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Owen Brown's Account of Leaving Kansas in 1856

April 26, 1888

Boyd B. Stutler Collection

Owens account of that portion of our trip out of Kansas in the Fall of 1856 from that time Jason & I started in the night to go around the camp of U. S. troops about 20 miles South of Nebraska City; it having been considered by all of our number, that we ought to temporarily divide.

Given by him at South Pasadena Cal. April 26th 1888

"We considered it prudent and best that Frazee the teamster should drive the wagon and two span of mules through the camp which was located across the road. I rode a horse in front of the team. We all thought it imprudent for Father John & Jason to ride in the wagon as we had done so far from Topeka. John & Jason started on foot about 2 o'clock in the morning and Father waited until near day light. He crossed the creek, a branch of the Nemaha by going to the right below the camp of soldiers. Before Frazee and I passed through three men rode out very fast in a direction to intercept Father. I cannot account for their not doing so only that it was quite foggy that morning. Frazee and I were not halted as we passed the camp. After we had reached the high prairie on the North side we heard Father calling a long distance away. The team stopped and I rode out in that direction, and piloted him to the wagon. He said it was a severe trip on him. He was very unwell then; but got into the covered wagon and we started on at a pretty rapid trot. Had not gone more than two miles when we had to slack up; the jolting of the wagon made his head ache so hard he could not endure it. We went on at a rapid walk and about 7 miles further overtook John and Jason who were waiting in the hazel bushes by the road side. Here we stopped for our breakfast; but Father had a fever and could not eat. Went on until the middle of the afternoon when Father said he could not endure the jolting any longer & stopped to rest at the house of one of his acquaintances on the road whose name I have forgotten. He slept there an hour or two when James Redpath on horse back overtook us and with him was a man also on horse back who we think was a spy as he soon returned. After Redpath urged Father not to remain there any longer as he was sure the troops would follow him up. Father replied that he might as well die that way as be jolted to death in the wagon. The man at the house thought it imprudent for any of us to stay long there. John & Jason continued on foot and we followed two or three hours later. Father rode more comfortably after this short rest. John & Jason kept the right road to Nebraska City and we in the wagon drove on until in the night when we came to forks in the road and none of us knew which was the right road. I went a head on the right hand road a mile or more and the wagon stopped. We finally took the right hand road went a mile or two and decided we were wrong. Rather than drive both I rode across far enough to see that we could reach the left hand road without going back. We went a half mile or so and fearing we should get lost in tall prairie grass decided to stop and picket the mules & horse for the night. Started next morning, Father feeling much better for the nights rest; and going another 1/2 mile we struck the true road to Nebraska City. Many horse tracks were plainly to be seen as if a company of Cavalry had been along, and which we afterwards learned had gone in pursuit of us, having first surrounded the house where Father had stopped to rest the afternoon before, and had demanded that Father should be given up. By our taking the wrong road that night and stopping as we did we probably avoided being taken. The owner of the house was aroused that night and the Missourians with soldiers ordered him to give up old Brown as they called him. He replied he is not here "Yes he is" they said we were we were told so this afternoon"

You can search the house then he said, and they did so carefully and failing to find him kept up that pursuit on the direct road to Nebraska City. We saw no more of them. They probably returned by another route thinking to meet us Overtook John and Jason a mile or more south of Nebraska City and we camped over night in the City. Were awakened about midnight by a lot of fellows who kept singing "Old John Brown, had one little, two little three little Indian boys, one ran away and the others wouldn't stay there three little Indian boys" But nothing more came of this, and early next morning we crossed the Missouri into Iowa and all then went on together to Tabor where we found excellent friends

Chapter Five: Bleeding Kansas

His Soul Goes Marching On

West Virginia Archives and History