WHEELING, W.Va. – West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling will host a reenactment of the trial against abolitionist John Brown on Saturday, April 28 at 12:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable and is free and open to the public.

On the night of Oct. 16, 1859, Brown led an army of 21 men from a small Maryland farmhouse across a train bridge over the Potomac River to the town of Harpers Ferry, Va. Their objective was to seize the weapons stored inside the U.S. armory and help liberate the slaves in the immediate area.

As the news spread that there was a serious threat to the residents of Harpers Ferry, local militia and vigilante groups began to ride into the town. Tempers began to flare as the number of dead began to mount, as well as news that slaves were being freed and were taking refuge inside the armory gates. Following a 36-hour standoff between Brown’s followers, the combined forces of local militias and 90 U.S. Marines under the command of Robert E. Lee, Brown and his surviving followers were captured inside the armory’s fire engine house.

On Oct. 26, 1859, Jefferson County Judge Richard Parker assembled a grand jury for the state of Virginia. A true bill against Brown and the other prisoners was presented. They were indicted for conspiring with negroes to produce insurrection, treason and the murder of five citizens.

For more information about the trial, contact Roger Micker at (304) 312-7559.

For more information about WVIH, contact Debbie Jones, site manager, at (304) 238-1300 or

West Virginia Independence Hall has been on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) since 1970. It was originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.