Posts Tagged With: Surratt

Mary Surratt’s Photograph

Add this to the list of “Things I wish I knew the location of today”:

Mary Surratt photo in case

I bought this circa 1961 image from the archives of the Baltimore Sun. It shows what appears to be an original daguerreotype or ambrotype of Mary Surratt.  I’m guessing the photographer did not bring his equipment for this photo shoot since the image is being held up on a stand made out of a roll of tape and tacks.  Unfortunately, there is no notation on the back to explain exactly when, where, and by whom the image was taken.  Nevertheless, here is a close up of the seemingly original photograph of Mary Surratt:

Mary Surratt original

There are only two known images of Mary Surratt (aside from her pictures on the gallows). The above picture represents the earlier of the two known images. This image was taken of Mary when she was probably in her late twenties or early thirties.

The other known image of Mary is described as Mary’s “fair, fat and forty” photo. The description was a quote from the New York Times in which the author covering the trial of the conspirators compared Mary to the Shakespeare character of Falstaff.  In Shakespeare’s play, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” the fat character of Falstaff is forced to disguise himself as a woman to avoid a confrontation with the husband of a woman he is trying to court.  The ladies and servants pretend that Falstaff is the obese aunt of one of the maidens.  The comparison made by the New York Times regarding Mary, therefore, is not a kind one.  Nevertheless this picture was probably taken when Mary was around 40 years old.

Mary Surratt's CDV 1

I’d truly love to know where the original, earlier photograph is today. While we have modern images based on that one, over the years Mary has been “airbrushed” somewhat.  The finer details of her face have been lost due to repeated duplication.

Mary Surratt 1

Granted these “airbrushed” photos make her appear prettier, but it doesn’t give a completely accurate view of her features.

For more images of Mary Surratt, visit the Mary Surratt Picture Gallery.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 16 Comments

New Gallery – Surratt House and Tavern

“A short distance beyond, on the same side of the road, I recognized the historic Surratt House. It is nestled in a clump of beautiful trees, and I venture to say that the occupants of the house in war times would not recognize the place. The owner of it, Mr. J. W. Wheatley, J W Wheatley owner of Surratt Housewas sitting on the front porch, and as I walked up and told him my business, stating that I wanted to stop with him until the next day, he at once made me feel at home. The sign at the corner of the house reads: “Village Hotel.” The farm originally contained 168 acres. The Surratts sold it to John Hunter, and at his death it was left to Mrs. Addison, a relative, and she sold 117 acres to Mr. Wheatley ten years ago. At that time it was a perfect wilderness, grown over with pines and underbrush, but with liberal expenditure of money and time it now has no superior in southern Maryland. Every foot of ground, with the exception of a small piece of timber, is under cultivation. The house faces to the west, and a halt runs through the center. The room at the northwest corner is used as the barroom, and the one adjoining on the east for card-playing, etc. It was through the barroom door, leading out to the north end of the house, that Lloyd, the tenant, handed the carbine and whisky to Booth and Herold. The room in which Lloyd secreted them when John Surratt left them in his care an unfinished one, was upstairs, but has been finished since Mr. Wheatley became possessor of the house. I obtained some good views with my Kodak of the most interesting places around the house — the back door where Lloyd stopped on his return from Marlboro on the afternoon of the assassination, and handed his fish in the kitchen door, and where Mrs. Surratt met him and told him to be sure and be at home that night, for the guns that had been left with him would be called for.”

The above was written by assassination author and collector Osborn Oldroyd in his 1901 book, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He visited the Surratt House, met its owner at the time, Mr. Wheatley (pictured), and apparently took several pictures of the building. Following Mr. Oldroyd’s lead, the newest Picture Gallery here on BoothieBarn consists of images relating to Mary Surratt’s former house and tavern. Once a brief stop for the assassin and his accomplice it is now the site of the restored Surratt House Museum.

Visit the Surratt House and Tavern Picture Gallery to see engravings and photographs of the house through the years. Then plan your future visit to see the Surratt House Museum in person.

Click here to visit the Surratt House and Tavern Picture Gallery.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Oldest Photographs of the Escape Route

Photography as we know it was only about 40 years old when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  Though some photographers had risked life and limb taking battlefield shots of the Civil War, the bulk of a photographer’s business consisted of portraits in their studio.  In the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination photographers like Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner took photographs of Ford’s Theatre, the conspirators, and the hanging of the condemned.  When it came to the escape route, however, no cameras attempted to make the trip.  Granted, in those early days no one was completely sure of the route Booth took or of all the places he visited before his death at the Garrett farm.  Newspapermen travelled the route and drew sketches, many of which were later turned into engravings, but none of these can truly capture the detail of a location as well as a camera can.  However, the bulky nature of early photography equipment (such as the required glass plates) made photographing the escape route an undesirable endeavor.

