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Grave Thursday: The Montgomery Theatre

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.


The Montgomery Theatre

Burial Location: 39 S Perry St, Montgomery, Alabama

Connection the the Lincoln Assassination:

For this week’s Grave Thursday we are dealing with the death of a place, rather than a person. The place is the old Montgomery Theatre in Montgomery, Alabama which is currently in the final phases of demolition.

In the fall of 1859, Colonel Charles T. Pollard, president of the Montgomery and West Point Railroad, commissioned the construction of a new theater in Montgomery, Alabama. The brick contractor was B. F. Randolph who used his female slaves as the laborers for the theater’s masonry and plastering. By October of 1860, the large and stately Montgomery Theatre was completed. The first lessee and manager of the theater was Matthew Canning, who opened the theater with his troupe of actors on October 22, 1860.

Matthew W. Canning

22 year-old John Wilkes Booth was part of Matthew Canning’s troupe of actors.  Booth’s tour with Canning was his first as a star performer. Prior to this he had been learning his craft in Philadelphia and Richmond. Attempting to succeed on his own talents rather than his prestigious family name, he had been and was continuing to be billed “J. B. Wilkes” or “John Wilkes”.

When the Canning troupe presented the grand opening performance of the show, School for Scandal, at the Montgomery Theatre, John Wilkes Booth was not present. Ten days earlier, when the troupe had been in Columbus, Georgia, Booth had suffered an accidental gunshot wound to his thigh. Though stories differ, the most reliable account holds that Booth and Canning were attempting to clean a pistol when the weapon accidentally discharged. This gunshot wound ended Booth’s performances in Columbus and caused him to sit out most of his starring performances in Montgomery as well.

John Wilkes Booth finally made his debut at the Montgomery Theatre on Monday, October 29, 1860, when he performed as Pescara in The Apostate. He would perform for the rest of the week before closing his engagement to recuperate further. John Wilkes Booth was resting in Montgomery, Alabama when Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States on November 6, 1860.

On November 16, Booth returned to the stage of the Montgomery Theatre in a benefit performance for his fellow actor, Kate Bateman. Booth played Romeo to Bateman’s Juliet.

The troupe’s final day at the Montgomery Theatre was on December 1, 1860 in a benefit performance for Booth himself. Booth performed in a two act play called Rafaelle, the Reprobate, and then his fellow actor, Maggie Mitchell, performed in Katy O’Sheal. The evening was ended with Booth performing the titular character in the fifth act of Shakespeare’s Richard III. This performance marked the end of Booth’s engagement in Montgomery but it also marked a new beginning for the young actor. It was on the stage at the Montgomery Theatre that John Wilkes Booth reclaimed his true name and was billed as J. Wilkes Booth. From this day onward, the actor would always use his true name.

John Wilkes Booth would never return to Montgomery, but the beautiful theater he helped to christen would continue to operate for many years. Edwin Booth would perform on the same stage in 1876, 1882, and 1888 along with countless other luminaries of the stage.

After 47 years of operation, the Montgomery Theatre was closed on November 13, 1907 when a newer, grander theater was opened in the city. The old theater’s interior was remodeled into a department store but the outside retained its original construction. The Webber department store lasted until the 1990’s when it finally closed. After a few years the building was bought by a foundation which paid almost half a million dollars to replace the roof. In 2010, the foundation sold the building to a developer who planned to restore the structure and create retail and housing space within the interior. Unfortunately while work was being done to restore the building in June of 2014, the structure suffered a partial collapse.

Though the hope was that the restoration would continue, the owner of the building didn’t have the funds to continue after the collapse. The ownership of the building reverted to the city of Montgomery in December of 2014. The city valiantly made efforts to find a buyer willing and financially able to restore the structure, offering to sell structure for $1 to any developers who would restore it. In the end, however, the city could not find a buyer with the means to restore the building. The property was sold off and slated for demolition which began in late 2016. Here is how the building looked on March 30th of this year:

Though the Montgomery Theatre building could not be saved, deconstruction of the building has been slow to allow for the salvage of some of the structure’s cast iron, bricks, and masonry pieces. Some of the windows of the theater are also being saved and will be given to the local historical society.

Despite the loss of the Montgomery Theatre building, the history of the site will not be lost. There is a historic marker that will be returned once construction on the site is completed. In addition, the company that is redeveloping the property has vowed to, “include a plaza and information to recognize the building’s history.”

