New Gallery – Asia Booth Clarke

Asia Booth Clarke 1

Asia Frigga Booth was the youngest daughter of Junius Brutus Booth and Mary Ann Holmes.  She was born on the Booth family farm in Harford County, MD, on November 20, 1835.  While growing up in the secluded wilderness of their Tudor Hall home, Asia grew very close to her younger brother, John Wilkes.  The two would often play, with Asia acting as Wilkes’ first acting teacher by helping him run lines and practice his elocution.  Asia was described by those who knew her as, “beautiful”, “educated and mathematical”, and “strong-minded”.  She was courted for years by a family friend named John Sleeper.  He, like the Booth sons, wanted a career in the theater.  In order to avoid the connotation that a performance by him would put an audience to sleep, he changed his named to John Sleeper Clarke.  The two married in 1859.  At first, life for the two was good.  Clarke and Asia’s rising acting brother, Edwin, were close business partners and friends.  Asia and Clarke had three children by 1865, all of whom were all named after various members of the Booth family.  The eldest, Asia Dorothy, named for her mother, was nicknamed “Dollie”.  Their next child, Edwin Booth Clarke, was named for his uncle and went by the nickname “Teddy”.  Another daughter Adrienne, received her name from Asia’s youngest brother, Joseph Adrian.

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln by the hands of her favorite brother, John Wilkes, was a massive blow to Asia and her family.  John Sleeper Clarke was imprisoned for a time and pregnant Asia was put under house arrest.  Hoping to do something to redeem the family name, Asia set her sights on a long forgotten project she had once started: writing a biography about her father.  She plunged back into her work, attempting to forget the tragedy that had befallen her.  In August of 1865, she gave birth to twins, Creston and Lillian.  By December she had finished her biography of Junius Sr. and it was published under the title, Booth memorials : Passages, incidents, and anecdotes in the life of Junius Brutus Booth (the Elder) by His Daughter.

In 1867, another son, Wilfred, was born.  Despite the passage of time, Asia still felt the stigma of her brother’s crime and Clarke discovered he had strong star power on the London stage.  Asia agreed to move the family there, despite their strained relationship.  She hoped that England would give her the fresh air and foreign setting she needed to start over.  Asia and her children depart America in 1868.  Asia wrote that she expected to be gone for two or three years.  In fact, she would never see her homeland again.

Life in England lost its appeal fairly quickly to Asia and her relationship with Clarke continued to sour.  The pair had three more children in England, all of which died, furthering Asia’s grief and separating her even more from her husband.  In 1874, she began writing a biography of her misguided brother, John Wilkes.  It contained her memories of his younger days and painted a far more human picture of the man who assassinated Lincoln.  She knew, however, that this sympathetic view of her brother would never be tolerated during her lifetime and so put the biography aside to be published after her death.

In the 1880’s Asia finished a book entitled, The Elder and Younger Booth, which detailed the careers of her father, Junius, and her brother, Edwin.  By this point Clarke was making regular trips back to the States to perform with Asia being left behind in England.  She referred to Clarke as “a bachelor in all but name” and described his hatred for her and the Booth name.

Asia Booth Clarke died on May 16, 1888 at the age of 52.  Before her death she made Clarke promise to return her body to America so that she could be buried in the family plot in Baltimore.  This was done and Asia Booth now lies with her parents and siblings in Green Mount Cemetery. Clarke would later die in England and is buried there.

Two of Asia and Clarke’s children followed the family tradition and became actors.  Creston and Wilfred Clarke both had decent careers upon the American stage and vaudeville.

Asia’s secret biography of her brother was given to a family friend upon her death due to her fears that Clarke would destroy it.  It was not published until 1938, sixty years after Asia’s death.  Though more a collection of Asia’s pleasant memories of her brother than a true biography, the book provides a unique and much needed view of John Wilkes’ early life and interactions with his family.

While Asia Booth never found fame (or infamy) like her other siblings, she remains a valuable chronicler of their achievements.

