Even 160 years after his death, John Brown remains one of the most compelling figures in American history.

But before he captured the attention of the nation with his bloody battles against slavery, Brown was a young man in the Western Reserve, arriving in Hudson at age 5 and living off and on for decades in what would become Summit County.

For its October meeting and monthly program, Hudson Heritage Association welcomes Leianne Neff Heppner, president and CEO of the Summit County Historical Society of Akron, who will give a special presentation, "Our Neighbor, John Brown," on the abolitionist’s years in the Western Reserve.

The meeting and program will take place on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Barlow Community Center, 41 South Oviatt Street in Hudson. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

"John Brown was a complex man," Heppner said. "He was a husband to two wives, a father to 20 children, a skilled shepherd, a hard worker and a horrible businessman. There was no more fervent abolitionist and no more consequential man to ever live in Summit County."

Heppner will explore Brown’s life in Hudson, Akron and New Franklin, his family, his work and his evolution into a passionate abolitionist.

"Hudson residents should be proud of our town’s strong abolitionist roots and the risks our ancestors took to help enslaved Americans along the Underground Railroad," said Chris Bach, Hudson Heritage Association’s president. "John Brown is perhaps Hudson’s most important native son. This special program is a must for anyone who cares about our town’s history and heritage."

Heppner has been with the Summit County Historical Society of Akron, Ohio, since 1999. She was selected to head of the organization in 2010. She has prepared scores of museum exhibits and is a frequent speaker.

She holds a master’s degree in public history from Kent State and a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation from Southeast Missouri State University. She and her family are rehabbing a HUD foreclosure home in Fairlawn Heights and enjoy living in Akron.