About the Blog:
The story is a well known one: On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. His tragic death the next morning was a stunning blow to a country that had just begun to emerge from the dark shadow of a Civil War that had lasted four long years. Instantly, and appropriately, Lincoln became an American saint. He gave his last, full measure for the country and was struck down just after completing his goal. Abraham Lincoln’s actions and resolve have earned him the title of our country’s greatest president. His story is told all over this country and it is said that Lincoln is one of the most written about figures after Jesus Christ.
But, there is another part of this story. It is the story of a young actor driven to extremes. It is the story of a group of conspirators who were determined to strike back against a government that, they believed, had destroyed the United States they had known and loved. It is the stories and facts about these individuals that this blog hopes to share. Not because we agree with their actions or because we share their beliefs. We learn about them because the darker parts of history can shed the most light on the past. While the actions they took were abhorrent, the sentiments that motivated those actions were shared by many.
There was a time when those who studied the assassination of Abraham Lincoln were looked down upon by mainstream Lincoln historians. Focusing on the end of Lincoln’s life was deemed macabre and those who studied it were accused of sympathizing with the assassin. The history of the assassination and its characters was largely ignored by popular Lincoln historians. Those who delved too much into learning about John Wilkes Booth and his conspiracy were derogatorily called “Boothies”. However, in recent years, a beneficial shift in thinking has occurred. More and more, historians are coming to understand the importance of those dramatic days in April, 1865 and how they relate to Lincoln’s legacy. While still a horrific crime, it is no longer a period of time to ignore or to speak of in hushed tones. As individuals who study the Lincoln assassination today, the authors of this blog retain the name of “Boothies”. This does not mean we condone the actions of the assassin. Rather, our moniker states our commitment to studying, analyzing, and interpreting the actions of John Wilkes Booth and others involved in the great American drama that is the Lincoln assassination. Ignoring and dismissing the lives and of the men and women involved in the conspiracy does a great disservice to history and to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. We cannot truly honor and appreciate Lincoln without understanding the complexity of his death.
The content of this site varies between serious pieces of scholarly research, travelogues by the authors, and the occasional pieces of levity, which is needed when dealing with such a dark subject manner. All posts, however, from the serious to the trifling, relate to or demonstrate how the assassination of Lincoln has impacted our world. We hope that this blog will be a worthwhile educational source for information about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It is a fascinating chapter of history and deserves to be explored and shared.
We invite you all to follow this blog by email or just come back from time to time. Together, we’ll learn about the death of Abraham Lincoln and the enigmatic man in a burning barn who caused it.
About the Authors:
My name is Dave Taylor and I am an elementary school teacher. For many years, I have been fascinated by the events of April, 1865. As a child growing up in Illinois, I never understood how anyone could kill Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President. I started doing more serious reading and research on the matter in high school when I was introduced to the Stephen Sondheim musical, Assassins. Ever since then, I have found that the rabbit hole that is the Lincoln assassination is infinitely deep. There are countless branches to the story which all provide fascinating insights into the minds of those involved.
In 2012, I moved from Illinois to the state of Maryland. Being so close to the nation’s capital and the escape route of the assassin has given me the chance to explore my favorite period of history in person. Sharing my visits to the many historical places around me through this blog has become my favorite activity.
In addition to writing and maintaining this blog, I am one of the guides for the John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tour organized by the Surratt Society. We provide a narrated 12 hour tour of John Wilkes Booth’s escape, from Ford’s Theatre all the way to the site of his death near Port Royal, Virginia. The Surratt Society puts on several tours each spring and fall and also caters to groups that would like to schedule their own private bus tour. Visit the Surratt House Museum website for more information.
Both Kate and I enjoy giving speeches and presentations about different aspects of the Lincoln assassination story. A list of our former speaking engagements, press appearances, and published articles outside of this blog appears at the end of this page.
I’m Kate Ramirez, tour guide, living historian, and 19th century murder investigator, specializing in the Lincoln assassination, the Lizzie Borden murders, and the case of the “Devil in the White City” multi-murderer, Dr. H. H. Holmes. Born and raised just outside of New York City, I first encountered the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on a trip to Ford’s Theatre. That interest set up base camp in my brain and now pays rent there in the form of information.
I always found fascination with the underdogs of history, wanting to learn why seemingly normal people turned to the twisted choices that eventually defined them. This thinking drew me to study those who strove to change themselves and their situations by way of murder.
The Lincoln assassination conspirators are long gone. They can no longer tell their own stories. It is up to the historians to become voices for those who cannot speak and try to piece together the puzzle of the past.
In addition to researching and speaking, I am a docent at the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum and in Historic Port Tobacco Village. When off the clock, you can often find me covered in dirt, tending to my adopted burial plot in Congressional Cemetery.
