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Papers of John Brown, Jr.

Creator: Brown, John, 1821-1895

Date: 1830-1932

Level of Description: Series

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: MICROFILM: MS 204 (No copies, no ILL)

Unit ID: 48670

Restrictions: No copies. No interlibrary loan.

Biographical sketch: Farmer, phrenologist, soldier. Of Ohio; Lykins (present Miami) County, Kan.

Abstract: Includes correspondence, diaries, notes, newspaper clippings, and other papers. Contains 632 letters from John Brown, Sr., many letters addressed to John Brown Jr.'s wife, Wealthy C. Hotchkiss, and a letterbook of the firm Perkins & Brown, wool dealers of Springfield, Mass.

Space Required/Quantity: 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm.

Title (Main title): Papers of John Brown, Jr.

Titles (Other):

  • Papers [Microfilm box title]
  • Diaries
  • John Brown papers

Part of: John Brown, Jr., correspondence.


Biog. Sketch (Full):

The career of John Brown, Jr. (1821-1895), eldest son of John Brown (1800-1859) of Osawatomie and Harpers Ferry, is so completely overshadowed by that of his father that it is difficult to piece together the essential facts of his life. For short sketches see Theresa Thorndale, Sketches and Stories of the Lake Erie Islands (Sandusky: 1898), and obituaries in the Sandusky Daily Register, May 3, 6, and 12, 1895, Sandusky Weekly Journal, May 11, 1895, and Cleveland Press, May 3, 1895.

John, Jr., was born near Hudson, Summit County, Ohio, July 25, 1821, the eldest of three sons born in Ohio to Brown's first wife, Dianthe Lusk. In 1826 he moved with his father and family to Randolph (now New Richmond), Pennsylvania, where he was schooled and grew to his early teens helping his father in his various ventures as farmer, tanner, and cattle breeder. His mother—who bore Brown four more children, only two of whom were to live to maturity—died in 1832, and about a year later Brown married Mary Ann Day.

In 1835 Brown moved his family back to Ohio, settling first at Franklin Mills (now Kent), then Hudson, and finally at Akron. John, Jr., was by then old enough to be of considerable assistance to his father in tanning and sheep raising, his principal occupations in the late 1830s and early 1840s. In 1841 John, Jr., taught school, and about a year later enrolled at Grand River Institute, Austinburg, Ohio.

The years 1846-1847 must have been unsettled ones for John, Jr., since he shuttled several times between Akron and Springfield, Mass., where his father was engaged with Simon Perkins in the purchase of wool. The summer of 1847 John, Jr., married Wealthy Hotchkiss at Verrnon, Trumbull County, Ohio, and returned with his bride to Springfield where he remained for a time with the firm of Perkins and Brown.

Later in 1849 John, Jr., embarked on a careeer independent of his father as a lectutrer with the firm of Fowler & Wells, phrenologists, New York City. About a year later he returned to Ohio, ostensibly to lecture, but gradually turned to farming at Vernon.

In May, 1855, Jason and John, Jr., joined their brothers Owen, Frederick, and Salmon in Kansas Territory, where in the fall John, Jr., organized a company of Free State riflemen in defense of Lawrence. Though he did not participate with his father and brothers in the Pottawatomie killings, he was captured by federal troops and imprisoned. Severely mistreated, he lost his sanity for a time.

After his release from prison in September, 1856, John, Jr., traveled with his father to Tabor, Iowa, and then back to Ohio to recover his health. Though on his return home he had smuggled arms from Iowa to be stored in Ashtabula County, it was some time before he was again to take an active part in his father's plans.

In the spring of 1858 he made a fund-raising tour of eastern cities with his father, but because of a still much depressed state of mind, he "disqualified" himself from anything which was "engrossing in its nature." He took no part in the convention his father called at Chatham, Canada, in April, 1858, nor his return to Kansas that summer.

He was, however, to play a small role in the raid at Harpers Ferry, being entrusted with forwarding arms from Ohio. At the time of the raid itself he was in Canada in an unsuccessful attempt to raise freed slaves to join the attack.

John, Jr., was not a witness at his father's trial, and he was hidden by Ashtabula County citizens, who called themselves Sons of Freedom, to keep from testifying before a subsequent congressional investigating committee.

In the fall of 1861 John, Jr., raised a company of sharp-shooters in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which was mustered into service as Co. K, 7th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. he received a medical discharge in May, 1862, and returned to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, where he spent the remainder of his life raising grapes and in other peaceful pursuits until his death in 1895.

[Source: Inventory and calendar of the John Brown, Jr., papers, 1830-1932 -- Columbus [Ohio] : Ohio Historical Society, 1962. -- Inventory and calendar series, no. 3. Available on-line at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=28302 and at the Kansas Historical Society (Topeka): LIBRARY: GL 977.106 Oh3i no.3.]


No Locators Identified


  • MS 204: Papers of John Brown, Jr. 1830-1932

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials: Brown, John, 1821-1895. John Brown, Jr., collection, 1849-1895, 1 ft. Syracuse University Library (N.Y.)

Finding Aids: Inventory and calendar of the John Brown, Jr., papers, 1830-1932 -- Columbus [Ohio] : Ohio Historical Society, 1962. -- Inventory and calendar series, no. 3. Relevant material at the beginning of the microfilm; full finding aid available on-line at http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=28302 and at the Kansas Historical Society (Topeka): LIBRARY: GL 977.106 Oh3i no.3.

Indexes: Index to the Perkins & Brown (Springfield, Mass.) Letterbook, 1847-1849, at the beginning of the microfilm.

Index Terms


    United States. Army. Kansas Cavalry Regiment, 7th (1861-1865)
    Perkins & Brown (Springfield, Mass.)
    Akron (Ohio)
    Harpers Ferry (W. Va.)
    Harpers Ferry (W. Va.) -- History -- John Brown's Raid, 1859
    Kansas -- History -- 1854-1861
    Miami County (Kan.)
    Springfield (Mass.)
    United States
    Brown, John, 1800-1859
    Brown, John, 1800-1859 -- Correspondence
    Brown, John, 1821-1895 -- Correspondence
    Brown, John, 1821-1895 -- Diaries
    Brown, John, 1821-1895 -- John Brown papers, 1830-1932
    Perkins, Simon, 1815-1887
    Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874
    Abolitionists -- Kansas -- Miami County
    Abolitionists -- Ohio
    Agriculture -- Ohio
    American diaries
    American letters -- United States -- History
    Antislavery movements -- United States
    Black Jack, Battle of, 1856
    Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    Leather industry and trade
    Livestock -- Ohio
    Slavery -- United States
    Wool industry

Creators and Contributors

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: No copies. No interlibrary loan.

Use and reproduction: Copies from or the inter-library loan of the Kansas State Historical Society microfilm copy is not permitted.

Ownership/Custodial Hist.: Originals: Given to the Ohio Historical Society (Columbus) by Mrs. T. B. Alexander, daughter of John Brown, Jr.

Reproduction: Microfilm. Columbus [Ohio] : Ohio Historical Society, 1963 (MIC 50). Kansas State Historical Society roll MS 204.

Holder of originals: Ohio Historical Society (Columbus) (MSS 47).


General Note: Microfilming by Columbus Microfilm.