I want to close this post with the words of an old time Montgomery resident by the name of Frank P. O’Brien. O’Brien was present the night the Montgomery Theatre opened in 1860. When the theatre closed in 1907 he gave his reminiscences of the many plays and actors that had graced its stage. At the end of the article, O’Brien stated the following words, which are very fitting today:

“Wednesday night, November thirteenth, the curtain was ‘rung down’ in the old play-house to give way to one of more modern construction. The soft glow of unforgotten scenes alone is left to me, and many whose hearts have throbbed with hope for future years, as nightly we ascended the broad stairs from the street to listen to and witness scenes of comedy, music, and tragedy. Thus is marked the passing of the glory of the old Montgomery theatre…There is not one of us who has not gone up the wide stairs loving, and come down them loving the more. There is not one of us who has not left some weight of the soul there and never returned to claim it.

Vale! old house, the ghostly shadows of scenes long to be remembered will continue to hover within thy hallowed walls ’till the inevitable march of progress hastens thy destruction.”

GPS coordinates for the former site of Montgomery Theatre: 32.378385, -86.307671

Categories: Grave Thursday, History, News | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Come See Us: Spring 2017

Spring is the busy season for Lincoln assassination events. Kate and I will be attending and participating in several of the offerings that will occur in the Maryland/D.C./Virginia area. As much fun as it is to research and write here on BoothieBarn, there’s something special about being out in public and sharing aspects of the Lincoln assassination with others, face to face. For those of you who live in the region, here are some of the upcoming Lincoln assassination talks that Kate and I (or some of our learned friends) will be giving that you might be interested in attending.


Date: Saturday, April 1, 2017
Location: Colony South Hotel and Conference Center (7401 Surratts Rd, Clinton, MD 20735)
Time: Full conference runs from 8:50 am – 8:30 pm

Speech: Assassination “Extras”: Their Hidden Histories
Speaker: Dave Taylor
Description: The Lincoln assassination story is filled with characters who play the part of background extras. They are men and women who very briefly enter the scene, play their small part, and then are forgotten. All of them are connected by their minor involvement with the events of April, 1865, yet many have fascinating personal stories all their own. In his speech, Dave will highlight some of these extra characters and talk about their hidden histories.

Speech: “Beware the People Whistling”
Speaker: Kate Ramirez
Description: As the evening’s entertainment for the Surratt Society’s annual Lincoln assassination conference, Kate will perform her one woman show depicting Mary Surratt as she reflects on her life and choices in the hours leading up to her execution.

Cost: Dave and Kate’s speeches are two of the seven that will be presented at the annual Surratt Society Lincoln Assassination Conference on the weekend of March 31st – April 2nd. The day of speakers is on Saturday, April 1st. The cost of the full conference is $200. The event is always worth the cost and filled with fascinating discussions about so many aspects of the Lincoln assassination story. Other speakers this year include, Dr. Blaine Houmes, Karen Needles, Burrus Carnahan, Scott Schroeder, and William “Wild Bill” Richter. Please visit: http://www.surrattmuseum.org/annual-conference for full details and registration information.


Date: Friday, April 7, 2017
Location: Port Tobacco Courthouse (8430 Commerce St., Port Tobacco, MD 20735)
Time: 6:00 pm
Speech: A Conversation with George Atzerodt and Mary Surratt
Speaker: Kate Ramirez Description: Join Kate Ramirez and Mike Callahan as they portray conspirators Mary Surratt and George Atzerodt and discuss their involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Cost: Free. Donations to the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco appreciated.


Date: Saturday, April 8, 2017
Location: Surratt House Museum (9118 Brandywine Road, Clinton, MD 20735)
Time: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Speech: John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tour
Speaker: Dave Taylor Description: Dave is one of the narrators for the Surratt Society’s John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tour. The 12 hour bus tour documents the escape of the assassin through Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. While Dave will only be narrating the April 8th tour, there are other tours set for April 15th and 22nd. Please call the Surratt House Museum to see if there is any availability left on these tours. If they are booked up, Dave and the other guides will also be conducting tours in the fall.
Cost: $85. Information can be found at: http://www.surrattmuseum.org/booth-escape-tour


Date: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Location: Port Royal, Virginia
Times: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Speech: John Wilkes Booth in Port Royal Walking Tour
Speaker: Dave Taylor and Kate Ramirez Description: Dave and Kate will conduct walking tours of Port Royal, giving the history of some of the landmarks connected with the escape of the assassin. Interested participants should park and meet at the Port Royal Museum of Medicine (419 Kings St., Port Royal, VA 22535). The entire tour is about one mile of walking. At the end, participants will be instructed to drive across 301 to the Port Royal Museum of American History (506 Main St., Port Royal, VA 22535) where they can view artifacts relating to John Wilkes Booth and enjoy some light refreshments.
Cost: The suggested donation for the tour is $10 per person and all proceeds benefit Historic Port Royal’s museums.


