Horsehead Tavern in Baden, MD, is an extremely minor place in the story of the Lincoln assassination. After leaving John Lloyd at the Surratt Tavern in Clinton, we know that John Wilkes Booth and Davy Herold rode their way through the small neighborhood of T.B. After this, the next stop the pair made was at Dr. Mudd’s house. A modern-day highway marker on the side of Route 301/5, states the following:
Those individuals who have taken the Surratt Society’s Booth Escape Route Tours will not recognize this sign, as the tour does not pass it. This is due to the fact that, despite the assertion by this sign, we are not exactly sure where Booth and Herold crossed over into Charles County. While the sign provides a possible route, many “old timers” in the field have long-held that the more probable route the assassins took between T.B. and Dr. Mudd’s is one that goes by the Horsehead Tavern.
Horsehead Tavern was similar to the Surratt Tavern. Both served as the local post offices with the communities around them bearing their names (Surrattsville/Horsehead). Both were on the stagecoach lines and often had visitors making their way north or south. The two served as taverns and rented rooms to those who needed a place to stay. And lastly, both had run ins with John Wilkes Booth.
The only known time of John Wilkes Booth going to the Surratt Tavern was his escape after shooting President Lincoln. Rumor has it though that John Wilkes Booth visited and slept at Horsehead Tavern in the fall of 1864 while scouting his future abduction/escape route. An image from 1903 marks the bedroom where Booth is said to have slept.
If the story is true, then we know that John Wilkes Booth was at least familiar with the roads around Horsehead, making it a possible route for him to take on his way to Dr. Mudd’s. In truth, Horsehead Tavern is little more than a possible waypoint on the escape route. Nevertheless, it is still standing today and the newest Picture Gallery here on BoothieBarn.
That was a wooden horse head on the original post I hope (shades of The Godfather!!!)
Legend has it that there was once a real horse’s head attached to the sign. I find that a bit difficult to accept because I would think the vultures would have had their way with it.
I also grew up in the area always hearing about a hotel register of sorts that supposedly had Booth’s signature in it from one of his 1864 visits. No one seems to know what happened to what would have been a wonderful piece of history.