The John Brown Bell

At one time it was at Harpers Ferry, but since 1892 the John Brown Bell has been in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and currently resides in a special tower built for the bell on Union Common in downtown Marlborough.  (View the plaque on the tower.)

The fascinating story behind how this came to be was told by Marlborough Historical Society member Joan Abshire after months of exhaustive research in Massachusetts and West Virginia.

(On September 26, 2011, on the 150th anniversary of the taking of the John Brown Bell, Paul Brodeur, a Marlborough Historical Society Trustee, and Alan Chamberlain, Historical Society member and Civil War reenactor, gave a presentation to the Society that covered this period of rabid abolition in Marlboro, the formation of the fire department that helped staff and motivate Co. I of the Mass 13th, and their movements into Harpers Ferry and beyond.)

The presentation and the book

Joan presented her findings to the Society on February 26, 2008, and followed up by publishing this 29-page book:   

The John Brown Bell--
The Journey of the Second-Most Important Bell in American History,
from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to Marlborough, Massachusetts

Since then Joan has presented to community groups and been quoted in articles about the John Brown Bell.  (The Marlborough Historical Society has never taken an official position on where the bell should be housed, as explained in this letter to the editor in July 2008.)

John Brown Bell

The book is available as a free download:

Once downloaded, this document, which is a PDF, can be saved and read on your computer, or it can be printed out.  Links to free PDF readers are here.

The John Brown Bell

Scheduling a special presentation

Joan has given her presentation to several community groups.  If you're interested in having Joan deliver her presentation to your group, contact her here.

An address during the 50th anniversary year

In 1901, roughly 50 years after the incident at Harpers Ferry, James Gleason retold many of the key events in a speech at the Sons of Veterans encampment at G.A.R. Hall in Marlborough.
Retelling 50 years later of the events that led to the taking of the John Brown Bell