Uncategorized

In the Footsteps of Dr. Mudd in the City of Baltimore

Interested in learning more about all things Mudd? Check out this blog post by Bob Bowser, a board member of the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum, in which he explores the different sites of Baltimore, Maryland connected to the Charles County doctor. Then be sure to follow the Dr. Mudd House blog, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts for regular updates about the great talks and special events going on at the Dr. Mudd House Museum.

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum

Students of the Lincoln assassination associate certain locations with Dr. Samuel A. Mudd. First to mind comes Bryantown, Maryland. The Bryantown area was Dr. Mudd’s hometown. It is where he was born and raised, where built his own home and family, where he became an important figure in American history, and where he is buried. Next, one thinks of Washington DC. Washington was where Dr. Mudd introduced John Wilkes Booth to John Surratt and, whether he knew it or not, is where he sealed himself into the conspiracy plot. Washington later became the scene of Sam’s imprisonment, trial, and conviction. The final and, perhaps, the location most closely associated with Dr. Mudd is Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas, Florida. Following his conviction, Mudd spent nearly four years imprisoned on the hellish island, while his family fought for his pardon.

One location not often associated with Dr. Mudd is the city…

View original post 2,545 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Dry Tortugas Prisoners

On April 7, 1866, the following article was published in the New York Herald. It provides an interesting  look at the condition and day to day existence of three of the Lincoln assassination conspirators imprisoned at Fort Jefferson: Dr. Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Edman Spangler.

The Dry Tortugas Prisoners

Health and Varied Employments of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators and Colonel Maramaduke, the Rebel Emissary to Burn Chicago – How They Look, Talk, Feel, and Behave, &c

Our Fortress Monroe Correspondence

Fortress Monroe, April 5, 1866.

The government transport steamer Eliza Hancox, Captain Shuter arrived here this morning from Galveston, Texas. She left Galveston on the 22d ult., and on the route, meeting with some rough but mainly favorable weather, stopped at Key West, Charleston and Morehead City. From here she expects to go to New York to be discharged from the government employ, though there is some talk of her being detained as quarantine steamer. She brings several discharged prisoners from the Dry Tortugas. By conversing with these prisoners I have obtained full particulars touching the present condition, health, and varied employments of the assassination conspirators against President Lincoln, now undergoing imprisonment there.

Dr. Mudd.

Dr. Mudd 4

Dr. Mudd, since his attempt to escape by concealing himself in the coal bunker of a steamer, has not been able to revive the confidence reposed in him previous to that time. He is still kept under close guard, and compelled to clean out bastions in the casemates of the fort, and do some of the most menial and degrading work required to be done. Instead of becoming reconciled to his lot, he grows more discontented and querulous. Never very robust, he is now but little better than a skeleton, and his growing emaciation shows how bitterly his spirit chafes under his imprisonment, and how deeply the iron pierces his soul. His constant prayer is for death, which alone can set him free. It is natural he should suffer more than his colleagues in crime. The most intelligent of them all, and in the associations and habits of his former life greatly lifted above them, he is so much the more the keenest sufferer now. But there is none to pity him. All keep aloof from him.

Arnold.

Sam Arnold's Mug Shot

Sam Arnold’s Mug Shot

Arnold is employed as clerk of Captain Van Reade, Post Adjutant. An uncommonly fine penman and accurate accountant – his profession will be remembered as that of a bookkeeper – and well behaved and modest and yielding in his demeanor, he grows in usefulness and popularity each day. A guard attends him to his meals, which are the same as the other prisoners, and at night he is in close custody. His behavior shows that he appreciates his position and that he does not, like Dr. Mudd, and intend to abuse the confidence placed in his and lose it. His health is good.

Spangler.

Spangler 1

Spangler is at work in the Quartermaster’s carpenter shop. Already he begins to count the years, months, and days remaining to complete his term of imprisonment. He is robust and jolly – a physical condition he attributes, however, – solely to his being innocent of any participancy in the dreadful crime charged against him.

Colonel Marmaduke

In striking contrast to the persons I have referred to is Colonel Marmaduke, found guilty of the noted conspiracy to free the prisoners at Camp Douglas and burn Chicago. He has charge of the post garden. In respect to manual labor, no royal gardener has an easier time. Like the lilies of the field, he toils not. His only business is to see that those under him work. He has the privilege of going outside the fort at any time between reveille and sunset. He does not evidently allow his prison life to interfere seriously with his health or spirits, for both are excellent. In the extent of freedom allowed him, he is very much given to putting on the airs of a fine gentleman and walks and struts about like one on the very best terms with himself and the world.