The newest Picture Gallery here on BoothieBarn has to do with Asia Booth Clarke and her family.  To visit the gallery, click HERE or on Asia’s picture in the image below:

John Wilkes Booth: A Sister’s Memoir by Asia Booth Clarke edited by Terry Alford

Click for Junius Brutus Booth Click for Mary Ann Holmes Booth Click for Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. Click for Rosalie Ann Booth Click for the Booth children Click for Edwin Thomas Booth Click for John Wilkes Booth Click for Joseph Adrian Booth
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A Victorian Christmas at the Dr. Mudd House Museum

For one weekend every December, the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum in Waldorf, MD reopens out of season in order to present, “A Victorian Christmas”.  A devoted team of volunteers work hard to elegantly festoon the house and grounds with Christmas decor. During the event, costumed docents fill each room of the house eager to discuss not only Dr. Mudd and his involvement with John Wilkes Booth, but also the Christmas customs and traditions of years past. The event is highlighted with Civil War reenactors, music, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Mudd Victorian Xmas 1

Though I have been living in Maryland for three Christmases now, this year marked the first time I was able to attend this special event. The following are some of the pictures I took of my visit today.

Mudd Victorian Xmas 4

Mudd Victorian Xmas 9

Mudd Victorian Xmas 8

Mudd Victorian Xmas 7

Mudd Victorian Xmas 3

Mudd Victorian Xmas 2

Mudd Victorian Xmas 5

Mudd Victorian Xmas 6

Sadly, St. Nick was not present during my time at the house otherwise I would have been sure to photograph him. I did, however, use the festive opportunity to purchase a much needed item from the museum’s gift shop: a Dr. Mudd House ornament.

Mudd Victorian Xmas 10 As you can see, the ornament looks great on my Christmas tree hanging right next to my ornaments of John Wilkes Booth and the Surratt House Museum.

For those of you who live in the area, “A Victorian Christmas” will also take place at the Dr. Mudd House Museum tomorrow, December 7, 2014 from 11 am to 8 pm.  Admission is $8.  If you can’t make it this year, be sure to keep an eye out for this annual event next December.

Since the Mudd house has effectively put me in the holiday mood, it seems fitting to close this post with another one of my Boothie Christmas carols.  This revised rendition is entitled “Little Doctor Mudd” and it is sung to the tune of “Little Drummer Boy”.  Enjoy!


Little Doctor Mudd
As sung to, “Little Drummer Boy”

“Come”, Dave told me,
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“An injured John to see.”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“My horse, it fell on me,”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“As I was trying to flee.”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd, Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd, Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd.
On my couch went he,
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
Down with a thud.

“We must make do.”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“This splint will see you through.”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“The troops will soon pursue.”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“I dare not harbor you.”
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd, Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd, Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“We are joined, we two, Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd”
“In cold blood.”

When they left here,
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
Our story we made clear.
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
Our lies and truths cohere.
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
I knew we’d persevere.
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd, Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd, Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd

But, I had one fear.
Mudd Mudd-Mudd-Mudd Mudd
“Here’s a boot.”

(You can read some of my previous Boothie carols by clicking here, here, here, and here.)

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“Honor to Our Soldiers”: Civil War Veteran William Withers, Jr. and the Song that was Never Sung


After you read this wonderful post from the Ford’s Theatre Blog, click here to listen to the “song that was never sung”:

Originally posted on FORD'S THEATRE | BLOG:

Editor’s Note: As we honor our nation’s soldiers in observance of Veterans Day in November, we remember the soldiers who fought to preserve the Union 150 years ago. This month’s Museum Feature highlights a patriotic musical tribute to soldiers from the Ford’s Theatre collection, as well as the Civil War veteran who made this music possible.