Date: Sunday, April 23, 2017
Location: Rich Hill Farm (Rich Hill Farm Rd, Bel Alton, MD 20611)
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Speech: An Open House at Samuel Cox’s Rich Hill
Speaker: Dave Taylor and Kate Ramirez Description: Come out and see the progress that has been done on the restoration of Rich Hill, one of the stops on John Wilkes Booth’s escape. Dave and Kate will both be there in costume to give talks and answer questions about the house and its history.
Cost: Free, but donations encouraged in order to facilitate the restoration of the home.

Also on Sunday, April 23, 2017

Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: John Wilkes Booth and Tudor Hall
Speaker: Jim Garrett Description: Lincoln assassination author and speaker, Jim Garrett, will be presenting about John Wilkes Booth at the Booth family home of Tudor Hall. Since Kate and Dave will be at Rich Hill all day, they’d really appreciate if someone could go and heckle Jim on their behalf.
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall


Date: Saturday, May 6, 2017
Location: Grant Hall (Fort Lesley J. McNair, 1601 2nd St. SW, Washington, DC 20024)
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Speech: Grant Hall Open House
Speaker: Kate Ramirez and Betty Ownsbey Description: Once a quarter, Fort Lesley J. McNair opens up the third floor of Grant Hall, the site of the trial of the Lincoln conspirators, to the public. Visitors can see the restored courtroom, the site of the conspirators execution, and different artifacts relating to the assassination and the 2010 movie, The Conspirator. Historian Betty Ownsbey is usually present to tell the history of the assassination and trial while Kate will be there in the persona of Mary Surratt to share her story with visitors.
Cost: Free, but registration is required for entry into the military base. When registration opens a link will be supplied.


Date: Sunday, May 7, 2017
Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.: The Eldest Brother of John Wilkes Booth
Speaker: Dave Taylor Description: While born almost a generation apart, June Booth was very close to his younger brother, John Wilkes. June paved the path that most of the Booth brothers would walk when he became an actor in defiance of his father’s wishes. In his speech, Dave will discuss the life of Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., pointing out the ways in which he replicated his father and how he reacted to the news that his brother had killed Abraham Lincoln. More information can be found at: http://spiritsoftudorhall.blogspot.com/2016/11/make-plans-to-visit-tudor-hall-in-2017_7.html
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall


Date: Saturday, May 13, 2017
Location: The Historical Society of Harford County (143 N. Main Street, Bel Air, MD 21014)
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (doors open at noon)
Speech: Lincoln’s Final Hours and the Hunt for John Wilkes Booth
Speakers: Kathy Canavan & John Howard Description: The Junius B. Booth Society (JBBS) and the Historical Society of Harford County (HSHC) are holding an intriguing, one-of-a kind fundraising event titled Lincoln’s Final Hours and the Hunt for John Wilkes Booth featuring author/historian Kathryn Canavan and Lincoln assassination historian John Howard. Kathy will speak about her book, Lincoln’s Final Hours.  John, as one of the narrators for the John Wilkes Booth escape route tours, will give an overview of Booth’s escape. All proceeds from this fundraiser will be split between JBBS and HSHC. All proceeds to JBBS will be used for the Tudor Hall museum (childhood home of the Booth family including Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth). Seating is limited to 100 people, so reserve your seats now. Drinks and snacks will be provided. Following the closing remarks, the first floor of Tudor Hall, the childhood home of John Wilkes Booth will be open to attendees till 5:30 PM. For more information, including biographies of the speakers, visit: http://spiritsoftudorhall.blogspot.com/2017/02/lincolns-final-hours-hunt-for-john.html
Cost: $25.00 per person. Tickets can be purchased from: http://www.harfordhistory.org/events.php


Date: Sunday, June 4, 2017
Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: “A Long Look Backward”: From the Pen of Asia Booth
Speaker: Kate Ramirez Description: Asia Booth was the chronicler of the Booth family’s greatest triumphs and their most heart breaking failures. In her speech, Kate will look more into Asia Booth and her myriad of writings. More information can be found at: http://spiritsoftudorhall.blogspot.com/2016/11/make-plans-to-visit-tudor-hall-in-2017_7.html
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall


