Update: Finding George Atzerodt

UPDATE: We have verifying records as to the burial of a Taubert child in Feb. of 1869.  George is not in St. Paul’s.  Glenwood, here we come…

As is to be expected in the history field, no matter how confident you feel you “know” something, there’s always new information to be found.  In today’s case, I received some thorough and reliable comments on my previous post about George Atzerodt’s burial in St. Paul’s cemetery in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park.  The following comment comes from Sandy Harper, church historian for Martini Lutheran Church.  Martini Lutheran is the caretaker of St. Paul’s:

“The child buried on Feb. 1869 was named Freidrich Gottleib Herman Taubert, he was 29 days old and his birth and death are in Martini Lutheran Church’s records.”

This February of 1869 burial was thought to be the secret burial of George Atzerodt.  Though this idea was partially at odds with the plot records as written in the book, Records of St. Paul’s Cemetery, in my previous post I did my best reconciling the idea that a 29 day-old child of Gottlieb Taubert was actually the 29 [30] year-old brother-in-law of Gottlieb Taubert: George Atzerodt.  Ms. Harper’s new information that it was, in fact, a coincidence that the Taubert’s were burying a child close to the same time that George was in need of re-interment, certainly requires us to continue to look elsewhere.  While I’d like to believe the research of the Boothies before me, the evidence against it is stacking up, with both the cemetery record book and the detailed information from Ms. Harper pointing towards a child not a conspirator being buried in St. Paul’s.

So, I attempted to retrace the body of George Atzerodt.  On my way home from work I called Glenwood Cemetery in DC.  The gentleman I spoke to was very knowledgeable reiterating the story that George was kept in a holding vault in Glenwood after being brought there by his brother John.  He told me that beyond that, they have no further records of what happened.  The reason for this, I was told, is that in the late 1800’s, a disgruntled board member of the cemetery stole the interment book for the first 7,000 burials in Glenwood.  He walked off with them in the middle of a meeting, never to return.  The interment information for George, if he was buried in Glenwood, would have been in this first book.  The gentleman also informed me that he was told upon his initial employment at Glenwood in 1995, that it was the belief of the cemetery that George was in Glenwood in an unmarked grave.  Glenwood believes George is buried in their cemetery, they just don’t know where.  When I asked if there would ever be a way to know for sure, I was told the only remaining chance would be for someone to sit down and look thorough their 14 books of plat maps.  Technically, George’s burial would have to be noted on a plat map to make sure no one attempted to bury a body where one already was.  The man I spoke to stated that in the seventeen years he’s worked there, he has yet to come across George in a plat map.  However, he also said he has never gone through looking for him specifically, merely that in the course of his other work, George’s name has yet to show up.

So the opinion of those working at Glenwood seems to be that George never left their cemetery.  I have to say that newspaper accounts of 1869 do seem to agree with them.  Several articles mention the undertaker that was used for Atzerodt’s remains and how his body was placed in Glenwood’s receiving vault:

Despite the substitution of John’s name for his brother George, this article had the same information:

And lastly, this article mentions Atzerodt’s funeral in Glenwood:

The press of the day seemed to believe that George was buried in Glenwood.  As we know, though, they cannot always be reliable.

Just like we had for the St. Paul’s hypothesis, we are left with only circumstantial evidence regarding George’s final resting place being at Glenwood.  The last place to look for George seems to be Glenwood’s many plat maps.  However, even if a thorough search does not produce his name on a map, it is still possible that he is one of the unmarked, but occupied graves.  Sadly, it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure. Hopefully one day, I’ll make my way to Glenwood Cemetery to spend a day (or two) looking through their maps.

References:
Thank you to Sandy Harper for posting information about the Tauberts in St. Paul’s Cemetery.

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40 thoughts on “Update: Finding George Atzerodt

  1. Pingback: Finding George Atzerodt « BoothieBarn

  2. Fascinating, Dave! I have been conducting the very same type of research regarding Powell and also the Branson ladies. I, too would love to go thorough those Plat Books….

    Thanks a bunch!

