When this blog first started in March of 2012, it was little more than a shelf on which I could put the small research oddities and tidbits of information I came across. I was still new to the Lincoln assassination field and unsure whether this hobby would turn into anything constructive. Since that time, the community around this site has grown far beyond what I ever expected. As my followers have grown, I have worked hard to provide new and varied content all with the aim of educating others about the events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination. I am very proud at what I have accomplished here on BoothieBarn and, particularly, in the growing scholarship behind the posts I produce.
I am, first and foremost, a teacher and that is why BoothieBarn is, and always will be, an educational resource open to all. As an elementary school teacher, I feel there is no higher calling than using your talents to educate others. As I tell my students, everyone has the capacity of enriching the world around them by sharing their unique knowledge and abilities with others. I research, write, and speak about the Lincoln assassination because I enjoy sharing my passion with others.
BoothieBarn is not a commercial entity. I make no money in writing or producing content for this site. I have no book deals nor do I make any money from advertisements (in fact, I actually pay to keep ads off of this site). In addition, the majority of the speaking engagements Kate and I are asked to do are unpaid. This website, and the Lincoln assassination story in general, is a hobby for us and one that we enjoy, but there are some real costs associated with owning, maintaining, and producing content on BoothieBarn. In webhosting fees and research subscriptions alone, I spend over $400 a year. Even this is a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of books and travel to historic sites and museums when researching new leads. This admission is not a complaint at all, but is merely meant to demonstrate that all we do here on BoothieBarn is a true labor of love.
With that being said, I have decided to launch a Patreon page for BoothieBarn. Patreon is an online system that allows followers to provide some financial support for the work being done by their favorite creators. The website operates a bit like those infomercials you see on TV where you make a pledge to donate a certain amount each month. You choose whatever amount you would like to give and, once a month, Patreon will charge your credit card that amount and give it to your chosen creator.
My reason for joining Patreon is the hope that some of you might consider becoming a patron of BoothieBarn and help provide some financial support towards the work that we do. Your pledge would help to offset the costs associated with owning BoothieBarn and conducting research for it. A pledge of any amount would truly help to lift some of the financial burden that creating content for this site entails (especially from the shoulders of a couple of newlyweds on a teacher’s salary). I am not expecting that we will ever be able to break even regarding the costs of our work, but every little bit makes an impact.
Those of you who chose to become a patron will not only have our deepest thanks, but also access to some patron-only material on our Patreon page. From time to time I will be adding images and short descriptions of some of the Lincoln assassination artifacts that we have seen in our travels. I’m calling this section “The Vault”, and we already have a few entries ready to go in the “Posts” section of the Patreon page. A recurring pledge of any amount grants you ongoing access to The Vault and the treasures inside. It’s our way of thanking you for your support.
I hope that you will consider becoming a patron of BoothieBarn and help us continue to provide thought provoking, educational material on Lincoln’s assassination. Please click the “Become a Patron” button below to be taken to our Patreon page to read our story. There you will find information on how the Patreon system works so that you can decide whether giving is something you feel you can do.
Even if you don’t have the means to contribute, I appreciate your continued support of our efforts here on BoothieBarn.
What follows is the same text you will find in the overview section of the BoothieBarn Patreon page. Please visit that site in order to sign up to be one of our patrons.
“Why did he do it?”
This was the question I had while observing the magnificent tomb of our 16th President during my eighth grade class trip to Springfield, Illinois. For the past two days my class and our chaperones had toured what felt like all of the historic sites the Springfield region had to offer; New Salem, the Old State Capitol, the Illinois State Museum, the New State Capitol, and Lincoln’s home. All of these sites taught us about my home state and Abraham Lincoln’s important place in its history. Our final stop before heading back to our Chicagoland home was this, the Lincoln Tomb. After days of hearing all about Abraham Lincoln’s beginnings, rise, and presidency, the tomb marked a fitting end that demonstrated how a grateful country memorializes its greatest leader.
