Posts Tagged With: Research

The Tauberts of St. Paul’s

Yesterday, I graciously received the cemetery records of St. Paul’s cemetery from Sandy Harper, church historian of Martini Lutheran Church.  Through the collaborative research of Sandy and the many others who particpate in this site, we have dissected the previously held belief that conspirator George Atzerodt was secretly buried in St. Paul’s cemetery.  Here are the facts we have managed to establish together:

1.  Gottlieb Taubert was the brother-in-law of Geroge Atzerodt.  He married George’s sister, Marion “Mary” Atzerodt.  Gottlieb was a member of Martini Lutheran Church and purchased a plot at St. Paul’s and buried two young children there prior to 1869.

2.  Victoria Atzerodt, George’s mother was buried in the Taubert plot in 1886.

Victoria Atzerodt’s death record from Martini Lutheran Church

3.  Gottlieb Taubert died in 1925 and was buried in the lot.

Gottlieb Taubert’s death record from Martini Lutheran Church

Gottlieb Taubert’s death certificate

4.  Mary (Atzerodt) Taubert died in 1928 and was buried in the lot.

Mary (Atzerodt) Taubert death record from Martini Lutheran Church

Mary (Atzerodt) Taubert’s death certificate

The remaining burial in question was the one that occurred on February 19th, 1869.  It had been believed that George was secretly buried in the Taubert plot on this date.  However, through the insights of Ms. Harper and the church’s verifying records, we now know that the burial on this date was not of the 29 [30] year old brother-in-law of Gottlieb Taubert, but the 29 day old child of Gottlieb Taubert.  The dead child’s name was Freidrich Gottlieb Herman Taubert:

Friedrich Taubert’s death record from Martini Lutheran Church

From these records, I feel comfortable saying that there is no longer any credible evidence that George Atzerodt is buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore. While his mother and sister are buried there, the final resting place of George is still a mystery. The last records place him in a holding vault at Glenwood Cemetery. Hopefully continual research will be able to reveal his grave.

References:
We are all indebited to Sandy Harper for volunteering her knowledge and records about St. Paul’s.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in our conversations and added so many more details to George’s time at Glenwood.

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Update: Finding George Atzerodt

UPDATE: We have verifying records as to the burial of a Taubert child in Feb. of 1869.  George is not in St. Paul’s.  Glenwood, here we come…

As is to be expected in the history field, no matter how confident you feel you “know” something, there’s always new information to be found.  In today’s case, I received some thorough and reliable comments on my previous post about George Atzerodt’s burial in St. Paul’s cemetery in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park.  The following comment comes from Sandy Harper, church historian for Martini Lutheran Church.  Martini Lutheran is the caretaker of St. Paul’s:

“The child buried on Feb. 1869 was named Freidrich Gottleib Herman Taubert, he was 29 days old and his birth and death are in Martini Lutheran Church’s records.”

This February of 1869 burial was thought to be the secret burial of George Atzerodt.  Though this idea was partially at odds with the plot records as written in the book, Records of St. Paul’s Cemetery, in my previous post I did my best reconciling the idea that a 29 day-old child of Gottlieb Taubert was actually the 29 [30] year-old brother-in-law of Gottlieb Taubert: George Atzerodt.  Ms. Harper’s new information that it was, in fact, a coincidence that the Taubert’s were burying a child close to the same time that George was in need of re-interment, certainly requires us to continue to look elsewhere.  While I’d like to believe the research of the Boothies before me, the evidence against it is stacking up, with both the cemetery record book and the detailed information from Ms. Harper pointing towards a child not a conspirator being buried in St. Paul’s.

So, I attempted to retrace the body of George Atzerodt.  On my way home from work I called Glenwood Cemetery in DC.  The gentleman I spoke to was very knowledgeable reiterating the story that George was kept in a holding vault in Glenwood after being brought there by his brother John.  He told me that beyond that, they have no further records of what happened.  The reason for this, I was told, is that in the late 1800’s, a disgruntled board member of the cemetery stole the interment book for the first 7,000 burials in Glenwood.  He walked off with them in the middle of a meeting, never to return.  The interment information for George, if he was buried in Glenwood, would have been in this first book.  The gentleman also informed me that he was told upon his initial employment at Glenwood in 1995, that it was the belief of the cemetery that George was in Glenwood in an unmarked grave.  Glenwood believes George is buried in their cemetery, they just don’t know where.  When I asked if there would ever be a way to know for sure, I was told the only remaining chance would be for someone to sit down and look thorough their 14 books of plat maps.  Technically, George’s burial would have to be noted on a plat map to make sure no one attempted to bury a body where one already was.  The man I spoke to stated that in the seventeen years he’s worked there, he has yet to come across George in a plat map.  However, he also said he has never gone through looking for him specifically, merely that in the course of his other work, George’s name has yet to show up.

So the opinion of those working at Glenwood seems to be that George never left their cemetery.  I have to say that newspaper accounts of 1869 do seem to agree with them.  Several articles mention the undertaker that was used for Atzerodt’s remains and how his body was placed in Glenwood’s receiving vault:

Despite the substitution of John’s name for his brother George, this article had the same information:

And lastly, this article mentions Atzerodt’s funeral in Glenwood:

The press of the day seemed to believe that George was buried in Glenwood.  As we know, though, they cannot always be reliable.

