John Brown was born in Torrington, Connecticut on May 9, 1800. His father, Owen Brown, was a tanner (leather maker). Owen Brown eventually settled in Hudson, and there his son John learned how to be a tanner. John lived in Connecticut and Pennsylvania before permanently settling in Franklin Mills. In Franklin Mills he entered into a partnership with Zenas B. Kent in 1835, building a tannery along the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Unfortunately, John Brown and Zenas Kent did not have a good partnership, and eventually they stopped doing business together.

Though the tannery is a small reminder of John Brown, what really made him notable was his bravery as an abolitionist fighting against slavery. After the failure of his tannery and other business ventures, he went on to fight slavery in Kansas and ended up fleeing to Canada. He eventually returned in 1859 for a raid of a federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia which ultimately failed. He was sentenced to death for his actions and hung in December of 1859.

The John Brown Tannery was demolished in 1976. It was located by the river where present day Tannery Park is on Stow Street and was on the National Register of Historic places before it was torn down.

The Details
  • Category: Historic Landmarks
Jb Tannery 1960S