Tag Archives: John Brown

Peterboro Celebrates Black Heritage


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As Black History month commences, Peterboro, NY (in Madison County) is finalizing plans for 2012 programs that explore and explain the 19th Century history of African-Americans in the hamlet and its significance to the history of our nation.

On January 31st, the anniversary date of the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery, the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum Traveling Abolition Museum exhibit was transported from Case Library at Colgate University to Memorial Library at SUNY Cortland for Black History Month.

The exhibit had been installed at Colgate for Martin Luther King Jr. commemorations at the college. Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. professor emeritus Syracuse University developed the text and visuals for the traveling museum that cover the history of American Abolition from slavery in the Colonial era to the Civil War.

Dr. Sernett, a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) in Peterboro, will also be presenting at SUNY Cortland on the Abolition Crusade in Upstate New York. Robert Djed Snead, a Jermain Wesley Loguen reenactor who performed at Loguen’s NAHOF induction in October 2011, will perform and present Loguen at SUNY Cortland. For the same month The History Center in Ithaca will be hosting the John Brown Lives! Timbuctoo exhibit during Black History Month. Timbuctoo explains Gerrit Smith’s plan to gift 3000 African-American men with 40 acres of land.

The 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend June 9 and 10, 2012 will join in the nation’s commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Military battles were not waged on Peterboro soil, but Peterboro was the center of human rights activities that waged war against slavery, and those activities led to the ignition of the Civil War. Dr. Sernett will present The Terrible Swift Sword: Abolitionists and the Civil War. Also, Alice Keesey Mecoy, will return to NAHOF to share insights into her great, great, grandfather John Brown. NAHOF will exhibit a copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation gifted by the New York State library. Lincoln presented his draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862. The New York State Museum will open an exhibit on September 22, 2012 about the Proclamation which was briefly owned by Gerrit Smith of Peterboro.

Sunday, July 1 at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro Dr. David Anderson of the Akwaaba Program at Nazareth College will portray Frederick Douglass’ in the delivery of Douglass’ famous Fifth of July speech. Saturday, August 4 the third annual 21st C. Emancipation Day will be held in Peterboro. On Sunday, August 5 Lesley Still Gist will detail the famous Underground Railroad work of William Still and his reunion with his long lost brother Peter Gist who came to Peterboro to seek help from Gerrit Smith. Saturday, August 18 at 7 p.m. Hugh Humphreys will present on the great Cazenovia protest against the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.

The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum Commemorations October 20, 2012 at Colgate University include the unveiling of Jermain Wesley Loguen’s banner for the Hall of Fame, as well as that of Abby Kelley Foster and George Gavin Ritchie for their risk-laden pursuit of freedom for slaves. Loguen’s afternoon symposium will be presented by Robert Djed Snead, and Snead will also re-enact Loguen during the evening celebrations.

Heritage New York Underground Railroad Trail and National Park Service National Historic Landmark exhibits on the Underground Railroad, abolition, and African-Americans of Peterboro are open from 1 – 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays May – September at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

For more information refer to www.sca-peterboro.org, www.AbolitionHoF.org or 315-366-8101 as the season progresses.

Photo: Robert Djed Snead portrays Syracuse Underground Railroad station conductor Jermain Wesley Loguen at Loguen’s October 2011 Induction to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro.

New Book on John Brown: Midnight Rising


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In his new book Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, bestselling author Tony Horwitz tells the story of Adirondack abolitionist John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.

Late on the night of October 16, 1859, Adirondack abolitionist John Brown led 18 well-armed men on a raid of the federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry and sparked a nationwide uprising against slavery. The principal goal of the raid was to free slaves, not attack and hold a Southern state. The plan was simple: capture about 100,000 muskets and rifles, ammunition, and other supplies from the lightly guarded federal facilities at Harpers Ferry, retire to the countryside and carry out nighttime raids to free Southern slaves. The raider’s believed the southern harvest fields would be filled with disgruntled and overworked slaves bringing in the crops, a perfect opportunity to turn them to revolt.

The raid might have succeeded, had Brown not made a serious error in allowing an eastbound Baltimore & Ohio train the raiders had captured to proceed. The conductor alerted the main B & O office that abolitionists were attempting to free the area’s slaves. The word was immediately taken to B & O president John W. Garrett, who notified US President James Buchanan, Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise, and Major General George H. Stewart of the Maryland Volunteers that a slave insurrection was underway in Harpers Ferry. The worst fear of the southern slaveholders seemed to be at hand.

