Annie Brown, John Brown’s daughter, sent the following letter to McKim on January 10, 1860, even though part of it was written on December 27, 1859.


“North Elba December 27th 1859

Dear friend

we have not heard from you since you left us. Mrs. Redpath(?) has been here to gather facts for his book, we liked her very much. The only fault I could find was she used a great deal too much of that abominable stuff called flattery. We had a letter from Owen he and Tidd(?) were well and safe in Crawford Co Pa, you need not tell of this without you have a mind to.

We are all well, the weather is quite cold, and the snow deep. We have a shower of sympathizing letters every week. We did not get but twenty seven last week. Some have said to me that they envied me my situation, I believe that if they would stop and ask themselves if they were willing to part with their fathers and two Brothers (three Brothers I should have said for one had to be sacrificed on the bloody alter of Kansas) and have one Brother made an outlaw with a price upon his head, and be robbed of the dearest friends they ever (?)assest, they would not make such an idle wish. Trouble will come upon us soon enough without our wishing for it. The letter that was kept back has been sent on and a letter from Capt Avis(?) and one from Mrs. Hunter trying to make some excuse for keeping it

Jan 10th 1860

Although I wrote this letter last year I thought you might be glad to hear from as long ago as that, so I will send it with Mothers. We received your letter last week but we were most all of us gone to donation parties. I will not say anything about your writing as Mother does, for fear that you will tell that “folks that live in glass houses must not throw stones” but really I could not read your letter. If you cannot read my aged script, just send it back and I will get Mother to help me copy it. [illegible] where is thy end!

We are all well

“Give my love to everyone that are good”

Annie Brown”[1]


Annie Brown wrote the following letter on October 19, 1861.


“North Elba Oct. 19th 1861

Mr. J. M. McKim

My dear friend

I now write to you to ask your pardon, and forgiveness, for writing you such an insulting letter as I did some two years ago or merely for my only excuse is that I was not at that time capable of writing a decent letter to any one, and I did not want to write that one, I had at that time just recovered from a short but severe fit of sickness and had not sense enough to [illegible] what was [illegible] and right and, what was not, I have thought with a [illegible] of [illegible], about that letter, a great many times, and thought that I ought to write to you about it, but have put it off, until now. If you will [illegible] to further the letter you will surely confer a great favor to me. I did not intentionally do anything wrong, when I did that, I wrote a great many letters about that time, that I would now gladly recall, at that time my mind and body were completely (or nearly so) over worked, and my [illegible] so that nothing but rest “water and doctoring” and quiet have restored me to my  [illegible] health, but I do not think it is best to try to go to [illegible] ever now, I made a trial last spring in [illegible] to myself and others, whether it were best, or possible, for me to do so, I gave it a try because I thought it [illegible] took then my [illegible] ought to bear, it was written I ought to do. I do not think that I ought to knowingly [illegible] myself, even if I am called a stubborn willful girl by not doing so by those who do not know that that would be the effect. I [illegible] educate myself a great deal, and do a great deal of good to myself and others, if I do not go to school, Sarah is at home, and will stay at home for the winter at last, but will continue to [illegible] of her studies if not all of them, Ellen is well and learning slowly to be a good girl, Bell, and little Freddie (the pretty [illegible]) are well and doing well, we think that Freddie is the smartest and best boy that ever was, all the rest are quite well, in all respects, Mother is getting along quite well with less [illegible], and other matters, I wish that you and your wife would write to her once in a while (as she thinks a great deal of you both) and I think that it would encourage her and make her feel [illegible] better [illegible] if she had someone who would sympathize with her, to write to once in a while. Please give my best love to all friends, and pardon me for writing so long a letter on family matters, but we live back here where there is not much but personal and neighborhood affairs to talk or think about. We should like to hear from you or any of your family any time that you think [illegible] to write. I am ever your sincere and grateful friend

Annie Brown

Fremont and Freedom[2]

[1] Annie Brown to James Miller McKim, January 10, 1860, Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection, no. 4601, Box 11, Folder 1, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. [PDF]

[2] Annie Brown to James Miller McKim, October 9, 1861, Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Manuscript Collection, no. 4601, Box 11, Folder 1, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. [PDF]