Saturday, May 21, 2011

Civil War under my nose: John Brown birthplace

The house where John Brown was born burned down in 1918.
The man who helped spark the Civil War was born in 1800 in a house on a scenic hill outside Torrington, Conn.

John Brown, about 1856.
With the exception of a large stone marker and the remains of the foundation of the main house and an outbuilding, I didn't find much left this afternoon of  John Brown's birthplace. The house, built in 1785 and restored in the early 20th century, was destroyed by a chimney fire in 1918. (1) The remains are located in a clearing just north of John Brown Road, about four miles from downtown Torrington off Route 4 and 30 miles from Hartford. Several plots of land are for sale in the immediate vicintity, so I don't expect the area to remain so rural for long.

Brown, of course, was one of the most polarizing figures in the country in the years just before the Civil War. An ardent abolitionist, he hoped to incite a rebellion of slaves when he and his followers raided the government armory and arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Va., on Oct. 16, 1859. His plans were crushed by miltia led by Robert E. Lee, and Brown was captured, tried, convicted of treason and finally hanged on Dec. 2, 1859, in Charles Town, Va. Brown became a martyr in the North, and his death put the nation on the course for the Civil War.

(1) Torrington Historical Society website 

Stone marker for Brown's birthplace in Torrington, Conn.

An illustration of the Brown house, which burned down in 1918.

These stones are all that remain of an outbuilding on the Brown property.

No comments:

Post a Comment