John Wilkes Booth’s Poetic Envelope

One of the more curious relics belonging to John Wilkes Booth, is a brief poem he wrote on the reverse of an envelope on March 5th, 1865.

Booth Hale Poem Envelope 3-5-1865 Sotheby's

There are some mysteries regarding this poetic envelope.  What does Booth’s poem say? Who wrote the second poem beneath Booth’s? Why were these poems written at all?  Let’s explore these questions as we analyze this piece on the 150th anniversary of its creation.

What Does Booth’s Poem Say?

This relic was first brought to the attention of the general public thanks to Carl Sandburg’s 1939 book, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Volume 4.  In writing and illustrating his book, Sandburg borrowed heavily from his friend and Lincoln collector, Oliver R. Barrett.  Barrett had a massive Lincoln collection and allowed Sandburg to include a small picture of these poems.  Sandburg also transcribed the poems and added the following context:

“On March 5 of ’65 signing his name to a verse on an envelope back:

Now, in this hour, that we part,
I will ask to be forgotten never.
But in thy pure and guiltless heart
Consider me thy friend dear Eva
J. Wilkes Booth

And the daughter of a United States Senator, her name protected during ensuing scandals, Eva joined her quoted lines on the same envelope back: ‘For all sad words from tongue or pen – the Saddest are these – It might have been,’ dating it March 5, 1865, In John’s room-“

When Barrett died in 1950, his Lincoln collection went up for auction.  In the 1952 auction catalog, this envelope was advertised thusly:

Booth Hale poem envelope Barrett catalog

The auction company, which heavily utilized Sandburg for his expertise, again concluded that Booth’s poem stated:

Now, in this hour, that we part,
I will ask to be forgotten never.
But in thy pure and guiltless heart
Consider me thy friend dear Eva
J. Wilkes Booth

A careful analysis, however, will show that this transcription has a few omissions and errors.  As knowledgeable as Carl Sandburg was, he was not a Booth expert and was  far more experienced reading the President’s writing as opposed to that of his assassin.  The true and complete text of Booth’s poem is as follows:

Now, in this moment
Now, in this hour, that we part,
I will ask to be forgotten, never
But in thy pure and guileless heart,
Consider me thy friend dear, Ever
J Wilkes Booth

Booth’s hasty scrawl pushed the final two letters in “ever” together to create, in lower quality copies, what appeared to be the single letter “a”.  However, after consulting a slightly better quality image of the envelope, like the one that begins this post, one can make out the slight gap separating the two letters.  “Ever” is also the logical conclusion as it completes the poem’s rhyme, while “Eva” does not.

This accidental, yet completely understandable substitution of the name “Eva” as the final word in the poem instead of the correct word, “Ever”, caused a great deal of confusion and speculation among Booth historians who consulted Sandburg’s book and the Barrett catalog.  Theodore Roscoe, author of the 1959 book, The Web of Conspiracy, trusted Sandburg’s account to include his own mention of the nonexistent “Eva” as having, “dallied for some time in a state of betrothal with the amorous actor.”  While Roscoe had the name wrong, he was not far off from the truth.

Who Wrote the Second Poem?

The larger poem, comprising the bulk of the envelope back states the following:

“For of all sad words from
tongue or pen.
The saddest are these –
It might have been.”
March 5th 1865
In John’s room –

The text of this poem is a quote from John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1856 poem, “Maud Muller.  The individual who wrote these lines on the envelope was John Wilkes Booth’s secret fiancée, Lucy Hale, daughter of United States Senator John Parker Hale.

