Posts Tagged With: Graves

Grave Thursday: Cora Lee Garrett

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.


Cora Lee Garrett

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Burial Location: Carlisle Cemetery, Carlisle, Kentucky

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Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

On Monday, April 24, 1865, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, three men rode up on horseback to the farmhouse of Richard Henry Garrett and his family. Mr. Garrett was asked by the leader of the trio, a solider named Jett, if he would be willing to take care of one of their compatriots who had been wounded in the leg. The other two men promised to come back for their infirm friend on Wednesday morning. This temporary refuge was agreed upon with little deliberation by Mr. Garrett. He would later recall, “As it has always been one of the principles of my religion to entertain strangers, especially any in distress, I at once consented and promised I would do the best I could for him.”  Little did Mr. Garrett know at the time that he had just invited into his home the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth.

Booth, portraying himself as Mr. Boyd, was kindly tended to by Mr. Garrett and his family. The occupants of the farm at that time numbered more than a dozen with Mr. Garrett, his wife, and ten children consisting of the bulk of the population. The children present on the farm were, in order: Mary Elizabeth, Jack, Kate, Will, Annie, Richard, Lillie, Robert, Nettie, and, the youngest, Cora Lee.

Though his broken leg pained him, John Wilkes Booth did make an effort to entertain the five youngest Garrett children, all of whom were 10 or younger. He mystified them by moving the needle of a compass around with his pocketknife and he even told them jokes and stories. However, it was to three year-old Cora Lee Garrett that Booth paid the greatest of attention.

Lillie Garrett, who was 8 years-old at the time of Booth’s visit would later give an account of Booth’s stay at the family farm to a newspaperman. In her account she detailed Booth’s fondness for Cora:

“We children were about him and with him nearly all of the time. Of course, we were full of romp and frolic, and sometimes he would attempt to be cheerful and encourage us in our play. Our little baby sister, then about 4 [sic] years old, he took a great fancy to, and used to pet her a great deal, but the rest of us he paid little attention to…

He talked more to my little sister than to any one else. He called her his little blue-eyed pet, and, at the last meal he took with us, she sat by his side in her high chair. We were all gathered around the table, when she began making a noise; mother spoke up quite sharply to her, and she burst into tears. Booth at once began soothing her, and said, “What, is that my little blue-eyes crying?”

Within twelve hours of drying his little blue-eyed pet’s tears, John Wilkes Booth was dead, shot in the tobacco barn belonging to her father. And while Cora may have made a distinct mark on John Wilkes Booth in his final hours, he might have been disappointed to learn that he did not make such a mark on her.

In 1881, a newspaper reporter named Col. Frank Burr visited the Garrett farm to talk with its inhabitants. Cora, then a young woman of 19, was still living with her sisters. Burr described his interaction with her:

“In a minute a bright rather handsome young girl, just budding into womanhood, stepped into the room, dressed in her riding habit. She had a full, round face and pleasant countenance lit up by a pair of large, poetic, blue eyes, and a wealth of golden hair fell down her back in a graceful braid, reaching below her waist. A jaunty riding hat evidently of home construction, set upon her shapely head…”

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“‘I don’t remember anything about Booth,’ said the cheerful girl, ‘but they have told me a great deal about him since his death. How I wish I could remember him! I’m just going for a ride,’ and, after a few moments’ conversation, she stepped up and took her riding-whip from its place near the old fashioned fire-place, and a moment later had darted out the door to where her pony was hitched. She put the saddle upon the horse herself, and sprang into it without assistance, and in less time than it takes to tell the story her black pony was flying down the country road, bearing toward a neighboring farm house John Wilkes Booth’s last sweetheart.”

Cora, like the rest of her siblings, would move away from the old farmstead. When her brother, Richard Baynham Garrett, became a Baptist minister in 1882, she accompanied him when he accepted a pastorate located in Carlisle, Kentucky. While in Carlisle she likely made the acquaintance of a widower by the name of William Henry Fritts. Henry was 22 years older than Cora and had a son that was only six years younger than she was. It appears that any romantic feelings between the two took a while to develop as Cora left Kentucky in 1889 when her brother took up a new pastorate in Austin, Texas. Eventually, Henry Fritts followed her to Austin and the two were married by her brother Rev. Richard Baynham Garrett in 1892.

Cora moved back to Carlisle with Henry and the pair had two children together. Sadly, however, both of the children died in childhood. In 1899, Rev. Garrett accepted a pastorate at a Baptist church located in Portsmouth, Virginia. Whether Cora was homesick for her native state or wanted to be closer to her family, we don’t know, but, regardless, within a couple years of Rev. Garrett’s move to Portsmouth, Henry Fritts also accepted a job in Portsmouth, Virginia. He and Cora reunited with her brother. Cora and Henry had a nice life in Portsmouth with Henry working at the Navy Yard. However, in 1913 Henry Fritts died. Cora had his body transported back to Carlisle for burial next to his mother and father. She then returned to Portsmouth. Cora outlived her brother, the Rev. Garrett, who died in 1922 and was buried in Portsmouth.