Date: Sunday, June 25, 2017
Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: Junius Brutus Booth and Tudor Hall
Speaker: Jim Garrett Description: Jim Garrett returns to Tudor Hall with his presentation about the patriach of the Booth family, Junius Brutus Booth. More information can be found at: http://spiritsoftudorhall.blogspot.com/2016/11/make-plans-to-visit-tudor-hall-in-2017_7.html
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall


Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Location: The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (112 N 6th St, Springfield, IL 62701)
Time: 5:30 pm
Speech: “You know best, Captain”: The Executed Conspirators in Lincoln’s Assassination
Speaker: Dave Taylor
Description: On April 26, 1865, the manhunt for the murderer of President Abraham Lincoln came to fiery end when John Wilkes Booth, trapped in a burning tobacco barn in Virginia, was shot and killed after refusing to surrender. With the assassin dead, attention turned to his group of co-conspirators. Nine individuals would eventually be put on trial for their involvement in Lincoln’s assassination, with four paying the ultimate price. In this speech, Dave will delve into the lives and actions of the four conspirators who helped plot the death of Abraham Lincoln and then followed him to the grave.
Cost: This speech is a private event for the museum’s volunteers but, if you are interested in attending, please email Dave.


You also might see us out and about in costume. Kate is a docent for the Dr. Samuel Mudd House Museum and can be found giving tours there on a regular basis. In addition to the scheduled bus tours, I can sometimes be seen giving escape route tours for private groups. If you have a private group or organization that is interested in booking your own escape route tour, you can contact the Surratt House Museum to make arrangements and can request me as your tour guide.

A condensed version of our upcoming speaking engagements can always be found on the sidebar menu for desktop users and near the bottom of the page for mobile users. Kate and I hope to see you out in the real world and we thank you all for your support.

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“An Evening with John Wilkes Booth”

On March 3, 2017, Kate and I presented at an event for the Friends of Rich Hill and the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco. The event venue was the restored Port Tobacco courthouse in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Though Port Tobacco is the former stomping grounds of conspirator George Atzerodt, the subject of this event was the lead assassin, John Wilkes Booth. While I have given speeches about Booth in the past, including my 2016 speech for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum volunteers, I had never previously attempted to portray John Wilkes Booth in the first person. The event in Port Tobacco, billed as “An Evening with John Wilkes Booth”, was my first attempt at being John Wilkes Booth, rather than just discussing John Wilkes Booth.

The following play is meant to provide an insight into the mind of John Wilkes Booth by utilizing much of his own words and writings. Some of the words said by Booth are uncomfortable to hear, but they are vital if we are to truly understand the world view of Lincoln’s assassin. The video of the performance is embedded below or you can watch it directly on YouTube by clicking here.

If you are interested in more first person portrayals of conspirators, Kate will be performing as Mary Surratt twice in April, 2017. On April 1st, Kate will be performing her one woman show about Mrs. Surratt’s imprisonment at the annual Surratt Society Conference in Clinton, Maryland. To sign up for the conference please visit the Surratt House Museum’s website. Kate will also be portraying Mary Surratt at an event in Port Tobacco, Maryland on Friday, April 7th at 6:00 pm. At this performance, Mrs. Suratt will be joined by George Atzerodt and the two of them will discuss their involvement in the conspiracy against Lincoln. The event at Port Tobacco is free and open to the public.

EDIT: I just realized that today is the five year anniversary of my very first posting here on BoothieBarn. When I started this site, it was an outlet for me to share some of the interesting things I had learned while researching the Lincoln assassination. I didn’t really know if it would be of interest to anyone other than myself. However, through this site I have made many wonderful friends and have been fortunate enough to speak about John Wilkes Booth and Lincoln’s assassination in several venues. And so after 5 years, 400+ posts and almost 600 followers later, I want to thank you all for your much appreciated support. As long as I keep finding interesting things about the Lincoln assassination to share, I expect posts will continue here on BoothieBarn for many more years to come. 

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“The Murderer: John Wilkes Booth and the Plot Against Lincoln” at the ALPLM

Almost a year ago, I was contacted by representatives from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Though I was right in the middle of setting up my classroom for a new school year (at a brand new school, and grade, actually), I dropped everything to take the call from employees of such an esteemed institution. As part of their volunteer educational programming, the ALPLM asked me if I would be willing to come to Springfield in the upcoming year and give a talk about the assassin of President Lincoln. I suppose it is not difficult to ascertain what my response was. After a few victory laps around my minefield of classroom, I settled in for the long wait until summer.

