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On July 4, 1859, John Brown, who had been living in Sandy Hook, Md, rented a small farm, approximately 5 miles north of Harper's Ferry, on the Maryland side of the Potomac.
Owned by the heirs of Dr. R. F. Kennedy, the farm was secluded, the perfect location for Brown and his men to finish preparing for their raid on the Federal arsenal.Although Brown was living under the psudeonym of "Isaac Smith," he was afraid that a home filled with men might arouse suspicion, and so appealed to his wife and daughter Annie to join him. Mary Ann did not, but Annie and Oliver's wife, Martha, did, in mid-July. Throughout the rest of July and August men arrived at the farm almost daily. John Kagi, in Chambersburg, sent a shipment of rifles, pikes, and pistols to the farm, in boxes marked "Hardware and Castings."
Life at the farm grated on the men's nerves. In order to keep a low local profile, the men had to stay inside all day, cooped up in two buildings, playing ckeckers, reading, and arguing. They drilled freqquently, and studied a military manual on guerrilla warfare. At night they were allowed out for fresh air and exercise.
Annie and Martha, in addition to cooking and cleaning for the men, kept a sharp lookout for inquisitive neighbors. In later years, Annie recalled:
If a neighbor did come calling, Annie would divert her while the men went upstairs and hid in the attic. In late September, as it grew closer to the time of attack, Annie and Martha were sent back home, to North Elba, and the men made their final preparations.
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