Cora Lee Garrett Fritts died at the age of 70 on November 18, 1932. She was the penultimate witness to John Wilkes Booth’s death (albeit without any memory of the event), and left her brother, Robert Clarence Garrett, as the only remaining person alive who had witnessed the assassin’s end.

Since Cora had no children of her own (she also outlived her step-son), her final arrangements were tended to by her nephew. The original thought was to bury her back near the old farmstead in Caroline County, Virginia where she was born. There she would have joined her father, mother, and several of her siblings in the Enon Baptist Church Cemetery. But it was later decided that she should be transported to Kentucky and be laid next to her husband.

Cora Lee Garrett, John Wilkes Booth’s blue-eyed pet and last “sweetheart”, is buried in the Fritts family plot in Carlisle Cemetery.

GPS coordinates for Cora Lee Garrett’s grave: 38.314908, -84.034176

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Grave Thursday: John Somerset Leaman

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.


John Somerset Leaman

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Burial Location: Upper Seneca Baptist Church Cemetery, Germantown, Maryland

Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

John Somerset Leaman was a resident of Germantown, a village in Montgomery County, Maryland northwest of Washington, D.C. Leaman, who went by both John and by Somerset, his middle name, was a thirty year old carpenter who had lived in Montgomery County his whole life. On April 16, 1865, Easter Sunday, John and his younger brother James were enjoying the hospitality of one of their neighbors named Hezekiah Metz. Metz had invited the Leaman brothers to join him and his family for Easter lunch. Shortly before the noontime meal was to begin, an old acquaintance of both the Leamans and the Metzes showed up at the door. He was known to everyone in the region as Andrew Atwood. His father had once owned a farm in Montgomery County but had moved some years back. Nevertheless Andrew and his brother regularly returned to the Germantown area to visit. Andrew told them that he had come from Washington and that he was heading to his cousin’s home which was only about two miles off. He was a likable enough man and was quickly invited in to join the group for their meal.

The fact that Andrew had come from Washington was of great interest to John Leaman and the other guests. The news of Lincoln’s assassination was everywhere and everyone clamored to hear the news directly. Before the meal began John Leaman asked Andrew in jest, “Are you the man that killed Abe Lincoln?” Andrew answered, “Yes” and then laughed. After the shared laughter ended, John Leaman asked Andrew for more details in order to confirm some of the things they had heard. Andrew told them that yes, Lincoln had been assassinated and that while Secretary Seward had been stabbed along with his sons, he had not been killed. Then Leaman asked Andrew about General Grant. “We had heard that General Grant was assassinated at the same time on the same night,” Leaman said. Andrew replied, “No: I do not know whether that is so or not. I do not suppose it is so. If it had been so, I would have heard it.”

A short time after everyone sat down for the Easter supper and Andrew found himself once again fielding questions from those present, most of which were the same questions Leaman had asked him earlier. Again the question about General Grant’s possible assassination came up. “No, I do not suppose he was,” Andrew replied. “If he was killed, he must have been killed by a man that got on the same train or the same car.”

The attention he was receiving must have given Andrew Atwood a little boost of confidence because he started to make slight flirtations with Hezekiah Metz’ 17 year-old daughter Martha. To John Leaman and his brother James, these attempts at paying his addresses to Ms. Metz made Atwood act confused but calm. These advances were subsequently rebuffed by Ms. Metz with Leaman later agreeing that Martha was “showing him the cold shoulder on that day”.

After dinner was over, Andrew began to depart and was joined for a bit in the yard by John’s brother James. James believed the cold treatment Andrew received from Ms. Metz was bothering Andrew. “Oh, my! What a trouble I see!” Andrew said to James before departing. “Why, what have you to trouble you?” James Leaman inquired. “More than I will ever get shut of,” Andrew replied. With that Andrew bade his goodbye and walked the remaining two miles to his cousins’ home.

The Leaman brothers enjoyed the remainder of their time with the Metzes before they also departed back to their shared home.

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Life continued very much as it had before for the Leaman brothers for the next few days. Either they or Hezekiah Metz made causal mention of the news Andrew had brought regarding the false report of Grant’s assassination to another neighbor named Nathan Page, but they thought nothing else of it.

Then in the early morning of April 20th, the Leaman brothers saw a contingent of Union soldiers heading towards their home. When the soldiers got near the house, James put his head out of the window and called to the soldiers. The sergeant in charge asked James if he knew a man by the name of Atzerodt. James replied that he didn’t. That name was not familiar to him. Then the sergeant asked if he knew a man named Atwood. To this, James replied in the affirmative. The sergeant then went up to the door and John Leaman came out. The sergeant asked John if he knew a man named Atwood and John replied that he did. The sergeant made a motion to the soldiers who had stayed back a bit and John Leaman watched as Andrew Atwood was brought forward. Atwood kept his head down, but when he got in front of John, the two shook hands and Leaman identified the man as Andrew Atwood. John also seemed to recall something that his younger brother didn’t. He confirmed that Atwood’s family name was actually Atzerodt. Upon hearing this information, the sergeant thanked John and sent Atwood away with a detachment of the soldiers.