Lucy Hale

CDV of Lucy Hale that was found in John Wilkes Booth’s possession when he was killed

Though the poem is unsigned, handwriting analysis conducted by researcher James O. Hall concluded that this second poem was indeed written by Lucy Hale. Booth and Miss Hale had been acquainted since 1863, when Miss Hale witnessed the actor perform in Washington and sent him a congratulatory bouquet of flowers.  The relationship between the two had flourished after Booth stopped touring and spent more time in Washington in the months leading up the assassination.  Both John Wilkes Booth and the Hale family lodged at the National Hotel in Washington.  This easily explains Lucy’s presence in his room on March 5th, though it would have still been against social custom.  By that date they were engaged, albeit secretly.  An actor, even one as famous and acclaimed as Booth, was still considered a poor match for woman of high class such as Miss Hale.  Even after the assassination, when Lucy was racked with grief over the actions of her fiancée, the authorities still protected her honor by being careful not to publicly disclose their intimate involvement.  She was quickly whisked away to Spain where her father had been appointed as an ambassador.

Why were these Poems Written?

The poems written by John Wilkes Booth and Lucy Hale are heartfelt lines that speak of remembrances and separation.  Due to this a couple of authors have written possible explanations for them.  Michael Kauffman, author of American Brutus, suggests that these lines were written by John Wilkes and Lucy as they lamented Lucy’s future departure for Spain:

“March 5, the morning after the inauguration, was bleak and cheerless for Booth and Lucy Hale.  They sat in Booth’s room at the National Hotel commiserating on life’s troubles and despairing of future happiness. They might not have a life together; Lucy would soon accompany her father to Spain, where he was about to begin his duties as an ambassador.  The emptiness of the moment reminded Lucy of Whittier’s “Maud Muller,” and she jotted down some lines on an envelope…Booth added a few lines of his own”

In Terry Alford’s upcoming book, Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth, he paints an even sadder picture regarding the circumstances of these poems’ creation:

“The day after the inauguration, Booth and Lucy ended their courtship.  The timing suggests that his odd behavior had attracted the notice of her family.  Or their parting may have been due to the fact that the Hales were leaving Washington.  His term in the Senate having expired, Hale was moving his family to prepare for his new assignment as American minister to Spain.

Booth and McCullough had shared their room during the inaugural crunch with John Parker Hale Wentworth, Lucy’s first cousin.  Wentworth proved a handy go-between for their courtship.  Now he offered a final service.  He handed Booth an envelope from Lucy.  If there was a letter inside, it is long gone.  The envelope survives.  On it Lucy copied the celebrated lines from John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “Maud Muller”…Wentworth gave the envelope to Booth, who added his own sentiment just above Lucy’s…”

As much as I respect and admire these two authors, I believe them both to be mistaken in regards to the nature of these poems.  The reason I don’t agree with Kauffman and Alford’s theories that the poems are mournful notes between John Wilkes Booth and Lucy Hale is due to the fact that Lucy’s father, John Parker Hale, had not yet been appointed minister of Spain when these poems were written.  Senator Hale may have been petitioning for the position on March 5th, but he was not nominated for it until March 10th.  In fact, the position was still very much in play on March 7th, two days after these poems were written.  On that day, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles recalled having a cabinet meeting during which Secretary of State William Seward offered the position of Minister to Spain to anyone in the cabinet.  This was intended to be a kind gesture towards Secretary of the Interior John Usher, who had lost his political base and was being forced out of Lincoln’s cabinet.  No one, including Usher, responded to the offer.  John Usher tendered his resignation to Lincoln on March 9th without inquiring about the ambassador position and so Seward found John Parker Hale for the job.

Senator John Parker Hale, Lucy Hale's father

Senator John Parker Hale, Lucy Hale’s father

Rather than being dejected poems of loss written by John Wilkes Booth and Lucy Hale for each other, I believe these poems are the couple’s farewell messages to Lucy’s cousin, John Parker Hale Wentworth.  I believe that Kauffman and Alford are both missing one key piece of evidence regarding this relic: the contents written on the front side of the envelope.

