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Contact: Shera Cohen, (413) 271-3982
SPRINGFIELD, MA.: Cousins Warren Barnett and Jay Griffin, both in the Peter Brace Brigade Civil War encampment, will tell the story of Empson Brown, their great, great, great grandfather and uncle, respectively, at Armory Day on Saturday, May 14th from 1pm to 5pm on the grounds of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Barnett and Griffin's group also represent a component of the Mass. 54th Regiment of Union soldiers during the Civil War. Armory Day is the annual celebration of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site's history. Spirit of Springfield, organizers of Springfield's 375th Anniversary, selected the Armory as the site of the May 14th afternoon activities. All Armory Day events are free and will take place on May 14th from 1pm – 5pm, following the City of Springfield's 375th Anniversary Pancake Breakfast and Parade. In addition to encampments from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War, other activities include Armory Day opening ceremonies, cavalry demonstrations, historic weapons and cannon firing, and indoor museum tours.
Sergeant Empson Brown died 122 years ago. Brown served his country as a Union soldier in the Civil War. While Brown's name might not be renowned from Springfield's past, those of his ancestors are. They include his son Anthony Brown, the first African American physician and surgeon in the City of Springfield; and his daughter Mary Brown Johnson of the W.W. Johnson Life Center and the Rebecca Johnson School in Mason Square. Brown was one of the officers who liberated Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederate. Following the war, he was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He died in 1889 at his home on Monroe Street, across the street from the Mason Square fire station – the very same fire station where Warren Barnett served as a fire fighter for the past 23 years. Barnett's research on Brown led Barnett to assume that while there is a Civil War section in the Oak Grove Cemetery, it was unusual for African Americans to be buried in the Springfield Cemetery.
In addition to Barnett and Griffin's participation at the Armory Day encampment, Brown's descendents will place a new headstone, which was commissioned, through the Federal government, in the Springfield Cemetery.
Springfield Armory National Historic Site commemorates and preserves the site of our Nation's first armory, established in 1794. Managed together with the Commonwealth of MA, Springfield Technical Community College and the National Park Service, the site holds many layers of history within its buildings and grounds. The site of the repulse of Shays' Rebellion, 1787; production of the nation's first interchangeable parts; and home of the world's largest historic American military firearms collection invites our visitors to share its history and beauty. As a unit of the National Park Service, the Visitor Center, Museum, buildings and grounds are open daily, 9am-5pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Admission is free. Contact telephone number is (413) 734-8551. Our website is www.nps.gov/spar.