Dave Taylor at the ALPLM 6-29-2016

Less than a month ago, on June 29, I was humbled to present my speech, “The Murderer: John Wilkes Booth and the Plot Against Lincoln” for the wonderful folks at the ALPLM. The museum was kind enough to record my presentation and put it on YouTube, and so I have embedded the video below. It misses some of the fancy animations I included in my PowerPoint but is of far better quality than I could have ever done. The video below includes the lively question and answer session that followed the speech where we cover several other Lincoln assassination topics beyond John Wilkes Booth.

In addition to the speech, Kate and I spent our time in Springfield visiting the Lincoln sites and viewing several of the ALPLM’s assassination related letters and artifacts. Altogether, the speech and visit to the ALPLM are among the highlights of my “career” as a “historian.” I would like to thank Jeremy Carrell, Barbara McKean, Samuel Wheeler, Dr. James Cornelius, David Grimm, and Chuck Hand for setting everything up and for their hospitality in, and around, the ALPLM.

It was truly an honor to speak at the ALPLM and, if you have the time, I hope you enjoy the speech below.

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BoothieBarn Live on NBC 4!

If any of you in the D.C. metropolitan area happened to be watching NBC’s News4 Midday today, you might have seen a familiar face and outfit. I was asked to appear on the live news show along with Melissa Willett of the Charles County Garden Club in order to promote this Saturday’s Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage in Charles County. Every three years the pilgrimage takes place in Charles County and this year it will be featuring two properties connected to the Lincoln assassination story. Participants in the tour will have the opportunity to visit and go inside Thomas Jones’ house of Huckleberry as well as walk the property of the Loyola on the Potomac Catholic Retreat which contains the exact site of where John Wilkes Booth and David Herold got into a boat and tried to cross the Potomac. Melissa and I were interviewed about the event by NBC anchor Barbara Harrison:

UPDATE: NBC 4 has put up a much better version of this interview on their website. Watch it here: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Historic-Homes-Tour_Washington-DC-380991271.html

As stated in the interview I will be at Huckleberry from 10:00 – 5:00pm on Saturday, showing people the inside of the house and discussing Thomas Jones’ role in assisting John Wilkes Booth. Tickets for the tour, which contains a total of eight homes, are $35 and they can be purchased at any of the sites during the tour on Saturday, May 28, 2016. The proceeds from the event will be benefiting the Maryland Veterans Museum.

I enjoyed the interview with Ms. Harrison and was happy to see that, in the footage that rolled as we spoke, the highway marker for the Garrett site made an appearance. Kate and I wrote the text for that marker and it was on the day that we unveiled it that I made my first live television appearance. I always have fun sharing my interest in the Lincoln assassination story with others, even if it is for a brief time during a busy news show.

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Historic Port Royal in The Community Give

In my last post I announced a then upcoming, now passed, John Wilkes Booth escape route bus tour through Virginia narrated by Michael Kauffman. The tour was this last Saturday and was a great success. We had a packed bus and all the participants learned a lot from the premier expert on the Lincoln assassination.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Tuttle

Dave Taylor, Kate Ramirez and Mike Kauffman in front of the sign for the Port Royal Museum of American History. Photo courtesy of Dennis Tuttle

The entire tour was a fundraiser for Historic Port Royal, the historical society for Port Royal, Virginia. I am a board member for HPR and gave my little pitch about the many wonderful things this historical society provides:

We are a growing historical society and currently operate three different museums: The Port Royal Museum of American History, The Port Royal Museum of Medicine, and the Old Port Royal School. Each year HPR also organizes a free to the public Independence Day celebration. This is in addition to our quarterly newsletter, public events, and speakers throughout the year. If you are not already a member of Historic Port Royal, please join us. We are a 100% volunteer organization and so your small annual dues help us preserve our growing collection of artifacts and keep the lights on at our museums so that more people may come and learn about this historic town.

I cannot over emphasize the uniqueness of the Port Royal Museum of American History. Due to our benefactor, Herb Collins, the museum has the largest collection of White House china outside of the Smithsonian Institution. It also has what is likely the largest collection of American toleware, and a very sizable collection of Native American arrowheads and tools. We also have an exact replica of the desk Thomas Jefferson used to write the Declaration of Independence.

