While this is a story of John Brown's life in Richfield, Ohio, his legacy was to effect Richfield for years to come. Not many years after he had moved elsewhere, John Brown and his followers attacked the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Three of his son's were on the raid with him. They had all lived in Richfield. Watson and Oliver Brown died that day of gun shot. Owen escaped and lived another 30 years. John Brown was captured and hanged one month later.
Just two years after the raid (which has often been called the first battle of the Civil War) The War Between the States was declared. As listed in the1892 History of Summit County, "Richfield did her whole duty, furnishing, in all, 150 men for the Union army. Of these, five were killed in battle, and twenty-two died from diseases contracted in the service, while thirteen shared the 'hospitalities' and the horrors of the prison-pens of the C.S.A.; six more carrying in and upon their persons indubitable evidences of their having 'been there'."
In reading the list of names of those who served and died, it is interesting to notice how many of those men, who fought for the freedom of others both as Abolitionists and as soldiers, still have descendants in Richfield. The long toll of history and events is still heard in these modern times.
America is a much changed country from those days of John Brown in Richfield. There can never be an accurate count but the most cited estimates are that there were 750,000 casualties in the war. At the start of the war there were almost 4 million slaves in the American South, or about one third of all the people in that land. They would soon be free and slavery would forever be banished from the continent. A great deal of the country lay devastated, burnt to the ground, especially south of the Mason Dixon Line. It took decades to recover.
Divisions and racism have certainly continued, but a great deal of John Brown's dreams of equality and freedom for all have been accomplished. He had hopes, that on some future day, a black man would be counted as equal to every other man; ~and even aspire to and achieve the highest office of the land.
John Brown was right.
Copyright © Jim Fry 2018