By about noon Brown’s last chance to escape into the countryside came and went – he was in command of the bridges, and held about 35 prisoners. Armed locals arrived and organized a makeshift attack with their own hunting guns. Then two militia companies arrived from nearby Charles Town – together they stormed the bridges and drove the half dozen or so of Brown’s men guarding them back.

Five raiders were captured alive. Seven initially escaped and five of them made it to ultimate freedom in the north; four later served in the Civil War. Ten men were killed. All but two were buried in a common grave on the Shenandoah River, across from Harpers Ferry. The lest resting place of Jeremiah Anderson remains unknown. Watson Brown’s body was given to Winchester Medical College where it remained until Union troops recovered it during the Civil War and burned the school in reprisal.

Brown was charged with murder, conspiring with slaves to rebel, and treason against Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state) and after a week-long trial was sentenced to death in early November. He was hanged on December 2nd (John Wilkes Booth sneaked in to watch) and his body was afterward carried to North Elba in Essex County to “moulder in his grave.”

Horwitz is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He also wrote Confederates in the Attic, the outstanding look at the Civil War’s continued legacy in the South. Midnight Rising follows John Brown’s plot from its very inception to the savage battle, and then to its aftermath as it galvanizes the North and pushes the South closer to secession.

New York History founder John Warren wrote about the raid in a series of posts on in 2009.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

John Brown Lives! Concert Promotes Cultural Exchange


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On Wednesday, July 20, 2011, John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is presenting “desert blues” musician, Bombino, live and in concert, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. performance. Omara “Bombino” Moctar is a young Tuareg singer from Niger, Africa, on his first North American tour. He has received advance praise as a “guitar wizard” likened to Jimi Hendrix (KCRW), who plays “some of the most sublime guitar licks you’ll hear in 2011” (NPR).

The concert is an outgrowth of JBL!’s Dreaming of Timbuctoo Exhibition detailing a black settlement effort in the Adirondacks in the mid-1800s. It is also inaugurates the Timbuktu Sahara * Timbuctoo Adirondack Project, a cultural exchange initiative John Brown Lives! is developing to link schoolchildren and communities in the Adirondacks with a Tuareg village on the outskirts of Timbuktu, Mali. A share of proceeds from this concert will benefit the Scarab School in the desert village of Tinghassane.

The Tuareg, often called the “Blue Men of the Desert” by outsiders, are a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa. In his short life, Bombino, and many Tuareg, have endured drought, rebellion, tyranny, and exile. Fusing traditional rhythms of nomadic peoples of the Sahara and the Sahel with the drive of rock and roll and songs about peace, Bombino plays an influential role today in educating the Tuareg about the importance of the fragile democracy in Niger while maintaining their rich cultural heritage.

John Brown Lives! (JBL) is a freedom education project founded in 1999 to promote social justice through the exploration of issues, social movements and events, rooted mainly in Adirondack history, and their connection to today’s struggles for human rights.

Individual tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Children under 12 are admitted for $5. Sponsor tickets are also available at $160 for a book of 10 tickets. Tickets are available at the LPCA Box Office 518-523-2512. For sponsor tickets, please call 518-962-4758 or 518-576-9755.

For more general information, contact John Brown Lives! at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758. To learn more about Bombino and the Tuareg, check out these links (1, 2).

Climate Justice The Focus of John Brown Day


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Climate Justice will be the focus of this year’s annual John Brown Day on Saturday, May 7, 2011. A tradition dating back to the 1930s, John Brown Day is held each year at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, to honor one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists on the anniversary of his birth in 1800.

Dedicating his life to eradicating slavery, Brown eventually risked all attacking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Captured by troops led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, Brown’s trial and execution are considered by many historians as a spark that help ignite the Civil War 150 years ago.

Climate Justice is a growing global movement that recognizes that poor and disenfranchised peoples around the world bear the least responsibility for climate change but face a disproportionate burden from its attendant effects, such as compromised health, economic hardship from rising energy costs, and displacement, destruction of property, and death due to extreme natural disasters. Here in the United States, the global campaign for Climate Justice is deeply linked to the Environmental Justice Movement, which is entering its third decade of militant opposition to environmental racism.

John Brown Day keynote speaker and Environmental Justice leader Cecil Corbin-Mark will describe the evolution of the Climate Justice Movement and give voice to the rights and concerns of the people who are usually the first and often the hardest hit by the impacts of global warming.

