Exhibit tells John Brown story from varied angles

August 09, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- John Brown's name continues to be prominent in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., but his lesser-known compatriot John E. Cook is the focus of Allison-Antrim Museum's current exhibit.

Cook gathered information in Harpers Ferry a year before the raid and passed it along to Brown for planning purposes. On the night of the raid in 1859, Cook and six others escaped into the mountains.

He was captured by slave catchers near Mont Alto, Pa., and turned in for a $1,000 reward two months later.

The exhibit, on loan from the National Park Service, includes Cook's printed confession.

James Craig of Greencastle examined items in the exhibit on Sunday. He said Brown and his partners had good intentions, but couldn't realistically expect to successfully raid the federal arsenal.

"I did not know about John Cook and his involvement with John Brown," Craig said.

He said Cook's story is "an interesting anecdote" in the bigger tale of the failed raid.


Museum docent Marty Zimmerman said visitors for the exhibit's grand opening hailed from not only nearby towns, but also Gettysburg and Carlisle in Pennsylvania. One couple from Germany stopped in as part of a trip to visit relatives.

"We like to point out a couple things that are important from Greencastle," Zimmerman said, talking about how he encourages guests to explore the permanent displays, as well as the special exhibit.

On Sunday, Zimmerman was joined by fellow volunteer Rachelle Piper, who will be a senior at Greencastle-Antrim High School. She said she learned about the opportunity to participate in community service through her government class.

The Cook exhibit continues through September. For dates and times, go to or call 717-597-9010.

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