Saturday, December 31, 2011

John Brown Bell Presentation

     One of the many research highlights for me this year, was corresponding with Paul Brodeur of the Marlboro,  Historical Society in Massachusetts, hometown of Companies I & F.    The sesquicentennial has brought a lot of attention to the Civil War, and communities are starting to look at how the war impacted their citizens.

     Paul put together an excellent presentation on the John Brown Bell, which members of Company I, retrieved on September 26, 1861, and which they eventually brought to Marlboro, Mass. in 1892. The bell tower in the town square is an integral part of Marlboro's history.  Paul did extensive research on abolition in Marlboro prior to the war, the local fire engine companies whose members filled the ranks of Companies I & F, and the former slaves who settled in Marlboro as a result of their association with these companies, whom they met when the regiment was in Western Maryland.  The presentation is on-line for all to view.   Its a fascinating story.  Here is the link:  John Brown Bell.

     Our correspondence led down some other interesting paths, including a better look at some of the soldiers within the ranks of Company F and their standing in the community before and after the war.

     My favorite part of the presentation, still is the story of Fannie (Geary) Stanley and her mother, Arenia Geary, former slaves, who worked at the Wager House Hotel in Harper's Ferry during John Brown's fateful raid in October 1859.  The following quotes are from the Marlboro Enterprise 1914 obituary of Fanny Geary Stanley.

     “ When the war swept over the country she was working at the same (Wager) hotel, and by dint of extra effort she and her mother accumulated enough money to take them to the north.”

      “ About that time soldiers of the 13th Mass. Regt. were stationed in that vicinity and Mrs. Stanley, making their acquaintance, came north with them. The soldiers were from Marlboro and by their advice daughter and mother came here.” 

     There is a well known image of "Contraband" in the camp of the 13th Mass. at Williamsport.  None of the subjects are identified.  The photo is probably one taken by George L. Crosby, a photographer/artist from Marlboro, and a member of Company F, who was active with his camera equipment at this time  It is very likely, that the two women on the right of the picture are  Arenia Geary and her daughter   Fanny Geary.   It is also possible their cousin, William Geary, could be in the picture.  William would make Marlboro his home too.  Check out the slide show.  

     And, A New Year's Gift to all who read this!