Charles Town in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Edge Hill Cemetery
John Brown Raid Victims
Edge Hill Cemetery contains the graves of Fontaine Beckham and John Avis, two participants in the saga of John Brown’s Raid in October 1859. Beckham was the mayor of Harpers Ferry then and one of four civilian casualties. Ironically, though John Brown freed no slaves by capturing the United States Arsenal there, as he intended, the slaves that Beckham owned were feed at his death in accordance with his will. The first civilian that Brown’s men shot and killed was a free black man named Hayward Shepherd, a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad employee.
John Avis, John Brown’s jailor, is also buried here. Avis was kind to Brown while he was incarcerated for a month between his trial and execution and befriended him. As Brown left the jail to be hanged, he kissed Avis’s son. The jailor served as a captain in an antebellum militia company, the Continental Morgan Guards. When the Civil War began in 1861, the company, which wore Revolutionary War-style uniform, was mustered into Confederate service as Co. K, 5th Virginia Infantry.
About seventy graves in the front section of Edge Hill Cemetery contain the remains of Confederate soldiers. They
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial Sites • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. 39° 17.386′ N, 77° 51.252′ W. Marker is in Charles Town, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is at the intersection of S Seminary Street and E Congress Street, on the left when traveling south on S Seminary Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Charles Town WV 25414, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Confederate Dead (a few steps from this marker); In Memoriam (a few steps from this marker); Lock Graveyard Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); "Coloured" Grave Yard (within shouting distance of this marker); Rutherford House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Stribling House (about 400 feet away); Davenport Brothers Revolutionary War Memorial (about 400 feet away); Major James Gibson (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charles Town.
More about this marker. A July 4, 1860 picture of the Continental Morgan Guards, a militia unit in which John Avis served, appears at the lower left of the marker (Picture courtesy of Ben Ritter). The top center of the marker features a picture of Militia attacking Browns raiders, courtesy Library of Congress. The bottom center has a picture of the “Last Moments of John Brown” – Courtesy Library of Congress, with a caption of “In fact, no blacks were present, and Brown kissed his jailor’s son.”
The lower right of the marker contains a map which highlights significant Civil War Sites in Jefferson County, WV, many of which are interpreted by Civil War Trail signage.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 11, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,595 times since then and 191 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 11, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on April 13, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.