On April 14, 1865, the city of Washington was in a particularly patriotic mood as it continued to celebrate the anticipated end of the Civil War. At Ford’s Theatre, the audience cheered on President Lincoln as he arrived for the 1,000th performance of Our American Cousin. When the distinguished guest appeared, the performance stopped and the conductor William Withers, Jr. led the orchestra in a rendition of “Hail to the Chief,” welcoming the president to the theatre.

Matthew Brady’s photograph of the stage after the assassination, with sheet music still on the orchestra’s music stands. National Archives and Records Administration. Matthew Brady’s photograph of the stage after the assassination, with sheet music still on the orchestra’s…

View original 812 more words

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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods Finale

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

On April 12th of this year, I underwent a journey into history.  For 3 days and 2 nights, I completely immersed myself in the conditions John Wilkes Booth faced while hiding out in a pine thicket after he assassinated Abraham Lincoln.  The project took months of preparation and the assistance of countless individuals who alerted me to new research, informed me of the intricacies of 19th century attire, and provided much needed moral support for such an endeavor. I strove to ensure that this experience was as genuine as possible and committed to feeling the same discomfort Booth felt.

Even from the beginning I knew I wanted to document the experience in order to share it with others.  While the 19th century method of documentation would have been limited to the written word, modern technology allows us to go further.  Therefore, with camera gear as my only anachronism, I walked into the woods with the same meager supplies that were afforded to Booth hoping to shed some light on this forgotten part of his escape.

Today, I publish the final installment of the series, bringing the project to its completion.  I am extremely grateful to not only those listed in this final video but also the many others who helped my along the way and prayed for my safety.  I hope that you have enjoyed this series as I hope to produce more like it in the future.

To watch the final video, you can either click on the image above and scroll down, click HERE to watch the video on YouTube, or play the embedded video below.

Remember that all of the videos in the series can be found in one place by clicking the “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” image at the top of this post.

Thank you all for coming on this journey with me.

~ Dave Taylor

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Mapping the Assassination

I came out to Washington, D.C. for the very first time in 2009.  It was the summer between my junior and senior year of college and the trip was an early graduation gift from my parents.  My father and I had a great time exploring the many wonderful sites before returning back home to Illinois.

Two Illinois natives visiting an old friend.

Two Illinois natives visiting an old friend.

It was a whirlwind visit as we tried to do all the touristy things D.C. has to offer.  We visited the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre, the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the Newseum.  We paid our respects at the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials, as well as visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Marine Corps War Memorial.  We also went up into the Washington Monument, and viewed both the House of Representatives and the Senate in session.  It was a blast.

Admittedly though, my favorite part of the trip was the one day in which my father and I rented a car from Union Station and drove the escape route of John Wilkes Booth.  I had been learning about the assassination for years and I couldn’t wait to visit some of the places I had read so much about.  My father always appreciated Lincoln, so much so that he volunteered not once, but four times to chaperone groups of rowdy eighth graders on their annual class trip to Springfield, IL.  Though Dad doesn’t have the same interest in Lincoln’s assassination as I do, he definitely appreciates the importance of it.

In planning for our day trip, I spent hours tracking down the various locations we wanted to go and printing off directions on how to get there.  It was a difficult process.  I often had to consult many different websites just to figure out where exactly a certain place was.  It took awhile, but in the end, I managed to work up an itinerary.

Our condensed tour was great, except for one hitch.  On our way to the Mudd house I had planned for us to stop and visit the grave of Edman Spangler.  Dad and I pulled up at St. Peter’s Cemetery and spent about an hour looking at every single grave in the place to no avail.  We were almost late for the last tour of the day at the Mudd house due to our searching.  When we told the people at the Mudd house of our difficulty they informed us of our mistake.  “Spangler,” they said, “is buried in the Old St. Peter’s Cemetery.” Dad and I had spent an hour trampling through the wrong cemetery.

This completely understandable mistake has always stuck with me.  It makes me laugh to think of the time Dad and I wasted reading every grave in the new St. Peter’s Cemetery (which, by the way, is down the road from the old cemetery).  It shows how helpful and important it can be to have a guide.