For the Lincoln assassination buff, the Port Royal Museum of American History has a great exhibit of artifacts relating to John Wilkes Booth’s death. We have a hinge from the barn in which Booth was shot, a brick from the Garrett house where Booth died, CDVs of Booth and his acting associates, a claimed (but not verified) self-portrait of John Wilkes Booth, a painting by famed artist Sidney E. King showing the surrounding of the Garrett’s tobacco barn, a map of the Garrett farm, a replica of the highway marker currently at the Garrett farm site so that you can read it with ease instead of attempting to do so as you fly by it on Route 301, and more.

During special exhibits, such as last Saturday’s Booth tour, we also display items loaned to us such a collection of Booth CDVs, a playbill of Edwin Booth’s, and a mount containing images and authentic autographs of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, and Boston Corbett.

The reason I am reminding you all about the wonderful things contained in the Port Royal Museum of American History is because tomorrow, May 3, 2016, Historic Port Royal will be participating in The Community Give.

The Community Give Icon

What is The Community Give? It’s a 24-hour online day of giving event that benefits nonprofit organizations. It was created by The Community Foundation located in Fredericksburg, Virginia and is a way for locals and non-locals, to give back to worthy nonprofits in the Rappahannock River region. This year is Historic Port Royal‘s first year participating in The Community Give and we’d love to have your support.

For a gift of $10 or more, you can help Historic Port Royal to increase public awareness of its museums and seasonal events; help us purchase promotional materials, advertisements, and signage; and support our museum by allowing us to purchase archival-grade storage and curation materials and general office supplies.

You can find Historic Port Royal’s donation page on the Community Give website by searching under Preservation, or by clicking this link. Remember that the donation period is only active during the 24 hours of May 3, 2016 EST.

In addition to your donations, the Community Foundation also awards different prizes to non-profits throughout the event and after it is completed. One of the prizes is a “Newcomer Prize” in which $500 is awarded to the nonprofit that is new to the Community Give this year and makes the most money. We would love for our debut year to include this prize. If you donate at least $25 at different times throughout the day we are also entered into drawings to receive other bonus awards from the Community Foundation. Check out the Leaderboard page of the Community Give to see how we’re doing throughout the day and to see what other awards you might be able to help us receive with your donation.

I hope that you will consider donating to Historic Port Royal during the Community Give on May 3rd. HPR is the steward of Port Royal’s history and treasures. As was demonstrated by last week’s tour, Historic Port Royal is also devoted to teaching the public about the death of John Wilkes Booth. The Garrett farmhouse may be gone, but, with your support, Historic Port Royal will continue to tell the dramatic ending to the true story that is the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Thank you.

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John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tour Through Virginia

While there have been many wonderful books written about the Lincoln assassination, whenever someone asks for my opinion about the best book on the subject I always direct them to American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. In terms of depth of research and wealth of knowledge I believe American Brutus to be unparalleled in Lincoln assassination scholarship. In turn, I also view its author, Michael Kauffman, to be the foremost expert on the Lincoln assassination. The man has spent over 50 years delving into every single side story relating to Booth and the assassination. Not only that but Mr. Kauffman has also “walked the walked” in personally recreating many of the events relating to the history. His stories of jumping from a ladder onto the stage at Ford’s Theatre and his own attempt to row across the Potomac were big motivations to me and inspired me to create my “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” reenactment.  Mr. Kauffman is a walking encyclopedia and also happens to be one of the nicest people you could meet. Needless to say that whenever I get a chance to talk and learn from Mr. Kauffman, I am definitely in awe of his knowledge and experience.

Mike Kauffman and Us 4-14-15

The reason I am saying all of this is because there is a rare opportunity for those of you in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area to learn from this true expert on the Lincoln assassination. While Mr. Kauffman was once a fixture of the John Wilkes Booth escape route bus tours put on by the Surratt Society, he retired from doing that a few years ago and rarely does bus tours anymore. However, he will be conducting a very special John Wilkes Booth escape route bus tour on Saturday, April 30, 2016. This unique bus tour is being put on by Historic Port Royal, the historical society in Port Royal, Virginia, where John Wilkes Booth was cornered and killed. This tour is focused entirely on Booth’s escape through Virginia and will commence just over the Potomac River in King George County, Virginia. Here’s a scanned page about the event from the newest HPR newsletter:

HPR Page April 30 BERT Kauffman

Click to enlarge

As some of you may know, I am a board member for Historic Port Royal. We are a growing historical society and currently operate three different museums: The Port Royal Museum of American History, The Port Royal Museum of Medicine, and the Old Port Royal School. Each year HPR also organizes an Independence Day celebration. This is in addition to our quarterly newsletter and public events and speakers throughout the year. If you are not already a member of Historic Port Royal, please join us. We are a 100% volunteer organization and so your small annual dues help us preserve our growing collection of artifacts and keep the lights on at our museums so that more people may come and learn about this historic town.