Questions, comments, or inquiries about speaking engagements can be sent to: boothiebarn (at) gmail (dot) com
Speaking Engagements, Press, and Tours by Dave and Kate:
Previous speaking engagements:
- “Southern Hospitality: The Garrett Family and John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at the 14th annual Surratt Society Conference, March 16, 2013
- “John Wilkes Booth and the Garrett Family” by Dave Taylor for Historic Port Royal’s general membership meeting, April 22, 2014
- “The Lincoln Conspirators” – Dave Taylor panelist with Michael Kauffman and Kate Clifford Larson at the Lincoln Group of New York, March 28, 2015
- “A House Divided: Edwin and John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Tudor Hall, April 12 & September 13, 2015.
- “A History of Rich Hill: A Stop on the Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Rich Hill Farm for Charles County’s Lincoln 150th Weekend, April 18 & 19, 2015
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Veteran Motor Car Club of America’s 2015 National Heritage Antique Car Tour, April 19, 2015
- “The Death of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at the unveiling of the new highway marker for the Garrett farm site at the Port Royal Museum of American History, April 26, 2015
- “Mr. W: Friend of American Liberty” by Dave Taylor at Historic Port Royal’s 16th Annual Fourth of July event, July 4, 2015
- “Inter Arma Silent Leges: The Wrongful Execution of Mary E. Surratt” by Kate Ramirez at the Society for Women and the Civil War Conference, July 26, 2015
- “Inter Arma Silent Leges: The Wrongful Execution of Mary E. Surratt” by Kate Ramirez for Historic Port Royal’s general membership meeting, July 28, 2015
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth: Rich Hill and Garrett’s Farm” by Dave Taylor at the Historical Society of Charles County, October 24, 2015
- “Behind the Walls of Rich Hill” by Kate Ramirez and Dave Taylor at Rich Hill Historic Site, November 1, 2015
- “Southern Hospitality: The Garrett Family and John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the King George County Historical Society, November 19, 2015
- “Choose Your Own Path: The Lincoln Assassination” by Kate Ramirez and Dave Taylor at the Charles County Public Schools HITS Expo, March 19, 2016
- “Rosalie Booth: The Eldest Sister of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Tudor Hall, April 3 and October 9, 2016
- “Inter Arma Silent Leges: The Wrongful Execution of Mary E. Surratt” by Kate Ramirez at the 17th annual Surratt Society Conference, April 9, 2016
- “The Collision of the USS Massachusetts and the Black Diamond” by Kate Ramirez and Dave Taylor at St. Clement’s Island Museum, April 24, 2016
- “Booth arrives at the Peyton House skit” by Kate Ramirez, Dave Taylor and Mike Kauffman as part of Historic Port Royal’s John Wilkes Booth Escape Tour through Virginia Tour, April 30, 2016
- “Meet Mary Surratt” by Kate Ramirez at Port Tobacco’s annual Market Day, May 14, 2016
- “Til the Curtain Falls: The Genius of Edwin Booth” by Kate Ramirez at Tudor Hall, May 22 and September 25, 2016
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” by Dave Taylor for the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, MD, May 23, 2016
- “Huckleberry: The Home of Thomas A. Jones” by Dave Taylor for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage in Charles County, May 28, 2016
- “Beware the People Whistling: The Final Days of Mary Surratt” by Kate Ramirez for the Calvert County Historical Society, June 16, 2016
- “The Murderer: John Wilkes Booth and the Plot Against Lincoln” by Dave Taylor for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, June 29, 2016:
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” by Dave Taylor for the Rotary Club of Charlotte Hall, MD, July 19, 2016
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the University of Maryland Association of County Agriculture Agents, October 4, 2016
- “Beware the People Whistling: The Final Days of Mary Surratt” by Kate Ramirez for the Daughters of the American Revolution, John Hanson Chapter, October 8, 2016
- Mary Surratt reenactment by Kate Ramirez at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, November 5, 2016
- “Smuggling Secrets: An Evening with Olivia Floyd” by Kate Ramirez with Dave Taylor for Port Tobacco’s First Friday Series, February 18, 2017
- “An Evening with John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor with Kate Ramirez for the Friends of Rich Hill and the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, MD, March 3, 2017
- “Assassination ‘Extras’: Their Hidden Histories” at the 18th annual Surratt Society Conference, April 1, 2017
- “Beware the People Whistling: The Final Days of Mary Surratt” by Kate Ramirez at the 18th annual Surratt Society Conference, April 1, 2017
- “An Evening with the Conspirators: A Conversation with George Atzerodt and Mary Surratt” by Kate Ramirez for Port Tobacco’s First Friday Series, April 8, 2017
- “Beware the People Whistling: The Final Days of Mary Surratt” by Kate Ramirez for the Southern Maryland Antique Arts Association, April 12, 2017
- “John Wilkes Booth in Port Royal, Virginia Walking Tours” by Kate Ramirez and Dave Taylor for Historic Port Royal, April 22, 2017. Click the following numbers to see snippets of these tours: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- “Rich Hill Open House” by Dave Taylor and Kate Ramirez for the Friends of Rich Hill, April 23, 2017
- Mary Surratt reenactment by Kate Ramirez at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, May 6, 2017
