Underground Railroad Travel Itinerary Header

John Brown Farm House The John Brown Farm House

  John Brown Statue John Brown Statue
NHL-NPS Photos

John Brown (1800--1859) considered this farm, a National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site, his home during the ten years leading up to the infamous 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry where he was captured. Shorter after capture, Brown was tried and sentenced to death. He requested to be buried at this farm, which soon after his death became a "pilgrimage" site for free African Americans and white abolitionists. In 1849, John Brown moved from Springfield, Massachusetts, where he owned a wool brokerage business and was an active conductor on the Underground Railroad, to Lake Placid, New York. Increasingly impatient with the stalemated public debate on the issue of slavery, Brown appears to have concluded that more decisive action was needed. He heard of wealthy businessman Gerrit Smith's plan to give parcels of land in upstate New York to free African Americans. Purchasing a lot from Smith, Brown moved his family to the upstate wilderness area where he acted as a leader and teacher to the black families who were developing their own farms. Brown and his followers had a difficult time farming the barren land around Lake Placid and a few of the homesteaders gave up and moved away. This may have been the deciding factor in John Brown's 1855 move to Kansas where two of his sons were leading an armed struggle against proslavery forces.

After 1855, John Brown returned to his farm for only six brief visits to see his wife and some of his children. After his death in 1859, his family and the remaining black settlers were left in a declining community that ultimately did not survive the harsh climate and isolated economy. John Brown's family moved to California at the onset of the Civil War, and in 1870 the John Brown Association was organized and purchased the site of the farm and grave. The property was transferred to the State of New York in 1896, but the John Brown Association still organized pilgrimages to the site. With money collected from private donations, the Association erected a statue of John Brown and a young African American boy in 1935 that stands near the gravesite. This historic property commemorates the man who took on the forces of slave interests in an armed struggle that created one of the most enduring legends in the Nation's history.

The John Brown Farm and Gravesite are located on John Brown Road, just south of the intersection with Old Military Road in Lake Placid, New York. It is open to the public.

Previous | List of Sites | Home | Next

Comments or Questions
Last Modified: EST