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Letter, L. F. Parsons to "Dear Friends Redpath & Hinton"

Osawotomie K.T. Dec 1859

Dear Friends Redpath & Hinton

Seeing your notice in Republican in regard to publishing the life of John Brown & associates at Harpers Ferry & your request for information, I endeavour to comply. My acquaintance with Brown commences with the Black-Jack fight I was also with him at the fight in this place, but the account of these, you you must already have. I became acquainted with Cook, & Realf, in Lawrence with With Whipple (A.D. Stephens) while in Topeka on the 4 th of July 1856 But you your selves know all about these men untill after this time. Leeman came in the territory in the same [trane]of emigrants

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& at the same time that R.J. Hinton did, & I think with Dr. Cutter at least he had been a working in Mass. at shoe making immediately previous. ly On Nov 24 th of 1857. Realf Cook & myself left Lawrence to Join Brown & Co. in Tabor Iowa. We went by stage via Leavenworth Weston & St. Joe. Brown a short time previously had left Topeka for Tabor taking with him Col. Whipple, [Chas] Moffatt, (Whose name appeares on the Provisional Constitution with the rest) & a runaway negro from Lexington Mo. (also signed constitution) when we arrived in Tabor we found Brown with the above named persons & also Kagi (who went from Topeka) C.P. Tidd (who had lived in tabor a year or more) also Owen Brown who fought with the old man, & was one of the 9 who recieved the arms of 27 of H.C. Pates men at Blackjack.

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Whill in Tabore & before leaving for Springdale, Brown made the Tabor people an offer to this effect, that if they would defray the actual expenses of his company (10 in all) to Nebraska City & back, he would place safe in their hands a slave that had runaway from Mo. & had his arm broken & amputated from the effects of a shot recieved in captureing him. The slave was then in jail in that place. They declined doing so for fear that it would involve them in a difficulty. We traveled with 2 covered wagons loaded so that we all walked, camped out, part of the time the weather was very colde, & snow was on the [ground]. We did not travel sundays. Evenings when the work was done & we were seated arround a large log fire once a week we had a Lyceums or discussions of some question usually proposed by B. & he

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always presiding. Other evenings were frequently spent in singing, by Browns request, who always joined with a harty good will He used to name the peices that he wanted sung & very frequently “The Slave has seen the northern stars” “From Greenlands Icy mountains” & c. &c, We stoped near the town of Springdale Cedar Co. Iowa all winter. A good olde Quaker by the name of Maxon boarded us for $1.50 a week. During that winter we went thro a pretty thorough military course of instruction from under Col. Whipple as Drillmaster Studying “ High Forbes Manual for the Patriotic Voluntar.” We were drilled in open day light 3 hrs each day. While here Realf & Cook frequently lectured in the different school districts. During this winter Brown was in the east endeavouring to prepare for events in the

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comeing spring (of, 58) we frequently heard from B. during winter. A few weeks before we started for L.C. Kagi went home with me & spent a few weeks. (in Byron Ogle Co. Ill) he lectured in Byron & was liked very much. He was dressed rather poorly & looked pretty rough. The people made the remark that “Kagi was like a singed cat better than he looks.” When B. returned for us, he received so favourable a report from those peace loving Quakers, that he said “He should not have been better pleased if they had presented him with one thousand dollars.”

We went to the town of Chatham in L.C. & there we formed the [Provincional] Constitution signed by every one in the house by his own hand (mostly colored) The intention was then to go immedi-

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ately to work. We faild I think partly owing to the hard times but mostly by the efforts put forth by Hugh Forbs, about that time At going rate the money that was should have been forth comeing was not furnished nor couldnt be got. We passed from Chatham to Cleveland & then scattered about to work to support our selvs during B,s absence of 2 mo. to try to stir up some monied friends, he returned postponed for 1 year took Kagi & Tidd with him & went to Kansas. R. Realf went to N.Y. & thence to England. Cook to Harpers Ferry. Whipple & G. B. Gill (Gill joined in Iowa) went to Iowa Stewart Tailor (joined in Iowa) went to Mich. . Owen Brown went to his brother Jason in Acron Summit Co. O. Leeman Moffatt & my-self went to work in Lindenville Ashtabula Co. O. What they did in

