John Brown Tannery
John Brown of Ossawatomie and Harper's Ferry worked here as a tanner, 1825-35. The nearby house was then his home. His first wife and son are buried near.
Before becoming the famed abolitionist, known for his conviction, and his anti-slavery message, in 1825, John Brown at the age of twenty-five moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania, from Hudson, Ohio. He bought a farm in Randolph Township (now Richmond Township), at Clarks Corners, as the land was relatively inexpensive, having been selected as land to be paid to veterans of the Revolutionary War that no man had claimed. Brown soon opened a Tannery in 1826, having learned the tanning trade from his father while in Ohio. Due to the Tannery not being as lucrative as Brown had originally hoped, as well as the unfortunate passing of his wife, Dianthe Brown in 1832, he eventually departed in 1835.
During his time in Crawford County John Brown was characterized as a very proactive young citizen, often taking part in the laborious task of community engagement. Brown served as a teacher in the Crawford County Sabbath School Union, a non-exclusively Presbyterian organization. This organization reportedly had several “people of color,” four teachers and twenty students, alongside fourteen teachers and eighty students who were presumably white. John Brown wrote a letter to his brother detailing his plans to create an Abolitionist house. In it, Brown discusses getting an African American boy to live in the house, creating a secret room and door for African Americans to hide in order to escape to Canada or other free states. In his schools for African Americans, he planned to teach history, English, and religion in order to spread the word of Christianity.
Brown’s most notable achievement was creating a mail route between Meadville and Riceville, including a post office at Clarks Corners deemed Randolph Post office. Brown would serve as postmaster and as a mail courier for seven years. His frequent trips to Meadville, as well as his place in the Sabbath schools, likely led him to often interact with a growing community of African Americans in the city, who were mainly a blue-collar church-going group. This developing interaction likely influenced Brown's later strong and outspoken abolitionist beliefs. Nevertheless, John Brown still largely stayed in good favor with most of his neighbors, as his outspokenness as a community member helped to build the community of New Richmond.