The Front Side of the Envelope

From the 1952 Barrett auction catalog, we know that there is some writing on the front side of this envelope.  For one, the enveloped is franked with the name of John Conness.  Franking was a practice at the time in which members of Congress, the President, cabinet members and other elected officials could send mail without the need of a stamp.  The official in question would sign his name in the top right corner of an envelope and that would be as good as a stamp for the postal service.  Officials pre-signed hundreds of envelopes for later use in this way.  The envelope with Booth and Lucy’s poems was signed by John Conness who was a Senator from California.

The 1952 auction catalog also states that the front of the envelope has, “a three line quotation with a note” on it.   While the catalog provides the note, written by John Parker Hale Wentworth, it does not give the quotation.  For that we must consult a more recent auction.  After being purchased in the 1952 auction for $210, the poetic envelope disappeared for many years.  Assassination researcher James O. Hall tried to locate it but to no avail.  Finally, in 2004, it popped up in a Sotheby’s auction.  From their archived auction page, we finally learn that the full text on the envelope’s front is:

“Touched by change have all things been
Yet I think of thee as when
We had speech of lip and pen.”

Beneath this, in the same hand is the sentiment:

“The above, though quoted, are the real sentiments of your friend, who trusts that the acquaintance and friendship formed will never be forgotten by either, Jno P. M. W.”

The poem John Parker Hale Wentworth quotes from is entitled “Remembrance“.  It was written by the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, the same author of Lucy’s, “Maud Miller” excerpt.

Wentworth, Booth, and Lucy

While John Parker Hale Wentworth and Lucy Hale were first cousins, they do not appear to have been particularly close growing up.  There was quite an age difference between them with Wentworth having been born in Maine in 1828 and Hale in New Hampshire in 1841.  In 1849, Wentworth, then 21, made his way to California to seek his fortune.  He would reside in California for the rest of his life.  In about 1862 or so, Wentworth was appointed the Indian Affairs Agent of Southern California by Abraham Lincoln himself.  Whether Wentworth wrote to his Senator uncle, John Parker Hale, for some assistance in gaining this position is unknown, but it’s clear that Wentworth was grateful to President Lincoln for the job.  He was also apparently well suited for it with newspapers reporting that, “Mr. Wentworth has worked miraculous changes in the condition of the Indians in this district; more particularly of the degenerated, wasting tribes of this vicinity.”

With Lincoln’s re-election in 1864, Wentworth made the decision to travel from California to Washington, D.C.  His motives for travelling aren’t known for sure.  He may have just desired to be present at Lincoln’s second inauguration and hoped to thank the President for granting him his position.  Or, perhaps he was like many other office seekers, looking to advance himself further in California’s political circle.  Regardless, he arrived in D.C. and took up lodging at the National Hotel, where his uncle and cousins resided. On February 22, 1865, he checked into a room with John Wilkes Booth and another actor named John McCullough.

John Wilkes Booth Gutman 23

It was probably during this time that Wentworth had his first real opportunity to get to know his younger cousin Lucy, who was 8 years old when he left for California and was now a beautiful lady of 24.  Being Booth’s roommate, Wentworth would have undoubtedly been aware of the relationship between his little cousin and the actor. The three of them likely spent time together, with Booth displaying his amazing ability to connect deeply with people.

In his free time leading up to the inauguration, it seems plausible that Wentworth would have wanted to report to his Congressmen on the condition of Indian affairs in his section of the state.  This would have put him into the offices of his Senator, John Conness.  This, I believe, explains Conness’ franked signature on the poetic envelope.  Perhaps Coness offered Wentworth some franked envelopes with which to send future correspondence, or maybe Wentworth decided to help himself to an envelope.  Wentworth seems to be the only logical intermediary between the office of Senator John Conness and John Wilkes Booth.

Though I have not been able to track Wentworth’s movements, it appears he departed Washington right after the inauguration.  In those days it was quite a long journey back to California, requiring steamboat travel to Panama, a train ride across the isthmus, and a second long steamboat journey to California.  It is not unreasonable to assume that Wentworth decided to begin his journey as soon as possible.  Even the very next day after the inauguration.