  3. Rich Smyth

    Say it ain’t so Dave! I climbed over the fence for nothing?

    • Of course not, Rich. You climbed over the fence to visit the grave of Victoria and Mary Atzerodt; George’s mother and sister. I’m pretty confident you’ve done a lot more work than that for people a lot less famous. 🙂

  4. Laurie Verge

    Very interesting. I seem to vaguely remember the discussion about the baby being buried there at the same time that we suspected George was moved. Pep Martin is the one who did all the leg work on this thirty-five years ago, so let me check with him.

  5. Laurie Verge

    Any chance you can find a death certificate for that child?

    • Sandy Harper

      I will be sending Dave a copy of the death and name of the hild as recorded in Martini’s chucrh books.

      Sandy

  6. Julie

    Fascinating! I had believed the Taubert site being the place where he was buried but now it is most likely it really was a small child. I hope someone can pinpoint George’s grave location someday.

  7. rich smyth

    You are correct Dave. I did crawl under a fence ripping my shirt in a cemetery in South Dallas to take a picture of the grave of Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde fame).

  8. Laurie Verge

    I still have some digging to do, but I quickly perused some of the files from James O. Hall and John C. Brennan and found a tiny little problem that could answer this. Nowhere have I found them referencing that the Taubert burial on Feb. 19, 1869, was for a child. They are listing the age as 29 years – instead of 29 days. However, the papers do have a list of everyone buried in the lot at St. Paul’s and clearly state the child was 29 days and the child of Gottlieb Taubert (brother-in-law of George Atzerodt, who lived until 1925 and is buried there).

    The papers also show that John C. Atzerodt was in charge of receiving his brother’s body on February 17, 1869; he paid Glenwood $2 to open the vault. On March 23, John paid $12 to the cemetery from the $24 he owed for having a grave in lot 161, Section P at Glenwood.

    On October 4, 1869, however, John Atzerodt was charged another $24 by Glenwood for continued use of the vault (8 months at $3/month), plus an additional $14.50 for “site, dig & sodding.”

    Now comes the confusing part: Apparently the charges were never paid in full (anyone know when John C. Atzerodt died?), and the lot that supposedly held George’s body was sold or resold on March 13, 1871 to a Mr. Henry C. Stevens for $30 (John only owed $28.50). As of 1979, the lot was owned by Nellie Garfield; and those buried there were listed as David W. Stevens, Madeleine Lewis, and Kate and Falusi Garfield.

    John C. Atzerodt was a resident of Baltimore, but is not listed in the Taubert lot at St. Paul’s with his mother (last name spelled Asserat). Anyone know where he’s buried?? Also, he was a busy little bee on February 17-19, 1869, with receiving George’s body on the 17th, making sure he went to the holding vault at Glenwood on the 18th, and back to Baltimore for the funeral of his nephew on February 19, 1869. If I wanted to secretly bury my errant brother-in-law, I might be tempted to bury him in the same grave as that baby. But then, I’m a sneaky person…

    • Laurie,

      Thank you for the information regarding George at Glenwood. It looks like you know more than the people at Glenwood might. But Hall and Brennan must have gotten all that from somewhere.

  9. Laurie Verge

    Sorry – the last sentence above should read “errant brother” instead of “brother-in-law.”

  10. Rich Smyth

    Fantastic Laurie. With that info I bet Dave tracks George down. But I agree. There is still the possibility he was buried with the child. It would have been very convenient. I will bring the shovel.

  11. Laurie Verge

    I should have added that the Evening Star of D.C. reported that the remains were in bad shape and scattered inside the simple coffin when delivered from the Arsenal. The vial containing his name was inside, and the bones were not fully attached to each other. There is one reference to his back being rather hunched. I believe that there was a description of him being somewhat hunched over in appearance by someone who knew him at the trial.

    That said, it would make it easier to gather up the bones and transport them to Baltimore in something smaller than the walnut coffin that the press reported was supplied by the undertaker. Again, however, I’m only speculating.