And yet, after walking through the near silent tomb and emerging out the other side, my thoughts had shifted from Lincoln to the actor who had ended his life. Abraham Lincoln’s death was not the result of illness or old age. He was the first President to be killed. How could anyone do such a thing to a man so well loved today? How was it possible that a single man could bring down our country’s greatest president? What were his motives? Why did he do it?
In school, I found the answers to my questions less than helpful. “The assassin,” textbooks told me, “was a crazed Southern actor who was upset that the Confederacy had lost the Civil War.” All it took was a sentence to explain that Lincoln’s death was an act of mad vengeance. With sentences like that, textbooks could wrap up the end of the Civil War section and move on. But that wasn’t enough for me. Such a statement couldn’t bookend the immensity of Lincoln’s life and the national mourning following his death. It was then that I started my own education into the death of Abraham Lincoln.
Throughout high school and college I read about Lincoln’s death, still trying to understand the motivations of a man who brought grief to a nation with a single shot derringer pistol. I graduated from college with a degree in elementary education and began my career as a teacher. As I continued to study the Lincoln assassination in my free time however, I found that the more I read, the more questions I had. I started reaching out to notable experts in the field and, eventually, I joined an online community of others who studied the Lincoln assassination.
Starting a Blog
In 2012, I decided to start my own Lincoln assassination blog, a medium I had very little experience with. Not expecting anyone other than myself and some of my close friends to read it, I gave it the somewhat silly name of BoothieBarn. The word “Boothie” is a term used by some of us who study the Lincoln assassination (it was once used derogatorily by Lincoln scholars who looked down on those who studied Lincoln’s death). And the “barn” part? Well the assassin of Lincoln was shot in a burning barn and I guess I liked the alliteration of it. Again, I really didn’t expect much out of the blog and wasn’t even sure it would last. In retrospect I wish I had given it a better name but it has since become my brand, for better or for worse. Shortly after starting my blog I moved to Maryland which brought me closer to the history I studied.
In the beginning my blog was very much what you would expect from a novice blogger. My posts were short and contained little more than tidbits of trivia I had learned during my study of the Lincoln assassination. Over time I expanded and developed the site to include picture galleries, videos, and maps. My posts got longer and took more time to research and write. As my number of blog followers increased, I felt compelled to hold myself to higher and higher standards. In the early days I could whip out a blog post in under an hour with very little effort. Today, my wife, Kate, can attest to the fact that even the most basic of posts take hours of research to make sure each detail is backed up by evidence.
The devotion and detail I have demonstrated in my work has provided me with some unique opportunities. I have been interviewed on live TV twice. In 2015, I was chosen to become one of the narrators for the John Wilkes Booth escape route bus tour put on by the Surratt House Museum. And, in what has been the highlight of my “career” thus far, this Illinois native turned Marylander has twice been invited to speak at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library on the subject of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Since my blog started in 2012, my site has had almost 1,000,000 views and has gained over 700 followers. As a blog dedicated to a niche part of history, I am very proud of those numbers and feel that I provide those visitors with quality, educational content about a turbulent time in our nation’s history. I will continue to research, write, and publish new and unique stories connected with the events of April 14, 1865.
My reason for joining Patreon is the hope that some of you might consider becoming a patron of BoothieBarn and help provide some financial support towards the work I do. All the work and research I do is a labor of love but there are real costs associated with the production of content. Here’s a little bit of the breakdown.
- Web hosting: My website is hosted through WordPress, a blogging and website design site. I pay $99 a year for webhosting, which is WordPress’ middle of the road package. This package gives me the direct web address of www.BoothieBarn.com rather than the cumbersome boothiebarn.wordpress.com. In addition, this package removes any outside advertisements from the site that WordPress would otherwise include. This makes the site cleaner and more user friendly.
