Sign up for the Surratt Conference!

To many of the readers of BoothieBarn, the Surratt Society Conference on the Lincoln Assassination needs no introduction.  Held annually for the last thirteen years, the conference is a social and educational gathering of those interested in the drama that played out in April of 1865.  It attracts Civil War buffs, amateur historians, and noted authors in the field of Lincoln’s assassination.  It is organized and put on by the Surratt Society in conjunction with the Surratt House Museum.  This year the conference is being held on the weekend of March 15 – 17, just two weeks away!  The Surratt House offers two bus tours on the Friday and Sunday of the conference weekend.  The bulk of the “conference” part takes place on Saturday, March 16.  The day’s events consist of a full breakfast, three presentations, a full lunch, three more presentations, an author’s hour, a social hour, and an evening  banquet with entertainment.  The Surratt Conference is hands down the most stimulating and fun gathering of minds in the Lincoln assassination field.

This, the 14th annual conference, has the following wonderful speakers and topics being presented:

  • Betty Ownsbey, author of Alias “Paine”, will be presenting new information on conspirator Lewis Powell in advance of the new second edition of her book.
  • Dr. Tom Bogar will give a thrilling look into the stories and people who worked backstage or were performing at Ford’s Theatre the night Lincoln was assassinated.  This is in advance of his new book, “Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination’.
  • Dr. Blaine Houmes, M.D.,  who gave a phenomenal talk two years ago at the conference, will return examining more, “Medical Mysteries of the Lincoln Conspiracy”.
  • Dr. Kenneth Heineman will present about Thomas Ewing, the lawyer who defended conspirators Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Edman Spangler at the conspiracy trial of 1865.
  • Wesley Harris, author of an upcoming book about the weapons of the conspirators, is following up on last year’s presentation and giving us an even deeper look at the “Tools of the Assassins”
  • The entertainment for the evening banquet is a sit down with Erik Jendresen, the mastermind behind the recent “Killing Lincoln” docu-drama that debuted on NatGeo.  Erik will talk about his experience researching and filming this wonderful piece.

In addition to these doctors and experts, the organizers of the Surratt Conference also made the mistake of asking me to speak.  I am both honored and terrified at this opportunity.  Here’s the little bio they put together about me:

DAVID TAYLOR, a second grade teacher, formerly of Illinois, has relocated to Maryland to be closer to the assassination story.  A Life member of the Surratt Society, Mr. Taylor has contributed several articles to the Society’s Courier newsletter.  Mr. Taylor enjoys thoroughly researching various facets of the assassination, and writes about them on his online blog:  Although his research has taken him down many different avenues from weapons, to Ford’s Theatre playbills, to a conspirator’s family quilt, he has always held a special interest in the Garrett family of Caroline County, Virginia and their surprise houseguest, John Wilkes Booth.  In his talk, Mr. Taylor will discuss the Garretts, their accounts of what transpired the night of April 26th, 1865, and the legacy Booth’s visit had on their lives.

The subject of my presentation, as stated, is the Garrett family who unknowingly housed John Wilkes Booth from about 3 o’clock April 24th until his death in the early morning hours of April 26th.  I have done considerable research about this family, finding them to be my main interest in the assassination story.  I am deeply honored that one of the attendees of the conference is going to be a descendant of the Garrett family who has greatly helped me in my research.  The two of us will be meeting and talking with folks during the Author’s Hour.  In anticipation for the conference, I’ve changed the header image on the blog to one of the pictures I have discovered (and photoshopped) of the Garrett House.


If you have not already done so, consider signing up for the conference which is housed at the Colony South Hotel and Conference Center in Clinton, Maryland.  For more information, or to sign up, call the Surratt House Museum at (301) 868-1121.  The cost is $190 per person.

I look forward to seeing you there.  Please though, only bring one tomato per attendee.  More than that and it will take forever to clean up the stage for the speaker that follows me. 🙂

~Dave Taylor

P.S. You may notice a lack of postings here on BoothieBarn for the next two weeks.  This is due to the fact that I am focusing my free time on my conference presentation.  Thank you for understanding.

