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brown photo

John Brown’s body rests in these Northern Woods of the Adirondacks.

In 1848, John Brown moved his family to North Elba

My father knew John Brown. Father said he was a firebrand. I had no idea what that meant but it surely did not sound too good.

Father said that John Brown had a wool business someplace in Massachusetts. Apparently it did not work out.

John moved to North Elba where he first rented a house and then had his own built. The second one was much larger.

John was friends with Gerrit Smith who was selling land grants to poor Negro families. They had similar feelings towards the Negros and their lack of freedom.

Gerrit Smith 2

John Brown, in 1859, attempted to start a liberation movement among Negros who lived in Virginia. John was hung for treason. People say that Gerrit Smith financed John’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.

After John was executed his body was sent back to North Elba where it remains. The state now owns his farm. The state seems to be buying up everything around here.

Some people say that John Brown started the Civil War.

I don’t know if that is true or not. All I know is that John Brown had two houses in North Elba. The first one he rented.

John brown's rented house 2

John built a bigger house with his wool business money.

John brown's new house 2

There has always been a nice garden there.

After the civil war a lot of people started showing up in North Elba. There were even magazine writings about John Brown.

Atlantic monthly cover vol xxviil 1871 2

John Brown page 1 - Copy2

There was a story teller that would show up in North Elba from time-to-time. This is story he would tell.

He would sell music sheets with John Brown’s Song on them. The visitors from New York and Boston gladly parted with their money for these sheets.

John Brown song image2

There were several versions of the songs. Someplace around here I have a copy or two. Oh yes, here are two different versions. Some people were offended by one or the other version. I can’t remember which one or why.


One version of “John Brown’s Body.”

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave;

His soul’s marching on!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! his soul’s marching on!

He’s gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord!

His soul’s marching on!

John Brown’s knapsack is strapped upon his back!

His soul’s marching on!

His pet lambs will meet him on the way;

They go marching on!

They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!

As they march along!

Now, three rousing cheers for the Union;

As we are marching on!


And here is the second version of the song.

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,

While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;

But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,

His soul is marching on.

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,

And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;

Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,

His soul is marching on.

He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,

And frightened “Old Virginny” till she trembled thru and thru;

They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,

But his soul is marching on.

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,

Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,

And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,

For his soul is marching on.

The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,

On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.

And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,

For his soul is marching on.

Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,

The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,

For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,

And his soul is marching on


That is all I know about John Brown. Some city folk talk about the story.

Us North Woodsmen don’t like to talk about such things.

Tahawas and Tomosky c