Since moving to Maryland I have been lucky to have the guidance of many knowledgeable individuals.  As time has gone on, I’ve slowly become a guide myself and I am able to point out places relating to the assassination of Lincoln around D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.  Some time ago I started a project of recording the locations of various assassination places using a mapping app called Rego.  At first it was just for my own reference as I pinpointed places I had visited or places that I wanted to visit.  This summer I drove a circuitous route to Illinois and back so I could visit a few of those places on my list.

In August, I decided to make my map widely available.  I converted my Rego map into a custom Google map complete with a color coded key.  Without fanfare or announcement, the new page on BoothieBarn appeared called Lincoln Assassination Maps.

Maps Header Menu Maps Pages Menu

About a month after I created the page, I received a wonderful email from a man who took his grandson along the escape route and used my map to help them plot their course.  I emailed him back expressing how ecstatic I was that someone had not only found the map but used it as I had hoped.  Since then I’ve been slowly adding more places to the map expanding far beyond the escape route.  Using aerial views and my own knowledge, I’ve tried to pinpoint places as specifically as I can, even putting markers directly on top of where graves are in a cemetery in some cases.  Currently, the only map on the Lincoln Assassination Maps page is one that covers D.C., Maryland, and the Northern Neck of Virginia.  Though it already contains about 100 sites, it, by no means, is complete.  Future maps will highlight places in other regions such as the Midwest, the South, the Northeast, and even an International map.

With a subject as vast as the assassination of Lincoln, a guide is much needed commodity.  I hope that these maps will serve as beneficial guides for those of you who want to explore the plethora of assassination related sites.

Click HERE to check out the BoothieBarn Lincoln Assassination Maps page!

DC, MD, VA Assassination map thumb

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The Burial of a Confederate Veteran

On November 12th, 1994, 20 years ago today, the remains of a Civil War veteran were laid to rest in Geneva Cemetery in Geneva, Florida.

Geneva Cemetery 1994 Ownsbey

As was to be expected at the burial of a man who had died 129 years before, the number of attendees were few.  He had no direct descendants to speak of. Those present were comprised mainly of collateral relatives (great grand nieces and nephews), a Baptist minister, a newspaper reporter, members of the local chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans, and two historians.

Reverend Parmenter Preaching Lew's Funeral 1994 Ownsbey

The casket had been custom made for the occasion.  The wood was a beautiful mahogany and the interior was lined with red velvet.  A bronze plate affixed to the top of the casket was engraved with the service record of the deceased: “2nd Florida Infantry, Co. I – Hamilton Blues” and the”43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry – Mosby’s Rangers”.

Powell's casket 1994 Ownsbey

The service was brief, but fitting.  Remarks were made by the deceased’s elderly grand niece about the family’s memory of her great uncle.  A historian spoke candidly and compassionately about the man’s life, service, and death.  The invited Baptist preacher, whose church had been founded by the veteran’s father, spoke about the trials of the Civil War.  “Had I lived when he did,” the minister said, “I probably would have done the same thing. War is war, and I believe he did what he did believing he was right.” To conclude the service, a local SCV chaplain recited a prayer. The casket was lowered delicately into the ground in a  grave adjacent to that of his mother, reuniting mother and son for the first time since the man’s death so many years ago.

Lowering Powell into the ground Kauffman 1994 Ownsbey

The burial of this forgotten soldier occurred on the day after Veterans Day.  This coincidence is quite fitting considering that, to most, this man’s service as a veteran will forever be forgotten due to the actions he took that ultimately led to his death.

For you see, it was no ordinary Confederate veteran that was laid to rest this day 20 years ago in Florida.  Rather, the casket that was buried contained the skull of Lewis Thornton Powell, the attempted assassin of Secretary of State William Seward.