Corbin-Mark is Deputy Director of the Harlem-based organization, WE-ACT for Environmental Justice. In addition to his work in New York, Corbin-Mark has been active in United Nations and alternative global climate conversations from Copenhagen to Cochabamba to Cancun.
“Like slavery in antebellum America, climate change is one of the most important moral issues of our time,” said Martha Swan, director of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! which organizes the yearly event.

“Brown surely would have recognized that it is the world’s poor who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate change, so it is fitting that Climate Justice will be the focus of John Brown Day 2011. In this Sesquicentennial Year marking the start of the Civil War, we are honored that Cecil will be with us at this critical time.”

Other speakers at the annual event include David Goodman, brother of civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during Mississippi Freedom Summer in
1964, Alice Kesey Mecoy, great-great-great granddaughter of John and Mary Brown, and Brother Yusef Burges. A trustee of the Children & Nature Network and an outdoor educator, Burgess will speak about the power of nature to transform youth. A frequent paddler on Adirondack waterways and former outreach and diversity coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Burgess works to connect Albany-area youth with the natural beauty and environmental issues of the Adirondacks.

John Brown Day 2011 is possible with the cooperation of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held outdoors under a tent.
For more information, contact Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives!, at 518-962-4758 or johnbrownlives@westelcom.com.

Wife of Abolitionist John Brown Subject of Performance


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Author-historian Sandra Weber and musician David Hodges will present a dramatic performance of the life of Mary Day Brown, wife of radical abolitionist John Brown.

The Adirondack Museum‘s Cabin Fever Sunday series will return to Saranac Lake, New York on February 27, 2011. “Times of Trouble” with Weber and Hodges will be held at Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The time will be 2:00 p.m. The presentation will offered at no charge to museum members, residents of Saranac Village, and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00.

Dressed in period costume, Weber and Hodges will weave narrative and song to share the little known life of Mary Brown. The poignant piece illustrates the significant role this plain woman played as wife of the radical abolitionist John Brown.

The program will present Mary’s early life and marriage as well as later tragedies involving bankruptcy, accidents, and death. The presentation closes with Mrs. Brown’s most difficult “times of trouble” in the aftermath of the raid on Harper’s Ferry. Sandra Weber has spent ten years researching the life of Mary Day Brown.

Weber is an author, storyteller, and independent scholar with special interest in the Adirondacks, Mary and John Brown, as well as women’s history. Her publishing credits include eight books and numerous articles in periodicals such as Civil War Times, Adirondack Life, Pennsylvania Magazine, and Highlights for Children.

In 2004 and 2005, Sandra Weber toured with folksinger Peggy Lynn performing stories from their book, Breaking Trail: Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks.

David Hodges has played guitar and bass for more than twenty years. He has performed with bands throughout New York, Texas and Pennsylvania and recorded CDs with “Mad Factory” and “Evil Twin.” Hodges currently plays with “Mr. Freeze,” a blues-rock band, and accompanies Sandra Weber in folk music performances.

Anniversary of John Brown’s Execution


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151 years ago this week, John Brown was executed and his body was returned to the Adirondacks. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right slavery would end at a heavy price.

Last year, I wrote a series of posts following the last days of John Brown’s fight to end slavery. You can read the entire series here (start at the bottom).

John Brown Lives! Honors Juneteenth With Event


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June 19th commemorates “Juneteenth”, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, and is observed in more than 30 states. It is also known as Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. Join us in honoring “Juneteenth” with an author reception for Scott Christianson, author of the critically acclaimed book Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press, 2010).

Scott will speak about the life and dramatic rescue of a captured fugitive slave from Virginia, Charles Nalle, who was liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy, NY in 1860.

Of note, Freeing Charles has been featured in The New York Times Book Review and excerpted in The Wall Street Journal. An award-winning writer, scholar, and human rights activist, Christianson’s interest in American history, particularly slavery, dates back to his boyhood in upstate New York, when he discovered some of his ancestors’ Civil War letters.

This event will be held on The Rooftop Terrace of The Northwoods Inn on Main Street in Lake Placid and is co-sponsored by the Lake Placid Institute for the Arts & Humanities, John Brown Lives! and John Brown Coming Home.

The reception begins at 4:00 pm and is free and open to the public. The Northwoods Inn will open a cash bar during the author reception and offer an optional Adirondack-style BBQ on the terrace for $10 per person (tax and gratuity included) following the event. Freeing Charles will be available for purchase and Christianson will be on hand to sign copies of the book.

