Posts Tagged With: Conspiracy Trial

An Assassination Vacation in the Midwest

Kate and I are visiting my family here in Illinois and decided to use the opportunity to make use of the newly updated Lincoln assassination maps here on BoothieBarn.  We planned and executed a two day excursion to visit some of the sites on the Lincoln Assassination in the Midwest map.  The following is an overview of our trip composed using the tweets I sent out en route along with a couple of short videos I made.

While the trip mainly consisted of two long days of driving, Kate and I enjoyed ourselves and it was a lot of fun to see so many Lincoln assassination places, graves, and artifacts all at once.  Thank you to the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County, Mr. Blair Tarr, curator of the Kansas State Historical Society Museum, Nikaela Zimmerman, Barry Cauchon, and Steve Miller for all your help in making this trip possible.  Also, thank you to my parents for letting me use (and put a considerable number of miles on) their car.

Boston Corbett's Dugout 7-8-2015

Now you all get out there, take your own assassination vacation, and tell me about it in the comments below!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

A Military Tribunal Observance

Hello fellow history enthusiasts,

Kate Ramirez here stepping in for Dave to tell you all about some of the events hosted inside the walls of Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D. C.

As you know, commemorations remembering the 150 years since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the death of John Wilkes Booth have long since passed. However, another milestone passed just a few weeks ago, 150 years since the beginning of the Lincoln Conspiracy Trial. Accordingly, Fort McNair hosted a two day event which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend.

(Side note: I’m trying to get the hashtag #LCT150 to go viral and become the official hashtag for the trial. So if you could use that for your various social media postings I would really appreciate it).

On May 8th, Fort McNair held a VIP event in the Officers’ Club which is only a few yards from Grant Hall, where the trial took place in a room on the third floor. Among the guests were Dave and I, many high profile military officials, Colonel Michael Henderson (Commander of Myer-Henderson Hall) delivered the welcome remarks, published Lincoln assassination historians like Kate Clifford Larson, and descendants of various individuals involved in the assassination, including Dr. Samuel Mudd and Thomas Ewing. After some mingling set to the tunes provided by some amazingly talented military musicians, four acclaimed speakers talked in depth about the military tribunal and its participants.

Fort McNair Event Program 5-8-15

Starting off the program was American Brutus author Michael Kauffman. He provided an overview of events and discussed the differences between military and civil trials.

Mike Kauffman Fort McNair 5-8-15

John Elliott, co-author of Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators, spoke about how it would have felt to be a spectator during the infamous trial of 1865. For all those who have seen Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, being a spectator was not as cushy as it appeared on film. In the days before fire codes and maximum capacity rules, there was nothing wrong with shoving as many people into a room as possible. Add that to the fact that air conditioning had yet to be invented and it was the middle of summer. You do the math.

John Elliott Fort McNair 5-8-15

Barry Cauchon, the second author of Inside the Walls, who thankfully got his computer connected to the projector in time, gave an AWESOME (yes, that word deserves to be in all caps) presentation about finding the smallest of details in the different execution photos. You can even see the Smithsonian Castle in one of the images. It was like “Where’s Waldo” but more fun.

Barry Cauchon Fort McNair 5-8-15

Betty Ownsbey, author of Alias Paine (a second edition was just released so go buy it), was the final presenter. This was fitting as she talked about the various myths surrounding the original burial of John Wilkes Booth (no, he was not tossed into any rivers in case you were wondering), the final resting places of the four executed conspirators, and the journey taken by the skull of Lewis Powell.

Betty Ownesby Fort McNair 5-8-15

The event then moved outside to the execution site where Barry Cauchon and John Elliott had earlier marked the locations of the gallows, the graves of the conspirators, the first burial place of Booth, the prison door, and various other structures we have all seen in pictures. Usually I do not find it fortunate that a tennis court was built on the hanging ground. However, said court does come fitted with bright lights which made seeing Barry, his informative presentation, and the gallows and shoe factor markers easy despite the sun having all but disappeared behind the horizon.

Barry Cauchon Execution Site 5-8-15

(Barry demonstrating the height of the gallows).

