Dangerfield Newby

Dangerfield Newby (HMY5T)

Location: Castleton, VA 22716 Rappahannock County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 38.96', W 78° 4.482'

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A Tragic Journey to Harpers Ferry

Dangerfield Newby (ca. 1820-1859), a free mulatto for whose family this crossroads is named, was the first of John Brown's raiders killed during the attack on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859. He was the eldest child of Henry Newby and a slave, Elsey. Edward Newby, Henry's father, built the house across the road in the 1770s. Henry Newby lived there until 1830, then sold it and moved to a nearby farm on Gourdvine Run (Thornton River). Dangerfield likely spent part of his youth near here and may have worked as a blacksmith and a deckhand on canal boats on the Rappahannock River.

In 1858, Henry Newby moved with Elsey and their children, including Dangerfield, to Bridgeport, Ohio, and freed them. Dangerfield Newby tried to buy his own wife, Harriet, and their children, who were enslaved in Prince William County, Virginia, but failed. He joined John Brown's raiders, hoping that a successful attack on Harpers Ferry would somehow free them. Newby killed two residents before he was shot and killed near the U.S. Arsenal. He and seven other dead raiders were buried near the Shenandoah River and then moved in 1899 to John Brown's Farm in North Elba, New York. Letters from Harriet Newby were found five miles northeast of Harpers Ferry at the Kennedy farm, from which the raiders launched their attack. She was sold south to Louisiana but eventually returned. Dangerfield Newby's brother William served in the 5th U.S Colored Troops and died at Petersburg in June 1864. Elsey Newby applied for a pension based on her son's service.

(Sidebar): In the spring and summer of 1859, Newby's wife wrote to him three times expressing concern that her owner would sell her before he was able to raise money to free her. "[I]t is said Master is in want of money[:] if so I know not what time he may sell me an[d] then all my bright hops of the futer are blasted." - Harriet Newby, 1859

"Dangerfield Newby, colored and born a slave, freeman now, but married to one not free who, with their seven children waited him South, the youngest baby just beginning to crawl" - Stephn Vincent Benet, John Brown's Body
HM NumberHMY5T
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 11:15am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 754576 N 4281924
Decimal Degrees38.64933333, -78.07470000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 38.96', W 78° 4.482'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 38' 57.60" N, 78° 4' 28.92" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 6304 Co Rd 618, Castleton VA 22716, US
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