It was shortly thereafter that the Leaman brothers learned what was going on. It appears that their acquaintance Andrew Atwood was actually named George Andrew Atzerodt and that he was wanted in connection with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Atzerodt CDV

 

A strange case of the game of telephone had occurred over the last few days. Remember how “Atwood” had calmly told the Leaman brothers and the Metzes at Easter dinner that the only way Grant was assassinated was “if a man had followed him onto his train”? That piece of news was told to neighbor Nathan Page who passed it on to another neighbor who was a Union detective named James Purdom. By the time Purdom passed the information on to a detachment of Union soldiers camped nearby, the story had been transformed into a man named “Lockwood” having stopped eating in the middle of the meal, thrown down his knife and shouted that “if the man on the train had followed Grant dutifully, he would have been assassinated too.” This latter statement is far more incendiary than George’s actual words. This is what sent Sergeant Zachariah Gemmill of the First Delaware regiment to the home of Hartman Richter looking for a man named “Lockwood”. While the name was wrong, the description he had been given was accurate enough for Gemmill to compel “Atwood” to come with him. Sgt. Gemmill took “Atwood” to the Leaman brothers’ home where he was unmasked as Atzerodt.

It is important to note that even if the game of telephone style of reporting hadn’t brought Gemmill to the door of Hartman Richter, George Atzerodt would still have been arrested on that day. Just a few hours after Gemmill made his arrest, a separate group of federal detectives arrived at Hartman Richter’s home to arrest George. They had been sent on a lead given to them by John Atzerodt, a detective for the Maryland provost marshal and George’s own brother. This group of detectives were too late to arrest George and also missed out on the reward money for his capture that went to Gemmill and his men.

At the trial of the conspirators, John Leaman, James Leaman, and Hezekiah Metz were all called to testify. The Leaman brothers were used more as defense witnesses, testifying that Atzerodt was calm during the supper and to his exact wording regarding Grant. Metz was a bit more unsure about Atzerodt’s wording regarding Grant, but reinforced the idea that he did not act in any unusual way and definitely did not throw down his knife and make a dramatic statement of any sort. Even Sgt. Gemmill would write in his report about the arrest that he, “could get no evidence around there to prove that [Atzerodt] did say” anything as dramatic as what was reported to him.

Life went back to normal for the Leaman brothers. John Somerset Leaman lived out the rest of his live in Montgomery County. He died on December 15, 1883 at the age of 48. His younger brother James outlived him by a number of years, dying in 1917 at the age of 80. James Leaman is buried in D.C.’s Rock Creek Cemetery.

GPS coordinates for John Somerset Leaman’s grave: 39.2408082, -77.2335394

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Grave Thursday: Silas T. Cobb

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.


Sgt. Silas Tower Cobb

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Burial Location: Central Burying Ground, Holliston, Massachusetts

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Good evening enthusiasts of all things historic, 

This is Kate, returning for another Grave Thursday installment. For this post, I decided to incorporate my work with Dave’s to bring you the full story of the watchman on the bridge, Silas T. Cobb. 

Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Sergeant Silas Tower Cobb is most remembered to history as the man who unknowingly created the John Wilkes Booth Escape Route. On April 14, 1865, Cobb allowed John Wilkes Booth and David Herold to cross the Navy Yard Bridge out of Washington City and into Southern Maryland. Riders were not allowed to cross the bridge after 9 PM but Booth and Herold arrived at almost 11. Unaware that President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward were mortally and severely wounded, Cobb allowed Booth and Herold passage. Rules had been lax since the surrender of General Robert E. Lee and riders wishing to leave the Capitol City did not seem nearly as dangerous as riders seeking entrance. Cobb drowned two years later at the age of 29 during a boating accident in Grand Haven, Michigan.

You can read more about Cobb’s later life here. This is the story of his life leading up to April of 1865. 

Named after his father, Silas Cobb was born on October 13, 1838 in Holliston, Massachusetts to Silas and Sophia Cobb. He spent his childhood training as a boot maker, a trade which he would resume after the Civil War, and sailed to the Arctic when he was 19 as a crewman aboard a whaling ship. Cobb did not immediately enlist in the Union Army following the firing on Fort Sumter. Instead, he married Sophia Treen. The couple had one child together, a daughter named Ada, but she died in infancy about a month after the execution of the conspirators. In 1863, Cobb enlisted in the Union Army, joining the 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. The regiment remained in its home state until it was called to Washington City to guard its various bridges and passageways. In 1862, General Lee had attempted a march on Maryland to put pressure on Washington and by 1863 had invaded Pennsylvania. Perhaps one reason the 3rd Massachusetts was sent south was to barricade the Capitol in the event that Lee managed to break significant Union lines. Lee’s campaign ultimately failed but it placed Cobb on the Navy Yard Bridge, keeping him from being lost to the pages of history as another name on another roster. While Lee never appeared, on April 14th Cobb received a different kind of Southern sympathizer on the bridge. The rest is history.