A Farewell Among Friends

With all of this in mind, I submit that the poetic envelope displayed above initially held John Parker Hale Wentworth’s farewell message to either his cousin, Lucy, his roommate, Booth, or to them both as a couple.  In this scenario, Wentworth wrote a note, placed it in an envelope he had received from John Conness’ office, and wrote Whittier’s “Remembrance” poem on the front.  He then either presented it or left the note for Lucy & Booth.  Lucy opened the envelope and read the contents.  She then wrote her own Whittier poem on the back of the envelope.  Given its position, it appears that Booth’s response was an after thought. Since Lucy used all of the space on the back of envelope, Booth squeezed his own poem on the top flap.  The envelope, but not the contents, was then given back to Wentworth as a representation of the couple’s affection.

The above is, of course, just a theory, but it is a theory that I believe logically explains how poems from John Wilkes Booth, Lucy Hale and John Parker Hale Wentworth all came to be on a single envelope franked by Senator John Conness.

References:
American Brutus by Michael Kauffman
Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth by Terry Alford
John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Art Loux
The Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection Auction Catalog
The Web of Conspiracy by Theodore Roscoe
Sotheby’s Auctions
Right or Wrong, God Judge Me: The Writings of John Wilkes Booth edited by John Rhodehamel and Louise Taper
Ancestry.com
News Notes of California Libraries, Volume 14
“Indian Affairs in Southern California”, Daily Alta California, January 24, 1863
Mr. Lincoln’s White House: Cabinet
Diary of Gideon Welles
Special thanks to Roger Norton for providing me with Carl Sandburg’s quote in a pinch
Kate Ramirez

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33 thoughts on “John Wilkes Booth’s Poetic Envelope

  1. Herb Swingle

    I feel that Booth was a master at using women to get what he set out to get.Oh,was he a con-man,or what?

  2. John Goddard

    Well-reasoned and researched post. Thanks!

  3. Rich smyth

    Who wrote this, Kate or Dave? Either wy, I really enjoy these mysteries! Thanks!

    • Rich,

      I wrote this post. Kate knows a great deal about Lucy Hale which I why I consulted her frequently and included her as a reference.

      I’m glad you liked the post.

      Dave

      • Allen Koenigsberg

        Hi,

        Fascinating research! Do we (you) know why Booth (or whoever) was holding this Benefit for John McCullough? Why did they room together for so long, since Feb 22, 1865? In which hotel?

        Thanks.

        Allen

  4. I second John Goddard.

    One thing I wondered about is whether anyone has followed up on a question concerning Booth’s other serious love story, the one with Isabel Sumner.

    In Right or Wrong, God Judge Me, there’s a suggestion that Sumner might have been related to Senator Charles Sumner, the distinguished Abolitionist from Massachusetts. My Internet research of the Sumner family trees suggests that there is indeed a not-very-far-back link.

    Right or Wrong God Judge Me Reference.

  5. I actually saw that envelope at the Lincoln Exhibition, Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Ca. back in 2013 and posted the photo on Spirits of Tudor Hall Facebook page.

  6. That theory makes a great deal of sense to me. Have you ever investigated whether Lucy was taken to see Booth’s body on the Montauk?

  7. You’ll need to zoom in on the photo. Sorry for the poor picture quality. It was hard to take any photos of the items since it was dark inside and I kept getting glares (if you know what I mean).

  8. rich smyth

    Hi Dave – the relic was sold at Sotheby’s on 12/3/2004 (lot 356) for $24,000 to Louise Taper. It was then part of the collection appraised for sale (2007) to the Lincoln Library & Museum (Springfield). I have emailed James Cornelius there to confirm.

    • Thanks, Rich. I had suspected Louise Taper was the buyer.