Barry Cauchon Shoe Factory 5-8-15

(Barry discussing how Alexander Gardner set up his cameras in the shoe factory, which was about 100 feet from the execution site).

As for admiring markers which were in darker areas, that gave everyone a valid excuse to return in the morning for the Grant Hall open house (except for Dave who attended the Tudor Hall symposium in Bel Air, MD). However, Dave and I did manage to get a few good pictures before leaving. 

Dave Taylor Execution Site 5-8-15

(Dave standing on the same spot as George Atzerodt when he was executed).

Kate Ramirez Execution Site 5-8-15

(I chose to sit where David Herold was standing when he was executed. I also look a bit like Vampria. I swear I’m not actually this pale in real life).

Kate Ramirez Shoe Factory 5-8-15

(The more natural lighting near the shoe factory marker shows my skin’s normal coloring).

Due to being on a military base, Grant Hall is only open once every quarter. May 9th was all the more special since it was the 150th anniversary of the trial’s beginning (the trial began in secret on May 9, 1865. May 10th was the first day the public was allowed inside) and visitors got to tour the refurbished trial room with John and the courtyard with Barry. I got much better pictures of the different markers in the sunlight. FYI: John needs to get some serious props since he got a facial sunburn while helping Barry put everything together. Dedication, ladies and gentleman. Dedication.

Surratt Grave Marker 5-9-15

Powell Grave Marker Grant Hall 5-9-15

Herold Grave Marker Grant Hall 5-9-15

Atzerodt Grave Marker Grant Hall 5-9-15

(The approximate locations of the executed conspirator’s original graves. Why the government felt they needed to keep dead bodies for four years I will never understand. But that’s just my opinion).

Grant Hall with Grave Markers 5-9-15

(The two red lines represent where the prison wall used to stand. It’s the place where all the soldiers were chilling on execution day in case you don’t know which wall I’m referring to).

Grant Hall Stairs Marker 5-9-15

(This red box marks where the stairs for the gallows were).

Grant Hall Prison Door 5-9-15

(The spot of the now demolished prison door through which the conspirators entered the courtyard on July 7, 1865).

Grant Hall Gallows and Wall Markers 5-9-15

(This is the length from the door to the stairs. The conspirators did not march a long dramatic distance like in the movies).

Grant Hall Gallows and Shoe Factory Markers 5-9-15

(The view from the gallows in the foreground to the shoe factory in the background).

Grant Hall Shoe Factory Marker 2 5-9-15

(And vice versa).

Execution Site from Trial Room 5-9-15

(You can see the entire execution site from the courtroom window on the third floor of Grant Hall).

Grant Hall John Wilkes Booth Burial Place Marker 5-9-15

(X marks the spot of John Wilkes Booth’s original burial place).

The courtroom was nicely decorated with pictures showing who sat where on the prisoner dock and at the commissioner table. This was especially helpful to me since I can usually recall where each conspirator was but often can barely remember the names of the commission members let alone where they chose to sit.




(That’s Samuel Arnold next to the window. The light obscured his picture).


While John gave his lecture on the details of the trial, I got the chance to talk with Michael Kauffman, who returned to speak about how the eight conspirators got involved with John Wilkes Booth and how that influenced their individual fates.


If you ever get a chance to talk with Mr. Kauffman, ask lots of questions because he is an endless storage of facts and tidbits. Did you know that the red color of the Surratt Tavern originally came from turkey blood? Yep, the paint was a mixture of milk and turkey blood. I also managed to get this picture once the chairs were free to sit on again.

Michael Kauffman Kate Ramirez Grant Hall 5-9-15

And this one when the tours were over and the Boothies still hanging around (no pun intended) decided to take advantage of the nice weather and continue chatting outside (and also because we had to vacate the courtroom or else be locked inside).

Kate Ramirez John Elliott Barry Cauchon Michael Kauffman Grant Hall 5-9-15

(Me, John Elliott, Barry Cauchon, and Michael Kauffman indulge in a group selfie).

