Responses to Moving of Owen Brown’s Grave

I thought I would share some of the responses that I have received from my last post.

From my dad on Facebook (thanks for reading my blog Dad)
Paul Keesey I agree on a don’t do it vote.


Dear Alice,

Once again you have given clarity and tenderness to a perspective on a Brown Family thought.  I thank you for it. It definitely changed my perspective and believe that it will give others new insight as well.

Clearly, Owen’s grave is not as abandoned and neglected as understood, and that there are conscientious stewards who are assuming respectful responsibility for the site.

With appreciation for your forthrightness,


Dear Alice,

Thank you for so eloquently and powerfully responding to the well-intended, I’m sure, query about re-interring Owen’s body.  You have taught me a lot in this one email and have shown tremendous strength, sensitivity, and integrity.
School goes until Monday, and after that my summer vacation begins.  I would love to catch up with you next week, or soon thereafter, about the JBL! board and all that entails.  Do you want to suggest a day and time when I can call you next week?
Yours truly,


Thanks everyone, most especially Alice, for helping me (and others who were unaware) learn this issue has been considered and resolved.

I’m happy to know that NYS thought of this, and made the request, and very, very appreciative of the response from everyone who took the time to steer me in the right direction.

Bob Shear


Dear Alice,

I have never seen anything as moving about family migration in my life.  This is what is called in history language a seminal statement.

Bob Shear, your “californiadreams” are the ideal center for a movement to protect and honor Owen’s grave.  It will be tough because of the nastiness of the owner.  Has he been approached to have a nonprofit organization buy the grave location? 

This morning, just before I read Alice’s letter, a newspaper article floated to the top of my never-ending pile of things to organize.  It is from the Los Angeles Times, September 1989. (exact date not on the photocopy, a gift from someone).  “Descendants Seek Historical Status for Tombstone of John Brown’s Son.”  It is by Times staff writer Richard Simon. 

The descendants (in 1989) are Eleanor Blangstead and Adeline Craig.  We know that Mrs. Blangstead is possibly still alive, very aged, because Lou DeCaro has written about a conversation with her.  Photographs belonging to Adeline Craig made their way to the Gilder-Lehrman Collection in the 1990s.  This is hard to ascertain because Gilder-Lehrman are uncooperative about who owned their original documents.  They let this one slip by. 

Ruth Brown Thompson and Henry Thompson are buried in the Mountain View cemetery in Pasadena.  I hope that is close enough to you, Bob, to continue research and find a way to get historical status for Owen Brown’s grave.

I’ll do what I can from northern California — but your best bet is still the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Jean Libby


2 thoughts on “Responses to Moving of Owen Brown’s Grave

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am also descended from John Brown through his second wife Mary Ann Little Day and their son Salmon (pronounced Solmon) Brown who moved to California too, and father of many generations who still live in California. I would definitely not wish to have Owen Brown moved. I know several descendants who live in the Pasadena area. Perhaps several local preservation groups such as Daughters of the American Revolution could take on preserving Owen Brown's gravesite (Capt John Brown III was a Revolutionary War Patriot and many DAR members trace their lineage to the Captain through John Brown of Harper's Ferry). Thank you for the discussion and photos. Holly Hamilton

  2. Anonymous says:

    I'll add another reason not to move it. It is very difficult to move graves — it is likely the casket deteriorated away long ago and it's questionable whether any remains can be found or all of them can be collected and removed. It's far better to leave a grave undisturbed rather than try to move it. You can probably find information on attempts to move Cardinal John Newman (died 1890) in England recently (they found nothing) or Roger Williams (in Rhode Island — very little found besides his wife's hair braid) or Betsy Ross — all cautionary tales.

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