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John Brown to Mary Ann Brown

November 8, 1859

Boyd B. Stutler Collection


Charlestown Jefferson Co. Va:
8th Nov 1859

Dear Wife & Children Every One

I will begin by saying that I have in some degree recovered from my wounds; but that I am yet quite weak in my back & sore about my left Kidney. My appetite has been quite good for most of the time since I was hurt. I am supplied with almost Every thing I could desire to make me comfortable, and the little that I do lack (some few articles of clothing which I lost) I may perhaps soon get again. I am besides quite cheerful having (as I trust) the peace of God which passeth all understanding" to "rule in my heart" and the testimony (in some degree) of a good conscience that I have not lived altogether in vain. I can trust God with both the time and the manner of my death; believing as I now do that for me at this time to seal my testimony (for God & humanity) with my blood, will do vastly more toward advancing the cause I have Earnestly Endeavored to promote, than all I have done in my life before. I beg of you all meekly and quietly to submit to this; not feeling yourselves to be in the least degraded on that account. Remember dear wife and children all, that Jesus of Nazareth suffered a most Excruciating death on the cross as a felon - under the most aggravating circumstances. Think also of the prophets, and apostles and Christians of former days, who went through greater tribulations than you or I: and (try) to be reconciled. May God Almighty comfort all your hearts, and soon wipe away all tears from your eyes. To him be endless praise. Think too of the crushed millions "who have no comforter." I charge you all - never (in your trials) to forget the griefs "of the poor that cry and of those that have none to help them." I wrote most Earnestly to my dear and afflicted wife not to come on for the present at any rate. I will now give you my reasons for doing so. First it would use up all the scanty means she has or is at all likely to have to make herself and children comfortable hereafter. For let me tell you that the sympathy that is now aroused in your behalf may not always follow you. There is but little more of the romantic about helping poor widows and their children than there is about trying to relieve poor "niggers." Again the little comfort it might afford us to meet again, would be dearly bought by the pains of final seperation [sic]. We must part, and I feel assured; for us to meet under such dreadful circumstances would only add to our distress. If she comes on here she must be only a gazing stock throughout the whole journey, to be remarked upon in every look, word and action by all sorts of creatures and by all sorts of papers throughout the whole country, again it is my most decided judgement that in quietly and submissively staying at home vastly more of generous sympathy will reach her; without such dreadful sacrifice of feeling as she must put up with if she comes on. The visits of one or two female friends that have come on here have produced great Excitement which is very annoying: and they cannot possibly do me any good. O Mary do not come, but patiently wait for the meeting (of those who love God and their fellow men) where no seperation [sic] must follow. "They shall go no more but forever" - I greatly long to hear from some one of you, and to learn any thing that in any way affects your welfare. I sent you $10. the other day; did you get it? I have also endeavored to stir up Christian friends to visit you and write to you in your deep affliction. I have no doubt that some of them at least will heed the call. Write to me, care of Capt. John Avis, Charlestown Jefferson Co. Va: "Finally my beloved be of good comfort." May all your names be "written in the Lambs book of life" - May you all have the purifying and sustaining influence of the Christian religion - is the Earnest prayer of your affectionate husband and Father.

John Brown

P. S. I cannot remember a night so dark as to have hindered the coming day: nor a storm so furious or dreadful as to prevent the return of warm sunshine and a cloudless sky. But beloved ones do remember that this is not your rest; that in this world you have no abiding place or continuing city. To God and his infinite mercy I always commend you.

Ever Yours
J. B.

Novr 9th.

Note: This is a contemporary handwritten copy.

Chapter Twelve: Death and Burial

His Soul Goes Marching On

West Virginia Archives and History