After the events of April 14th, 1865, there were many ramifications for those related to the conspirators. I’ve often highlighted the hardships of the Booth family in dealing with John Wilkes’ horrible act. The fact that Edwin Booth managed to continue his successful theatrical career after such a tragedy demonstrates the power of his acting ability. He gives a wonderful foil to his brother and his many years after in the spotlight allows us to really study his brother’s effect on his and his family’s life. For the families of the other conspirators, however, such a study is not possible. Edwin Booth was a newsworthy individual and the historical record speaks volumes about him. The other families affected all too often just faded away into obscurity. Therefore, I find this brief newspaper article regarding the Powell family’s grief to be quite poignant. After their son Lewis attacked Secretary of State Seward and his household, the Powells carried a similiar stigma as the Booth family. Just because history did not fervently document their struggles with their kin’s actions does not make their suffering any less real.
Alias “Paine” by Betty Ownsbey
New York Herald – August 2, 1865
Lewis Payne – Pawn of John Wilkes Booth by Leon Prior
Poignant in many ways, Dave. Yes, the Powell family suffered horribly as well. I have one article in which it was stated that after the hanging, some horribly cruel anonymous person sent the poor Powell family via mail a series of CDV photographs of son Lewis in “every possibly conceived tortuous position while hanging.” What a heinous thing to do to poor grieving parents….
I actually own a copy of Leon O. Prior’s publication. I am sure Betty has forgotten, but I told her this 16 years ago. Prior’s work is right next to Betty’s work on my bookshelves. Guess which one is thicker!