Tuesday, August 18, 2009

John Brown's Body Lies A'Moulderin' In The Grave

You may remember my original post (may 27th) on the home site of John Brown, a man famous mostly from elementary school history lessons and the song, sung to the approximate tune of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic." This historical site is located in Lake Placid, New York, though the original town was called North Elba:

John Brown and his family lived here at this farm in a community intended for freed slaves. He was a white abolitionist who believed that black and white people could and should live together in peace and equality. Now, his farm and grave are preserved by the State of New York. This is his house and barn:


The last time I came through, I couldn't take the time to go on the tour of the farm house, but this time I was running ahead of schedule and it was cool, breezy and cloudy. Thus I felt safe in leaving the dogs in the car for longer than usual. Much of the furniture and books in the farm house are original to the Brown family:

The rocking chair in the bottom left was used by Mr. and Mrs. Brown on many an evening. Though serene and beautiful in August 2009, life was difficult in the 1800s, especially in winter:

The straw-stuffed mattress rests on hemp rope which had to be tightened occasionally (thus the expression, "sleep tight"). The bed is quite short as many people in those days believed that if they slept lying flat on their backs, they might die when their lungs filled with fluid. With a short bed, they slept almost sitting up. If this was the case as the guide said, however, that bed is misplaced. Otherwise a person might hiccup or sneeze and crash backwards through the window:

John Brown led an exemplary life in many ways, though he became more and more militant. In 1859, he and his followers assaulted the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia in order to steal arms with which to forcibly free slaves all over the country. But his family life back on the farm was wholesome and peaceable:

In 1959, John Brown and two of his sons were hanged in Virginia and their bodies shipped home to be buried here at the farmstead. Mary Ann Brown stayed until 1863, at which time she sold the place and moved to California. In 1899, the remains of several of his followers who had died at Harper's Ferry were shipped up north to be buried here:
The John Brown farm has been kept as a historical site since 1870, so much is exactly as it was back in 1859 when he was executed:

Both the cupboard and the books in it belonged to the Browns. The books were their childrens' school books:

The wood stove is not original, but is an unusual example of a stove which might have been used in that time period:

Notice the wooden yoke resting on the floor and leaning against the window. It was used to carry pails of water from the spring:

The dammed pond was there in John Brown's day. The family drew water from the spring to the left, and the livestock drank from the pond. Notice the Olympic ski jump apparatus in the background. That's how close this is to the center of Lake Placid. When the tour was over, I rewarded the dogs with a long romp in a local meadow and proceeded on my way home to Albany:

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