This year, June 19th follows on the release of a new U.S. State Department report released yesterday citing – for the first time – that despite the end of slavery, human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States.

Secretary Clinton (June 14, 2010): “The 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report outlines the continuing challenges across the globe, including in the United States. The Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.”

The full report and announcement can be found online.

This is the first event in a series of anti-slavery conventions sponsored by John Brown Lives! and John Brown Coming Home.

For more information or to make reservations, call 518-962-4758 or 518-523-1312. Also visit http://www.lakeplacidinstitute.org/.

Adirondack History Center Annouces 2010 Schedule


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The Adirondack History Center Museum, located in the old school building at the corner of Route 9N and Hand Avenue in Elizabethtown, Essex County, has announced it’s 2010 Season of events and exhibits.

In addition to the season’s events, the museum displays artifacts from over two centuries of life in Essex County and the central Adirondacks. The diverse collection includes 18th century artifacts, an 1887 Concord stagecoach, an iron bobsled from the 1932 Olympic Games, a 58 foot Fire Observation Tower to climb, a colonial garden patterned after the gardens of Hampton Court, England and Colonial Williamsburg, and more.

The Museum is open 10am – 5pm, 7 days a week from late May through mid-October. The Brewster Library is open all year by appointment only. Admission: Adults $5, Seniors $4, Students $2. Ages 6 and under are free.

The 2010 Schedule includes:

Exhibits

A Sign of the Times May 29- October 31

Curators have mined the museum’s collection, scoured the region, and called upon the citizens of Essex County to gather SIGNS! The exhibit focuses on SIGNS – all things that convey ideas, information, commands, designations or directions. Displayed wall to wall and ceiling to floor this exhibit prompts the viewer to discuss and ponder facts, purposes, qualities, and gestures conveyed by signs.

Swan Furniture June 19 – October 31

This exhibit highlights the Swans and their craftsmanship as important symbols of Westport and Wadhams cultural heritage. The furniture places the Swans into historical context as representatives of our human landscape. A unique blend of pieces provides visitors an opportunity to reflect on the furniture as art objects and artifacts in a museum setting.

ACNA Cover Art Show Sept. 20 – October 31

The 23rd year of the Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks (ACNA) Cover Art Show featuring local artists. Thirty donated artworks for a Silent Auction are included in the exhibition. The winning Cover Art show piece is to be raffled at “Field, Forest and Stream Day” on September 25th, 2010.

Events

Can History be Reconciled? A Conversation on Compassion & Courage

July 9, 4pm

Whether we’re reading the esoteric histories of others or dealing with our own, some issues are difficult to grasp and process. Don Papson, President of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, will engage the audience in a discussion on compassion and courage in light of oppression, slavery and liberation.

Lecture: Captain Brown’s Birthday Party by Amy Godine

July 11, 4 pm

From 1922 into the 1960s, black pilgrims from northern cities joined ranks with white Adirondackers to honor the May 9 birthday of the militant abolitionist John Brown with speeches, concerts, sermons and prayers, earning Lake Placid a reputation as an oasis of interracial tranquility in the age of Jim Crow. How was each group able to find common cause in John Brown? How did each group use the other to promote its own agenda? And whose version of John Brown prevails at his home and gravesite in North Elba, a state-managed historic site since 1897? Join us to hear Historian Amy Godine answer these questions and examine the struggle it both enabled and concealed over John Brown’s public image and the meaning of freedom itself.

Fundraiser: Elizabethtown Historic Slide Show for the Town Hall Stained Glass Window Project

July 18, 4 pm

Back with added photographs and materials, local historian, Margaret Bartley, is offering the Elizabethtown Historic Slide Show for a second year as part of the Elizabethtown Day celebration. Proceeds from this event benefit the restoration of the Elizabethtown Town Hall stained glass windows, a project of Historic Pleasant Valley and the Essex County Historical Society. Any and all donations are welcome.

Museum Benefit: Come as you ART

July 24, 8pm

An evening of dance, delicacies, and expressive dress. Design and create your own clothing. Let your artistic side or a work of art inspire your attire. Music provided by the Chrome Cowboys.

Performance: Bits & Pieces

About a Bridge

Fridays: July 30, Aug 6 & 13, 11am / Sunday August 1, 4pm

This theatrical elegy weaves together voices from the life of the Champlain Bridge.