Historic Port Royal is using this bus tour as a fundraiser and we would love to sell out every seat on the bus. As stated on the above flyer, the tour is from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 30, 2016. The cost is $65 which includes a box lunch.

For those who have taken other Booth escape route tours before, this tour will include familiar spots such as Mrs. Quesenberry’s house, Dr. Stuart’s Cleydael, and the Peyton House in Port Royal. However it will also include stops at Belle Grove Plantation (the birthplace of President James Madison where members of the 16th NY Cavalry stopped while on the hunt for Booth), The Port Royal Museum Museum of American History (which contains several artifacts relating to the Garrett farm and the death of Booth), and a fuller tour of Port Royal itself complete with a skit on the porch of the Peyton House re-enacting Booth’s arrival in town (by Kate and yours truly).

The whole event promises to be one that participants will not soon forget especially with a guide as knowledgeable as Michael Kauffman.

To get more information or to reserve your spot please call HPR Treasurer Bill Henderson at (804) 450-3994 or email him at WehLsu82@aol.com. There are very few seats left for this special tour of John Wilkes Booth’s escape through Virginia led by Lincoln assassination expert Michael Kauffman. I hope to see some of you there.

Kauffman BERT tix HPR

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Come See Us: Spring 2016

As much fun as it is to research and write here on BoothieBarn, there’s something special about being out in public and sharing aspects of the Lincoln assassination with others face to face. Today I had a wonderful time meeting and showing off a few of the Maryland sites of Booth’s escape route with D.C tour guide Rick Snider and his friend Dennis. Rick offers many tours in D.C., including a walking tour of Lincoln assassination sites.

Dave Taylor Rick Snider at Dent's Meadow

My afternoon with Rick and Dennis reminded me of some of the upcoming speaking events that Kate and I have in the next few weeks. Spring is the busy season when it comes to the assassination story and so the following are times and places when you can come out and heckle meet us in person. We always love chatting with folks and answering questions about this fascinating period of history.


Date: Saturday, March 19, 2016
Location: St. Charles High School, Waldorf, Maryland (5305 Piney Church Rd, Waldorf, MD 20602)
Time: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Speech: Choose Your Own Path: The Lincoln Assassination
Sample CYOP Lincoln AssassinationSpeaker: Dave Taylor
Description: Over the last few weeks, Kate and I have been developing an interactive school program in the same style of the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series. Like the book series, the text is written in second person point of view with the participants taking on the role of a member of Booth’s conspiracy. They are presented with the story of the Lincoln conspiracy and must make decisions to either help or hinder John Wilkes Booth’s plot. The presentation is filled with historical facts and will eventually include a Informational Packet for supplementary info about the people, places, and actions in the story. As part of the Charles County Public Schools’ HITS Expo (think combination History Day and Science Fair) I will be presenting a pilot version of this presentation from 12:00 until 1:00 pm in a classroom and will then be at an informational table for the remainder of the time. The event is open to the public and many other history and science presenters will be there includinh the Maryland Historical Society and rangers from Thomas Stone National Historic site.
Cost: Free

*Additional Event*
Want to make it a full day of events on March 19? After coming to see me in Waldorf, drive up to nearby Clinton and go to the Surratt House Museum at 4:00 pm. Author and blogger Paula Whitacre will be presenting her in depth research on Julia Wilbur, a member of the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society who lived in Alexandria and Washington D.C. during the Civil War. I was able to see Ms. Whitacre speak on the fascinating diaries of Julia Wilbur last year and used much of her research to write a couple of blog posts regarding Julia Wilbur’s Lincoln assassination experiences. For more information about Ms. Whitacre’s presentation, visit the Surratt House Museum website.


Date: Sunday, April 3, 2016
Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: Rosalie Booth: The Eldest Sister of John Wilkes Booth
Rosalie Booth speech promoSpeaker: Dave Taylor
Description: As part of Tudor Hall’s 2016 speaking series, I will be presenting about the often forgotten Booth sibling, Rosalie Booth, highlighting her life and contributions to the illustrious Booth family. More information can be found here.
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall


Date: Saturday, April 9, 2016
Location: Colony South Hotel and Conference Center (7401 Surratts Rd, Clinton, MD 20735)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: Inter Arma Silent Leges: The Wrongful Execution of Mary E. Surratt
Speaker: Kate Ramirez
Description: Kate will be examining the evidence against conspirator, Mary Surratt, and whether the evidence presented at her trial warranted her execution.
2016 Surratt Conference imageCost: Kate’s speech is one of six that will be presented at the annual Surratt Society Lincoln Assassination Conference on the weekend of April 8th – 10th. The cost of the full conference is $175 (and is totally worth it since the Surratt Conference is pretty much a Boothie’s Comic-Con). Visit: http://www.surrattmuseum.org/annual-conference for full details and to register.