It is not known for certain why Cobb was in Grand Haven when he died. Some historians theorize that he was attempting to sell boots, having been honorably discharged from the Union Army and resumed his shoe making. Evidence for this theory points to a friend Cobb knew from his time in Holliston, Edgar Fletcher, who was also a boot maker. The pair were traveling through Michigan together. Both perished in the accident.

The body of Silas T. Cobb was brought back home to Holliston where it was laid to rest in the Central Burying Ground. A small military headstone marks the site today. Much like Cobb, it is a stop on the road to more recognized places (Fall River to the South, Boston and Salem to the North) but it is still a stop worth discussing due to its brush with history.  

Until next time.

-Kate 

GPS coordinates for Silas Cobb’s grave: 42.202776, -71.429104

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Grave Thursday: Captain Christian Rath

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.


Christian Rath

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Burial Location: Mount Evergreen Cemetery, Jackson, Michigan

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Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Hello cemetery patrons,

This is Kate resuming the blog’s Grave Thursday tradition following our holiday hiatus.

After writing about Major General John Hartranft for a previous Grave Thursday, I received a comment regarding my lack of information about Captain Christian Rath, the man who always seems to appear alongside General Hartranft. I answered the question by stating that such a distinguished figure as Captain Rath deserved his own spotlight, not a mere afterthought bolted onto someone else’s legacy. So, without further ado, here is the story of Captain Christian Rath, perhaps secondary in rank but first in honor.

Little is known of Rath’s early life other than he was born on October 22, 1831 in Germany. He either left or fled home – depending on the source – at the age of 18 after joining a group of revolutionaries that attacked the German government. Immigrating to the United States in 1849, Rath made his way to Jackson, Michigan, the place that would become his permanent settlement. In 1857 he married Evaline Henry, with whom he had two children, and became a shoemaker, the trade in which he was employed at the outbreak of the Civil War. Before enlisting himself, Rath ran an enlistment office out of his storefront.

During the war between the states, Rath served with Company G of the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, the same regiment he had aided and the same company he had organized. In 1862, at the age of 30, he became the company’s second lieutenant. He would be promoted to first lieutenant the same year and rise to the rank of Captain in 1863. Due to being wounded at the famous battle of Antietam, Rath would suffer various medical ailments for the rest of his life. He was also briefly captured by Confederate forces at Spotsylvania in 1864 but managed to escape. Rath remained a Captain for the remainder of the war, his next promotion coming only after fighting had ceased.

Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Rath received notice that General John Hartranft, the man placed in charge of the conspirators at Washington’s Old Arsenal Penitentiary, wanted Rath as his Provost-Marshal. According to Rath, the two men had known each other for some time:

“I was well acquainted with Hartranft; we had met in many battles, and I had broken many horses for him, both of us being lovers of fine animals.”

General Hartranft had also previously selected Major Richard Watts for his staff. Watts had been a member of the 17th Michigan as well and recommended Rath for service when Hartranft asked for more recruits.

In the courtroom, Hartranft and Rath often sat together at a small table by the public entrance checking audience passes.

Arguably, Rath is most remembered for being the hangman of the four condemned conspirators. On the afternoon of July 6, 1865, the Union government headed by Andrew Johnson presented Rath with a long list of jobs (build and test the gallows, make the nooses and hoods, oversee the digging of the graves) and a ridiculously short amount of time to complete them all (slightly less than one day).  According to the Lincoln Assassination Encyclopedia by Edward Steers,

“The scaffold was twenty feet long, fifteen feet wide, and ten feet high to the floor of the scaffold, and twenty feet high to the beam that held the ropes. The platform consisted of two drops, each six feet by four feet, supported by an upright beam that could be knocked away on command.”

It took all night to complete the gallows. The final nail was only hammered in on the morning of the execution, making it less than 24 hours old at the time of its use.

Rath also tied the nooses long after the sun had set on July 6th. Tired and believing Mary Surratt would be spared, he only put five turns in the knot instead of the regulation seven.

“I put seven knots in each one except one, and I only put five in that, for I fully expected that Mrs. Surratt would never hang.”

Rath found his “prop knockers” (William Coxshall, Daniel Shoup, George Taylor, and Joseph Haslett) only by claiming he needed assistance with a “special duty.” However, this sly idea did not find any volunteer grave diggers and Rath had to order soldiers to the task. “All the workmen were superstitious,” he later wrote. It was a common 19th century belief that grave digging brought bad luck.

Authors Barry Cauchon and John Elliot attempted to follow Rath around the courtyard in their book supplement, Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. They placed him on the gallows, where he said to Lewis Powell, “I want you to die quick,” and then eventually found him back on the ground where he gave the signal to knock away the support posts. The signal changes from source to source, sometimes being recorded as three claps or a thrust of the hand. Moments before this, Rath recalled asking General Winfield Hancock if Mary Surratt would be saved to which Hancock replied no.

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After the execution, Rath was promoted to Brevet Major and Lieutenant Colonel for “special and efficient services during the confinement, trial, and execution of the conspirators.”

