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Oliver Brown

Abolitionist.  Born: March 9, 1839, Franklin Mills, Ohio. Died: October 17, 1859, Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia.)

Oliver Brown was born in Franklin Mills, Ohio, on March 9, 1839, to John and Mary Ann (Day) Brown.  He almost died as a child after eating a hemlock root he thought was a carrot. He was the youngest son of the Browns to survive to adulthood.   

Brown was only 15 when his older brothers arrived in Kansas Territory in spring 1855. He traveled with his father and brother-in-law Henry Thompson to Kansas later in 1855. He was soon became involved in the free-state cause with his father. Despite his youthfulness, Brown was a participant at both the Potawatomie Massacre in Franklin County, in which five proslavery men were killed, and the Battle of Black Jack in Douglas County in 1856.

In 1858 he married Martha Brewster. They had one child who did not survive.

Brown was participant in the attack on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) on October 16, 1859.  This was his last battle; on October 17, 1859, he was fatally shot while defending the engine house with his father.

Entry: Brown, Oliver

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2016

Date Modified: July 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.