Just like we had for the St. Paul’s hypothesis, we are left with only circumstantial evidence regarding George’s final resting place being at Glenwood.  The last place to look for George seems to be Glenwood’s many plat maps.  However, even if a thorough search does not produce his name on a map, it is still possible that he is one of the unmarked, but occupied graves.  Sadly, it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure. Hopefully one day, I’ll make my way to Glenwood Cemetery to spend a day (or two) looking through their maps.

References:
Thank you to Sandy Harper for posting information about the Tauberts in St. Paul’s Cemetery.

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Herbert Ridgeway Collins – A Living Legend

As opposed to most of the people I talk about here on BoothieBarn, the subject of this post is a man with no historical connection to the Lincoln assassination.  Even further afield from my modus operandi, the subject of this post is also very much alive.  In fact, this week he celebrated his birthday.  My reasoning for departing from my ‘regularly scheduled assassination programming’ is to highlight a very unique man who has lived the most interesting life of anyone I have ever known.

To start this off, I have to admit that I only met Herb Collins for the first time less than a month ago.  Through our mutual friend and researcher Jim Garrett, I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Mr. Collins when a group of us went exploring in his home county of Caroline County, VA.  After this relatively brief introduction and tour of his historic house, I called him up and spent an entire Sunday attentively listening to this remarkable man.  This weekend, I will again be driving into Virginia to spend the day learning from him.  What follows is merely a small sampling of some of the unique experiences he has had and shared with me.  There may be some mistakes in my narrative, as I am going from memory.

Herbert Ridgeway Collins is a native born son of Caroline County, Virginia.  The house he grew up in, still owns, and has transformed into a personal museum is called Green Falls and was built in 1711.  It has been in the Collins family since the 1787 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Green Falls in Caroline County, VA

Herb has furnished the house with many beautiful antiques and he can give the origin of every single one.  From a mirror belonging to President James Madison to rare chairs with matching pairs in Mount Vernon, Green Falls is remarkable in its furnishings and history.  Some local historical societies schedule tours of his magnificent place, while Herb occasionally gives private tours to those he catches admiring the house from the road.

Herb Collins giving a tour of his beautiful Green Falls estate

In addition to the main house, Herb also purchased a period plantation overseer’s house from a neighbor.  He had the structure physically moved a few miles down the road and placed next to his house.  He then painstakingly restored the very dilapidated building to its original glory and furnished it accordingly.  The most amazing part, however, is that this has been what Herb Collins has done, merely in his retirement.

As a young man, Herb was always interested in history.  When he joined the army as a young man, fate smiled on Herb.  A secretary of a Missouri congressman bought a house opposite of Herb’s Green Falls home.  Through her, Herb was able to secure a position assigned to the Pentagon.  Here he was responsible for preparing the top secret briefing charts for the Secretary of the Army.  He was also able to take a genealogy class through the National Archives that coincided with his love of history.  When he wasn’t on duty or in class, he was working on a book of his own family’s genealogy.  At the age of 22, he published it.  It would be the first of many books that he would write.  After six years in the army at the Pentagon, Herb was discharged.  The class he had taken in genealogy made him very desirable to three different institutions, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian.  In the end, Herb decided to join the Smithsonian where he became a junior researcher in the Smithsonian’s political history collection.  He eventually made his way to the top, retiring as the Executive of the American History Museum and division chief of the political history collection.  It is during this period that Herb Collins met, dined with, and acquired items from practically every President and First Lady from Harry Truman to George Bush, Sr.  Here are some of the stories, both long and short, that he told me about his time at the Smithsonian:

  • Herb recounted to me his first trip to meet Harry Truman.  The Smithsonian did not have a lot of items from Truman’s time as President.  Herb traveled to Truman’s home of Independence, Missouri and met with the former President and First Lady Bess Truman.  Herb’s genealogical education made him aware that he was distantly related to Bess Truman, and that both Bess and Harry Truman were related to families from Port Royal, VA (on a side note, Herb seems to know the genealogy of every old family in Virginia.  His memory of families and connections is uncanny).  According to Herb, Harry Truman was the kind of guy that enjoyed making a person feel uneasy.  Every sentence that Herb spoke, Harry Truman would battle a response right back to him, trying to throw him off.  When asked if he had any sports memorabilia to give the Smithsonian, Truman said he didn’t because he couldn’t see well to bat in baseball so they made him play umpire because you didn’t need to see to be umpire.  When Herb said he didn’t have anything from Truman in the Smithsonian, Truman just answered, “Well why don’t you get something?”  Eventually, Truman found that for everything he said, Herb was able to come up with an answer for him.  After that he stopped acting difficult and slapped Herb on the back and invited him to see some political cartoons he had framed out in the back office.  Truman enjoyed when people took punches at him like Herb had done and he had framed some of his favorite political cartoons that had mocked him when he was president.  Together Herb and Harry Truman laughed and joked about them, and Truman genially offered some of his items to Herb for the Smithsonian.
  • When President Dwight Eisenhower died, he wanted to be buried his complete uniform.  At the funeral home that was preparing the body, they found that they did not have a shirt or socks that matched his uniform.  The funeral home called the military history department of the Smithsonian and asked them if they had any extra matching shirts and socks that they could have to bury Eisenhower in.  As a matter of fact they did.  When Herb had left the army, he donated his uniforms to the Smithsonian for his period in history.  The shirt contained Herb’s laundry mark.  With his blessing, the Smithsonian sent over Herb’s old shirt and socks to the funeral home.  President Eisenhower was buried in Herb Collin’s issued shirt and socks.
  • Herb Collins became good friends with JFK’s secretary, Evelyn Lincoln.  Two books in his collection are autographed copies of hers with long messages of appreciation and friendship.  Evelyn Lincoln was married to a man named Harold Lincoln.  Herb was unaware that Harold’s nickname was ‘Abe’ Lincoln.  One day he received an invitation in the mail to attend a rally for Abe Lincoln, who was running for Congress.  He ignored the mailer.  Days after the event, Evelyn called Herb and asked him why he didn’t come to support her husband’s run for Congress.  Herb told her that he didn’t know Harold went by Abe, and that he thought “Abe Lincoln running for Congress” was just a joke.  The two had a good laugh about it.
  • After JFK was killed, Jackie Kennedy and others toured the country trying to raise money for a JFK museum.  They traveled with exhibits about the late president to raise funds.  Herb wrote to Jackie informing her that the flag that flew over the Capitol on the day of the President’s funeral was hers.  She wrote him back thanking him for letting her know that.  One item that went traveling to raise money was the famous Resolute desk from the Oval Office.  Johnson didn’t want to use the desk as he found it too big.  Those of you who have seen the movie, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, will know that the Resolute desk plays an important part of Nicholas Cage’s clue finding.  In the movie he makes his way into Oval Office and, by pulling out drawers to the right length, unlocks a secret compartment in the desk: While you may all be shocked to learn this, there is no hidden compartment in the Resolute desk.  Herb Collins has taken the Resolute desk apart, “a dozen times”.  He told me it all comes apart fairly easily and he helped pack it up when it went on tour to raise money for the JFK museum.  When it was done touring, Herb took control of it and placed it in the collection of the Smithsonian.  It stayed, on display in the Smithsonian until Carter asked for it back.  According to Herb, he was out to lunch one Wednesday and when he returned to the Smithsonian he had a message from Jimmy Carter asking for the Resolute desk to be placed back into the Oval Office by Friday, as he wanted to show it off to some foreign delegates.  Herb said he took it apart, had it transported over to the White House, and reassembled it for Carter in the Oval Office right on time.
  • Herb had the chance to meet many Presidents but he spent more time with the First Ladies.  He stated that his favorite first lady was Pat Nixon.  According to him she was the most down to earth.  In conversations with Herb, she never said, “The President” or “Mr. Nixon”, it was always just, “Dick” and she invited Herb to refer to him as the same.
  • Herb has written over 25 books.  During his time at the Smithsonian he created almost encyclopedic volumes about political flags and lanterns, as well as writing books about the transportation methods of the presidents.  He was one of the first to call attention to a fall that Mary Todd Lincoln suffered in a carriage accident that caused her to suffer recurring dizzy spells that may have exasperated her mental decline.
  • Herb has a credit in the Lincoln assassination book by Dorothy and Phillip Kunhardt entitled , Twenty Days.  He recalled when they came to the Smithsonian and wanted to photograph the conspirators’ hoods and jail keys.  At one point, they wanted a picture of what was thought to be Mary Surratt’s hood.  Looking around, Herb couldn’t find a female bust to place the hood over.  In a pinch he saw a bust of Henry Clay, Kentucky’s noted politician who served multiple times as Speaker of the House and was John Quincy Adams’ Secretary of State.  According to Herb, Henry Clay had a small, feminine enough looking head to pass as Mary Surratt’s.  So, Herb slipped the hood onto Henry Clay’s bust and the Kunhardts photographed it.  Sadly, that particular shot did not make it into their Twenty Days book.

There were other stories and insights Herb shared with me from his time with the Smithsonian, but these are the main ones I can remember for now.  Herb is an unending fountain of information and I am looking forward to the many conversations I will have with him in the future.

UPDATE:

Yesterday I once again spent the day with Herb.  We visited the Caroline County library in Bowling Green, VA where Herb has his Herbert Collins Room.  The room holds his massive collection of books about genealogy, Virginia history, and the history of Caroline county.  It is a private research room accessible by appointment only.  After that Herb and I traveled to nearby Essex County to visit an antique store in Tappahannock that he regularly purchases items from.  Herb’s only purchase for the day was a copper kettle that he said would match one he already had at Green Falls.  While at the antique store, Herb openly talked with other patrons and helped them pick out pieces.  Through these conversations with strangers, I met the president of the Restore Port Tobacco organization.  He was pleasantly surprised that I knew about the Chimney House in Port Tobacco, behind which George Atzerodt’s carriage shop was purported to be. Apparently the Chimney House is on the market now.  After this we traveled back to Herb’s home and subsequently ended our day together.  The following is some of the pictures I took yesterday:

 

The Herbert Collins room at the Caroline County Library

Herb Collins researching in his room

The left image is what the Overseer’s house (mentioned above) looked like before it was moved to Green Falls and restored. The right image is what the house looked like while renovations were underway. The house is a sight to see today.

