Posts Tagged With: Quesenberry

John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tour Through Virginia

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

Mike Kauffman and Us 4-14-15

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

HPR Page April 30 BERT Kauffman

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

Kauffman BERT tix HPR

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New Gallery: Mrs. Quesenberry’s Home

In the early morning of April 23rd, 1865, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold finally managed to cross the mighty Potomac River into Virginia.  This was the second attempt the two men had made to cross the river.  When they departed the Maryland shores the first time, their guide Thomas A. Jones directed the pair to aim for Machodoc Creek and stated, “Mrs. Quesenberry lives near the mouth of this creek.  If you tell her you come from me I think she will take care of you.”  Though now on Virginian soil, Booth and Herold did not land at Machodoc Creek as directed, but rather accidentally made landfall at Gambo Creek about a mile from Mrs. Quesenberry’s home.  Booth, with his broken leg mind you, stayed with the boat at Gambo Creek while Herold walked through the marshy terrain to Mrs. Quesenberry’s home, known as “The Cottage”.  Elizabeth Rousby Green Quesenberry (pronounced Kwee-zen-berry) was a widow who lived in a modest home on the land of a fairly nice sized plantation.  During the war, her home on the Machodoc Creek had many visitors, including Confederate agents who found it to be a hospitable place to conduct the secret mail line.  Not far away from Mrs. Quesenberry’s home were stationed Confederate agents Thomas Harbin and Joseph Baden.  Harbin helped run the mail line on the Virginian side of the Potomac while his brother-in-law, Thomas Jones, ran things on the Maryland side.  Thomas Jones sent Booth and Herold to Quesenberry, knowing that she would put them in contact with someone who could help them further.

When Herold arrived at the Quesenberry cottage, Mrs. Quesenberry was not at home.  Herold chatted with her daughter, offering is the Booth’s boat to the young lady as compensation for some assistance, while the Mrs. was sent for.  According to her own statement, when Mrs. Quesenberry arrived at her home she refused to help the stranger at all.  He asked for a conveyance for his injured brother, but she told him she had none.  Herold then asked if she would sell him a horse, to which she callously replied that if she had wanted to help him she would have given him a horse, but that she did not want to help him and would not even sell him one.  According to Mrs. Quesenberry, the man then started walking away from the house dejectedly after that.  She apparently took pity on him and called to ask if he and his brother had eaten anything recently.  When Herold replied no, she said she would send some dinner to them.

The man she sent to bring Booth and Herold some dinner was none other than Thomas Harbin.  Booth had been introduced to Thomas Harbin in December of 1864 by Dr. Mudd.  Harbin agreed, at that time, to aid Booth in his proposed kidnapping plot of Abraham Lincoln.  Now, here Booth was four months later, needing his assistance.  What happened next is a little fuzzy.  What we know is that Booth and Herold hired a local farmer by the name of William Bryant to take them to Dr. Stuart’s house, Cleydael.  Whether Bryant was another Confederate agent conscripted by Harbin to take them, or an oblivious farmer that Harbin directed Booth and Herold to approach, remains unclear.

Mrs. Quesenberry was later arrested and brought to Washington to give a statement.  There is no record showing she was imprisoned, however.  Her statement, which is extremely self serving, must be taken with a grain of salt.  Her home had long been a stop for Confederate agents and, while she claimed to not have helped Booth and Herold, her action of sending Thomas Harbin to bring the pair some food was exactly what the fugitives needed to continue their escape.

Mrs. Quesenberry later sold “The Cottage” and moved to Texas where she died in 1896.  Her body was transported back to her childhood home of Washington D.C. and she is buried in Holy Rood Cemetery in Georgetown.  Her modest home was altered greatly from its 1865 appearance and, while known to descendants in the area, it was temporarily lost to historians who thought it was consumed when Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren was created .  However, her house did survive outside of the boundaries of the Dahlgren Naval base and today is the home to the Machodoc Creek Marina (formerly Dahlgren Marine Works).

Click here to visit the Mrs. Quesenberry’s Home Picture Gallery!

References:
“I told him he must go away”: Elizabeth Rousby Quesenberry and the Escape of Lincoln’s Assassin by Rick Smith and Bill Richter

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Mrs. Quesenberry’s Statement

On May 16th, 1865, Elizabeth Quesenberry gave the following statement to authorities:

“The day that the person I now supposed to be Herold came to my house was on Sunday, the 23rd of April, about one o’clock P.M. He asked my daughter to see the lady of the house, and on being informed that I was absent asked whether I could be sent for. She told him that if he could wait she thought I could. He then remarked to my daughter ‘I suppose you ladies pleasure of good deal on the river.’ my daughter answered ‘No, as we have no boat’. He said that he had crossed the river the night before and had left a very nice little boat by the river bank, which the young ladies could have if they wished. I returned very shortly, and he on seeing me asked if I could not furnish him with a conveyance to take him up the country. I told him no, and asked why he could not walk. She said that he could walk, but his brother was setting down by the river could not, for his horse had fallen and broken his leg; from the way in which he said this, I got the impression that they had both been riding the same horse. He said they were both escaped prisoners, and asked if I could not sell them a horse. I said no, that if I was inclined to assist them I could give them a horse, but that I was not inclined to assist them. He seemed surprised that I was not willing to assist him. I told him that he must go away. He went off very much put out. He went across the field in the direction where I supposed his brother was. I then called to him and asked him if he had anything to eat. He said no and I told him I would go to the house and send him something to eat. I went to the house and after my dinner was over I sent by Thomas Harbin, whom I supposed was a soldier, something to eat. Mr. Harbin, and a Mr. Baden, whom I also suppose was a soldier, came to my house. They had been there before; they had come to my house immediately after the fall of Richmond and they remained there until Mr. Baden was brought to Washington, and Mr. Harbin was there when I left. Harbin returned in about half an hour, and said that she had seen the party the food was for, going on horseback towards Dr. Stewart’s house, and that they told him they were going there. I understood that the horses were furnished by an old man named Bryan never saw the parties afterwards. I became alarmed and suspecting that something was wrong, determined for my own protection to signal to the gunboats, and did hoist a signal and remained there three hours, but they did not come to me. I did not report it to any officer of the government has I had no opportunity to do so and in the meantime I had heard that after they left Dr. Stewart’s they had crossed the Rappahannock at Port Royal and that the soldiers were in pursuit.
E. R. Quesenberry”

Mrs. Quesenberry’s home then:

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Mrs. Quesenberry’s home today:

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References:
American Brutus by Michael Kauffman
The Evidence by Edwards and Steers

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