John Brown who was also known by his slave name “Fed” was born into slavery on a Southampton County, Virginia plantation. He is remembered for his memoir published in London, England in 1855 entitled “Slave Life in Georgia: A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of John Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Now in England.
Fed grew up with his twin siblings, Silas and Lucy. They lived on the plantation of Betty Moore, his mother’s mistress. He only remembered seeing his father once. After his father’s master moved with Joe from the area, Fed’s mother was forced to take another husband. He was known as Lamb and was held by a nearby planter and miller known as Collier.
After the death of Moore’s husband, the slaves were divided among his three daughters and their husbands. Fed and his mother and brother were assigned to the second daughter and were forced to walk to Northhampton to their new plantation home.
When Fed was about ten, Davis sold him to a slave trader eager for slaves to take to Georgia, which was rapidly developing. He was sold for about $310 and separated forever from his mother.
In Georgia, Fed was sold to planter Thomas Stevens, a man of Welsh descent in Baldwin County, who had a cotton plantation and whiskey still near Milledgeville. He was the maternal grandfather of Mary Ann Harris Gay. Fed worked for Stevens for more than 15 years, and described the man as “harsh” in his treatment.
Brown made his way North, working in various places. He sailed to England in 1850, as the new Fugitive Slave Law passed in the United States increased enforcement against fugitive slaves even in free states. Brown died in London 1876.