Christian Rath quietly lived out the rest of his life in Michigan. He resumed work as a shoemaker, owned a fruit farm, raised chickens, frequently participated in military parades and from 1868 to 1900 worked as a a mail clerk for the Michigan Central Railroad. With the exception of a handful of interviews, he did not speak much about the events he witnessed during the summer of 1865. Rath died at the age of 89 on February 14, 1920. He was buried beside his wife, who had died in 1908, in Mount Evergreen Cemetery in Jackson, Michigan.

Several stories followed Rath’s legacy due to his involvement in the infamous execution. One story, found in the book, The Man Who Traded his Wife for Woodworking Tools: And Other True Stories of 19th Century Jackson, Michigan, claimed that Rath was plagued by nightmares of Anna Surratt screaming at him for killing her mother. Why this hysterical apparition of sorts appeared to Rath and not Andrew Johnson I do not know.

A similar tall tale said that Mary Surratt’s spirit was punishing those who had wrongly taken her life, including Christian Rath who had gone insane and died in a mental institution. However, this was little more than the likes of a penny dreadful fable. Unlike Boston Corbett or Henry Rathbone, Rath only suffered from rheumatism (joint pain), dyspepsia (chest pain), and cystitis (bladder inflammation) due to his war wounds and dementia due to age. Furthermore, Rath treated Mary Surratt with the utmost of respect during the execution. “I had Lieutenant-Colonel McCall lead Mrs. Surratt from her cell to the gallows, as I did not want an ordinary soldier to lay his hands on her,” he said. Even her placement on the gallows, decided by Rath, conveyed honor. “I wanted to give Mrs. Surratt any honor I could, so I seated her one the right.” After the hanging, Rath said, “I took charge of Mrs. Surratt myself, not being willing that any hand should desecrate her. I lifted her tenderly in my arms…removed the noose from her neck, and with my own hands and alone placed her in the box.”

Unfortunately, despite his good intentions, Rath was a soldier, not an executioner. His limited knowledge of proper hanging procedures and the demanding deadline swiftly caught up with him. He failed to correctly prepare and secure the ropes, leading to an unexpected botched execution. While Mary Surratt and George Atzerodt did die quickly, the same could not be said for David Herold or Lewis Powell who strangled for about five and seven minutes, respectively. Christian Rath will always be known as the “hangman” of the Lincoln conspirators. However, it should also be remembered that, despite his failures, he did try to make moral choices.

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Grave photographs courtesy of Peter Gaudet. You can view his website by clicking here.

Until next time.

-Kate

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Grave Thursday: Eaton Horner

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.


Eaton Horner

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Burial Location: Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland

Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Eaton Horner was a detective working for Maryland Provost Marshal James L. McPhail in 1865. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Horner, along with another detective named Voltaire Randall, were tasked with hunting down and finding conspirator Samuel Arnold. The authorities had searched John Wilkes Booth’s belongings at the National Hotel and had found a suspicious letter signed by a man named “Sam”.

Sam letter signature

The letter was sent from a small village outside of Baltimore called Hookstown. The contents of the letter spoke of secret plots with sentences like, “You know full well that the G—t suspicions something is going on there; therefore, the undertaking is becoming more complicated.” When the identify of “Sam” was found out to be Samuel Arnold, a party traveled to Hookstown to the home of Arnold’s brother in order to arrest Sam.

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The Arnold home in Hookstown

However, when they arrived at Hookstown the detectives found that Sam Arnold was not there. He had found a job in Fortress Monroe, Virginia a couple of weeks earlier. With this information Eaton Horner and Voltaire Randall hopped on a ship and made their way to Fort Monroe. They arrested Arnold as he was sleeping in the small room in the back of the store where he worked. He was the first of the Lincoln assassination conspirators to be arrested. Arnold spoke freely to Horner and Randall and, when they returned him to Baltimore, he was presented with a letter from his father encouraging him to write a full confession of his involvement with John Wilkes Booth’s abduction plot. Arnold did this in the presence of Horner, Randall and another detective, William McPhail. I have previously posted Arnold’s confession here. Arnold was shipped down to Washington and imprisoned shortly thereafter.

Eaton Horner and Voltaire Randall tried in vain to receive a share of the reward money for their arrest of a Lincoln conspirator. Their initial request for reward money and accompanying recommendation from Provost Marshal James McPhail was passed over. But Horner and Randall decided to try and get a recommendation from someone with a little more clot, regardless of whether they knew him or not. The pair enticed a newspaper editor friend of theirs named C. L. Sanders  who had lived in Illinois during the Civil War to write a letter on their behalf to the former Governor of Illinois who was then a U.S. Senator from Illinois, Richard Yates:

“Balto. April 25th 1866
Hon. Rich’d Yates,
Dr Sir,
During the Presidential & Gubernatorial campaign of /64, it was my pleasing duty to edit the “Macomb Journal” McDonough Co. Ill & in that capacity met you on several occasions. My object in addressing you is to secure your interest in the behalf of two detectives who contributed more to the arrest of the Conspirators than any other parties. Mr. Eaton G. Horner & Mr. Voltaire Randall of this city arrested Arnold & gave the information which led to the arrest of Payne, Herold, & Atzerodt, & fastened the assassination of our great & fond President upon Booth. Because the arrest was made & the information given before any reward was offered, these two men have been deprived of any portion of the reward.
I would earnestly solicit your interest in their behalf & would refer you for fuller particulars in the case to Hon. Jno. L. Thomas, H. R. member from this city.
Hoping Sir, for your influence in this matter, I have the honor to remain
Very Respectfully,
Your obt. Servt
C. L. Sanders
221 Balt. St.
Balt. Md.”