So, what are the earliest photographs we have of the escape route?  The most readily available ones were done by Osborn Oldroyd in 1901, 36 years after Lincoln’s death.  Armed with the newly invented “Brownie” camera from Kodak, Oldroyd walked and photographed the route.  Oldroyd’s book, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, is still so popular and historically valuable thanks, in part, to his many photographs of the escape route.

Oldroyd walking the route

Osborn Oldroyd, most likely with his Brownie camera in his pack

But Oldroyd was not the first to photograph the sites of Booth’s escape.  In 1888, Kodak, and it’s founder George Eastman, had released the first box camera using the recently invented “roll” of film.  Like the Brownie that followed, these original Kodak cameras allowed individuals to take their pictures and then mail in their film to Kodak to be developed.  These first, mass market cameras produced a circular image while the later Brownie created a rectangular exposure.

Sometime between 1893 and 1895, a writer for Century Magazine either commissioned someone or took a Kodak camera for a walk himself and photographed part of the escape route.  The writer’s name was Victor L. Mason, and here are some of his pictures:

Mrs. Surratt's boarding house circa 1895

Mrs. Surratt’s boarding house circa 1895

The Surratt Tavern circa 1895

The Surratt Tavern circa 1895

Dr. Mudd's house circa 1895

Dr. Mudd’s house circa 1895

The Garrett house circa 1895

The Garrett house circa 1895

Victor Mason was working on an article about Lincoln’s assassination for Century Magazine.  In addition to these exterior shots of the escape route with a Kodak, Mason also used a more professional camera to take images of several of the trial exhibits in storage at the War Department such as this one:

Trial Exhibits circa 1895

In April of 1896, Victor Mason’s article, Four Lincoln Conspiracies, was published in Century Magazine.  Click here to view the article and look through the pages.  You will notice that while photographs of the conspirators and the relics of the assassination are replicated in the article, the photos of the escape route are not.  Instead, the article contains several drawings of each escape route location “Drawn by Harry Fenn” “From a Recent Photograph.”  Look at the drawings for the Surratt boarding house, the Surratt Tavern, Dr. Mudd’s House, and the Garrett house, and you will see that they are exact matches to the photos above.  It’s clear that Mason’s photographs were turned into these drawings.  Due to this, we can surmise that Mason also photographed Bryantown, Huckleberry, and Cleydael, since there are drawings of those places in the article too.

To my knowledge, these circa 1895 images are the earliest photographs of the escape route.  If any one knows otherwise, or has copies of these images (especially the “missing” ones of Bryantown, Huckleberry, and Cleydael), please comment below or shoot me a message at boothiebarn (at) gmail (dot) com.

History of Kodak
Four Lincoln Conspiracies by Victor L. Mason, Century Magazine, April 1896

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

The Engravings of The Philadelphia Inquirer

During the months of April, May, June, and early July 1865, the front pages of the nation’s newspapers contained headlining information about the assassination, search, trial, and fate of the conspirators. Newspapers from across the nation sent correspondents to Washington to attend the trial of the conspirators in order to take down testimony and comment on the accused. With so many newspapers covering the same material, the big city newspapers found it necessary to differentiate their coverage to attract more readers. The Philadelphia Inquirer sought to set themselves apart by including engravings in their coverage of the events.

While newsworthy events had been photographed as early as the invention of the camera, it was impossible to reproduce the photographs in a newspaper until the 1880’s. Instead, photographs or drawings of events would have to be turned into engravings, a laborious and time consuming process, before they could then be printed alongside text. There were special illustrated magazines like Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine that had pages filled with such historic engravings, but these were only published on a weekly basis. Additionally, the amount of time it took to create and complete a quality engraving of an event was about a week and a half, causing a measurable delay between an event and a published engraving of it.   Harper’s Weekly, for example, didn’t report on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln until their April 29th, issue because that is how long it took them to produce engravings of the characters and events.

The first engraving of John Wilkes Booth that appeared in the April 29th, 1865 issue of Harper's Weekly.