Though the story surrounding Grant Hall is one of intense darkness in American history, the coordinators at Fort McNair were able to put together a spectacular event that was a remembrance of the past but also an environment for us in the present to interact with friends in a more light-hearted manner.

Fort McNair Event 5-8-15

Times of great horror have the ability to shed light not only on the past but also on the present and future. When we as historians can look objectively at acts of violence without passing too many judgments about the players we realize that we’re not so different from them after all.

Grant Hall Past and Present

(Okay, so it isn’t the clearest image in the world but you get the idea).

(Final image created by John Elliott and Barry Cauchon).

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Calendar: May 2015

I hope you were all able to take part in some of the April events that commemorated the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the escape, and subsequent death of his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Even though most of the big events have passed, there are still some programs and exhibitions going on in the month of May.  May 9th, in particular, has two very exciting events planned. Take a look at the events below and be sure to visit the Calendar section of this site for a full list.

May 1st – 4th:

Lincoln Funeral Train Weekend in Springfield, Illinois

  • Those of you in the central Illinois region will definitely want to make plans to visit the state capital.  Springfield is going all out with events and activities recreating the arrival of Lincoln’s Funeral Train.  For more information and a list of the many events planned, click here.

May 4th:

Brian Unger show

“Lincoln’s Killer on the Run” episode of Time Traveling with Brian Unger debuts on the Travel Channel

  • How the States Got Their Shape host, Brian Unger has a new show taking unsuspecting tourists to lesser visited historic sites.  On May 4th, at 10:00 pm EST, a new episode dealing with John Wilkes Booth is set to air.  Unger will take a group into a Maryland pine thicket (my doesn’t that sound familiar…), row across the Potomac, and visit the site of the conspirator’s execution.  For other dates and times of airings, click here.

May 9th:

2015 Tudor Hall Symposium Graphic

Tudor Hall, the Booths of Maryland and the Civil War Symposium in Bel Air, Maryland

  • The Junius B. Booth Society (JBBS) and the Historical Society of Harford County (HSHC) are holding a one day, one-of-a kind symposium titled Tudor Hall, the Booths of Maryland and the Civil War from 8:00 AM to 4:45 PM at the Bel Air Armory in Bel Air, MD. Tudor Hall, the home of the theatrical Booths of Maryland, a short distance away will be open to the attendees following the symposium for tours till 7 PM.  This is a fundraiser and the proceeds will be split between JBBS and HSHC. All proceeds to JBBS will be used for turning Tudor Hall into a museum. For more information and for directions on how to register for the symposium, click here.

150th Anniversary of the Trial of the Conspirators at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.

  • Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. contains Grant Hall, the site of the trial and execution of the Lincoln conspirators.  To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the trial, Fort McNair will be having a very special event. Historians and authors, including Betty Ownsbey, Barry Cauchon, and John Elliott, will be presenting on the imprisonment, trial, and execution of the Lincoln conspirators.  Since Fort McNair is expecting higher than average visitation on this day, those wishing to participate in the programs need to RSVP for their desired hour of programming.  For more information, including the links of how to register to visit, click here.

May 17th:

Ann Hall's Grave

“The Loyal Servants of the Booths: Joe and Ann Hall” presented by Jim Chrismer at the Booth family home of Tudor Hall in Bel Air, Maryland

  • Harford County Historian Jim Chrismer will present at 2:00 pm about the Booth family servants Joe and Ann Hall.  Ann Hall is buried not far from Tudor Hall. For more information, click here.

May 21st:

“Forensics of the Lincoln Assassination” presented by Douglas H. Boxler at the Lew Wallace Study in Crawfordsville, Indiana

  • Speaker Douglas Boxler used a Derringer pistol and a “Spatter Head” that simulates the structure of the human cranium to conduct research on his talk about the “Forensics of Lincoln’s Assassination”. Visit the home of Lew Wallace, a member of the military commission that tried the Lincoln conspirators at 7:00pm to watch his speech.  The Wallace Study also does a wonderful job live tweeting their lectures.  For more information, click here.

