a striking correspondence between those who grant office and those who hold office. We have therefore to refer this to a majority of those who wield power in this republic. …. If we look a little more earnestly, we shall be constrained to admit, that slavery without us, has its origin in slavery within us. A man will give expression to his own appropriate character. What he may be, within himself, he will be … in the objects he may pursue. … The fetters, the chains and the whips – whatever belongs to slavery, as it presents itself to they eye, has its origin within the depths of the human spirit.

Readers are reminded that the Republican Party platform at the time did not propose the suppression of the slave trade between the states, it did not propose the prohibition of slavery in the District of Columbia (which was, and continues to be, in many ways, under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress), and failed to propose a repeal of the Fugitive Slave bill.

Frederick Douglass was present at the convention and was reported to have made two speeches. The second one was directed at the Republican Party attendees who sympathized with the abolitionist cause:

You are called Black Republicans. What right have you to that name? Among all the Candidates you have selected, or talked of, I have not seen or heard of a single black one. (Laughter.) Nor have I seen one mentioned with any prospect of success, who is friendly to the black man in his sympathies, or an advocate for the restoration of is rights. … And then there is the man who was struck down in the Senate; and he is the man you would be  first to elevate, if acting on the tactics of Napoleon. … If you want to give us an example of your Black Republicanism – of your determination to resist and defy the Slave power, take Charles Sumner, and make him master at Washington.

to be continued …

The Radical Abolitionist, July 1856, Volume I, Number 12, edited by William Goodell, is available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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Steam at Harper’s Ferry prides itself in its original newspaper collection, which includes titles such as Scientific American, Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated and The New York Herald. Perhaps some will appeal to historians you know as you consider Christmas gifts! Here are some samples.

Harper’s WEEKLY, New York, November 26, 1859 (only 1)

Frontpage illustrations from Wilkie Collins’ “The Woman in White.”  Interior and backpage sketches by Porte Crayon about the “late outbreak.” Doublepage centerfold illustrations “Fall Games” being “The Elephant” and “The Apple-bee” The issue is complete in 16 pages, in good condition, containing additional illustrations and text.

En Route to Harpers Ferry Nov 26 1859

$41.95 plus shipping and handling.

Frank Leslie’s ILLUSTRATED Newspaper, December 17, 1864 (only 1)

Frontpage full-page illustration of Consecration of the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Philadelphia. Doublepage centerfold illustrations “The Hotels of New York City that were set on Fire by Rebel Incendiaries on the Evening of November 25.” Including the Tamany Hotel, Barnum’s American Museum, Lovejoy’s Hotel, St. Nicholas Hotel. The issue is complete in 16 pages, in good condition (some earmarks), containing additional illustrations and text.

 

$31.95 plus shipping and handling

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