Kansas Archeology Training Program Field School 2014
Retracing John Brown's Steps
The Samuel and Florella Adair Cabin, now the focus of the John Brown Museum State Historic Site, has stood in John Brown Memorial Park in Osawatomie since 1912, but originally it was located at the western edge of town. From Friday, May 30, through Saturday, June 14, 2014, the Kansas Archeology Training Program (KATP) field school will undertake intensive archeological testing at the original cabin site (14MM327).
To register you will need both of the packets below:
Samuel Adair was a struggling minister in Ohio and Michigan when he was accepted as a missionary to Kansas. The Adairs, Florella’s half-brother John Brown, and many other Northern abolitionists, were active participants in the struggle to keep Kansas Territory free from slavery during the 1850s. The Adairs moved to the cabin just outside Osawatomie in March 1855 and were joined by John Brown, his five sons, and their families later that year. The Browns claimed land about 10 miles west of Osawatomie and called it Brownsville.
Pro-slavery immigrants and nonresidents were also active in Kansas, which led to a series of political and physical conflicts, the whole of which is known as “Bleeding Kansas.” The locally relevant actions were the Pottawatomie Massacre, the murder of five pro-slavery men on May 24-25, likely by John Brown and sons. In August, Missouri militia marched on Osawatomie where they met Brown’s force at the Battle of Osawatomie. Most of Osawatomie was sacked and burned that day, but the Adair cabin survived.
In addition to the woes of Bleeding Kansas, day-to-day life in Kansas Territory was not easy for the Reverend Adair and his wife in their 18 by 20-foot log cabin, but they accepted the hardships in the name of their abolitionist cause (McFarland 1985). While Samuel was busy building a meetinghouse (which still stands) and a congregation, Florella kept house and took in sewing and laundry—something that would have been unthinkable for a preacher’s wife in Ohio. The Adair cabin served as refuge for John’s Brown’s sons after the Pottawatomie Massacre, as a center for abolitionist planning, and might have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. After the Adair cabin was moved to its current location, a stone structure was built around it in 1928. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and is operated in partnership with the City of Osawatomie.
After Brown’s departure from Kansas in December 1858, the Adairs remained in Osawatomie and became successful farmers in Miami County. The frame house at 14MM327 was built in 1903 by Charles Adair, Samuel and Florella’s eldest child. The John Brown Foundation recently acquired the property and invited the KSHS and the KAA to investigate the original location of the Adair cabin for evidence of everyday life and abolitionist activities during Bleeding Kansas times.
The KSHS and KAA do not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to, or operation of their programs; please make prior arrangements to accommodate individuals with disabilities or special needs with the KSHS public archeologist at 785-272-8681, ext. 266.