    I fear that this quest for his true burial place may become one more moot question about the assassination – just like where Booth really broke his leg. So far, we can surmise, but we can’t prove. And that becomes my challenge to Dave… I certainly know that he is up to that research challenge.

    • While it appears we may never be 100% certain of George’s resting place, it is still seeming to be increasing unlikely that he is at St. Paul’s.

  12. Laurie Verge

    The 1979 research included conversations with a Mrs. Lehr regarding burials in St. Paul’s Druid Hill and correspondence with a Mr. Kennedy J. Watkins, then Superintendent of Glenwood and a member of the Board of Directors.

    Mr. Hall’s correspondence also mentions a Civil War researcher that he contacted in Perry Hall, Maryland. This gentleman said that an inventory of tombstones had been done for St. Paul’s in the 1930s (before vandalism took over) and that it had been filed with the Maryland Historical Society.

    Just some thoughts on places to dig through again.

    I must admit that Rich Smyth’s quest to locate graves has brushed off on me. I am not volunteering to be the perpetual chair of fundraisers for tombstones, but I do think that locating and marking graves related to our story is a worthwhile endeavor to assist future researchers.

    • Sandy Harper

      I called the Maryland Historical Soiety and they have no record of a tombstone inventory for
      st. Paul’s Cemetery in the 1930s

  13. rich smyth

    In his book The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln: Flight, Pursuit, Capture and Punishment of the Conspirators, written in 1901, Osborn H. Oldroyd mentions that Atzerodt “sleeps at Glenwood Cemetery, a mile north of the Capitol.”

  14. rich smyth

    Assuming Victoria Atzerodt attended the burial of her grandson in Baltimore on Feb. 19, 1869 that may have delayed the burial of George who had been placed in the public vault at Glenwood on Feb. 18th. Since John received a bill from Glenwood for “continued use of the public vault” on Oct. 4, 1869, could George have still be in the vault? Laurie raises a good question; when did John die? So, did Glenwood dispose of the remains, place his in a paupers grave or did the family eventually claim the body and bury him somewhere ( Glenwood, St. Paul’s on or after Oct. 4th)? Lets not overlook the possibility that he may still be in the vault.

  15. Laurie Verge

    If I’m reading the registry correctly, there were only two burials in Lot 90 at St. Paul’s Druid Hill before the 29-month-old in question with this debate, Feb. 19, 1869, and listed only as “child of Gottlieb Taubert.”

    All are listed as children of Gottlieb Taubert. The first died on April 12, 1865, at age 5 months (no name- only listed as “child of Gotlieb Taubert). The second died on Nov. 14, 1866, a daughter at age 5 years.

    The next burial isn’t until 1873 – a 17-year-old named Johann Roth; then in 1878 – a child of a Samuel Griffith. George Atzerodt’s mother, “Victoria Asserat,” was not buried there until 1886.

    I’m not sure why such lengths would have been taken to secretly bury George in that cemetery when none of his immediate family had been buried there — other than it was a German cemetery possibly attached to the church then being attended by the mother and other family members.

    My personal opinion at this point is that the confusion began first with the mixed up records at Glenwood and the resale of that plot and then in the 1980s with someone misreading the age of the “child” buried in St. Paul’s on February 19, 1869. The typed transcript that I’m reading clearly indicates the age as 29 months – not years, as stated in following correspondence.

    I may end up agreeing with Dave and Osborn Oldroyd on this…

    • Laurie,

      Here’s the residents of Lot 90 according to the book “Records of St. Paul’s Cemtery” by the Zimmermans:

      Sandy has informed me that the church lent the records to the Zimmermans to compile this book, but that they did not always record the name of children and spouses. She is sending me the full record with the names of these children. Though I’ve yet to see them, from everything she’s told me, there’s little doubt in my mind that the burial in the Taubert lot on February 19, 1869, was for a 29 day old Taubert child and not for George. As much as I’d like to believe that the family might have snuck him in at the same time, honestly there’s no evidence for that beyond wishful thinking. From everything we have learned, I don’t think George is at St. Paul’s. He might be at Glenwood, but not St. Paul’s.