Lecture: Asanath Nicholson: Adirondack Teacher and World Humanitarian by Maureen Murphy

August 8, 4 pm

Maureen Murphy, Professor of Curriculum and Teaching in the School of Education in Health and Human Services at Hofstra University conveys the history of Asenath Hatch Nicholson, an early 19th century woman, schoolteacher, health reformer, traveler, writer, evangelist, social worker and peace activist. Asenath Hatch Nicholson (1792-1855), born in Chelsea, Vermont, made her way across Lake Champlain to Elizabethtown, New York. At age 21, she started a boarding school on Water Street for students from the town and neighboring farms. While in Elizabethtown, she met her husband Norman Nicholson, a local widower with a young family. The couple moved to New York City where Nicholson became a disciple of the health reformer Sylvester Graham. Nicholson opened a Grahamite boarding house and worked among the poor. After she was widowed, she set out from New York on a fifteen-month visit to Ireland to “investigate the condition of the Irish poor,” reading the Bible to country people, and sharing their hospitality, leaving us with a glimpse of Ireland on the eve of the Great Irish Famine in her book Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger (1847).

Festival: Field, Forest & Stream Sept 25, 10-3:30

A harvest festival sponsored by the Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks and the Elizabethtown-Lewis Chamber of Commerce featuring demonstrations and exhibits by regional craftspeople, antique dealers, storytellers and musical performances.

Ten Biggest Stories in New York History For 2009


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In no particular order, the Ten Biggest Stories in New York State History in 2009.

150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Death
2009 marked the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba, Essex County. To commemorate Brown’s struggle to end slavery in America, activities included lectures, a symposium, and a reenactment of the return of Brown’s body to North Elba including an overnight stay in Elizabethtown.


Archeological Discoveries
It was a big year for archeological discoveries in Essex County where work on the pre-civil African American community progressed, in Lake Ontario where an 1850s Schooner was discovered, in Albany where an early 19th century cemetery was uncovered, and in Fishkill where a number of Revolutionary War era graves were found. Also, a Civil War soldier was finally returned to Saratoga National Cemetery to be reburied.

Rogers Island, Fort Edward
While dredging PCBs from the Hudson River in Fort Edward a dredge struck the remains of Old Fort Edward damaging one of the most important and historic military sites in New York State. Archaeologist scrambled to asses and mitigate the damage. Another tragic event happened in November when Jeffrey Harbison, part of a 5-person archaeological crew hired by General Electric to begin research for Phase 2 of the Hudson River dredging project next summer, was drowned after going over a dam. The bad news at Rogers Island was capped with later that month when a development plan for the southern end of the island was presented.

400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson
New Year’s Day 2009 marked the start of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration commemorating 400 years of history on the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Lake Champlain. Throughout the year, New York honored the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of Captain Henry Hudson, who led (for the Dutch) the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, as well as the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. Communities from the Big Apple to the Canadian border held events to highlight New York’s rich history of exploration and discovery.

Lake Champlain Bridge Demolition
The Lake Champlain Bridge, built in 1929 to span between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point, Vermont, was undergoing study to deal with it’s historic preservation when on October 16, 2009 it was closed indefinitely. In November an engineering report suggested the bridge be demolished and in late December it was unceremoniously destroyed by demolished with explosives. A several hour detour now replaces the old bridge.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit
In July Governor David Paterson signed legislation that greatly improves the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. The new law provides incentives and program features for developers and municipalities seeking to rehabilitate historic buildings, and is hoped to advance redevelopment and economic stimulus goals throughout New York State. An economic impact study predicts that the enhanced rehabilitation tax credit will spur over $500 million dollars of economic activity in New York State and create some 2,000 jobs over its initial five-year lifespan.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Threatened
The Rensselaer County Historical Society announced in March that they may be forced to close due to economic hardship. “RCHS is currently experiencing severe financial difficulty,” officials at the Society told their supporters, “The organization been running annual deficits for several years, and despite special efforts, the situation has now become critical. In a matter of weeks RCHS will no longer have funds available to meet its basic operating needs.” RCHS is still holding on, but the economic crisis appears far from over.