Date: Saturday, April 23, 2016
Location: Surratt House Museum (9118 Brandywine Road, Clinton, MD 20735)
Time: 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Speech: John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tour
Speaker: Dave Taylor
Description: I am the tour guide/narrator for this date’s John Wilkes Booth escape route bus tour. The approximately 12 hour bus trip documents the escape of the assassin through Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. It is pretty much a full day of me endlessly talking and telling you the story of Booth’s escape while you fall asleep on the bus after a delicious lunch at Captain Billy’s Crab House. It is hands down my favorite “speech” to give.
Cost: $85. Registration information can be found at: http://www.surrattmuseum.org/booth-escape-tour


Date: Sunday, April 24, 2016
Location: St Clement’s Island Museum (38370 Point Breeze Road, Coltons Point, MD 20626)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: The Forgotten Tragedy on the Potomac: The Collision of the USS Massachusetts and the Black Diamond
Speaker: Dave Taylor
Description: A memorial event is being planned to honor the 87 lives that were lost in the Potomac River when the USS Massachusetts struck the Black Diamond anchored off of St. Clement’s Island. I will speak on the event and how the tragedy was ultimately collateral damage from John Wilkes Booth’s crime. More information on the entire event will be published in the future.
Cost: Free


Date: Saturday, April 30, 2016
Location: Port Royal, Virginia
Time: 10:00 am
Speech: John Wilkes Booth’s Escape Through Virginia
Speaker: Dave Taylor and Kate Ramirez
Description: A bus tour of the Virginia sites connected to the escape of John Wilkes Booth is being planned by Historic Port Royal with the hopes that assassination author Michael Kauffman will be the narrator. If he is unable to do it, I will be doing the tour. Either way, Kate and I will be on the tour bus and will likely be presenting a short skit at the Peyton House in Port Royal re-enacting Booth’s arrival. More information and an exact cost will be posted at: http://www.historicportroyal.net/events/
Cost: $65 (price is not definitive)


*Prime Heckling Opportunity*
Date: Sunday, May 1, 2016
Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: Junius Brutus Booth and Tudor Hall
Junius Tudor promoSpeaker: Jim Garrett
Description: Jim is a good friend of ours who is a tour guide for D.C.’s Old Town Trolley Tours. Jim’s co-written a couple books on the assassination and is a very lively speaker. He’s also a man in need of a good heckle. Kate and I hope to make it up to one of Jim’s talks at Tudor Hall and will have plenty of extra tomatoes if you would like to join us in throwing them at him. Jim will be a busy guy at Tudor Hall giving this Junius speech again on July 10th along with another speech on John Wilkes Booth on June 5th and August 7th. More information can be found here.
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall


Date: Sunday, May 22, 2016
Location: Tudor Hall (17 Tudor Ln, Bel Air, MD 21015)
Time: 2:00 pm
Speech: Till the Curtain Falls: The Genius of Edwin Booth
Tudor Hall Kate Edwin promoSpeaker: Kate Ramirez
Description: Kate will be examining Edwin Booth’s magnificent theatrical ability framed in the context of the tragedies that shaped his life. More information can be found here.
Cost: $5.00 cash for the talk and a tour of Tudor Hall

Please do not throw tomatoes at me. -Kate


In addition to these scheduled talks and tours, Kate and I can also be found as participants in other assassination related events. On April 14th, we will be attending a nighttime tour of Ford’s Theatre narrated by Manhunt author, James Swanson.

You also might see us out and about in costume. Kate is a docent for the Dr. Samuel Mudd House Museum and can be found giving tours there from time to time. I am also available as a narrator for Booth escape route bus tour for private groups. You can contact the Surratt House Museum to make arrangements for your group and can request me as your tour guide.

You can also find a condensed version of our upcoming speaking engagements on the sidebar menu for desktop users and near the bottom of the page for mobile users. We hope to see you out in the real world sometime and thanks for all your support.

~Dave Taylor

 

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