    • Rich,

      Not to second guess you, but I had come across a document from the ALPLM regarding the sale of the Taper collection when I was trying to figure out where the envelope was today. From the paper I found, however, the envelope was only referenced in terms of setting value to the other items in the Taper collection. It was a reference for the appraisal of the rest of the Booth relics. I’m glad you are verifying that it is, indeed, part of the Taper collection sold to the ALPLM.

      Dave

  9. Jenny

    Excellent post! Thank you for making it. Love the analysis of the poems – Booth definitely crammed in his lines at the top after Lucy Hale wrote hers! It makes sense that it would be to Mr. Wentworth or else maybe they were having a melancholy moment about something or other.

    (Have to admit that I read a few preview pages of “Fortune’s Fool” and I really hope that after I read the entire thing, I will feel better about it. The preview wasn’t impressive in my opinion although I won’t go into why just because I don’t want to judge prematurely. Dr. Alford has done great work researching and writing in the past though so I am keeping my fingers crossed.)

  10. rich smyth

    Dave, I just spoke to James Cornelius (curator, Lincoln collection Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum) and he says they do not own it and he does not think Taper owned it either so you are correct about the reference in the appraisal article. Sorry for the confusion.

  11. Thank you. Your theory seems sound to me. FWIW, I wouldn’t mind hearing/reading about your theories etc…in comparison to those proposed by past authors. The Web of Conspiracy has always been a favorite. It was the very first book I read about the Lincoln conspiracy that held my interest.
    I wonder what you think of the book The Mad Booths of Maryland and others.
    Also, I, too, believe Booth was a charmer but not just with women. I believe he used and charmed men as well, especially David Herold. I’m curious as to your take on that relationship. In the back of my mind, I have thoughts lingering about David but all thoughts are fuzzy. Was it hero worship or his belief in the cause that took him to Garrett’s Barn.
    I always enjoy reading your posts when I have the opportunity. Possibly you’ve discussed the subjects above. If so, please direct me to any links.

  12. Pingback: Flip the Envelope: A New Interpretation Of One Of John Wilkes Booth’s Final Letters | Memorie

  13. This interesting thread to this most interesting site is getting more interesting by the minute!

    * * *

    Was Isabel Sumner Related to Sen. Charles Sumner?

    Here’s why I think that Rhodehamel and Taper are correct to suggest that Booth girlfriend (of the pearl ring) Isabel Sumner was related to abolitionist hero Sen. Charles Sumner.

    According to this lineage book from the Daughters of the American Revolution, Isabel Sumner was the great-granddaughter of Lieut. William Sumner and his wife Mary Pond: LINK

    Per this appendix from the Memoir of Increase Sumner, Governor of Massachusetts, Lieut. William Sumner was the brother of Job Sumner, who had a son also named Job Sumner (but who subsequently changed his name to Charles Pinckney Sumner), who was an abolitionist and the father of Sen. Charles Sumner: LINK

    To confirm the trail from Lieut. William Sumner to Isabel Sumner, I went to Ancestry.co.uk. Their records confirm that Lieut. William Sumner’s son Rufus Pond Sumner had a son named Charles Henry Sumner. Their records also show that Charles Henry Sumner had a daughter named “Isabella” Sumner with the same birth year (1847) as the Isabel Sumner described so vividly in Right or Wrong, God Judge Me:

    1) http://records.ancestry.co.uk/rufus_pond_sumner_records.ashx?pid=7260022
    2) http://records.ancestry.co.uk/charles_henry_sumner_records.ashx?pid=60055495
    3) http://records.ancestry.co.uk/isabella_sumner_records.ashx?pid=72231086
    4) LINK

    The question I have yet to answer is whether the man who presided over Isabel Sumner’s wedding, Edward Everett Hale (who wrote the Union-supporting classic “The Man Without a Country”), is related to Lucy Hale. I also wonder, of course, whether Edward Everett Hale was related to Nathan Hale. I hope other readers of this site will fill in the gaps.

