Abolitionist John Brown had Windsor roots
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Mar. 7, 2013
When a large group of guests crowded into the Windsor Historical Society to see a presentation about John Brown, one of the main contributors to the start of the Civil War, few realized they would be sitting just a few hundred feet away from the resting place of Brown’s great grandparents in the Palisado Cemetery. On Feb. 26, historian Bill Hosley hosted "John Brown: The Connecticut Roots of an American Legend" as he led guests on an armchair tour of art, objects, and historic sites like the Palisado Cemetery associated with the abolitionist.
“I try to combine history with a travel log, so people feel like, 'Hey, I am learning something, but there are some cool places I could visit to learn even more,'” Hosley said. “I love his story. I love his journey in the Adirondacks building a farming community, to the boldness of going to Kansas, to his ventures in Connecticut; all of my work comes back to Connecticut.”
Hosley told the story of Brown’s deep roots as an abolitionist starting from his Puritan upbringing and including the time he witnessed the racial assault of a black boyhood friend at a young age, which deeply affected him. These events were main contributors to his evangelical anti-slavery perspective, but his belief that violent rebellion would be the only way to defeat the oppressive slavery system came from somewhere else.
During the 1800s, New England - and Connecticut in particular - was the largest marketplace of weaponry due to a high amount of weapon manufacturers. Brown moved away from Connecticut early on in life but frequently visited the area to visit family members like his grandparents. Hosley believes that almost without a shadow of a doubt Brown at least visited Windsor once in his lifetime. Brown’s visits to the area and his family allowed him to become familiar with weapons and their different technologies. His visits also allowed him to build and stockpile an arsenal to use in his various raids and guerilla warfare tactics against Southern states.
“This guy sprinted in the direction of controversy, and I think people like that are doing God’s work,” Hosley said. “They are doing something bold that makes a difference, because it is easy to sit back in life and be a spectator.”