Lewis Powell

Lewis Powell's Skull Ownsbey

As has been previously written, the skull of Lewis Powell was removed from his body by a D.C. undertaker.  It was donated to the Army Medical Museum who later turned it over to the Smithsonian along with many Native American remains.  The skull was rediscovered in 1993 when the collection was being documented in order to return the Native American remains to their respective tribes.  Assassination authors Betty Ownsbey (Lewis Powell’s biographer) and Michael Kauffman helped to identify the skull.  With the help of these two researchers, the skull was turned over to descendants of the Powell family and the interment service was arranged.  The following are some more pictures of the reburial of Lewis Powell next to his mother at Geneva Cemetery all courtesy of Betty Ownsbey:

Powell's Funeral Service 1994 Ownsbey

Powell's funeral 1994 Ownsbey

Powell's funeral Kauffman and Ownsbey 1994References:
Betty Ownsbey, whose knowledge of Lewis Powell and generosity are both unsurpassed
Read more about Powell here:
Lincoln Conspirator’s Remains Buried In Seminole County by Jim Robison

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The Death of Amelia Booth

Collaboration in the research community is a truly wonderful thing. I would wager that the best books on any subject share one common trait: a lengthy acknowledgements section. When your subject is as vast and as multifaceted as the Lincoln assassination, it’s impossible to truly go it alone.  Thanks to the internet, connections are made between people and facts all the time, expanding our collective knowledge in ways we never thought possible.  Some of my proudest moments have been when this blog has able to facilitate a discussion that has changed our understanding of event (like when we determined that conspirator George Atzerodt is NOT buried under the name “Gottlieb Taubert” in St. Paul’s Cemetery as was previously thought).  Therefore it is always a highlight to receive an email out of the blue from someone who has found a valuable piece of information and wants to share it.

Amelia Portia Adelaide Booth was the first child of Junius Brutus Booth and his first wife, Marie Christine Adelaide Delannoy. While this should conceivably mean she was the first child born to Junius Brutus Booth (the man who would later sire the assassin, John Wilkes Booth) this is probably not the case.  Prior to his introduction to Adelaide the young and amorous Junius was not once, but twice sued for paternity in London courts.  Junius’ propensity for passion even prevents Amelia from being accurately described as his first legitimate child.  He married Adelaide Delannoy on May 8th, 1815 but Amelia was born not even five months later on October 5th.  As an aside this means that out of the 12 children sired by Junius Brutus Booth (plus two more if the above mentioned paternity suits are accurate), only one could truly be considered legitimate.  All of his children with Mary Ann Holmes were born out of wedlock since he was still married to Adelaide at the time.  This leaves his second son with Adelaide, Richard, his sole legitimate heir.

I have mentioned Amelia Portia Booth a couple times here and there especially in reference to her father’s early life. In one post I lamented that so little was known about her since she died in infancy.  Even the date of her death was unknown to me.  However, thanks to a generous email from a fellow researcher we now have an exact date of death for Junius’ little girl.

According to the England & Wales Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers accessed via, an “Amelia Booth” died on July 7th, 1816 at the age of 9 months. Her parish is recorded as St. George’s, Bloomsbury which is the same parish she was baptized in.

Click for full page record.

Click for full page record.

The benefactor of this information is New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini who has written several novels including Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival. She stumbled across my page and this piece of information while conducting research for a future novel she is working on which will include the Booth family.  My deepest thanks go to Ms. Chiaverini for sharing this discovery with us.

England & Wales Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers accessed via
Jennifer Chiaverini

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The Assassination…in Color!

The advent of photography allowed the Civil War to be documented in an unprecedented way.  Instead of relying solely on written accounts and hastily drawn sketches of the battlefield, photography allowed the horrors of war to be transmitted in painful detail to the masses.  In the 150 years that have passed since that great conflict, the black and white and sepia tinted images of the war have become well known and almost commonplace.  However, thanks to new technology and painstaking work by devoted enthusiasts/artists, we are now able to see Civil War scenes and figures almost exactly as they appeared in real life.  Instead of being trapped forever in black and white, these historic images are being reborn in color.

