Kansas MemoryKansas Memory

Kansas Historical SocietyKansas Historical Society

John Brown to Mary Brown

Item Description Bookbag Share

Charlestown, Jefferson Co, Va, 16th Nov. 1859
My Dear Wife
I write you in answer to a most kind letter of Nov. 13th, from dear Mrs. Spring. I owe her Ten Thousand thanks; for her kindness to you particularly, is more especially than for what she has done, & is doing in a more direct way for me personally. Although I feel grateful for every expression of kindness or sympathy toward me; yet nothing can so effectually minister to my comfort as acts of kindness done to relieve the wants, or mitigate the sufferings of my poor distressed family. May God Almighty; & their own consciousness; be their Eternal rewards. I am exceedingly rejoiced to have you make the acquaintance, & be surrounded by such choice friends as I have long known some of those to be, with whom you are staying (by reputation). I am most glad to have you meet with one of a family (or I would say of Two families) most beloved & never to be forgotten by me. I mean dear gentle Sarah Wattles. Many; & many a time has she, her Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Uncle & Aunt; (like Angels of mercy) ministered to the wants of myself; & of my poor sons; both in sickness & in health. Only last year; I lay sick for a quite a number of Weeks with them, & was cared for by all: as though I had been a most affectionate Brother, or Father. Tell her, that I ask God to bless, & reward them all forever. “I was

Page 2


a stranger, & they took me in.” It may possibly be that Sarah would like to copy this letter; & send it to her home: if so, by all means let her do so. I would write them; if I had the power. Now let me say a word about the effort to educate our Daughters. I am no longer able to provide means to help toward that object; & it therefore becomes me not to dictate in the matter. I shall gratefully submit the direction of the whole thing to those whose generosity may lead them to undertake in their behalf; while I give anew a little expression of my own choice respecting it. You my wife perfectly well know that I have always expressed a decided preference for a very plain but perfectly practical education for both Sons & Daughters. I do not mean an education so very miserable as that you & I received in early life; nor as some of our children have enjoyed; when I say plain but practical, I mean enough of the learning of the schools to enable them to transact the common business of life comfortably; & respectably; together with that thorough training to good business habits which best prepares both men & women (to be useful, though poor): & to meet the stern realities of life with a good grace. You will know that I always claimed that the music of the Broom, wash Tub, Needle, Spindle, Loom, Ax, Scythe, Hoe, Flail, etc should first be learned at all events: & that of the Piano etc afterwards. I put them in that order; as most conducive to health of body, & mind: & for the obvious reason; that after a life of some experience

Page 3


& of much observation; I have found Ten women; as well as Ten men, who have made their mark in life Right; whose early training was of that plain practical kind; to one who had a more popular, & fashionable early training. But enough of that. Now in regard to you coming here: If you feel sure that you can endure the trials, & the shock; which will be unavoidable (if you come): I should be most glad to see you once more. But when I think of your being insulted on the road; & perhaps while here; & of only seeing your wretchedness made complete; I shrink from it. Your composure; & fortitude of mind may be quite equal to it all; but I am in dreadful doubt of it. If you can do come: defer your journey till about the 27th , or 28th, of this month. The scenes you will have to pass through on coming here, will be anything but those you now pass with tender, kind hearted, friends; & kind faces to meet you everywhere. Do consider the matter well before you make the plunge. I think I had better say no more on this most painful subject. My health improves a little; my mind is very tranquil; I may say Joyous: & I continue to receive every kind attention that I have any possible need of. I wish you to send copies of all my letters to all our poor children. What I write to one; must answer for all; till I have more strength. I get numerous kind letters from friends in almost all directions to encourage me to “be of good cheer.” & I still have as I trust

Page 4


“the peace of God to rule in my heart.” May God for Christ’s sake ever make his face to shine on you all.
Your Affectionate Husband
John Brown

Item Description

Copyright © 2007-2019 - Kansas Historical Society - Contact Us
This website was developed in part with funding provided by the Information Network of Kansas.