Amazingly, even though neither Horner or Randall were constituents of Sen. Yates, and the fact that the former Governor had no idea who they were, he did send a letter on their behalf to the War Department:

“Washington DC
May 2, 1866
Hon. E. M. Stanton
Secretary of War
Sir,
I have the honor to refer to you, for your consideration, the enclosed letter of Mr. Sanders, in relation to the distribution of the awards in the conspiracy case.
If the facts stated by Mr. S. are correct, it would seem that the claim is a just one.
Very respectfully,
Your obt Svnt
Rich. Yates
Senator”

It was a valiant effort on the part of Eaton Horner and Voltaire Randall, but it did not help. No reward money was ever given for the arrest of Samuel Arnold.

Eaton Horner is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore. There are many others buried in Loudon Park including John T. Ford and his brother James, Ford’s Theatre stagehand Henry James, and George Atzerodt’s brother John Atzerodt who also worked from Provost Marshal James McPhail.

GPS coordinates for Eaton Horner’s grave: 39.281038, -76.677574

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Grave Thursday: Dr. William Queen

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.


Dr. William Queen

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Burial Location: St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bryantown, Maryland

Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Dr. William Queen was a physician in Charles County, Maryland who lived about six miles south of Bryantown. On November 11, 1864, John Wilkes Booth rode the stage down from Washington, D.C. to Bryantown where he spent the night. In his possession, Booth carried a letter of introduction to Dr. Queen. Booth had acquired this letter while he was in Montreal, Canada in the middle of October from a Confederate smuggler named Patrick Martin. Martin was from St. Mary’s County and still had contacts with the underground network of Confederate sympathizers and operatives back in Southern Maryland. Booth was anxious to connect with these individuals for his planned abduction plot against Abraham Lincoln. When Booth arrived in Bryantown the first time, he was able to send word to Dr. Queen that he wanted to meet with him. The next day Dr. Queen’s son, Joseph, picked Booth up at the Bryantown Tavern and brought him to his father’s home. John Wilkes Booth spent the night of November 12, at Dr. Queen’s home.

Dr. Queen’s son-in-law, John Thompson, would later testify at the trial of the conspirators that Booth’s letter of introduction to the doctor only mentioned that the actor was looking to purchase some land in the area and asked Dr. Queen to furnish him with assistance in this regard. This, however, is likely just a cover story that Booth and the Queen family committed to using. Booth’s true purpose was to scout the lands and roads of Charles County while simultaneously looking for individuals who would assist him in his abduction plot.

Dr. Queen was about 73 years old when Booth first arrived at his home. He was quite infirm and less than a year later he would become bedridden. So while Dr. Queen could not provide Booth with much in the way of physical assistance, his knowledge of the people and land was helpful. The next day, on November 13th, John Wilkes Booth joined Dr. Queen and his family in attending church at St. Mary’s Church in Bryantown. “Coincidentally” Dr. Samuel Mudd made the decision to attend St. Mary’s Church that Sunday rather than his home church of St. Peter’s. John Thompson introduced John Wilkes Booth to Dr. Mudd outside of the church before services commenced.

St. Mary's Church Oldroyd

John Wilkes Booth would return to Dr. Queen’s home after church was over and subsequently return back to Washington.

Booth was not absent from Charles County for very long, however. On December 17th, he returned to Bryantown and spent another night with Dr. Queen and his family. The next morning, a Sunday, Booth once again attended church at St. Mary’s before he met up with Dr. Mudd. For the next few days, Dr. Mudd, not Dr. Queen, would be Booth’s host. In this way, Dr. Mudd came to replace Dr. Queen as a more able bodied facilitator of Booth’s plot. Mudd introduced the actor to Thomas Harbin, a Confederate agent who signed on to help with the abduction plot. It was also during this trip that Dr. Mudd helped Booth to purchase a horse from the doctor’s next door neighbor, George Gardiner. Booth returned to Washington on December 22nd, and, the very next day, Dr. Mudd took a visit to Washington where he happened to introduce Booth to John Surratt, who would become another willing and helpful participant in Booth’s plot.

After the assassination of Lincoln and the subsequent investigation, Dr. Queen avoided arrest due to his declining health that had left him bedridden. His son-in-law, John Thompson, was taken up to Washington in his stead. Thompson would testify at the trial about Booth’s arrival in the county and his introduction to Dr. Mudd.

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Dr. Queen’s health continued to deteriorate and, on March 1, 1866, he died at his home near Bryantown. He was buried next to his first wife and his son Joseph (the son who had transported Booth to the Queen home in November of 1864) who had died in November of 1865. The family plot is near the back of St. Mary’s Church cemetery, the same cemetery where Dr. Mudd would later be buried.