The following images are colorized versions of assassination related people and events.  They are the detailed work of two different men.  One of them is named David Richardson.  David owns and operates his own website, Civil War in Color, where he sells his colorized and 3D photographs.  The other artist is named Mads Madsen.  He is a twenty something year-old Denmark man with a passion for colorization.  His online gallery, which I encourage you all to visit and get lost in for awhile, contains hundreds of images that he has brought to life with his shockingly realistic colorization.  Just today, Mads released a colorized version of John Wilkes Booth and it is so extraordinary that I knew I had to share it.

Both men have been slowly developing and improving their techniques in order to create the most realistic images possible.  The images below come from different periods of that development, with some not being as refined as others.  They nevertheless provide a vivid and unique view of assassination related figures and events.

Work by Mads Madsen:

John Wilkes Booth by Mads Madsen

John Wilkes Booth by Mads Madsen

George Atzerodt by Mads Madsen

George Atzerodt by Mads Madsen

Samuel Arnold by Mads Madsen

Samuel Arnold by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell 1 Colorized by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell Before and After by Mads Madsen

Lewis Powell Before and After by Mads Madsen

The "Lincoln Hanging" by Mads Madsen

The “Lincoln Hanging” by Mads Madsen

Work by David Richardson:

David Herold by David Richardson

David Herold by David Richardson

George Atzerodt by David Richardson

George Atzerodt by David Richardson

Michael O'Laughlen by David Richardson

Michael O’Laughlen by David Richardson

Edman Spangler Colorized by David Richardson

Edman Spangler by David Richardson

Lewis Powell by David Richardson

Lewis Powell by David Richardson

The Execution by David Richardson

The Execution by David Richardson

I hope both men continue their impressive work.

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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Part 10

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

The tenth installment of my series “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” is now complete and available for viewing.

In this part I get some unexpected news and start walking towards the Potomac River.

To watch the video, you can either click on the image above and scroll down, click HERE to watch the video on YouTube, or play the embedded video below.

There is one final installment of “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” left to go. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this historical reenactment.

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Samuel Arnold’s Letter at the Lincoln Library and Museum

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum for the first time. Not to be confused with the Presidential library and museum in Springfield, Illinois, this museum is attached to Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.  As part of its charter, LMU has been collecting and displaying Lincoln and Civil War era artifacts since its founding.  In 1977, the collection moved to its current space in the form of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum building.

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum Harrogate, TN

While the museum itself is very impressive and has a plethora of Lincoln artifacts and images on display, I made prior arrangements to conduct research while I was there in order to see some of the assassination related objects they have in storage.  The day went by fast and I got to see and touch (with white gloves mind you) many relics connected to the death of Lincoln.  I’m especially grateful to Michelle Ganz, the head archivist there who was extremely friendly and helpful during my research into the collection.

One object that I got to see at the ALLM is the following letter.  It was written by conspirator Samuel Arnold in 1905.  Arnold, as you might recall, was a childhood friend of John Wilkes Booth who joined the actor in his initial plot to abduct President Lincoln.  When that plan fell through and it was clear that nothing of consequence could be done to save the Confederacy, Arnold bowed out of Booth’s plot.

Drawing of Sam Arnold done by military commission member Lew Wallace.

Drawing of Sam Arnold done by military commission member Lew Wallace.

After Booth assassinated Lincoln, Arnold was tried as a co-conspirator under the law of vicarious liability.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment and served about three and a half years at Fort Jefferson before he was pardoned by outgoing President Andrew Johnson in 1869.  Arnold held various jobs after being released from prison, the longest of which was as a butcher in Baltimore.  In his later years, however, he retreated from the world and the humanity contained therein.  He retired to farm in Ann Arundel County, Maryland where he spent his days in the presence of his animal companions.  In 1902, another man named Samuel Arnold died in Anne Arundel County and the press mistook him for the Lincoln conspirator.  After reading the poor obituaries he received, Arnold allowed his memoirs of his interactions with Booth to be published in the Baltimore American newspaper.