- “Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.: The Eldest Brother of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Tudor Hall, May 7 and September 3, 2017
- “A Long Look Backward: From the Pen of Asia Booth” by Kate Ramirez at Tudor Hall, June 4 and October 8, 2017
- “‘You know best, Captain’: The Executed Conspirators in Lincoln’s Assassination” for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, June 27, 2017
- Mary Surratt reenactment by Kate Ramirez at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, August 5, 2017
- Mary Surratt reenactment by Kate Ramirez at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair for the USAF, August 29, 2017
- “The Making of an Assassin: The History of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Chesapeake Civil War Round Table, September 14, 2017
Press & Media Appearances
- Dave Taylor interviewed by Charles County Government Television about their Lincoln 150 event on March 27, 2015
- Dave Taylor interviewed and quoted in The New York Daily News article, “Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth was gifted actor, ladies’ man, ‘handsomest man in America’: experts” by Megan Wagner, April 7, 2015
- Dave Taylor interviewed and quoted in The New York Times article, “For a Biography of John Wilkes Booth, Terry Alford Turns to Amateur Researchers” by Jennifer Schuessler, April 13, 2015
- Dave Taylor interviewed by Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C. about the 150th anniversary of the death of John Wilkes Booth, April 26, 2015
- Kate Ramirez and Dave Taylor featured and quoted in The Free-Lance Star article, “State marker to ‘Assassin’s End’ dedicated in Port Royal on 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s death” by Clint Schemmer, April 28, 2015
- Dave Taylor quoted in The Enterprise article “Dozens of Men Lost off Island in 1865 Remembered” by Jason Babcock, April 27, 2016
- Dave Taylor interviewed by NBC 4 News in Washington, D.C. about the 2016 Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage in Charles County which included Thomas Jones’ house of Huckleberry: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Historic-Homes-Tour_Washington-DC-380991271.html
- Dave Taylor quoted in The Maryland Independent article “Huckleberry House opens for Civil War lesson” by Michael Sykes II, June 1, 2016
- Dave Taylor interviewed and quoted in Pentagram article “The villainous route of an assassin is a popular Discover D.C. destination” by Jim Dresbach, April 13, 2017
- Dave Taylor interviewed by News Radio WTAX out of Springfield, IL: https://soundcloud.com/news-radio-wtax/6-26-17-dave-taylor-lincoln-assassination-expert-podcast June 26, 2017
- Kate Ramirez featured at the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House on Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C. in the segment “Waldorf | Zip Trip: 5 Must Stops” on July 7, 2017
Published work outside of this blog:
- “Emerick Hansell: The Forgotten Casualty” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, November, 2010
- “Cloak and Daggers: Cutting Through the Confusion of the Lincoln Assassination Knives” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, March, 2012
- “Michael O’Laughlen: Quilter” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, August, 2012
- “The Escape Attempt of Dr. Mudd” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, November, 2012
- “Cloak and Daggers: Cutting Through the Confusion of the Lincoln Assassination Knives” by Dave Taylor for Knife World Magazine, April, 2013
- “A History of Rich Hill” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, January, 2014
- Kate Ramirez and Dave Taylor are the authors of the “Assassin’s End” highway marker at the site of the Garrett Farm in Caroline County, Virginia. When the former marker had to be replaced in 2015, Dave and Kate assisted the Virginia Department of Historic Resources by updating the sign’s text.
Dave Taylor and/or Kate Ramirez are featured in the acknowledgements or references of the following books
- John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Arthur F. Loux
- Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth by Terry Alford
- Alias “Paine”: Lewis Thornton Powell, the Mystery Man of the Lincoln Conspiracy, 2nd edition by Betty J. Ownsbey
- What’s the Play and Where’s the Stage by Alan Stockwell
- H.H. Holmes: The True Story of the White City Devil by Adam Selzer
- Lincoln’s Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America’s Greatest President by Kathryn Canavan
- The Lincoln Assassination: Where Are They Now by Jim Garrett and Richard Smyth
- The Lincoln Assassination: The Flags of Ford’s Theatre by Richard Smyth and Jim Garrett
- Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth By Jennifer Chiaverini
John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tours narrated by Dave Taylor
- April 4, 2015 for the Frederick County Bar Association
- April 25, 2015
- May 2, 2015 for the Southern Maryland Civil War Roundtable
- September 12, 2015
- September 19, 2015
- October 11, 2015 for the General Meade Society of Philadelphia
- April 23, 2016
- July 23, 2016 for the National Press Club
- September 17, 2016
- September 24, 2016
- April 8, 2017
- April 29, 2017 for Krouse Travel
- May 20, 2017
- September 2, 2017
John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tours narrated by Kate Ramirez
- May 17 – 21, 2017 for the Civil War Roundtable of Greater Boston
- September 15, 2017 for the Carroll County Retired School Personnel Association & The Mt. Airy Senior Book Club