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Archive for Monday, August 18, 2008

Re-enactor breathes new life into abolitionist John Brown

History buff’s portrayal continues Civil War on the Western Frontier series, which ends this week

Kerry Altenbernd, of Lawrence, portrays John Brown on Sunday during a first-person educational performance at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. John Brown was an abolitionist who spent time in Kansas prior to the Civil War and was involved in a skirmish against a pro-slavery militia in 1856 at Black Jack Battlefield.

Kerry Altenbernd, of Lawrence, portrays John Brown on Sunday during a first-person educational performance at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. John Brown was an abolitionist who spent time in Kansas prior to the Civil War and was involved in a skirmish against a pro-slavery militia in 1856 at Black Jack Battlefield.

August 18, 2008

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On the street

Have you ever been to a historical re-enactment?

Yes, I have. There was an actor in Ottawa who did a re-creation of Annie Oakley. I’m kind of a local history fan, so I like going to historical sites and that sort of thing.

More responses

With his full gray beard and long black coat, Kerry Altenbernd seemed to step effortlessly into the role of legendary abolitionist John Brown.

He paced the stage, at times pounding his fist on the podium for added emphasis, as he recounted the life of the controversial figure who holds a central place in the history of Lawrence and the state.

"I've seen at least three other people do re-enactments of John Brown," said Craig Sundell, commander of the local chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. "This was, in my opinion, one of the best ones. It had details in it that even I, who has studied the Civil War for 20 or 25 years, did not know."

Altenbernd, who is director of the Douglas County Law Library and a board member of the Black Jack Battlefield Trust, spoke to a crowd of about 50 people Sunday at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

His Brown portrayal was the latest in a series of events and activities that are part of Civil War on the Western Frontier series, which runs through Thursday, the anniversary of Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence.

"I thought I might come and speak to you today about my life and about my struggles against forces beyond me and forces beyond all of us," Altenbernd said as he began his portrayal of Brown.

Altenbernd took the audience through Brown's life story, detailing Brown's early introduction to slavery, his adulthood struggles to amass wealth, his exploits in Kansas and death following the 1859 raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Va., now in West Virginia.

In the end, "I realized I had misinterpreted my role; I was not to live to fight slavery," Altenbernd said in his portrayal. "I was to die to fight slavery."

Comments

Quigly 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't see any mention of murder or of being a murderer.

mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

Only a pro-slavery person would write what Quantrill did. "But in case anything should occur while you are in a great and good cause to shorten your life, you may be assured your wife and children shall be cared for more liberally than you now purpose."Amos Lawrence correspondence,March, 20, 1857. But some anti-slavery people did think this of Brown - "Old Brown hanged with great ceremony. He died grandly. Nevertheless, he must be called a fanatic."Amos A. Lawrence - December 19, 1859

Quigly 6 years, 4 months ago

I like you max, thank you. He was truly a criminal. Now they say that himself and the James boys did quite a bit of damage at the end of the war. Never the less, he was an opportunists a criminal and a coward. If a book is written about him that is what it should focus on. What a worthless piece of crap he was. That should be the title. If I am correct, J. Brown would go and kidnap(sorry"FREE") slaves in Missouri and then sell them back to the land owners. That is the same thing Quantrill did and many others. It was very good money. Heaven forbid some one write about the exploits of Jim Lane and the Red Legs. He was a Senator for crying out loud and most likely has more blood on his hands then all of the raiders combined. I am not pro slave, I believe in true history, not the history of the victor.

Quigly 6 years, 4 months ago

By the way, WOW that guy looks almost just like him.

mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

John Brown freed the slaves he "stole", but he wasn't above selling back cattle and horses that he procured in the same way. Quigley, there was a lot going on, which I am not going to get into again because Max likes to argue, but you have to look at everything which occurred during that time, and everything that occurred to the Brown's. Yes, he was a murderer, (not the only one), and stealing slaves (not the only one)but that doesn't mean you can't think positive about his true belief that EVERYone was equal, including blacks and women and he treated everyone that way, too. There were very, very few with that idea during that time. With that said, if you didn't help him, or weren't with him, he didn't think too much of you. John Brown and George W. Brown, no relation, didn't think too highly of one another, but they were on the same side. SO I think highly of John Brown for his views, but I have a hard time with the man in light of his methods. Have a nice day, people.....

Quigly 6 years, 4 months ago

W.Quantrill was a self-righteous wanna be. He played both sides and was too much onto himself. You don't have to be pro slavery if you write about him. He was just a good con artist. Now write a book about Black Bartr or a few others then I would agree. Either way. J. Brown and his sons committed murder just the same as the Bush whackers and the Red Legs. Murder is murder but history is written by the victors so he must have been a good guy by helping out those slaves by executing them along the river.

mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

My schedule wouldn't let me attend yesterday, but it sounds like it would have been very educational and informative. Hopefully, I will have another chance.

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