Number of Prisoners

When the Eliza Hancox left Key West there were at Fort Jefferson, or the Dry Tortugas, sixty-five white and ninety-five colored prisoners. Most are undergoing sentences of courts martial, and every day the number is being diminished through expiration of terms of imprisonment. Under the admirable and humane managements of Companies C, D, L and M, Fifth United States artillery, Brevet Brigadier General Hill commanding, doing garrison duty, there is nothing of which to complain, either on the part of prisoners or soldiers. The rations are of the best and abundant, and the prisoners’ quarters and barracks are kept clean and healthy. Officers, soldiers and prisoners enjoy unwonted good health.

There are two main things of note in this article. First, even though Dr. Mudd had enacted his failed escape attempt in September of 1865, the former prisoners interviewed in this piece recount Mudd still paying the price for it. The sorrowful description of Dr. Mudd’s condition was no doubt distressing to Mrs. Mudd as this column was published nationwide. Dr. Mudd also did not spare his wife the details of his degenerating condition in his letters home to her.

Second, this article has a great deal of unintended, and slightly ironic, foreshadowing. Clearly someone neglected to “knock on wood” after writing the final lines that Fort Jefferson was “clean and healthy” and that the “prisoners enjoy unwonted good health”. Dr. Mudd and Samuel Arnold, in their letters and later recollections would definitely disagree with those assertions. However, even if the Fort was clean and healthy at that time, by August of 1867, the exact opposite had become true with the Yellow Fever epidemic that infected 270 of the 400 people at Fort Jefferson and claimed 38 lives. One of the lost souls was conspirator Michael O’Laughlen, who is ironically absent from this article as well.

New Michael O'Laughlen Mugshot 3 Huntington Library

Poor O’Laughlen. He’s the conspirator we know the least about and he was already being overlooked a year before his early demise at that “healthy” prison with, “nothing of which to complain,” about.

References:

“The Dry Tortugas Prisoners” New York Herald, April 7, 1866

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fake “Mrs Surat”

In the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, photographs of the assassin were highly sought after. Newspaper classifieds of the day often contained advertisements for Lincoln memorial ribbons right beside advertisements offering photographs of John Wilkes Booth.

JWB photos ad 1

The lucrative business of assassination related imagery extended not only to photographs of the assassin, but also to his conspirators. As a result, photographer Alexander Gardner was quick to reproduce his mugshot photographs of the accused conspirators into carte de visites for the masses to purchase:

However, two of the conspirators who were put on trial, Dr. Samuel Mudd and Mary Surratt, never had their photographs taken with the rest of the conspirators.  While the public could easily do without a picture of Dr. Mudd (himself little more than another male face in Booth’s crew) the desire to see and own a picture of the solitary woman accused of helping plot the death of the President was something worth attaining. One would think that the lack of a legitimate mugshot photograph of Mary Surratt would hinder the creation of a massively produced CDV like the ones pictured above. However, such trivialities did not stop some unknown photographer from creating and selling the following CDVs of Mary Surratt:
Fake Mary Surratt CDV BoothieBarn

The small details of spelling Mary Surratt’s name correctly or attempting to find an actual likeness of the conspirator were not important to the photographer who created these fabricated CDVS. The public purchased and filled their albums with these fraudulent “Mrs Surat” images, with most having no idea that the woman pictured was not the assassin’s accomplice. The identity of this “Mrs Surat” has not been determined, but she bears very little resemblance to the true Mrs. Surratt:

Mary Surratt's CDV 1

Despite being fake, these period “Mrs Surat” CDVS are still sought after by collectors and can often sell for more money than legitimate images of John Wilkes Booth himself.

At the end of the day,  “Mrs Surat” is a perfect example of America’s unwavering devotion to the entrepreneurial spirit and the old adage, “Caveat emptor” – Buyer beware!

For more pictures of Mary Surratt, check out the Mary Surratt Picture Gallery.

Categories: History, Uncategorized | Tags: | 7 Comments

Behind the Walls of Rich Hill

Friends of Rich Hill

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, the Friends of Rich Hill will be hosting a special event called, “Behind the Walls of Rich Hill”.

Behind the Walls of Rich Hill Click to enlarge

This special “behind the scenes” look at the ongoing restoration of Rich Hill is for Friends of Rich Hill members only, however you can become a member on the day of the event by donating at least $10.

This is a unique chance to see the architectural “guts” of Rich Hill before they are covered up again during the restoration process.

