Grave Thursday: Eaton Horner

Each week we are highlighting the final resting place of someone related to the Lincoln assassination story. It may be the grave of someone whose name looms large in assassination literature, like a conspirator, or the grave of one of the many minor characters who crossed paths with history. Welcome to Grave Thursday.


Eaton Horner

eaton-horner-grave

Burial Location: Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland

Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Eaton Horner was a detective working for Maryland Provost Marshal James L. McPhail in 1865. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Horner, along with another detective named Voltaire Randall, were tasked with hunting down and finding conspirator Samuel Arnold. The authorities had searched John Wilkes Booth’s belongings at the National Hotel and had found a suspicious letter signed by a man named “Sam”.

Sam letter signature

The letter was sent from a small village outside of Baltimore called Hookstown. The contents of the letter spoke of secret plots with sentences like, “You know full well that the G—t suspicions something is going on there; therefore, the undertaking is becoming more complicated.” When the identify of “Sam” was found out to be Samuel Arnold, a party traveled to Hookstown to the home of Arnold’s brother in order to arrest Sam.

arnold-home-in-hookstown

The Arnold home in Hookstown

However, when they arrived at Hookstown the detectives found that Sam Arnold was not there. He had found a job in Fortress Monroe, Virginia a couple of weeks earlier. With this information Eaton Horner and Voltaire Randall hopped on a ship and made their way to Fort Monroe. They arrested Arnold as he was sleeping in the small room in the back of the store where he worked. He was the first of the Lincoln assassination conspirators to be arrested. Arnold spoke freely to Horner and Randall and, when they returned him to Baltimore, he was presented with a letter from his father encouraging him to write a full confession of his involvement with John Wilkes Booth’s abduction plot. Arnold did this in the presence of Horner, Randall and another detective, William McPhail. I have previously posted Arnold’s confession here. Arnold was shipped down to Washington and imprisoned shortly thereafter.

Eaton Horner and Voltaire Randall tried in vain to receive a share of the reward money for their arrest of a Lincoln conspirator. Their initial request for reward money and accompanying recommendation from Provost Marshal James McPhail was passed over. But Horner and Randall decided to try and get a recommendation from someone with a little more clot, regardless of whether they knew him or not. The pair enticed a newspaper editor friend of theirs named C. L. Sanders  who had lived in Illinois during the Civil War to write a letter on their behalf to the former Governor of Illinois who was then a U.S. Senator from Illinois, Richard Yates:

“Balto. April 25th 1866
Hon. Rich’d Yates,
Dr Sir,
During the Presidential & Gubernatorial campaign of /64, it was my pleasing duty to edit the “Macomb Journal” McDonough Co. Ill & in that capacity met you on several occasions. My object in addressing you is to secure your interest in the behalf of two detectives who contributed more to the arrest of the Conspirators than any other parties. Mr. Eaton G. Horner & Mr. Voltaire Randall of this city arrested Arnold & gave the information which led to the arrest of Payne, Herold, & Atzerodt, & fastened the assassination of our great & fond President upon Booth. Because the arrest was made & the information given before any reward was offered, these two men have been deprived of any portion of the reward.
I would earnestly solicit your interest in their behalf & would refer you for fuller particulars in the case to Hon. Jno. L. Thomas, H. R. member from this city.
Hoping Sir, for your influence in this matter, I have the honor to remain
Very Respectfully,
Your obt. Servt
C. L. Sanders
221 Balt. St.
Balt. Md.”

Amazingly, even though neither Horner or Randall were constituents of Sen. Yates, and the fact that the former Governor had no idea who they were, he did send a letter on their behalf to the War Department:

“Washington DC
May 2, 1866
Hon. E. M. Stanton
Secretary of War
Sir,
I have the honor to refer to you, for your consideration, the enclosed letter of Mr. Sanders, in relation to the distribution of the awards in the conspiracy case.
If the facts stated by Mr. S. are correct, it would seem that the claim is a just one.
Very respectfully,
Your obt Svnt
Rich. Yates
Senator”

It was a valiant effort on the part of Eaton Horner and Voltaire Randall, but it did not help. No reward money was ever given for the arrest of Samuel Arnold.

Eaton Horner is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore. There are many others buried in Loudon Park including John T. Ford and his brother James, Ford’s Theatre stagehand Henry James, and George Atzerodt’s brother John Atzerodt who also worked from Provost Marshal James McPhail.

GPS coordinates for Eaton Horner’s grave: 39.281038, -76.677574

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Grave Thursday: Eaton Horner

  1. Wade Kirby

    Great effects with the snow; you go all out, and cover all the details. Kind of like this blog! Congrats!

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