  14. Heather Michon, author of the blog, Memorie, wrote about my interpretation of John Wilkes Booth’s poetic envelope. Read her evaluation here:
    Flip the Envelope: A New Interpretation Of One Of John Wilkes Booth’s Final Letters

    Here’s the comment I left on her post:

    “Heather,

    Thank you so much for sharing my interpretation regarding this envelope. You were able to express it all in such a concise way, that I wish I had asked you to write my initial post!

    One thing that I chose not to add in my post was the mysterious provenance of the envelope. It actually wasn’t found with Booth’s items at the National, which is why I suggested it traveled with Wentworth back to California, though there’s no way to be certain.

    Working backwards, I discovered that before coming into Oliver Barrett’s collection, the envelope was owned by Charles Gunther. Gunther was an extremely wealthy candy manufacturer in Chicago with a massive and extensive collection of Civil War items. Gunther actually purchased, dismantled, and rebuilt Libby Prison in Chicago to serve as a museum for his collection. Gunther also made an effort to purchase both the Petersen House where Lincoln died and the Surratt Tavern where Booth stopped on his escape in hopes of taking them apart and rebuilding them in his hometown (https://boothiebarn.com/2012/08/26/visit-the-surratt-tavern-inchicago-il/). He was a truly fascinating man.

    Gunther had acquired the envelope in 1887 from a woman named Helen Elston Smith. Ms. Smith was the niece of former Indiana Senator Henry Smith Lane. In 1887 she was living in Lane’s home in Crawfordsville, Indiana, the Senator having died in 1881. Ms. Smith would later inherit the house after Senator Lane’s wife passed.

    Coincidentally, the Lane home was (and still is) right next door to the home of General Lew Wallace, who was one of the commission members at the trial of the Lincoln conspirators.

    How Ms. Smith got her hands on this envelope, I have no idea. Maybe Wentworth or one of the Hales presented it to Senator Lane, which then passed to Ms. Smith after his death. Perhaps she got it from General Wallace, her neighbor, in some way. It is an enduring mystery.

    Finally, I, too, read Carlos Lozada’s article questioning whether there is any more of value to be written about Lincoln. In 1936, a speech by James G. Randall was printed in The American Historical Review. It was called, “Has the Lincoln Theme been Exhausted?” Even then, Randall aptly stated:

    ‘The general reader, vaguely aware of the multitude of Lincoln writings, or the historian who has specialized elsewhere, might suppose that the Lincoln theme has been sufficiently developed. If, however, one finds that in the sources there is both spade work and refining work to be done, that the main body of Lincoln manuscripts is closed to research, that no definitive edition of the works is to be had, that genuine Lincoln documents are continually coming to light while false ones receive unmerited credence, and that collateral studies bearing upon Lincoln are being steadily developed, then any conclusion as to the exhaustion of the theme would appear premature. If the investigator further discovers that there are obscure points to be searched, disputed points to be pondered, lacunae to be filled, revisionist interpretations to be applied or tested, excellent studies yet to be published, others in progress, valuable projects still to be undertaken, and finally, that an adequate, full-length biography (comparable, let us say, to Freemans new life of Lee) is still in the future, then he realizes that, far from being exhausted, the field is rich in opportunity.’

    It’s been almost 80 years since Randall spoke those words, and he is still right today. The Lincoln theme will never be exhausted. Even what may seem like trivial products, like a book about Lincoln’s dog or a blog post about John Wilkes Booth’s envelope, add to our insight of the 16th President.

    Thanks again.

    Sincerely,

    Dave Taylor
    BoothieBarn.com”

  15. Herb Swingle

    I think Libby Prison was originally in Richmond,Va.

  16. To follow up on the question of the Hale relationships–whether Lucy Hale is related to Edward Everett Hale and whether they are both related to Nathan Hale–the answer is yes.