 

Herbert Ridgeway Collins and his portrait 

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Finding George Atzerodt

IMPORTANT NOTE: Further information as posted in the comments section below has thrown into question whether or not George Atzerodt is actually buried in St. Paul’s.  Please click here to read the update to this post.  What is without question is that George’s mother Victoria, sister Mary, and brother-in-law Gottlieb Taubert, are all buried in this cemetery.

After Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt were executed for their involvement in Lincoln’s assassination, their bodies were buried on the Old Arsenal prison grounds.  The graves and pine boxes that would hold the quartet are seen in the execution photographs of the conspirators, merely a stone’s throw from where the scaffold stood.   John Wilkes Booth’s body had previously been deposited at the Old Arsenal grounds, having been secretly buried underneath the floor of a supply room.

This impromptu cemetery would also hold the body of Confederate officer Henry Wirz after he was tried and executed for the atrocities at his Andersonville Prison.  His pine box would lay right along side those of the Lincoln conspirators:

Piece of Henry Wirz’ coffin in the collection of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum.

The bodies of all of these individuals would stay under the Arsenal grounds until the waning hours of Andrew Johnson’s presidency.  Less than a month before leaving office, Johnson allowed the family members of the conspirators to take possession of their loved ones bodies.  Booth’s body was interred in the family plot at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.  Mary Surratt was interred at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C. David Herold was interred in the family plot in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery.  The final disposition of all of Lewis Powell’s remains is still being researched by his biographer, Betty Ownsbey, but his skull somehow made its way into the collection of the Smithsonian before being discovered and subsequently buried next to his mother in Geneva Cemetery, Florida.  While finding Powell’s remains is a more modern mystery, for over a hundred years there was very little known about where George Atzerodt’s final resting place was.  Through the research of original Boothies, James O. Hall and Percy Martin, the mystery of George’s burial was solved.

After receiving permission to take possession of his brother’s body, John C. Atzerodt, a former detective on staff of the Maryland Provost Marshal, transferred George’s remains to the northern D.C. cemetery, Glenwood.  Records show that on February 17th of 1869, George’s body was placed in a holding vault.  John had apparently decided to purchase a lot in Glenwood in which to bury his brother.  Some newspapers reported on the arrival of Mrs. Atzerodt from Baltimore to attend the reinterment of her son in D.C.:

It looked like George would spend the rest of eternity in Glenwood Cemtery…

In 1854, the Second Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Baltimore purchased four acres in Baltimore’s Druid Hill for use as a cemetery.  Between 1854 and 1868, the Second Evangelical church divided into three congregations; St. Paul’s, Immanuel, and Martini Evangelical.  Each new church held equal control over the Druid Hill cemetery.  Together, they sold half of the land to the city of Baltimore decreasing the cemetery to 2.25 acres.

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran church, one of the three newly formed churches, was located in Baltimore on the corner of Saratoga and Freemount  streets.  One block south of that intersection was Lexington St.  Living on Lexington street and probable members of St. Paul’s congregation was Gottlieb Taubert and his wife Mary.  Gottlieb and his wife were both German immigrants.  Specifically, Mary Taubert’s maiden name was Mary Atzerodt.  She was the daughter of Henry and Victoria Atzerodt, and sister to George.  Mary and Gottlieb had married in 1860 when they were 18 and 24 respectively.  By 1865, the Tauberts had already purchased a lot in the Druid Hill cemetery, needing it to bury an infant child on April 12th.  They would also bury a five year old daughter there in 1866.

On February 19th, 1869, an odd “coincidence” occurs.  Just when John Atzerodt needs a place to bury his brother, the Tauberts suddenly have a burial in their St. Paul’s  lot.  The records back at Glenwood are confusing and missing, but it seems that John Atzerodt never actually paid for the lot he was going to bury his brother in.  In fact other people, completely unrelated to the family, are currently buried in John Atzerodt’s supposed lot.   George was never buried in Glenwood.  Instead of coming to D.C. to attend her son’s reburial, Victoria Atzerodt came to bring her son’s body back up to Baltimore to rest secretly in his sister’s cemetery lot.

And a secret affair his burial was.  So secret in fact, that his name does not even appear in the burial records.  The record’s for St. Paul’s cemetery in Druid Hill were not always exact in their documentation.  The records were hand written in old German Script and would often be missing several important pieces of information.  Whether George’s name was left off of the records purposefully by a sympathetic  church clerk, or accidentally by a lazy one, we may never know.  What can be gained from the record is that a burial did take place on February 19th in the Taubert lot.  In his 1984 article for the Surratt Courier, Percy Martin cited the record as describing the deceased as, “Gottlieb Taubert, aged 29 years”.  In the book, Records of St. Paul’s Cemetery by Elaine and Kenneth Zimmerman, they show it as being a “child of Gottlieb Taubert” and being 29 days old.  The discrepancies between the two is understandable.  Reading handwritten German Script is tedious and difficult.  While I have not seen the original record, it is likely that both accounts stated above are different interpretations of the same record.  The Zimmermans, familiar with how records for children often lacked any name except for the parent, took “Gottlieb Taubert” to be the name of the deceased’s father.  When presented with an age of 29 “years” they fixed what they assumed was a mistake and recorded a more reasonable age for an unnamed child, 29 “days”.  Mr. Martin, knowing that the age of 29 years would be consist with George Atzerodt (though George actually turned 30 while in prison), took the name of Gottlieb Taubert to be the name that George was buried as.  Either way, Gottlieb Taubert was not a fictitious name as is sometimes stated.  It was the name of George’s brother-in-law.   The most likely scenario is that George was buried namelessly, and not under a pseudonym.  Gottlieb’s name was attached to the record, just like it was for his two young children, because the burial occurred in his lot.

