The name, John Brown of Harper's Ferry, conjures up many different mental pictures, depending upon the background and beliefs of those individuals concerned. For some, the name brings forth the picture of a martyr who was hanged unjustly for carrying out to the ultimate his beliefs against slavery. To others, the picture is much different; they see a mentally unbalanced fanatic who was justly put to death for inciting civil insurrection. Views held by the remainder are likely to be a combination of the varying elements of these two extremes.
This book focuses not on John Brown, but his family. In particular, the aftermath of the incident on his widow, Mary Day Brown, who spent a brief interlude in the city of Red Bluff, California.
To chronicle Mrs. Brown's life in Red Bluff properly, her background and ties with John Brown must learned. The character of Red Bluff at the time she moved into it must also be investigated. Mary Brown was a link tying California closer to the tumultuous occurrences in the eastern United States. The presence of the wife and family of that fiery abolitionist evoked many different emotions among Californians of that period. In Red Bluff, money was raised to build a house for her that is still used to this day.