Samuel Bland Arnold, a conspirator in the kidnapping plot against Abraham Lincoln, was pardoned and released from his imprisonment at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas in February of 1869. After his release, Sam attempted to return to the life he had known by going home to Baltimore. The transition, predictably, wasn’t easy. Sam had difficulty finding employment in the city due to his connection with Lincoln’s assassination. He worked in his father’s bakery for a time, but the business itself had never recovered from the cost of Sam’s legal fees. By 1883, Sam became his own employer by entering the occupation of a butcher. From 1883 to 1896, Sam Arnold the butcher lived at various residences in Baltimore, selling his meats from a market stall in the Fell’s Point neighborhood. Then, in 1896, he up and moved out of Baltimore and found a home in southern Anne Arundel County near Friendship, Maryland.
The farm that Sam Arnold moved to belonged to a family by the name of Garner. As a young boy, Arnold was educated at St. Timothy’s. This is the same school where he met John Wilkes Booth for the first time and their friendship began. In addition to young Booth, Sam had befriended another student named Robert Garner. Sam became very fond of the Garners and even went so far as to call Robert Garner’s mother, Anne Garner, “a second mother to me.” Mrs. Garner died in Baltimore in 1894, and it is likely that Sam reconnected with the Garners after her death. When he moved to the Garner farm in 1896, he was employed by Mrs. Garner’s daughter as the farm manager. Here, he found the seclusion and isolation he had probably desired for years. Sam wrote his memoirs, but claimed they would not be published until he was dead. He lived a hermit’s life, tending to his favored friends, the animals.
As I’ve written previously, Arnold was motivated to release his memoirs ahead of schedule after reading of his own death and reactions to it in the newspapers. Though it took some prodding and a lot of correspondence on the Baltimore American newspaper’s part, Sam finally consented to let them run his memoirs in December of 1902. In preparation for the serial, the Baltimore American sent out a person to interview and photograph Sam Arnold at his residence. These pictures of Sam, his house, his dog, and his feathered friends appeared alongside his story.
Sam’s account was serialized and published in the American and other newspapers across the country garnering great interest. Still, Sam Arnold remained on his secluded farm leaving only to visit his brother in Baltimore from time to time, and when he required medical assistance at Johns Hopkins after fracturing his hip in a fall in 1904. Sam stayed on the farm until the end was in sight, finally traveling to the home of his sister-in-law when consumption had all but finished him. It was at her house in Baltimore that he died on September 21st, 1906.
Practically all of the above comes from the research of Percy “Pep” Martin who has done a tremendous amount of research of Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, and other Baltimore connections to the assassination. His research was shared with me thanks to Art Loux. While going through Art’s file on Arnold, I found that, in 1980, Mr. Martin had found and traveled to the farmhouse where Sam Arnold resided near Friendship, MD. Address in hand, today I tracked down and visited Sam Arnold’s residence off of Fairhaven Road in Tracys Landing, MD. Here is a video and some pictures we took of the house:
As mentioned in the video, the house is currently up for sale (though under contract, I believe), and so here are some more pictures of the house from the real estate website:
It is amazing to me how relatively unchanged the house appears from the image of it in the Baltimore American taken over 110 years ago:
Memoirs of a Lincoln Conspirator by Samuel Bland Arnold edited by Michael Kauffman
Baltimorean in Big Trouble: Samuel Arnold, A Lincoln Conspirator by Percy E. Martin, History Trails, Autumn 1990 – Spring 1991
Art Loux Archive
Great article, and thank you so much for crediting Pep Martin for his diligent research. I first met Pep in 1975, and he did a tremendous amount of work on teaching many of us the Booth history in relationship to Baltimore environs and friends.