The first engraving of John Wilkes Booth that appeared in the April 29th, 1865 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

The more detailed the engraving was, the longer it took to make. As a daily newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer could not afford the time or money it would take to create incredibly detailed engravings to supplement their coverage of the trial. Instead they produced and published the following very basic engravings:

Philadelphia Inquirer page

April 17th, 1865: Booth Map Philly

April 28th, 1865:

Escape Map Philly

May 5th, 1865:

Corbett Philly

May 13th, 1865:

Arsenal Philly

May 19th, 1865:

Herold Philly

May 20th, 1865:

Powell Arnold Philly

May 22nd, 1865:

Courtroom Philly

June 26th, 1865:

Spangler Atzerodt Philly

June 27th, 1865:

Arnold O'Laughlen Philly

There are a few more engravings of people like Jefferson Davis and Lafayette Baker that I haven’t put up here in the interest of space and focus. I’m sure several of you are thinking, “I don’t have those newspapers, but I’ve seen those before.” For one, I have most of the above conspirators’ engravings in their respective Picture Galleries. However, practically all of these pictures were also published in a book that was advertised in The Philadelphia Inquirer on July 10th, 1865:

T.B. Peterson Transcript Advertisement Philly 2
Once the trial of the conspirators was over, there was a race to see who would be the first to publish the transcript of the trial in book form. The nation had been following the trial daily in the papers and there was money to be made by the first publisher who could provide a permanent book version of it. The publisher T. B. Peterson and Brothers was the first to bring a trial transcript book to the market debuting it only three days after the execution of four of the conspirators. Peterson’s edition is called, The Trial of the [alleged] Assassins and Conspirators at Washington City, D.C., May and June, 1865, for the murder of President Abraham Lincoln.  The swiftness of this publication was due to the cooperation Peterson received from The Philadelphia Inquirer. Essentially, the Peterson copy of the trial is a direct copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s coverage of the trial in book form. They acknowledge this on the first page of the book stating that, “The whole being complete and unabridged in this volume, being prepared on the spot by the Special Correspondents and Reporters of the Philadelphia Daily Inquirer, expressly for this edition.” Along with the text, Peterson included the Inquirer’s engravings above.

Though not a verbatim account as it was advertised, the Peterson version of the trial provides unique details not found in the other two editions of the trial. Peterson copied over the Inquirer reporters’ accounts of the courtroom and the little asides and actions of the conspirators during the proceedings. Though Peterson’s edition is the low man on the totem pole when it comes to use in research, those courtroom gems and the engravings still make it worth reading and consulting from time to time.

There is, however, one engraving from the Inquirer that I posted above that did not make its way into Peterson’s book. It is this engraving of “Samuel C. Arnold”:
Samuel C Arnold Philly

I can understand why Peterson did not include this engraving. It looks nothing like the real Samuel B. Arnold. At first, I just assumed it was a bad engraving from a poor artist (not unlike another questionable image of Sam we’ve discussed previously). However, when compared with the engraving of John Surratt from the wanted poster, it appears that was supposed to be the subject all along:
John Surratt Wanted Poster and Samuel C Arnold engraving Philly
It seems clear that the engraver used this image of John Surratt as his guide. Though flipped, the hair, features, and clothes match perfectly. Whether this misidentification occurred during the printing of the newspapers or before then, I cannot say. Regardless, it appears that Peterson noticed the discrepancy before publishing his edition of the trial and scratched the engraving entirely.

Photojournalism is something we take for granted today. Back in 1865, however, it took an immense amount of time and effort to provide readers with visuals to complement the written word.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Online Civil War Collection
The Trial of the [alleged] Assassins and Conspirators at Washington City, D.C., May and June, 1865, for the murder of President Abraham Lincoln by T. B. Peterson and Brothers

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

The Surratts – Society Members

While looking through the illustrated souvenir book, Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers’ Home, Pikesville, Maryland complied by Capt. George W. Booth, I came across a few names I recognized.  The book contains not only a history of the Pikesville Soldiers’ Home, but also the muster rolls for the various Confederate Maryland companies during the Civil War.  It gives the names of conspirators Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlen, who served in the 1st Maryland Infantry, companies C and D respectively.  At the end of the souvenir booklet is a roster of those veterans who became members of the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in the state of Maryland:

Roster Confederate Marylanders

Here we see the Arnold brothers, Sam and Charles, who both served in Company C of the 1st Maryland Infantry.  Conspirator George Atzerodt’s brother Henry, who went by Harry, became a member as well.  Thomas A. Jones, the man who hid Booth and Herold in the pine thicket and sent them across the Potomac river, was also a member of the society due to the endorsement of his superior Colonel William Norris.  On Thomas Jones’ application for membership into the society Norris wrote:

“I certify, on honor, that I know of my own personal knowledge, that the above applicant served honorably in the Army or Navy of the Confederate States as Chief Agent of the Secret Service Bureau in Maryland where his unpaid services were of incalculable value to the Confederate States in keeping open the most thoroughly reliable path of communication through the Yankee line for 2 1/2 years…during which time the man lived under Yankee fire…”

Finishing up those familiar members are the Surratts, John and Issac. Isaac wasn’t paroled until September of 1865, assumingly having learned about his mother’s fate long after she had been executed. John, of course, was the longest lived of all the Lincoln assassination conspirators as his trial ended in a hung jury.  Though he lived to 1916, he was not the last surviving member on this list.  That honor goes to Harry Atzerodt who died in 1936 at the age of 91.

Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers’ Home, Pikesville, Maryland complied by Capt. George W. Booth
Thomas A. Jones – Chief Agent of the Confederate Secret Service in Maryland by John and Roberta Wearmouth

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

New Gallery – Mary Surratt

History of the Surratts

Click here to visit the newest BoothieBarn Picture Gallery:

Mary E. Surratt

fair fat forty

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

New Gallery – John H. Surratt

“John Harrison Surratt was born April 13, 1844 in Prince George’s County, MD. He attended Saint Charles College, a Roman Catholic preparatory seminary located then at Ellicott City, MD, from the fall of 1859 to the summer of 1862. His father died in 1862 and John succeeded him as the postmaster of Surrattsville and he also became involved in the work of the Confederate Secret Service. Doctor Samuel Mudd introduced Surratt to John Wilkes Booth at a Washington hotel in December, 1864 and he became a member of Booth’s band of conspirators. Their intent was to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, bring him South and hold him as ransom to end the war. Their one attempt had to be aborted because of the non-appearance of Lincoln. When Booth turned from kidnapping to assassination, John Surratt was not available but was on a mission for the Confederacy. With this, our story begins….”
– from the preface of The Travels, Arrest and Trial of John H. Surratt by Alfred Isacsson

Check out the newest Picture Gallery to see more images relating to that elusive conspirator, John Harrison Surratt, Jr.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 6 Comments

Associated Ads

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln manifested into countless front page headlines in newspapers across the country. From the details of the assassination, the hunt for Booth and his conspirators, and the trial that followed their arrests, nary a day went by between April 15th and July 7th, 1865, that aspects of Lincoln’s death were not “today’s top stories”. While significant and valuable text space was attributed to the big items of the assassination story, minor details had played out in the classified sections of various newspapers before the tragedy occurred. For a long time after the events as well, echos of the crime at Ford’s Theatre popped up in the most innocuous area of the newspaper – the advertisements. Here are a few examples of period advertisements associated with the death of Abraham Lincoln.

April 14th, 1865
Evening Star, Washington, D.C.
Advertisement for Lincoln at Our American Cousin 1 Advertisement for Lincoln at Our American Cousin 2

On page two of the Evening Star, the attendance of the Lincolns and General Grant is announced for that night’s performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre.

November 25, 1864
New York Herald, New York City, NY
Booth Shakespeare Benefit 1864 advertisement

The New York Herald announces that night’s performance of the brother’s Booth in their benefit towards the construction of a statue of Shakespeare in Central Park.

August 18, 1869
Sun, Baltimore, MD

After being released from prison for the final time, John Harrison Surratt, Jr. made his way down into South America for about six months. Upon his return to America he tried his hand at the mercantile life with his own business selling tobacco and other commodities like the “slightly damaged” tea above. This business did not last long and about 18 months later, John Surratt would be a teacher in Rockville, MD.

January 3, 1871
Richmond Whig, Richmond, VA

Attempting to cash in on his story and connection to John Wilkes Booth, John Surratt underwent a lecture tour. His lecturing was as short-lived as his mercantile business due to public outcry.

June 15, 1864
Evening Star, Washington, D.C.

Here’s a good challenge for you all. Can any of you tell me how this sale of a schooner by the federal government is involved in the story of Lincoln’s assassination. Show me your skills by replying in the comment section below.

The Last Lincoln Conspirator by Andrew Jampoler

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Blog at