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19 thoughts on “Sign up for the Surratt Conference!

  1. Heath

    Dave, could you post the non-photoshopped version of the picture? I assume it did not include the barn (and obviously not your “barn on fire”). I love your blog and am very annoyed that I have to miss the conference this year. Best of luck.

    • Heath,

      Here is a copy of the original source image:

      As you can see, the picture does include the barn. While not the same barn that was destroyed in the attempt to smoke Booth out, it was built on nearly the same spot as the original. My photoshopping merely involved adding fire, and trying to turn the picture into a night shot. Thanks for the kind words about my blog and I hope to see you at next year’s conference.


  2. Heath

    Dave, where did you find that picture? It is a amazing find.

  3. Rich smyth

    I too would like to know where that pic came from. Having never seen it before I think it’s one of the best finds of recent years. I can picture Herold being tied to the tall tree closest to the barn.

    • That picture was taken by author Otto Eisenschiml in 1932 while he was retracing John Wilkes Booth’s escape. I have twenty four pictures of the Garrett house that I have assembled into a slideshow that shows the progressive decay and collapse of the house in its later years. In this picture the front porch where Booth died has already fallen off.

      • Jim Garrett

        Dave: This is spectacular!! You really have done an incredible job on the Garrett family.

      • Wesley Harris

        Looking forward to the presentation and seeing the pics. I wasn’t aware any photos of the Garrett house existed. Dave, are you going to mention Booth’s attempt at target practice with the Garrett sons?

        • I’m not sure if time will allow me to share all the stories but that certainly is a good one. I’m hoping I can fit it. From my files:

          Booth told Will Garrett he was a good shot – “He claimed to be, and he said he would shoot five balls in succession through a knot hole in the gate some two inches in diameter. He took position about two rods off, and fired all of the five shots, and then sent me to see the result. I couldn’t find where any of the balls had struck, and Booth said he had put all the five balls through the knot hole. When he came to examine the pistol, however, to reload it, he found all five of the balls still in the pistol, the powder having exploded without driving out the bullets. He laughed as heartily as I did at the fizzle, and he tried no more marksmanship.” (1881.12.11N)

          • Wesley Harris

            just wondering if you were going to cover the target practice. I’m mentioning in my presentation.

      • Kory

        Where are your pics of the Garrett place over the years? I can’t seem to find them. 😦

        • Sorry Kory, I haven’t put up any of my photos if the Garrett house here. I’m saving a lot of my Garrett stuff for a future project.

          • Kory

            I can’t find any pics of the Garrett place online at all. What exactly happened to it? I mean…it’s gone…but how?

            • In 1922, the house was sold at auction out of the family. The purchasers were neighbors who only wanted the property for additional land for farming. The house was left to decay with no tenants or occupants. The house finally collapsed in on itself in 1937/1938.

              Here is the last photograph I have been able to find taken in 1937 right before the house fell:

              • Kory

                You are the man! Thanks for this. By the way, I see there is a post or marker where the house was (in the median). Is that the exact location of the house, or supposition. Sorry for all of the questions. Just curious….

                It’s my guess that the front porch of the house was the first to go, for obvious reasons…..

                • The metal pipe in the ground was placed at the centerline of the house’s westernmost chimney. It was determined and placed there in 1979, I believe, by a professional surveyor who used an aerial map from around 1935 when the house was still standing.

                  The decay of the house started with broken windows and window frames, but, yes, the first major structural deterioration of the house was the collapse of the porch.

                • Kory

                  So, if the porch had been left alone, the house would likely still be standing, IMO. Funny how Booth was also responsible for the destruction of the house.

                • Kory

                  Oh, and do you have a copy of said aerial photograph?

  4. Rich smyth

    If you compare this picture with Townsends diagram, the corn cribs would be close and to the right of the house. A path would lead from the house directly towards the center bottom of the photo connecting with “Garret’s lane” which would run horizontal to the bottom of the picture. This really puts everything into perspective. Thanks.

  5. Anthony Classick

    Please do put the photos of the Garrett house online. I have always wondered how long it lasted.
    So no one else wanted to live there?

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