After his memoirs were published, at least a couple people decided to reach out to the hermit-like Samuel Arnold.  One interested man’s name was Al Emmett Fostell.  Fostell was a minstrel performer and theatrical manager with a deep interest in Abraham Lincoln.  He also owned and operated a traveling exhibit of Abraham Lincoln artifacts.  Fostell wrote to Arnold in 1904 with a simple request to have an autographed picture that he could add to his collection.  Arnold replied to Fostell saying that he had but one recent photograph of himself, it having been used to illustrate his memoirs in the Baltimore American.  “The negative of which,” Arnold wrote, “I suppose was destroyed during the conflagration which devastated the city of Baltimore, February 8th.”  Arnold wrote of the isolated nature of his surroundings and his own inability to get a photograph taken any time soon.  Fostell was not one to give up, however, and so a bit of a correspondence began between the two.  Over the next year the pair wrote intermittently to each other.  It was during this time that Arnold suffered several health problems including a broken hip and bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.  Eventually, however, Arnold found the time to travel to Washington and pose for a photograph.  He instructed Fostell to write to the photographer, J. Orville Johnson, so that a copy may be made from the negative in his possession.  “Should you write,” Arnold instructed him, “do not use my name as I had them taken under under the name of Mr. Charles M. Prout (to avoid notoriety) this is my adjoining neighbor.” Fostell did just that and, upon receiving the image of “Charles Prout” from the photographer, he sent the image to Arnold for his autograph.  Arnold attached his name, age and date to the photograph and also sent along the following letter, now in the collection of the ALLM.  The letter speaks volumes about Arnold’s opinion of his treatment by the government in 1865:

A Arundel Co Md
March 14th 1905

Mr. A. E. Fostell
Dear Sir,
Yours of the 10th at hand also Photo. I thank you for your kind wishes and trust the after part of my life, may have some little pleasures. At the age of 70 years and 6 months, I have attached my autograph to my photo, this 14th day of March 1905. Forty years have nearly passed since my young life was clouded and crushed, my reputation tarnished and character before unsullied destroyed through the venality of my country. When so robbed, after suffering agony, torture both of mind and body, incarceration in narrow cells, guarded by the Military arm of the U. States Govt. I prophesied that if convicted and deprived of my liberty by that unconstitutional Military commission (Lynch Law), before which perjury of the most glaring character as well as subordination of perjury the most dominant feature were resorted to that I would outlive each and every individual who took part in that unholy crime. How true my prophecy has been filled let the following decide. I have stood upon the river bank eagerly gazing upon Charon as he conveyed their bodies across the river Styx. The Secretary of War at that time, has long since been ferryed over. The Judge Advocate Genl and his associates have one by one passed over. Each members of the Court has followed in their wakes, accompanied by many if not all the witnesses of importance, the crowning wedge Genl. Lew Wallace lately has gone to meet his associates. Even those who zealously guarded us with their cordon of arms at the time, are with their former associates in that unknown world. Their victims are there also to meet them face to face, whilst I the only and last survivor still live, (Charon having completed his work) a sentinel upon its bank. Retributive justice has had its reward – pomp and power have been destroyed and innocence still lives, thru disease, sickness, tortures, irons, shackles, incarceration and machinations & all other evils attending therewith. Death of their victims either by the rope or imprisonment had been determined upon in the beginning, twas the intended goal contemplated for each, but I thank my God he preserved my life – a miracle, to conclusively establish that man the pigmy in his exalted power over his fellow man, to give life or death, as he may propose is powerless to enforce his edict against the power of his Creator. Every drop of ink consumed in chronicling upon the page of history of the country implying connection, knowledge or assistance rendered by me in that abominable & damnable crime, the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, is a base lie, and fully known at the time. Preston King and Genl Lane answered their question and demands, the former by finding a watery grave the latter by the bullet. All nations are guilty of similar crimes and will again happen in serving the ambitions of man. I await my end calmly and placidly when God will justly decide the guilt or innocence of all from the blood stained Secty of War to the most abject prisoner who sat before that Court in all its pomp, splendor & power. The body dies but the Spirit lives forever. This is my consolation.