Victoria Atzerodt died on January 3rd, 1886, three months shy of her 80th birthday.  She was buried right alongside her poor son George, in the Taubert plot.  Gottlieb Taubert, himself, died in April of 1925.  The final burial in the Taubert lot was Mary Atzerodt Taubert on September 15th, 1928.

St. Paul’s Cemetery is located in the middle of Baltimore’s Druid Hill park.  It is currently maintained by Martini Lutheran Church, the last of the three divided churches still in operation.  Though vandals severely damaged many of the stones in the cemetery in 1986, the church has slowly been righting and restoring the stones.  The Taubert lot is a vacant one, however.  There is no sign that the lot ever bore a stone for any of the Atzerodts or Tauberts.

The name of the cemetery (St. Paul’s) has caused a lot of confusion for those looking to find George Atzerodt’s final resting place.  Despite what is on his FindAGrave page, George is not buried in the St. Paul’s cemetery located off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in downtown Baltimore.  Rather he is in the St. Paul’s cemetery located in the middle of Druid Hill Park.

Specifically, the Atzerodts and Tauberts are buried in lot #90:

Had it not been for the research of people like James O. Hall and Percy Martin (and our own Richard Sloan, I should add), George’s resting place may never have been known.  Discovering his burial site was a product of collaboration.  As we continue on in our studies of those involved in the great crime of April 14th, 1865, may we always remember the strength that comes from such cooperation.

References:
The Search for George Atzerodt by Percy Martin in, “In Pursuit Of…Continuing Research in the Field of the Lincoln Assassination” published by the Surratt Society
Records of St. Paul’s Cemetery by Elaine Obbink Zimmerman and Kenneth Edwin Zimmerman
Martini Lutheran Church
Cemetery drawing from the James O. Hall Research Papers

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Newish News

Most of what follows is probably already known to those who regularly read this blog.  Nevertheless here’s some newish news on the Lincoln assassination front.

Booth reading the news

 1.  New Site

When it comes to learning about Abraham Lincoln’s life, there really is no better resource than the Abraham Lincoln Research Site run by Roger Norton.  The website at http://rogerjnorton.com is actually composed of three equally valuable sections: the life of Abraham Lincoln, the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, and Lincoln’s assassination.  The proprietor of the site is Roger Norton, a retired Illinois social studies teacher.  His website is the top choice for students, both young and old, to learn about Lincoln.  In 2006, his site received the prestigious honor of being completely archived by the Library of Congress.  Just as the LOC archives and preserves movies and TV shows deemed culturally significant, Mr. Norton’s site was archived for all time due to its educational significance.  It is a very high honor for an individual’s site to achieve and speaks to the quality of Mr. Norton’s work.

Recently, Mr. Norton has expanded his website to now include a public forum.  The Lincoln Discussion Symposium is open to all who wish to discuss the many aspects of Abraham Lincoln.  It is a collaborative community where amateurs and experts alike can post questions and comments regarding our 16th President.  Due to the large amount of traffic Mr. Norton receives from students in the school setting, forum members are expected to be courteous and respectful in their remarks.  While it is still growing, the forum already houses a wonderful community of experts from the Lincoln community eager to answer questions and take part in discussions.  I, myself, am a member there and endorse it fully.  While my main interest lies in Lincoln’s assassination, the forum has already taught me so much that I didn’t know about the living Lincoln.  Membership is growing every day, so I invite you all to visit the Lincoln Discussion Symposium and join the wonderful community of learners.

2.  New Links

On the right side of the blog you might have noticed a list of “Links to Learn More”.  Here I have placed links to some of the best websites out there for Lincoln assassination material.  Hovering over each link will give you a short description of the site.  To this list, I have recently added two new links.  The first is the above mentioned Lincoln Discussion Symposium.  The second is the Facebook page for the Spirits of Tudor Hall.  The Tudor Hall estate was the Booth family homestead in Maryland.  The theatrical patriarch of the Booth clan, Junius Brutus bought the land when he and Mary Ann Holmes emigrated from England.  The Booth family originally lived in a log cabin on the property before Junius commissioned the building of the beautiful Tudor Hall manor house in the fall of 1851.  Sadly, Junius never got to live in the main house as he died while on tour on November 30th 1852.  The Booth family lived on the Tudor Hall property on and off from 1822 to 1858.  Nowadays, Tudor Hall is used as an office for the Harford County Center for the Arts.  It is also home to the Junius B. Booth Society.   The house is open on select weekends for public tours about the Booth family and the history of Tudor Hall.  The Spirits of Tudor Hall Facebook page advertises the house’s tour dates and times, along with highlighting wonderful pictures and articles on the Booth family (including some from here, Woot!).  If I was a member of Facebook, I would Share it/Like it/Poke it/Friend it/Hug it/High Five it, whatever it is that you young people do there.  One thing they are advertising on Tudor Hall’s behalf is the sale of a genuine brick from a Tudor Hall chimney.  While the bricks can’t be completely authenticated to when the Booths lived there, it’s still a relic you can own dating back to Edwin Booth’s lifetime.  Add the Spirits of Tudor Hall Facebook page to your favorites today.