Coney Island’s Demise Hastened
A major debate raged this year about the future of Coney Island. Thor Equities (a development company) has purchased large tracts of land in the reknown seaside resort of yore, and the City Planning Commission passed a radical rezoning to encourage economic redevelopment – a plan vehemently opposed by preservation interests. This year Coney lost landmarks like Astroland and Major Meats on Mermaid Avenue. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park may be next as the park has sold it’s popular Thunderbolt ride late last year. In December the grassroots activist group Save Coney Island, along with several Coney Island residents and amusement district workers and performers filed a lawsuit challenging the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of Coney Island’s amusement area. It may be the only hope of saving an American landmark.

New York Writers Institute’s 25th Anniversary
2009 marked the 25th Anniversary of one of New York State’s most important literary institutions. Since 1984, more than 1,000 novelists, poets, biographers, filmmakers, historians, essayists and creative artists have presented a wide ranging variety of performance, readings, workshops, seminars, and other public events. Since the Institute was started by writer and historian William Kennedy (using some of his MacArthur award prize money) more then a quarter million people have attended its events.

War of 1812 Bill Vetoed

Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have created a commission to organize and promote bi-national events related to the War of 1812’s 200th anniversary. Paterson said the expense, which he put at about $2.25 million by 2016, was “not absolutely necessary” in light of a then-looming state. Supporters however, pointed out that the bill did not require a budget appropriation, but would provide a structure of volunteers to coordinate commemorative events.

150th Commemoration of John Brown Events Planned


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Margaret Gibbs, Director of the Essex County Historical Society / Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabethtown has sent along the following notice of the 150th Commemoration of John Brown scheduled for December 6th. Regular readers of my other online project Adirondack Almanack know that I have been writing a series of posts on John Brown, his anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry Virginia, subsequent capture, trial, and execution. You can read the entire series here.

Here is the press release outlining the commemoration events:

On Sunday, December 6, 2009 the Adirondack History Center Museum is commemorating John Brown on the 150th anniversary of his death and the return of his body to Essex County. Events are scheduled in Westport and Elizabethtown in recognition of the role Essex County citizens played at the time of the return of John Brown’s body to his final resting place in North Elba. In the cause of abolition, John Brown raided the U. S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia on the night of October 16, 1859. The raid resulted in the capture of John Brown and the deaths of his sons Oliver & Watson and his sons-in-law William and Dauphin Watson. John Brown was tried in Charles Town, Virginia on charges of treason and inciting slaves to rebellion and murder. He was found guilty and hanged on December 2, 1859.

John Brown’s body was transported from Harper’s Ferry to Vergennes, VT, accompanied by his widow, Mary Brown. From Vermont the body was taken across Lake Champlain by sail ferry to Barber’s Point in Westport, and the journey continued through the Town of Westport and on to Elizabethtown. The funeral cortege arrived in Elizabethtown at 6 o’clock on the evening of December 6th 1859. The body of John Brown was taken to the Essex County Court House and “watched” through the night by four local young men. Mary Brown and her companions spent the night across the street at the Mansion House, now known as the Deer’s Head Inn. On the morning of December 7th the party continued on to North Elba. The burial of John Brown was on December 8th attended by many residents of Essex County.

The commemorative program on December 6th begins at 1:00 pm at the Westport Heritage House with award-winning author Russell Banks reading from his national bestselling novel, Cloudsplitter, about John Brown, his character and his part in the abolitionist movement. The program continues with a lecture by Don Papson, John Brown and the Underground Railroad, on whether or not Brown sheltered runaway slaves at his North Elba farm. Don Papson is the founding President of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association. The program continues in Elizabethtown at 3:30 pm at the United Church of Christ with The Language that Shaped the World, a tapestry of sounds, stories and characters portraying the human spirit and the fight for freedom. At 4:30 pm a procession follows John Brown’s coffin from the United Church of Christ to the Old Essex County Courthouse. At 5:00 pm the public may pay their respects at the Old Essex County Courthouse with the coffin lying in state. The program concludes at 5:30 PM with a reception held at the Deer’s Head Inn.

The cost for all events of the day including the Deer’s Head Inn reception is $40 ticket, or a $15 donation covers the programs at the Westport Heritage House and The Language that Shaped the World only. Reservations are requested. The procession and Courthouse are free and open to the public. The Westport Heritage House is located at 6459 Main Street, Westport, NY. The United Church of Christ, is located beside the museum on Court Street, Elizabethtown, NY. For more information, please contact the museum at 518-873-6466 or email echs@adkhistorycenter.org.

The December 6th program is part of a series of events from December 4-8, 2009 presented for the John Brown Coming Home Commemoration through the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau. For a complete schedule of events go to www.johnbrowncominghome.com.