May 29th:

Silent Witnesses” Ends at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

  • This day marks the end of special exhibit, “Silent Witnesses“, at Ford’s Theatre.  Make sure to visit Ford’s on or before this date to make sure you see these unique treasures before they go back to their home museums:


Alias “Paine”: A Book Lecture by Betty Ownsbey at the Seward House Museum in Auburn, New York

May 31st:

“The Loyal Servants of the Booths: Joe and Ann Hall” presented by Jim Chrismer at the Booth family home of Tudor Hall in Bel Air, Maryland

  • Deja vu? Jim Chrismer will repeat his May 17th program about the Halls at Tudor Hall. For more information, click here.

Ongoing Events/Exhibits:

Undying Words: Lincoln 1858 – 1865 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL
A Fiendish Assassination at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL
Remembering Lincoln at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL (ends May 10th)
Now He Belongs to the Ages at the Lincoln Heritage Museum in Lincoln, IL
A Nation in Tears: 150 Years after Lincoln’s Death at the University of Illinois’ Rare Book and Manuscript Library in Champaign-Urbana, IL (ends May 4th)
So Costly a Sacrifice: Lincoln and Loss at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, IN
Autopsy for a Nation: The Death of Abraham Lincoln at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY
The Attempted Assassination of William Seward at the Seward House in Auburn, NY (ends June 1st)
Shooting Lincoln at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA
His Wound is Mortal: The Final Hours of President Abraham Lincoln at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland
President Lincoln Is Dead: The New York Herald Reports the Assassination at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. (ends May 29th)
The Full Story: Maryland, The Surratts, and the Crime of the Century at the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, MD
Remembering Lincoln a digital archives project by Ford’s Theatre
History on Foot: Detective McDevitt is a great walking tour of D.C. put on by Ford’s Theatre of some of the sites associated with Lincoln’s assassination:

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

General Lew Wallace Study & Museum

In the city of Crawfordsville, Indiana, surrounded by modern houses, well kept yards, and the friendly people that the rural Midwest breeds, there lies a a building and museum dedicated to a man who lived a fascinating and multifaceted life.  His name was Lew Wallace and he lived from 1827 to 1905.

Gen Lew Wallace NARA

Wallace achieved early fame by becoming the youngest Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War.  His valiant command at the Battle of Monocacy, while a loss for the Union, delayed Confederate General Jubal Early’s forces long enough for the proper reinforcements to arrive in Washington D.C., which later prevented Early from taking the nation’s capital.  Following the Civil War, Lew Wallace was appointed the Governor of the New Mexico Territory, and then the U.S. Minister to Turkey.  In Turkey, Wallace broke traditional social customs and diplomatic protocol by asking to shake hands with Sultan Abdul Hamid II.  Surprisingly the Sultan consented and from this unique start blossomed a mutual respect and friendship between the two men.  Wallace was an avid reader, fisherman, painter, and would-be inventor.

As remarkable as these accomplishments are, however, Wallace’s great fame comes from his literary contributions.  One of his books, in particular, made him a household name in the 19th century and granted him immense wealth and prestige.  The book has been adapted for the stage, radio, television, and four motion pictures, the most famous being Charlton Heston’s 1959 version.  This book is Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.  It was the best selling American novel from its publication in 1880 until 1936, when it was replaced by Gone With the Wind.  To date, Ben-Hur has never been out of print.

Lew Wallace wrote much of Ben-Hur while sitting under a tree at his Crawfordsville home.  After its success, Wallace decided to build himself a study, away from his main house, in which he could write, research, and tinker with his other interests.  The study took three years to build and was completed in 1898.  Today, the study is a museum relating to the life of Lew Wallace, the solider, diplomat, and author:

Lew Wallace Study 1

The exterior of the study is a mixture of different architectural styles, many gleamed from Wallace’s time in Turkey.  The interior of the study is basically one large room with a fireplace alcove, a small room to the side in which Wallace would nap, and a set of stairs which leads down to the basement which held the furnace, bathroom, and electrical system in Wallace’s day.  To use a colloquialism, this study was Wallace’s “man cave”.  It was the home of Wallace’s many passions and hobbies.  There are shelves all around the room containing his huge collection of books and research materials that he used in his writing.  The walls are covered with paintings he owned and ones he painted himself.  There are cases for his hunting and fishing gear and his other experimental hobbies like sculpting and violin making.

