The Rathbones – Lost and Found

One of the most tragic stories connected to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is that of the Rathbones.  As guests of the Lincoln’s that fateful night, Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris, had front row seats to the crime of the century.  The aftermath of that encounter shaped the pair and ultimately culminated in Henry Rathbone’s mental break and subsequent murder of Clara while living abroad  in Germany.

Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris (composite by the author)

Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris (composite by the author)

After Clara was buried, Henry lived out the rest of his days in a German insane asylum before he, too, joined her in the ground.  The story held that, after a lack of attention and payment to the cemetery for upkeep, the graves of Henry and Clara Rathbone were dug up and the bodies were disposed of to free the plot up for new burials.  However, recent work by researcher Eva Elisabeth Lennartz of Germany has found some exciting new information about the fate of the Rathbones’ remains.

The information was first shared on Roger Norton’s impeccable Lincoln Discussion Symposium.  Please visit both of the following links below to learn more about the Rathbones in Germany:

Major Rathbone’s accommodation in Hannover – Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Rathbone Uncovered – Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Rathbones – Lost and Found

  1. Wesley Harris

    I wonder if Rathbone suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Involvement in or witnessing a traumatic event can have debilitating effects on mental health. I imagine Rathbone at least had feelings of guilt that he was unable to do more to protect the President as well as the nightmare of seeing the President killed before his eyes.

    • J. Beckert

      I think so, Wes. When Rathbone died, he was said to be muttering – “The man with the knife. I can’t stop him.” I’ve also wondered about the weapons he chose when he planned to kill himself and Clara. A gun and a knife. Just as Booth chose.

  2. Dave, a great big THANK YOU for your comment above.

    • Thank you, Roger, for so expertly facilitating the open expression of all aspects of Abraham Lincoln. I learn new things about Lincoln every time I check the site.

  3. Rich smyth

    Not only did Eva find the Rathbones but she uncovered detailed info on where they lived and the crime scene. Eva, I cannot express how exciting this is.

  4. I highly recommend Thomas Mallon’s historical novel HENRY AND CLARA, which is the story of the Rathbones, from adolescence until the time of Henry’s death in 1911.

  5. Paul, another excellent one is Caleb Stephens’ “Worst Seat in the House.” It is a fascinating book. Wes and Joe, Caleb devotes an entire chapter to Rathbone and PTSD.

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