John Brown and The Last Train

My first book, John Brown and The Last Train tells the little known story of John Brown and his 1858 raid on 3 Missouri slave farms in Butler County and subsequent trip north on the Underground Railroad. During this trip, 2 Freedom Seekers fell in love and were married by an Iowa preacher. This was an unusual situation because the courtship and marriage took place on the escape to Canada. These Freedom Seekers named Sam Harper and Jane (unknown last name) were later located in Canada and interviewed. The attached photograph was taken at that time. Click here to read the interview. The photo was taken at the time of the interview, I believe. Click here is a link to a Wikitree genealogy site with more information.

Recently the Mayhew Cabin and John Brown’s Cave published the following press release.

    Cathy Briley, Vice President of the Mayhew Cabin Board of Directors, has conducted several hundreds of hours of research to uncover the identities of freedom seekers (escaping slaves) that passed through the Mayhew family’s home as part of the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War. In particular, those that John Brown freed in western Missouri in December 1858. Brown and his group physically freed 11 slaves from their masters at that time. Part of Brown’s group was John Kagi, brother to Barbara Mayhew who lived in the historic Mayhew Cabin in Nebraska City, NE. John Brown and John Kagi brought the 11 freedom seekers into Kansas Territory where one woman gave birth to a son, who they named after John Brown. Now the group of 12 freedom seekers was brought north into Nebraska Territory where they were given food and shelter at the home of Kagi’s sister, Barbara Mayhew. 


Sam and Jane (Hamilton) Harper

    Brown, Kagi, and the group of freedom seekers did make it safely across the Missouri River into Iowa and continued east, then eventually reached freedom in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in March of 1859. Briley has been working on identifying the freedom seekers in this group and has utilized various other sources to uncover their names beyond census records. In May of this year, Briley found and came into email contact with a direct descendant of two of slaves that married after their long trek, and was surprised to find that he still lived in the Windsor, Ontario area. In October, Brad Mayhew (direct descendant of the Mayhew family and Board Member of the Mayhew Cabin Museum) traveled to Canada and met with slave descendant Darryl Hogan and his wife Kathryn.  Mr. Hogan is a board member for the North American Historical Museum in Amherstburg, Ontario. 

        The Mayhew Cabin with John Brown’s Cave is a historic site that interprets the history of the Underground Railroad in the region and how the Mayhew family and John Kagi were involved in such activity. If anyone is interested in this type of history, they are invited to visit our museum. We are located at 2012 4th Corso in Nebraska City, NE.  The site is operated by a non-profit foundation and donations of any size are always welcome. For more information on this story or the museum, please call 402-873-3115 or email or visit the website

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1 thought on “John Brown and The Last Train”

  1. Hello Gary Jenkins. I have been following you, it appears we are interested in some of the same subjects. I would love to have coffee with you. The Mafia in KC, Underground RR in Kansas, being two.

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