Interior Lew Wallace Study 3

Books and paintings on one wall of the Lew Wallace Study in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The painting on the left was painted by Lew Wallace himself and the center painting was a gift to him from the Sultan of Turkey.

Interior Lew Wallace Study 1

Interior Lew Wallace Study 2

The chair closest to the fireplace was the chair in which Lew Wallace wrote much of Ben-Hur in.

While Lew Wallace may be best known for Ben-Hur, he also was involved in the Lincoln assassination story.  General Wallace was one of the nine members of the military commission which tried the Lincoln assassination conspirators:

Part of the military commission which tried the Lincoln conspirators.  Lew Wallace is seated, second from the right. NARA

Part of the military commission which tried the Lincoln conspirators. Lew Wallace is seated, second from the right. NARA

During the trial, Wallace passed the time by making sketches of all the Lincoln conspirators (except Mrs. Surratt).  Those sketches, which show a great degree of talent, are now housed at the Indiana Historical Society, but are reproduced below:

Wallace would later use these sketches as models for a painting.  That painting, known as “The Conspirators”, but actually unnamed and unsigned by Wallace is housed in the study:

The Conspirators in the Lew Wallace Study 3

In addition to the conspirators he made life sketches of during the trial, Lew Wallace also included depictions of John Wilkes Booth and John Surratt.  The painting is said to be of the conspirators present at Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration.  While Booth was present at the inauguration, it is unlikely any of the others were.

The Conspirators in the Lew Wallace Study Labeled

It is a very large painting, measuring 60″ by 66.5″.  It dwarfs over all the other works of art in the study.

The Conspirators in the Lew Wallace Study 1

In Wallace’s time, he had the painting displayed on an easel in a corner of the room.  Due to concerns for its safety, the study currently puts it up and out of reach.

Study during Wallace's day

This photograph of Lew Wallace’s study during his life, shows the painting of the conspirators with a prominent place on an easel.

Over the years, the painting of the conspirators has darkened.  General Wallace likely contributed to this due to his avid smoking habit.  The study hopes to restore the painting, along with some of the ornate designs on the interior of the study.

If you’re in the area of Crawfordsville, Indiana, a stop at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is definitely worth it.  For $5 admission you are presented with an introductory video about Lew Wallace’s life and then are given a personalized tour of the study by one of the knowledgeable  guides.  You are also free to roam around the grounds and visitor center free of charge.  The study also has brochures giving directions to Lew Wallace’s grave which is only 3 or so miles from the study.

Lew Wallace Grave 1

It appears to be the tallest monument in the whole cemetery and the top of the obelisk is carved to look like there is a flag draped on it.

Lew Wallace Grave 3

Lew Wallace lived a unique life and his former study in Crawfordsville does a great job of educating its visitors about his accomplishments and legacy.  For more information, visit their website:

Lew Wallace Grave 2

Thanks to the participants of Roger Norton’s Lincoln Discussion Symposium from whom I first learned of this museum and decided to visit.
General Lew Wallace Study & Museum
Indiana Historical Society

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

The Grave of James W. Pumphrey

“James W. Pumphrey owned a livery stable on C Street in Washington, D.C., just behind the National Hotel where Booth stayed when he was in town. Booth became a patron of Pumphrey’s, renting horses from him on several occasions, including the night of the assassination.  Booth stopped by Pumphrey’s stable shortly after noon on April 14th, asking to reserve a particularly horse, and to have it ready at 4 o’clock that afternoon.  When Booth stopped by the livery the horse had already been rented to somone else and Booth had to settle for a bay mare.” – Steers, Assassination Encylopedia

Pumphrey's Obit

James W. Pumphrey is buried with his father Levi, in D.C.'s Congressional Cemetery.

James W. Pumphrey is buried with his father Levi, in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery.

Congressional Cemetery has a wonderful news article about James Pumphrey trying to cheat the gas company in 1883 (bottom of page 5).

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Blog at