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What's New?
10-11-2017, 11:00 AM
Post: #1
What's New?
Hello all! Just an update to what I have been doing, if anyone really cares! As some of you know my hobby is taking pictures of the graves of famous people. Yeah, creepy, I know! Well, I did what I could in regard to the Lincoln assassination and will leave the obscure and impossibly difficult to find to others, like Dave Taylor who is much better at it than I am.
I began a new project several years ago; John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and was successful in locating the graves of over 400 participants. Of course there are some I had trouble with and that is what this post is about. For anyone that knows the story, Brown placed a spy in the town a year prior to the raid. That person, John Edwin Cook is well documented in a book “John Brown’s Spy” by Steven Lubet. Basically, Cook moved into town took a job and got a room in a local boarding house. His reconnaissance plan was to monitor the armory and locate local slave owners. While doing that he fell in love with his landlords young daughter, got her pregnant, married her and seven months later a baby boy was born, John Jr. In October 1859 with the raid imminent, Brown had wife and baby moved to Chambersburg, PA for safe keeping. After the raid Cook was almost successful in escaping but captured and ironically held in a jail a few blocks from where his wife and child had stayed. Returned to Virginia, Cook was tried and hung.
What became of mother and daughter? I was able to put together information on the post raid life and death of John Jr. but not the mother. Her life appeared to end in Chicago (per Lubet’s book). Contacting the author via email he stated he could find no further information on her and did not know where she was buried.
I took up the challenge with the results posted on John Brown Abolitionist – A Biographers Blog - http://abolitionist-john-brown.blogspot.com/
My work on Brown is now complete – over 970 pages with pieces of it (John Brown pike census) requested and sent to institutions like the Smithsonian, Jefferson County Museum (WV), West Point Museum, National Park Service (Harpers Ferry), the American Civil War Museum (formerly the Museum of the Confederacy), whose curator Cathy Wright wrote the following “Dear Mr. Smyth, I wanted to thank you so much for sending a copy of the pike census. This is a monumental effort on your part, and current and future historians, museum staff, and the generally curious are indebted to you.” Ok, really patting myself on the back!
That’s it! Sorry for the long post. Now to find a new project; Battle of Little Big Horn (will be huge and take a long time) or the Manson family (coffee table book).
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10-11-2017, 11:38 AM
Post: #2
RE: What's New?
Congratulations, Rich, on another great project. Now I understand why you have been so quiet over the past year or so.
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10-11-2017, 12:21 PM
Post: #3
RE: What's New?
Interesting blog post. Thanks for sharing and congratulations.

Can you elaborate a little on the John Brown pike census?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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10-11-2017, 12:45 PM (This post was last modified: 10-11-2017 03:23 PM by Steve.)
Post: #4
RE: What's New?
I really enjoyed the blog post about Cook's widow, very informative!

There is one thing though, it looks like you wrote "1860 census" and "1870 census" intending "1870 census" and "1880 census". I was confused for a second with children in censuses prior to their birth before I realized what had happened.

Have you considered creating a Find A Grave entry for Mary? And do you know what military unit her second husband served in during the Civil War?
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10-11-2017, 01:47 PM
Post: #5
RE: What's New?
Congratulations on all your work and research, Rich! Thank you for posting about it.
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10-11-2017, 03:32 PM
Post: #6
RE: What's New?
Hello Gene, prior to the raid John Brown had almost 1,000 "pikes" (long handled with a bowie knife blade on the end) made for distribution to the expected slaves that would join his raid. Each one was numbered. These relics were sought after as souvenirs of the historic event. Virginia fire-eater and slave holder Edmund Ruffin sent one to each governor of southern states with a note saying this is what you can expect from the abolitionists. I wondered how many survived and where they were. Turns out quite a few and some have great stories behind them.
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10-11-2017, 04:35 PM
Post: #7
RE: What's New?
Wish I could find one of the pikes... http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31332925/ns/us...igh-price/
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10-12-2017, 05:59 AM
Post: #8
RE: What's New?
Many thanks to Rich for sending this photo. It is a photo of his wife, Barbara, and a pike from the collection of the Unionville Museum in CT.

[Image: pike.JPG]
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