1849 COURT DOCUMENT SIGNED BY MAYOR OF HARPER’S FERRY KILLED DURING JOHN BROWN’S RAID

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Item Code: 141-42

Handwritten document on blue unlined paper. It meas. approx. 7.75 x 8.00 inches.

The paper is a warrant asking the plaintiff to answer two questions in regards to a $20 debt. Document is dated May 2, 1849 and strongly signed “F. BECKHAM” as Justice of the Peace.

The paper is in nice condition with faint fold lines.

Fontaine Beckham was born in Virginia in 1788. An online biography reads:

“ He was a Jefferson County Magistrate and the mayor of Harper's Ferry as well as the railroad stationmaster at the time of John Brown's raid in 1859. He had actually had involvement in the freeing of Hayward Shepherd, the former slave who was the first victim of the raid on 16 October 1859. Because of Beckham's sponsorship of Shepherd, the freedman did not have to leave the state of Virginia, as was generally required. (Beckham was a slave holder, but at his death his three slaves were freed by his will.) Beckham was distraught over the death of Shepherd, as he tried to reach Shepherd's body on the 17th, he was shot and killed by Edwin Coppoc (1835-1859), one of Brown's raiders. Beckham, Shepherd, and other victims of the raid are considered by some the "first casualties of the Civil War."

Fontaine Beckham is buried in Edge Hill Cemetery, Charles Town, West Virginia.    [ad]

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