3.  New(ish) Books

I am happy to report that William Edwards’ book, The Lincoln Assassination – The Reward Files, is now available for purchase as an ebook through GoogleBooks.  Previously released as a book on CD-ROM, Mr.  Edwards has revamped his collection of primary source documents into a searchable ebook.  The Reward Files hold many details about the military’s search for Booth and contains firsthand accounts (like Samuel Arnold’s confession) not found in other sources.  This text along with The Evidence and the Court Transcripts, make up the trilogy of the government’s primary documents into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Also, Ed Steers, the noted Lincoln author and co-author on The Evidence with William Edwards, has also just released an updated Kindle ebook version of his popular booklet, The Escape and Capture of John Wilkes Booth.  Mr. Steers originally posted the news of his revised book on the Lincoln Discussion Symposium.

Well, that’s all the newish news that’s fit to print.  Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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Samuel Arnold’s Confession

The following is Samuel Arnold’s full confession that he gave following his arrest on April 17th.  This account is copied from William Edwards’ book The Lincoln Assassination – The Rewards Files.  Mr. Edwards is the author behind the trilogy of primary sources regarding the assassination.  The Evidence, The Court Transcripts, and The Rewards Files, are all essential materials for those studying the assassination.  They contain the bulk of the government’s microfilmed records and are priceless to the researcher.  The Evidence can be bought as both a physical book (the Surratt House Museum offers the best value on this) and as a non-searchable ebook.  The Trial Transcript can be purchased as a searchable ebook.  The Rewards Files were previously released on a CD-ROM  (still available through the Surratt House Museum) and will shortly be released as an ebook through Google Books. EDIT: The book is now available for purchase here.

I have previously written my support of Edwards’ Trial Transcripts and I will certainly let you all know when The Reward Files are available for download.  In the meantime, Arnold’s confession provides some of the most reliable information about the original abduction conspiracy:

“To Whom it May Concern,

Know that I, Saml B. Arnold, about the latter part of August or first part of September 1864, was sent for by J. Wilkes Booth, who was a guest at Barnum Hotel, City of Baltimore Md. to come to see him. Had not seen the same J. Wilkes Booth since 1852, when we both were schoolmates together at St. Timothy’s Hall, President L. Van Bokelin then having said Hall as place of tuition. Reception warm calling for wine and cigars conversing a short time upon our former school boy days. We were interrupted by a knock at the door, when Michael O’Laughlen was ushered in. After a formal introduction, we sat sipping our wine, and then smoke a cigar. During smoking he having heard previously of my feelings or sentiments, he spoke in glowing terms of the confederacy and of the number of surplus prisoners in the hands of the United States, and then ensued the proposition by J. Wilkes Booth and which he J. Wilkes Booth thought could be accomplished viz; Kidnapping President Lincoln as he frequently went unguarded out to Soldiers Home, and he thought he could be picked up, carried to Richmond, and for his exchange produce the exchange (for the President) of all the prisoners in the Federal hands. He, J. Wilkes Booth the originator asked if we would enter into it. After the painting of the chance of success in such glowing colors, we consented viz; Michael O’Loughlin and myself. Secrecy bound not to divulge it to a living soul. Saw him no more. Yes I saw him again and then he J. Wilkes Booth left to arrange the business north. First to New York then to the Oil region, from there to Boston and finally to Canada. Was to be back in a month. Received a letter which I destroyed stating he was laid up with Eryeocippolis in the arm and as soon as he was able, he would be with us. Months rolled around, he did not make his appearance until some time in January. In his trunk he had two guns (maker unknown), cap cartridges which were placed in the gun stock (Spencer Rifle I think called) revolver, knife belts, cartridge boxes, cartridge caps, canteen, all fully fixed out which were to be used in case of pursuit, and two pairs handcuffs to handcuff the President. His trunk being so heavy he gave the pistols knives and handcuffs to Michael O’Laughlen and myself to have shipped or bring to Washington to which place he had gone. Bought horse buggy, wagon and harness leaving the team &c. to drive on to Washington. Started from Baltimore about twelve or one o’clock after having shipped the box containing the knives, handcuffs and pistols, arriving in Washington at seven or half past seven. Met him on the street as we were passing theater. We alighted, took a drink and he told us of the theater plan slightly, saying he would wait till we put the horse away and tell us more fully. He had previously as I now remember spoken of the chance in the theater if we could not succeed in the other at Soldiers Home. We went to theater that night, he J. Wilkes Booth telling us about the different back entrances and how feasible the plan was. He, J. Wilkes Booth, had rented a stable in rear of the theater having bought two horses down the country, one in stable behind theater and the other at livery. Met him next day went to breakfast together. He was always pressed with business with a man unknown and then only by name, John Surratt. Most of his Booth’s time was spent with him. We were left entirely in the dark. Michael O’Loughlen and myself rented a room in D Street 420 No. Obtained meals at Franklin House cor of 8th and D St. and there lived for nearly two months, seeing him perhaps three or four times per week and when seen always but a short time still pressing business aleays on hand viz. John Surratt.