We hope to see many of you on November 1, 2015 between 2:00 – 4:00 pm at Rich Hill which is located at Rich Hill Farm Rd., Bel Alton, MD 20611

View original post

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Prison Letter from Col. Samuel Cox

Friends of Rich Hill

Col. Samuel Cox of Rich Hill Col. Samuel Cox of Rich Hill

When Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, arrived at Rich Hill during the wee hours of April 16, 1865, he sent in motion of series of events that would have long reaching consequences for the occupants of the home. The reputation of Col. Samuel Cox, the owner of Rich Hill, as an ardent Southern sympathizer led Booth to his door. We don’t know what thoughts were racing through Cox’s head when he was face to face with the assassin on his doorstep, but, in the end, he decided he would assist the wounded man in some way. Cox allowed John Wilkes Booth and David Herold to enter his home for a meal but then sent them off into a nearby pine thicket, to be cared for by his foster brother, Thomas Jones.

Perhaps Cox hoped that his brief interaction and assistance to Booth would…

View original post 740 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Two Previously Unpublished Photographs of Rich Hill

In another of my posts for the Friends of Rich Hill blog, I look at two previously unpublished photographs of Rich Hill at a time when a member of the Cox family still lived there.

Friends of Rich Hill

One of the fun parts about researching the history of Rich is discovering new images of the historic home that very few have ever seen before. For a relatively unassuming house in Southern Maryland, Rich Hill has been photographed fairly often over the years. This is mainly due to the home’s association with Lincoln’s assassination and the escape of John Wilkes Booth. Since the 1865 crime itself, countless people have journeyed over Booth’s escape route and viewed Rich Hill in person, picturing the fugitive and his accomplice, David Herold, knocking on Samuel Cox’s door on the morning of April 16th.

The following photographs follow this idea and come from a scrapbook that was created of John Wilkes Booth’s escape route in the early 1920’s. The small handmade scrapbook, which has never before been published, was recently sold at auction in January of 2015. The new owner of the scrapbook was kind…

View original post 397 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Haberdeventure: A Stone’s Throw Away from Rich Hill

When John Wilkes Booth and David Herold arrived at Samuel Cox’s home of Rich Hill on April 16, 1865, they likely had no idea of the prior history of the house. In my recent post for the Friends of Rich Hill blog, I recount one of the Colonial residents of Rich Hill and her relationship with one of our nation’s Founding Fathers. I hope you enjoy it and that you will begin following the Friends of Rich Hill blog as well.

Friends of Rich Hill

Today I visited the Thomas Stone National Historic Site in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Owned by the National Park Service, the site contains the home and final resting place of Thomas Stone, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Stone, signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland Thomas Stone, signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland

Stone’s beautiful home, Haberdeventure, is surrounded by a few hundred acres of land with wonderful hiking trails and period outbuildings. The Park Rangers at Thomas Stone National Historic Site are well versed in Revolutionary War history and give fascinating tours of the house.

Haberdeventure THST

Thomas Stone was not the only occupant of this historic home. In fact, its other long-term resident is what connects Haberdeventure to Rich Hill, which is located less than ten miles away to the southwest. Haberdeventure was also the home of Thomas Stone’s wife, Margaret, who was born and raised at Rich Hill.

Margaret Brown was born and raised at Rich Hill and later married Thomas Stone, signer of the Declaration of Independence Margaret Brown was born…

View original post 1,653 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Rich Hill in Charles County’s Preservation Matters Newsletter

The 2015 edition of Charles County, Maryland’s Preservation Matters newsletter has been published. The newsletter contains several articles about the historic preservation activities that are occurring around the county.  One of the stories explains the wonderful work being done at Rich Hill, the home of Samuel Cox and a stop on John Wilkes Booth’s escape route.

Rich Hill This Place Matters

The piece highlights the work that is being done to preserve and plan for future site development.  It even quotes a bit from my previously posted article about the history of Rich Hill.  Though my name (and giant face) are present, this article is entirely the work of Cathy Thompson, the Community Planning Program Manager for Charles County. Ms. Thompson and the members of the Friends of Rich Hill committee have been working tirelessly to lay the ground work for a restored Rich Hill. If you are interested in donating to the further refurbishment of Rich Hill, please send your donations to either:

Friends of Rich Hill
P.O. Box 2806
La Plata, MD 20646

or to the

Surratt Society
Surratt House Museum
9118 Brandywine Road
Clinton, MD 20735
Please indicate on the bottom of your check that the money is for “Rich Hill”

In the mean time,

CLICK HERE to read the 2015 edition of Preservation Matters and its article about RICH HILL

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.