One of the artifacts in the collection of the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum is a newspaper clipping that was owned by one of Dr. Queen’s daughters, Molly Queen. The clipping contains a poem called “Then and Now” which was a piece of political propaganda related to the election of 1864. The poem laments the poor condition of the country due to the last four years of Lincoln’s presidency and encourages the reader to vote for the Democratic candidate, George McClellan. The poem ends with the line: “Three cheers for Mac and the good times coming; And a groan for Abraham!”

While this piece completely fits with the political point of view of the Queen family and so many others in Southern Maryland, what makes this artifact unique and worth saving is an ambiguous signature which is affixed in pencil to the side of the clipping:

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John Wilkes Booth did visit the Queen family for the first time just a few days after the election of 1864 and so it is likely that Molly Queen had this clipping out and around during the actor’s visit. Even if this is not actually John Wilkes Booth’s signature, it still is a fascinating artifact connecting John Wilkes Booth and the family of Dr. William Queen.

GPS coordinates for Dr. William Queen’s grave: 38.539667, -76.836000

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

Grave Thursday: William Seward

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.


William Henry Seward

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Burial Location: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York

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Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

As Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Henry Seward was targeted by John Wilkes Booth in his plot to eliminate the heads of the United States’ government. On the night of April 14, 1865, Booth assigned his conspirator, Lewis Powell, to break into Secretary Seward’s home located near the White House in order to assassinate him. Despite stabbing the Secretary several times and bringing carnage to the rest of the household, Lewis Powell failed in his assassination attempt. The attack left Seward with a permanently disfigured face evidence of which can be seen in the image above. Despite the horrors of that night and the loss of his friend, Seward remained in his position as Secretary of State during the administration of Andrew Johnson. It was during this continued service that Seward facilitated the purchase of a large chunk of land from Russia. The purchase, known in its day to some as “Seward’s Folly”, resulted in the United States acquiring the territory, and later state, of Alaska.

In his last few years, William Seward toured not only America but the world, using his contacts from his days as Secretary of State to visit China, Japan, the Middle East, and Europe. When in the States, Seward resided in his home in Auburn, New York which he had inherited from his father-in-law in 1851. Upon his death on October 10, 1872, William Seward was buried in the family’s lot in nearby Fort Hill Cemetery.

Since 1955, the Seward house in Auburn, New York has operated as a museum, telling the life story of one of America’s great statesmen. I highly recommend you visit their website, SewardHouse.org, and befriend them on social media. They provide wonderful bits of history about the life and times of William Seward. If you ever visit their museum, be sure to see their piece of blood stained linen, a poignant relic of the night Lewis Powell tried to end the Secretary’s life.

Blood stained sheet

If you are interested in learning more about William Seward, especially about his life beyond the assassination attempt, I highly recommend the book, Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man by Walter Stahr.

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My sincere thanks go to assassination researcher Bill Binzel for sending me images of the Seward family graves in Auburn, NY and for allowing me to use them for Grave Thursday. For more images related to the attempt on William Seward’s life, visit the Seward Assassination Attempt Picture Gallery.

GPS coordinates for William Seward’s grave: 42.924505, -76.571807

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Grave Thursday: Junius Brutus Booth

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.


Junius Brutus Booth

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Burial Location: Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland

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Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Junius Brutus Booth, the father of the Maryland Booths, needs no introduction to anyone who has done any reading about the Lincoln assassination. In addition to the many books that include brief stories about him in order to provide background on the upbringing of John Wilkes Booth, Junius Brutus Booth’s life has been thoroughly documented in Stephen Archer’s wonderful book, Junius Brutus Booth: Theatrical Prometheus. I will not insult that text by trying to summarize the life of such a brilliant tragedian in only a few paragraphs.

So while I will not go into a full history of Junius Brutus Booth, I do want to recount one aspect of Junius’ life that I feel is especially appropriate given the recent events here in America. I want to preface this by acknowledging that Junius was not a perfect man and had his fair share of personal demons, often brought upon by drink. However, despite all of the negative or troubling aspects of Junius’ life, he did have one personality trait that was considered eccentric that I wish more of us sought to emulate today. Junius Brutus Booth had a great an appreciation for the different religions and beliefs in the world and a desire to learn about them.

In Asia Booth Clarke’s 1865 book about her father entitled, Passages, Incidents, and Anecdotes in the life of Junius Brutus Booth (the elder), she writes the following about her father’s views on religion.

“All forms of religion and all temples of devotion were sacred to him, and in passing churches he never failed to bare his head reverently. He worshiped at many shrines; he admired the Koran, and in that volume many beautiful passages are underscored; days sacred to color, ore, and metals, were religiously observed by him. In the synagogues he was known as a Jew, because he conversed with rabbis and learned doctors, and joined their worship in the Hebraic tongue. He read the Talmud and strictly adhered to many of its laws.