Michael O’Laughlen and myself drove out occasionally the horse liveried at Nailor’s Stable drove always (but once) in the city and Georgetown. The once excepted across Eastern Branch Bridge when we went upwards of five miles and returned I suppose. That was the only time I ever went over the Bridge. How often J. Wilkes Booth crossed I cannot state, but from his own words often. Thus was Michael O’Laughlens time spent and mine for the most part down at Ruhlman’s Hotel and Lichau House on Pennsylvania and Louisiana Avenues in drinking and amusements with other Baltimoreans besides ourselves congregating there all of whom knew nothing of our business but selling oil stock. Oil stock was the blind for them as well as my family. During the latter part of March while standing on Ruhlman’s and Lichau’s porch between 11 & 12 o’clock PM a young man name unknown, as I cannot remember names, about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches high thick set, long nose, sharp chin, wide cheek, small eye, I think grey, dark hair, and well dressed, color don’t remember, said called Michael O’Laughlen aside and said J. Wilkes Booth wish to see us both at Gaither’s Saloon on Avenue. I was there for the first time introduced to him, but forgot his name. We walked up together, Michael O’Laughlen, this unknown and myself were ushered into the presence of J. Wilkes Booth who introduced me to John Surratt, Atzerodt (alias Port Tobacco) (alias) Mosby making in all seven persons. J. Wilkes Booth had stated to Michael O’Laughlen to bring me up in good humor (still always in the dark). Then commenced the plan. Each had his part to perform. First I was to rush in the box and seize the President whilst Atzerodt “alias” Port Tobacco and J. Wilkes Booth were to handcuff him and lower him on the stage whilst Mosby was to catch him and hold him until we all got down. Surratt and unknown to be on the other side of Bridge to facilitate escape, afterwards changed to Mosby and Booth to catch him in box throw him down to me on stage, O’Laughlen and unknown to put gas out. Surratt, Atzerodt “alias” Port Tobacco to be on the other side of Bridge. I was opposed to the whole proceeding, said it could not be done or accomplished if even which was of itself an impossibility to get him out of the box and to the Bridge. We would be stopped by sentinel. Shoot the sentinel says Booth. I said that would not do for if an alarm was given then the whole thing was up. As for me I wanted a shadow of a chance. M. O’Laughlen wanted to argue the same thing, whereupon J. Wilkes Booth remarked, you find fault with everything concerned about it. I said no I wanted to have a chance and I intended to have it, that he could be the leader of the party but not my executioner. Whereupon J. Wilkes Booth remarked in a stern commanding and angry voice, do you know you are liable to be shot your oath.[sic] I told him the plan a basis had been changed and a compact broken, on the part of one is broken by all. If you feel inclined to shoot me you have no further to go. I shall defend myself. This if I remember arightly was on a Thursday or a Friday night. When I said Gentlemen if this is not accomplished this week I forever withdraw from it. Staid up till about 6 or 7 o’clock AM Friday or Saturday and then to bed, remained indoors till twelve. I arose and went to get my breakfast. M. O’Laughlen and myself room together both arose at the same time and were always together in a measure. About two or three o’clock J. Wilkes Booth called at Lichau House to see O’Laughlen. What passed I know not. I told him I wanted to see him. Says he speak out. Well John what I said last night I mean if not done this week I withdraw. Went to bed about 7 ½ o’clock PM. Next day twas to be accomplished on the 7th Street road, it failed. Sunday I staid in Washington and Monday or Tuesday I returned to the city of Baltimore and thence to Hookstown. J. Wilkes Booth in meantime went to New York and returned during week, Saturday I think. Said he wished to see me on very urgent business. Father sent for me. I came from country and he had gone to Washington, whereupon I wrote him the letter published. Richmond authorities as far as I know knew nothing of the conspiracy. The letter was written after my return to country, after finding he could not wait to see me in Baltimore. During week I came in City again. Met M. O’Laughlen who asked me to go to Washington to finally arrange his affairs. I went in the morning Friday, returning same day. Cut loose forever from it. Received a letter J. H. Wharton at Fort Monroe giving me employment; went to country got my clothing and Saturday first day of April left Baltimore for Fort Monroe at which place I have remained, never corresponding with Booth or seeing him from above named date to the present writing. The groundwork was to kidnap the President without any violence none other were included therein. He never to me said he would kill him, further than this I know nothing and am innocent of having taken any part whatever in the dark deed committed.

The plan of escape was place Mr. Lincoln in the buggy purchased for that purpose, cross Eastern Branch Bridge, Surratt and Atzerodt “alias” Port Tobacco to pilot them to where a boat was concealed, turn horses loose, place the President in the boat and cross the Potomac to Virginia Shore and thence to make our way to Richmond. Surratt knew the route and was to act as pilot.

A box painted black like unto a sword box was sent to Booth from Hotel by a Porter there, to our room. Next day transferred in wagon, O’Laughlen acting pilot to some place. I was not present. After giving box to driver went to Georgetown and O’Laughlen had the full charge of it. M. O’Laughlen said he took it to a Mr. Heard and from thence the unknown carried it to his house, took guns out and carried them to Peedee. This latter clause Booth told me.

