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One-tank road trip: Middletown VA play recounts Robert E. Lee and John Brown

Photo of John Brown, 1859, Black and Batchelder, from Library of Congress

This years marks the 150th anniversary of the celebrated raid on the U.S. Arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) by abolitionist John Brown and his followers, which included a Pennsylvania free black man named Osborn P. Anderson who had been a Canadian congressman. Anderson was one of five of Brown’s group to escape, eventually making his way here to York, Pennsylvania, where wealthy black businessman William C. Goodridge gave him shelter in his Philadelphia Street home (and his Centre Square business as well) and later smuggled him in a rail car across the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. Anderson was never captured.
As part of the regional events commemorating the 1859 raid, Wayside Theatre in Middletown, VA will present the production “Robert E. Lee and John Brown; Lighting the Fuse” beginning August 29 through September 26, 2009. The play is written by Warner Crocker and with music Steve Przybylski. The production is one of the events of the Quad State 150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859. The play tells the story of John Brown’s dramatic raid on Harper’s Ferry and paints a picture of that tumultuous time in our nation’s history. The play brings these two important historical figures face to face using many of their own words to tell the story that concluded with Lee’s refusal to accept command of the Union army in 1861.
Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 Pm and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 PM. Except Sunday, August 30, when the official opening performance is at 6:30 PM. Cost is $25-$30 for adults. Children 17 years and younger are $10.00 for any performance.
Call the box office at (540) 869-1776 to reserve your seats, or reserve them on-line at
Cephe F. Place
Sales & Outreach Coordinator
Wayside Theatre
P.O. Box 260
Middletown, VA 22645

Buildings in which Osborn P. Anderson was hidden: facade of Wm. G. Goodridge home on East Philadelphia Street, York (Pa.), in which Anderson was hidden after the John Brown Raid; he was later hidden in the Centre Square building. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Buildings in which Osborn P. Anderson was hidden: NW angle of Centre Square, York, Pa.; shows commercial buildings, including the Goodridge building. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.