Each with a saber and two revolvers

John Brown

One of the Brown boys, either Salmon or Oliver, killed Allen Wilkinson with an artillery sword. We don’t know for sure, but the silence in Salmon’s account matches where he obscured his role in the murder of the Doyles. He starts off with an even chance and that pushes the odds further in his favor. Louisa Wilkinson, sick with measels, thought she heard him speaking outside and got to the door. She found only stillness in the night.

Next morning Mr. Wilkinson was found about one hundred and fifty yards from the house, in some dead brush. A lady who saw my husband’s body, said that there was a gash in his head and in his side; others said that he was cut in the throat twice.

Louisa didn’t see the body herself. She doesn’t say who found it, save that someone else did. They laid Allen out in a different house and forbade her from seeing him on account of her illness. She left Kansas in short order:

On the Wednesday following I left for fear of my life. I believe that they would have taken my life to prevent me from testifying against them for killing my husband. I believe that one of Captain Brown’s sons was in the party, who murdered my husband; I heard a voice like his. I do not know Captain Brown himself. I have two small children, one about eight and the other about five years old. The body of my husband was laid in a new house; I did not see it. My friends would not let me see him for fear of making me worse. I was very ill. The old man, who seemed to be commander, wore soiled clothes and a straw hat; pulled down over his face. He spoke quick, is a tall, narrow-faced, elderly man. I would recognize him if I could see him.

Brown might not have even thought of killing a woman or sufficiently small children, but one can’t vouch for his good character on such things to someone who just had her husband murdered. Furthermore, Wilkinson didn’t know if she’d have other visits to finish the job. Few people would rush to take chances in that situation.

Back on that bloody night, May 24-25, 1856, the Brown party moved on. Salmon has himself split off from the group by this point, but as before Townsley doesn’t mention any significant separation:

We then crossed the Potawatomie and came to the house of Henry Sherman, generally known as Dutch Henry. Here John Brown and the party, excepting Frederick Brown, Winer, and myself, who were left outside a short distance from the door, went into the house

By the third go, Brown had the procedure down. A few men waited outside while he and others plunged into Dutch Henry’s house. There they found no Dutch Henry. Sherman owned several houses in the area and let his employees live in them. One of those boarder employees, James Harris, tells what happened inside:

On last Sunday morning, about two o’clock, (the 25th of May last,) whilst my wife and child and myself were in bed in the house where we lived, we were aroused by a company of men who said they belonged to the northern army, and who were each armed with a sabre and two revolvers, two of whom I recognized, namely; a Mr. Brown, whose given name I do not remember, commonly known by the appellation of “old man Brown,” and his son, Owen Brown. They came in the house and approached the bed side where we were lying, and ordered us, together with three other men who were in the same house with me; to surrender; that the northern army was upon us, and it would be no use for us to resist.

It seems they quit with the pretense of knocking on doors and asking directions, likely because Brown expected to find the Shermans inside. He got Henry’s brother Dutch Bill, at least. A few people that Harris didn’t know slept over that night too, having just bought a cow from Dutch Henry.


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