- Genealogy resources: Much of the research on the blog requires finding out basic biographical information about some of the smaller known characters in the Lincoln assassination. In order to help find individuals in censuses, marriage records, city listings, death certificates, etc., I subscribe to Ancestry.com. As of this writing I have created 42 different family trees using Ancestry with only one of those being for my own family. It is an integral part of my research process. My subscription to Ancestry costs me $189 a year.
- Newspaper archives: While the Library of Congress has some newspapers digitized and available to view for free on their Chronicling America site, modern research really requires the use of a subscription based newspaper archive. There are many different archives available with some overlap in content. For my newspaper research, I subscribe to GenealogyBank.com. This allows me to search through newspapers for relevant articles and content. My subscription to GenealogyBank costs $69.95 per year.
- Military records: When researching members of the military and the official records of the War Department regarding Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, access to digitized military records is a must. The entire Lincoln Assassination Evidence file (all of the material collected by investigators about Lincoln’s death) is housed in the National Archives. The website Fold3.com provides digital scans of all of these documents and a bulk of the National Archives’ military records. My subscription to Fold3 costs me $79.95 per year.
Looking at the costs of web hosting and the three research resources I subscribe to, it can be determined that I spend at least $437.90 a year in order to create content for BoothieBarn. This, of course, also fails to take into account the likely thousands of dollars I have spent over the years buying books and assembling a personal Lincoln assassination library. Suffice it to say, I have spent, and continue to spend, a lot of money to do what I love.
How you can help
I am not expecting that I will ever be able to break even regarding the costs of my work. What Patreon provides, however, is a system of allowing fans of a content creator to set up recurring donations to support their work. Patreon operates a bit like those infomercials you see on TV where you make a pledge to donate a certain amount each month. You choose whatever amount you would like to give and, once a month, Patreon will charge your credit card that amount. It’s a very painless and simple process. 90% of the money you give goes straight to the creator while 10% goes to Patreon as transaction fees. It’s a way of matching creators with patrons who enjoy their work and want to support them in whatever way they can. It’s almost like a virtual tip jar but gives creators more long term support.
I, myself, have been a patron of a wonderful artist named Jackie Roche, who creates historical comics, for several months now and I have never had any problems with the Patreon system. On the first day of each month Patreon automatically deducts my pledge from my credit card and sends it her way. I am free to increase, reduce, or even stop my monthly donation at anytime. It’s a very user friendly system that connects creators to the people who want to support their work.
By creating a Patreon account and setting up a monthly pledge, you would help support the work and research that I do on BoothieBarn. Your donation would work to help offset the costs of web hosting, research resources, and other expenses associated with creating new articles on the Lincoln assassination. Your donation doesn’t have to be much to help make a difference and you are free to cancel your monthly pledge at any time.
What you will receive
In many cases, becoming a creator’s patron entitles you to special perks. Some creators give their patrons early access to something or produce exclusive “patron only” material. These examples walk the line, in my opinion, between becoming a supportive patron and just outright paying for goods and services. Since the goal of BoothieBarn is to be an educational site that is accessible to all, I would not feel comfortable in producing researched pieces here on Patreon that would only be available to patrons.
However, I do understand the need to reward and thank patrons for their support. In this way, becoming a patron with a recurring pledge of any amount will grant you access to The Vault. Kate and I have been to many different museums, libraries and archives over the years in our ongoing research into the Lincoln assassination. As such we have seen firsthand many interesting artifacts and relics connected with the event. In The Vault, I will highlight some of the items we have seen in our travels and where they are located today. The Vault will only be accessible and viewable by patrons here on Patreon as a thank you for your support. Wouldn’t you like a peek inside The Vault?
Whether you have the means to become a patron of BoothieBarn or not, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this and consider it. BoothieBarn is a true labor of love for me and any amount of support would be graciously appreciated. There are often times when the commitments of my real life career as an elementary school teacher prevent me from researching and writing, but the call to seek out answers is just as strong now as when I was a student myself. I will strive to continue to produce intriguing and educational pieces about one of the most traumatic events in our national history.