Several fathers of the Roman Catholic Church recount pleasant hours spent with him in theological discourse, and aver that he was of their persuasion, by his knowledge of the mysteries of their faith.  Of the numerous houses of worship to which I have accompanied my father, the one he most loved to frequent was a floating church or “Sailor’s Bethel.” The congregation was of the humblest degree, and the ministry not at all edifying. I remember kneeling through a lengthy impromptu prayer, which contained no spirit of piety to my childish ears, and looking around wearily at my father, I beheld his face so earnestly inspired with devotion that I felt rebuked, and it became pleasant to attend to that which was so devoid of interest before.

His reverence for religion was universal and deep-rooted. It was daily shown in acts of philanthropy and humane deeds which were too misdirected. He was not a sectarian, but made many creeds his study, and although the dogmas of the church might have yielded him a more enduring peace, the tenderness of his heart, from which which emanated his loving-kindness and great charity, afforded strength to his declining years.”

Junius Brutus Booth’s appreciation and study of different religions is evident in his own writings as well. In 1825, he wrote to his father Richard about visiting a settlement of Shakers (an offspring of the Quakers) a few miles from Albany, New York. He wrote of this sect of Christians far more sympathetically than most of his day:

“They are the most singular people I ever beheld. They have more simplicity and apparent primitive Christianity than all other classes of Christians…There is nothing to disgust – much to admire in them, and their ceremonies whose description would excite ridicule, produce a very contrary effect in witnessing. They are the best of Christians for they don’t prosecute and are harmless. All they desire is to live and die unmolested – but they are often insulted by the foolish and thoughtless.”

Booth’s knowledge of different faiths extended beyond the Abrahamic religions. Booth was especially found of Hinduism and seemed to favor it writing in 1834 that:

“Although practical Christianity is a beautiful type of Man’s approach to perfection, he is not so near it as is the poor despised and unavenged Hindoo [sic]. So thoroughly am I convinced that these Asiatics are nearest the Truth, that were I acquainted with their language and living in Hindustan, I should most conscientiously and devotedly become a worshipper…of those Images, which every minute satisfy the Hindoo who and what he is himself and also of his relative position in the World…”

To Junius Brutus Booth, all faiths were valid and possessed an inherent value. Junius was fluent in so much of the world’s religions that he would analyze and find commonalities in their teachings. While others would use religion to separate and isolate, Junius found ways to combine them. In 1834, he began a letter to merchant with the heading:

“Year of the Christ
Feb. 3. 1834
of the Planet
5594

Praise be to Allah!”

In this way he included the year according to the Christian (1834) and Jewish (5594) calendars and also gave reverence to the Islamic name for God (Allah).

Junius also demonstrated his ability to merge the teachings of multiple religions together upon the death of his own father, Richard Booth. When Richard died, Junius cut a lock of hair from his father’s head and tied it with a green cord, green being the symbolic color of paradise to Muslims and the color most associated with the prophet Mohammed. Junius then had Richard’s funeral presided over by a minister of the Episcopal church, the Christian religion his wife most associated with and under which his children were raised. Finally, the gravestone Junius placed on his father’s grave was originally engraved in Hebrew and the text spoke not of one god or faith, but more of the Hindu belief of oneness with the universe:

“I take my departure from life as from an inn
Thee I follow to the internal kingdom of
The most renowned ruler –
– thence to the stars”

After Junius Brutus Booth’s own death in 1852, Asia would recall a visit from two of the Booths’ neighbors who considered themselves “pillars of the church”. They visited the grieving Mary Ann and her children and told them of their desire to “convert” the household to Christianity. Mary Ann replied succinctly that she was a Christian and that her household did not require converting. The neighbors were unhappy that the Booth children had experienced the “wickedness” of different faiths and provided Mary Ann various pamphlets on how to set her children back on the correct path to their one true salvation. They even gave Rosalie Booth a short pamphlet entitled “Her Feet Take Hold on Hell” in their attempt to aid her conversion to the true path. After the neighbors departed, Asia Booth seethed with anger over their sanctimonious nature and “narrow comprehension of devotion.”

“I could not reconcile the two ideas,” Asia later wrote, “but I felt it a sacrilege, their intrusion and brazen ignorance. I remembered [my father’s] respect of all creeds, his silent reverence for every man’s peculiar faith, his great regard even for a little picture of a Mosque given to him by a Moslem [sic], and here were these egotistical little people teaching us our prayers, trying to make us accept his death as a judgement for our wickedness, a call to righteousness. His life had been a living lesson, for his piety was so real and deep it did not show itself in Sunday clothes, a conspicuous missal, or studied countenance, but calm and unassuming it always took the lowest seat, that his Host coming might say, ‘ Friend, go up higher.'”

In the 1800’s, Junius’ appreciation for different religions may have been considered eccentric. Today, however, I see the desire to understand the belief systems of others as a crucial trait for us all. The world is far more connected in 2016 than it was in 1852. Being completely ignorant and dismissive of faiths is no longer an option. Whether our country wants to admit it or not, we live in a global community and, despite a recent success to the contrary, America will not go back to limiting the equality of others due to their beliefs. Like Junius Brutus Booth, we must respect the beliefs of others and acknowledge the shared humanity of all people.

GPS coordinates for Junius Brutus Booth’s grave: 39.307097, -76.606022

Categories: Grave Thursday, History | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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