Saml. B. Arnold

Baltimore April 18th 1865

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Researching with Primary Sources

When we want to learn more about the Lincoln assassination, the first place we all start is with the books.  American Brutus by Michael Kauffman, Blood on the Moon by Edward Steers, and Manhunt by James Swanson, seem to be the top three choices for those starting off.  While many other wonderful books have been written on the subject, these three provide the most up to date research and findings about the assassination.  What makes these books the best modern writings on the subject, is their use of primary sources.  The chapter notes in American Brutus, for example, are filled with new discoveries and sources ignored or unknown to previous writers.  That is why, when looking to do research into the Lincoln assassination, it is crucial to use primary sources.  Ten years ago, this would have meant a visit to the National Archives to look through rolls of microfilm.  Today, however, some of the best primary sources have been published as standalone books or digitized.  This post explores using two such resources in tandem to aid in researching and learning about our great American drama.

One source that is absolutely necessary for any serious research into the assassination is, The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence by William Edwards and Edward Steers.  This book contains practically all of the paper materials involved with the investigation of Lincoln’s murder.  The 1400 page book is filled with witness statements about nearly every aspect of the assassination.  William Edwards transcribed the book one microfilmed page at a time from the original evidence files in the National Archives.  Then, teamed with Edward Steers, they indexed, categorized and annotated the piece.  The sheer work involved in making this book is astounding, and we all owe the authors a sincere thank you for producing it.  While the size of the book increases the price tag (it can be bought cheap for $99 through the Surratt House Museum), it is worth every penny for the convenience and treasures that lay inside.  My copy of The Evidence, sits right next to my computer within arm’s reach, and I reference it practically every day.  The Evidence is not only vastly helpful because it saves me a trip to D.C. to look at microfilm, but it also has an index, allowing me to quickly and easily find the material I am looking for.

Another great resource to find the same materials is through the website, Fold3.com.  Previously known as Footnote.com until a recent merger with Ancestry.com, Fold3 provides millions of digitized historical documents.  Their partnerships with institutions like the Library of Congress and the National Archives, have allowed them to digitize and present pieces of history to a wider audience than ever before.  Most beneficial for our interest are the Lincoln Assassination Papers hosted by them.  Fold3 has digitized all of the microfilmed pages included in The Evidence and more.  Even better, while most of the site requires a paid membership to view and save images of the documents, the Lincoln Assassination Papers are free to view and (with a free account) free to save.  While Fold3 is a wonderful way to look at the images of the documents themselves, the pages have not been transcribed in any way.  Individual members can go through and annotate and transcribe names and places, but a full digital transcription of these hand-written documents seems unlikely to ever happen.  That is where The Evidence book comes in.

There have been many times where I have found it to be helpful to see the original document that I found in The Evidence.  Unfortunately, the naming used on Fold3 does not match with the original reel and frame number cited in The Evidence.  That is why I created a key that allows me to use the citation in The Evidence to find the actual document on Fold3.  Here is that key:

Click to Enlarge

Looks confusing, huh?  Let me show you how to use it.

First, after you find the statement you want to see in The Evidence, you have to look for the reel and frame citation.  For example, this is the header and citation for a letter written by Richard Baynham Garrett:

This tells me that this letter is found on reel 7: frames 77 – 79.  Then we have to use the key I posted above.  I spilt the key up into three columns.  The first column gives the name that Fold3.com has for its different sections.  The second column gives the reel and frame numbers that correspond to that section.  The third column gives examples of frame numbers from The Evidence and matching page numbers on Fold3.com.

So, the Garrett letter was located on reel 7 in The Evidence.  On Fold3, reel 7 is named “Unregistered letters received by Col. H. L. Burnett” so we’d choose that one to view.  Finding the correct page number is next.  If you would click on page 77 under the “Unregistered letters received by Col. H. L. Burnett” reel you would not find Richard Garrett’s letter but instead a letter from J. L. McPhail.  I have the following in my key under this reel:
25:44 (+19)
91:114 (+23)
This means that frame 25 in The Evidence is on page 44 on Fold3, and that frame 91 in The Evidence is on page 114 on Fold3.  After each I placed the differences between them.  Since I’m looking for frame 77 according to The Evidence, this is telling me that I need to add between 19 and 23 to find the correct page on Fold3.  You’ll still have to do a bit of searching to track down the exact page, but this should make it much easier.  Garrett’s letter can be found on page 99 on Fold3, a difference of 22 pages.

One important thing to note is that two of the reels, (Reel 1 and Reel 3) were digitized backwards.  The last page of the reel is page 1 in these ones.  For the Reel 1 (Letters AND Telegrams AND Register of Letters AND Record Book And Endorsement Book) this is alright because the telegrams have page numbers at the top that make it easy to follow.  Reel 3 is harder to navigate, but hopefully this key will give you some idea of where to start in it.

Used together, these two resources, The Evidence and Fold3.com, are a Boothie’s dream.  Publishing and digitizing these primary sources allows all Boothies to read, learn, and discover more than ever before.  As companies like Google, Fold3, and Ancestry continue on their digitalization efforts, more discoveries and insights about the Lincoln assassination will be found.

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