      • Laurie Verge

        That is the exact same page that we have in our files, only it is at the top of a left-hand column that includes Lots 91 and 92. A right-hand column lists Lots 93-96. This came apparently from Mr. and Mrs. William Lehr of Martini Lutheran Church, whom Pep Martin met in 1982. They were then the keepers of the church records. Any idea when this booklet was produced by the Zimmermans?

        Let’s hope something new can be found in Glenwood because I think we’ve tapped out on St. Paul’s.

        • When I get home I’ll look at it and let you know when the Zimmerman book came out.

          Have you managed to reach Pep and ask him about all this?

          • Laurie Verge

            I don’t have an e-mail address for him, and frankly I’m a little hesitant to call him and tell him that we think his research is wrong. Pep is in his 80s and proud of having made his discovery on this and also on finding Mrs. Quesenberry’s house when others thought it was on the naval base at Dahlgren. I’ve seen the documentation on that, and it’s solid – right down to a verification by a Quesenberry descendant still living in the area.

            Let’s see what can be turned up at Glenwood before I have to break the bad news to him – if we can prove our thoughts.

            • That sounds very prudent, Laurie. Even if this particular idea is disproven, I do know we owe Pep a great deal for his research on Sam and Mike. I did not know he discovered Mrs. Quesenberry’s house too. Quite a find.

        • The Zimmerman record book is copyrighted 1992. It too thanks a Mr. Lehr for the St. Paul’s records.

  16. rich smyth

    Speaking for Osborn, he knew he was right all along.

  17. Laurie Verge

    I am really going out on a wild tangent here, but before all efforts end to find the elusive Mr. Atzerodt’s body, don’t forget to check on Prospect Hill Cemetery. I believe it is in fairly close proximity to Glenwood. More importantly, it was established by the German American community of Washington in 1858. I’m just wondering if George was held at Glenwood and then transferred to Prospect Hill when the “news event” died down??

    I can’t understand why Glenwood would have kept him in that vault until October. Holding vaults were temporary and usually designed to wait out winter until the frozen ground thawed in order to dig the grave. D.C. ground would have thawed by April. Maybe the news about the reburials of the conspirators lasted longer than April?

    Also, from what I can gather, Glenwood Cemetery now takes care of Prospect Hill Cemetery – and hopefully have their burial records.

    You’ll soon find that I try and offer alternatives on a variety of historical questions, so bear with me. In this case, I don’t think we should leave any stone unturned (pardon the pun).

  18. D.Hague

    This is all very interesting to me since John Atzerodt would be my Great-Great Grandfather. I would love to find out what happened to him. He and the family are found in the 1880 census. My great grandmother Hester and the family (William, Jennie, Marion, Annie, etc) were had changed their names to her maiden name Butler by 1900 (Census). I believe she is listed as John’s widow in the 1888 city directory. I would love to know where John disappeared to …and where George was buried.

    • Hi Debbie,

      This is Dave Taylor, the guy from Ancestry who has emailed you a couple of times. I’m so glad you found my site. I believe John Atzerodt was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in around 1910. I’m away from my research now so I can’t tell you the exact date of burial. As I think I emailed you, the area in which John is buried is one of single lots so there is no familial connections around him. Last we spoke you were going through some of your aunts possessions, did you ever come across pictures of John Atzerodt or your Butler relatives? I’d love to post some if you have them.

      Dave

      • Debbie Hague

        I love the site! I have found a picture of Jeannie and a few of William but I have not found any of Hester or John. Still looking and contacting cousins. Thanks for all the great information!

        • Debbie,

          Any chance you’d be willing to email me pictures of Jeannie and William to include on my blog? My email is BoothieBarn (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks,
          Dave

  19. Pingback: Graves of the Conspirators | BoothieBarn

  20. Dennis D. Urban

    Any new information since 2012 on the location of old George? Wished I still lived in the area to help search those Glenwood records.

    • Dennis,

      I’m afraid I have nothing new to report on the whereabouts of old George. Other projects and events have kept me from continuing the search and the seemingly dead end at Glenwood makes it difficult to know where to turn to next.

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