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 values. 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. Many of us who study the Lincoln assassination today refer to ourselves as “Boothies” out of pride. 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 actions 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 the man without understanding the complexity of his death.
As a self pronounced Boothie and teacher, I 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. The content on this site varies between serious pieces of scholarly research, travelogues by the author, and the occasional displays of levity. All posts, however, from the serious to the trifling, relate to or demonstrate how the assassination of Lincoln has impacted our world.
I 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 Author:
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.
I also enjoy giving speeches and presentations about different aspects of the Lincoln assassination story. A list of my former speaking engagements, press appearances, and published articles outside of this blog appears at the end of this page.
If you have something you’d like to share about any part of Lincoln’s assassination, no matter how minor it may seem, feel free to comment on a post or here on the About page. If you would like to contact me personally with a question or inquiry you can e-mail me at: boothiebarn (at) gmail (dot) com.
I’d like to thank all of you that have been so supportive of my efforts here at BoothieBarn. I will strive to provide thought provoking and interesting posts about John Wilkes Booth and his plot.
Dave Taylor’s previous speaking engagements on the Lincoln assassination:
- “Southern Hospitality: The Garrett Family and John Wilkes Booth” at the 14th Annual Surratt Society Conference, March 16, 2013
- “John Wilkes Booth and the Garrett Family” at Historic Port Royal general membership meeting, April 22, 2014
- “The Lincoln Conspirators” – 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” at Tudor Hall, April 12, 2015
- “A History of Rich Hill: A Stop on the Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” at Rich Hill Farm for Charles County’s Lincoln 150th Weekend, April 18 & 19, 2015
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” for the Veteran Motor Car Club of America’s 2015 National Heritage Antique Car Tour, April 19, 2015
- “The Death of John Wilkes Booth” 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” at Historic Port Royal’s 16th Annual Fourth of July event, July 4, 2015:
- “A House Divided: Edwin and John Wilkes Booth” at Tudor Hall, September 13, 2015
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth: Rich Hill and Garrett’s Farm” at the Historical Society of Charles County, October 24, 2015
- “Behind the Walls of Rich Hill” at Rich Hill Historic Site, November 1, 2015
- “Southern Hospitality: The Garrett Family and John Wilkes Booth” for the King George County Historical Society, November 19, 2015
- “Choose Your Own Path: The Lincoln Assassination” at the Charles County Public Schools HITS Expo, March 19, 2016
- “Rosalie Booth: The Eldest Sister of John Wilkes Booth” at Tudor Hall, April 3, 2016
- “The Collision of the USS Massachusetts and the Black Diamond” at St. Clement’s Island Museum, April 24, 2016
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” for the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, MD, May 23, 2016
- “Huckleberry: The Home of Thomas A. Jones” for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage in Charles County, May 28, 2016
- “The Murderer: John Wilkes Booth and the Plot Against Lincoln” for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, June 29, 2016
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” for the Rotary Club of Charlotte Hall, MD, July 19, 2016
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” for the University of Maryland Association of County Agriculture Agents, October 4, 2016
- “Rosalie Booth: The Eldest Sister of John Wilkes Booth” at Tudor Hall, October 9, 2016
- “An Evening with John Wilkes Booth” for the Friends of Rich Hill and the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, MD, March 3, 2017
Press about Dave Taylor
- Interviewed by Charles County Government Television on March 27, 2015:
- 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
- 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
- Interviewed by Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C. about the 150th anniversary of the death of John Wilkes Booth: http://www.myfoxdc.com/clip/11429378/talking-john-wilkes-booth39s-escape-with-tim-morgan-and-dave-taylor
- Quoted in The Enterprise article “Dozens of Men Lost off Island in 1865 Remembered” by Jason Babcock, April 27, 2016
- 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
- Quoted in The Maryland Independent article “Huckleberry House opens for Civil War lesson” by Michael Sykes II, June 1, 2016
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
Dave Taylor’s published work on the Lincoln assassination:
Coauthor with Kate Ramirez of the “Assassin’s End” Highway Marker at the site of the Garrett Farm in Caroline County, Virginia.
Knife World Magazine – “Cloak and Daggers: Cutting Through the Confusion of the Lincoln Assassination Knives” April, 2013.
Published in the Surratt Courier:
- “Emerick Hansell: The Forgotten Casualty” November, 2010
- “Cloak and Daggers: Cutting Through the Confusion of the Lincoln Assassination Knives” March, 2012
- “Michael O’Laughlen: Quilter” August, 2012
- “The Escape Attempt of Dr. Mudd” November, 2012
- “A History of Rich Hill” January, 2014
Questions, comments, or inquiries about speaking engagements can be sent to: boothiebarn (at) gmail (dot) com