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Shepherd, Heyward  

Caroline Janney

a free African American whose parents’ names are unknown, was the first person killed during John Brown's 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia).

In 1859 Shepherd lived in Winchester, Virginia with his wife, Sarah, and their children. He was employed as a porter for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad nearly thirty miles away at Harpers Ferry. In the early morning hours of 16 October John Brown and twenty two of his followers seized the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry hoping to ignite an insurrection that would attract slaves from across the region But not one slave or insurrectionist came Ironically one of the first casualties of the raid was Shepherd According to court testimony Shepherd had been on the railroad bridge looking for a missing watchman when he was ordered to halt by one of Brown s men Instead of stopping he ...