    Attached is a Hale family tree. It shows that Lucy Hale’s father, Sen. John Parker Hale, and Edward Everett Hale, both famous anti-slavery advocates, were descendants of Samuel Hale (1687-bef. 1732) and Apphia Moodey (1693-1753). Samuel and Apphia were their great-great-grandparents.

    The family tree also shows that Edward Everett Hale and Sen. John Parker Hale were both related to hero of the Revolutionary War and spy Nathan Hale. Samuel and Apphia Hale were Nathan Hale’s grandparents. Indeed, Nathan Hale’s father Richard Hale was Edward Everett Hale’s great-grandfather.

    http://www.wainwrightfamily.org/halefhr.html

    For more information about the anti-slavery careers of Edward Everett Hale and Sen. John Parker Hale, this reference guide is very helpful:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=pYNRAAAAYAAJ&pg=PT408&lpg=PT408&dq=john+parker+hale+first+avowedly+anti-slavery+member&source=bl&ots=ZoHR0ltL9E&sig=PeHDZ2DofjCOxTm1oev9A6ZCaLE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Pe4CVZbYLY-SyQTHmoLoBQ&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=john%20parker%20hale%20first%20avowedly%20anti-slavery%20member&f=false

    I have not yet traced the lineage of John Wilkes Booth’s roommate, John Parker Hale Wentworth, but I believe you when you say that he and Lucy Hale were first cousins. I would love to know more.

    I would also love to know more about any relationship between Edward Everett Hale (who presided over the wedding of John Wilkes Booth’s sometime girlfriend Isabel Sumner) and Sen. John Parker Hale (father of John Wilkes Booth’s sometime girlfriend Lucy Hale). Genealogy is fascinating to me in the context of New England abolitionism. To me, it would be hard to believe that Edward Everett Hale and Sen. John Parker Hale never met. Indeed, it would be hard to believe that they never met several times.

    Food for thought.

    • Sally

      Regarding Lincolntom’s comment about the geneology of JPH Wentworth, this may help. I believe he was the son of John Parker Hale’s sister, Mary Jane Parker Hale (b. 1-28-1808), who married Thomas Wentworth. John P. Hale was one of about a dozen siblings, and it seems at least a couple of them used to hit him up for money rather frequently. I had the opportunity to read through the Hale papers at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord a couple years ago. I found a letter to John P. Hale from one of his sisters complaining because he would not give her and her husband the small sum she had asked him for, and telling him how unfair he was being, knowing, as he did, how hard her husband was trying to make it. If memory serves correctly the letter was from Mary Jane Wentworth. Maybe JPHale helped JPH Wentworth get the job with the Indian Agency to get his parents off his back???

      • Very interesting response, Sally! I’m going to have to hit the books again, and the computer keyboard keys…. 😉

  17. Gosh, I found such an interesting anecdote I have to post a link. Check out pages 291-292 of this book from the Illinois State Historical Society. It contains an anecdote allegedly told be Edward Everett Hale in which he introduces the young Robert Todd Lincoln in 1859 to the powers that be at Harvard College (accompanied by a letter from Stephen A Douglas). Hale supposedly asserted that he was, at the time, the only person in those parts who had ever heard of Abraham Lincoln. Is this story true?

    N.B., the link below takes you to the index to the book in question. From there you have to click on the link to pages 291-292. It’s well worth it!

    https://books.google.com/books?id=AB0LAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA403&lpg=PA403&dq=benjamin+lincoln+abraham+lincoln+everett+edward+hale&source=bl&ots=MhiAmaDcEe&sig=gvFK7u8kUaa4WXm9fXwZvCKIUK4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5jwMVYO1DISoNrrrg8gF&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=benjamin%20lincoln%20abraham%20lincoln%20everett%20edward%20hale&f=false

  18. Correction–not only is there a typo in the comment above, but also it is Harvard faculty member Lowell who is said to have said that only he had ever heard of Lincoln. Hale is merely relating the story, third-hand!

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