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Kansas I know only by papers & hearsay for we did not hear from them. But while here Anderson & Haslit joined him. Our Justice Cook is here & intimately acquainted with them who promised me to write you about them. On his way to Canada in the spring of ,59 in Springdale Edwin Coppic & Barkly Cappic joined with him. The reason that Gill & Moffatt donte appear to be with the rest I cannot tell unless it be that he did not want so many, so many & I presume that that is the reason that I was not there. too For early in the spring not having hearde anything from Brown & the times continuing harde Moffatt & myself started, he for Iowa & I for Ill. but I immediately started for Pikes P. but turned back during the [prairie] & stoped here

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I immediately wrote to John Brown Jr (not knowing where B. was And signified my willingness to continue with him if there was a prospect of doing something some time.

Jason Brown fought here with the Olde man. There is an [acdote] reported by those that were at Ft. Scot at the release of Rice, of Kagi. To this effect While in town there was firing from Littles store on the boys Kagi had only a pistol but seeing a man down there he went down while getting walking along not thinking himself nearenough to shoote with pistol the man on steps raised his gun but K. kept right on the man held his gun for a moment & then fired, but K. kept right on, he then raised his gun to fire the other barel, but K. thinking

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himself near enough to fire raised his pistol & the man took down his gun & immediately dodged in behinde the door, thinking that K. was invulnerable.

In the Kansas City Metropoloton of about Nov 25th the Editor in speaking of the affairs at H,s Ferry says that it is a democratic movement began in Kansas, & in proof, quotes from a memorandum found on one of the prisoners, reading thus, “Democrats Kagi, Moffatt, Parsons, Cook, & Leeman. Republicans, Realf, Whipple, Tidd, Robertson” (who is the Lexington slave) & (O) “Brown.” I wish to correct this mistake to you least the ideas may in someway get out that some of them are really Democrats While in Iowa we had saturday nights for our diversion so we formed work Ledislature

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called it the state of Topeka Those Democrats named were Democratic representatives of different districts, the Republicans Republican representatives &c.

A few A day or so after the fight at Osawatomie Brown with his handful of men moved up the river 2 or 3 miles in the timber & finding that the Ruffians were a scouring the country in companies of from 10 to 50 & supposing that they were in search of him & co as they did not succeed in killing them, Brown proposed that if he could get 20 men to stand by him he would fortify & stand them another fight, he spent some time to get signatures but so many were sick & discouraged that he only got 12 or 14. Then B. said if he could get 15 men he would

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stand his ground, every one that was on consented to the new arrangement & he succeeded in getting enough to get work, 15 when we commenced to work on fortifycation, but the weather being very warm others were taken sick so that we were compelled to abandon the project.

What I have written is in a [jumbled] up mess, & written as it came into my head, I have said a greatdeal that has no bearing atall on the life of Brown & not much that does, or not mutch that you may think interesting, But if you can cull anything from this or use any part of it you are welcome to do so.

You may use my name at any time, & in any place, where you think it comes in connection

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with your work, for I donte do anything that I am asshamed of, or affraid to have the people know about. In your notice in the paper, You donte mention the name of Owen Brown. I hope you wont overlook him. He was at Harpers Ferry, is (I think) the youngest of B,s sons, of his first wife, own bro to John, Jason & Fred.

Wishing you speedy success in your enterprise,

I remain yours for Freedom & Reform

L.F. Parsons

P.S. Leeman is from Hallowell Ne. & the youngest of B,s company. ‘Tis said that Realf died on his return voyage. The Coppic’s live in Sprindale Iowa.



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