Samuel Arnold Signature Fostell letter LMU

While the ALLM holds this letter from Samuel Arnold in their collection, they do not have the autographed photograph that once accompanied it.  That image was somehow acquired by the late Lincoln collector, Dr. John K. Lattimer. After Dr. Lattimer’s death, most of his vast collection was sold at auction, including Sam Arnold’s autographed picture:

Old Sam Arnold L

At least one other letter occurred between Arnold and Fostell following the latter’s receipt of the autographed photo. However, any further communication between the men would have been limited due to Samuel Arnold’s increasingly ill health and his subsequent death in September of 1906.

It is highly likely that Al Emmett Fostell added the letter and the photograph to his personal Lincoln exhibit.  The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum contains a vast collection of Lincoln related books and pamphlets, including a rare catalog of Fostell’s exhibit.  This catalog was made in 1904, before he had received Arnold’s photograph.  Nevertheless, Fostell had quite an extensive collection of Lincoln artifacts, especially assassination related ones.  A sampling of his collection follows below, or you can click HERE to view the whole catalog courtesy of the ALLM.

  • A playbill for “Our American Cousin” supposedly stained with Lincoln’s blood. Provenance: Mrs. Harry Clay Ford
  • Key to the box at Ford’s Theatre in which Lincoln was assassinated. Provenance: Joseph Sessford
  • Letters and portraits of Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln, Henry Rathbone, Pauline [sic] Harris, Laura Keene, Harry Hawk, the Ford brothers, John B. Wright (Ford’s stage manager), J. E. Buckingham (doorkeeper), Joseph Sessford (ticket seller), William Withers (orchestra director), H. B. Phillips (lyricist for “Honor to Our Soldiers), Boston Corbett.
  • Piece of lace curtain that draped the box. Provenance: R. A. Whitehand
  • Signed check by John Wilkes Booth
  • Set of tickets used on April 14th. Provenance: Joseph Sessford
  • Some of the printer’s type that was used to print the Ford’s Theatre playbills for April 14th. Provenance: R. O. Polkinhorn
  • A Ford’s Theatre ticket, dated March 27th, 1865, said to have been confiscated from Lewis Powell after his arrest.  The ALLM has this ticket in their collection today.
  • An original $100,000 reward poster for the conspirators.
  • Undertaker J. H. Weaver’s bill for the burial of John Wilkes Booth in Green Mount Cemetery. Provenance: Alex Russell foreman of Green Mount Cemetery
  • A piece of President Lincoln’s coat (the one from Alphonso Donn) from the night he was assassinated. The ALLM has a pieced of Lincoln’s coat in their collection today, possibly it is this one.
  • Ticket to the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson.

Al Emmett Fostell died in 1920 and his collection was sold off to various collectors. To this day you can still find his name as provenance for various auction pieces that were once housed in his traveling Lincoln exhibit.

Samuel Arnold was, at times, a contradictory individual. In his twilight years he chose to retire to a farm away from mankind. He had his photograph taken incognito to “avoid notoriety”. And yet, in contrast, he released a tell all memoir about his involvement with John Wilkes Booth and his mistreatment by the government. He was also a seemingly open correspondent to anyone who wrote to him inquiring about his life. It appears that Samuel Arnold’s desire to be left alone was always eclipsed by his need to clear his name and tell his story.

This letter, housed at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee, demonstrates that Arnold never truly recovered from the effects of 1865 and the stigma of those events followed him until his dying day.

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum
Heritage Auctions
Cowan’s Auctions
Harry Ransom Center
Art Loux Archive

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