I came out to Washington, D.C. for the very first time in 2009. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of college and the trip was an early graduation gift from my parents. My father and I had a great time exploring the many wonderful sites before returning back home to Illinois.
It was a whirlwind visit as we tried to do all the touristy things D.C. has to offer. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre, the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial and the Newseum. We paid our respects at the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials, as well as visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Marine Corps War Memorial. We also went up into the Washington Monument, and viewed both the House of Representatives and the Senate in session. It was a blast.
Admittedly though, my favorite part of the trip was the one day in which my father and I rented a car from Union Station and drove the escape route of John Wilkes Booth. I had been learning about the assassination for years and I couldn’t wait to visit some of the places I had read so much about. My father always appreciated Lincoln, so much so that he volunteered not once, but four times to chaperone groups of rowdy eighth graders on their annual class trip to Springfield, IL. Though Dad doesn’t have the same interest in Lincoln’s assassination as I do, he definitely appreciates the importance of it.
In planning for our day trip, I spent hours tracking down the various locations we wanted to go and printing off directions on how to get there. It was a difficult process. I often had to consult many different websites just to figure out where exactly a certain place was. It took awhile, but in the end, I managed to work up an itinerary.
Our condensed tour was great, except for one hitch. On our way to the Mudd house I had planned for us to stop and visit the grave of Edman Spangler. Dad and I pulled up at St. Peter’s Cemetery and spent about an hour looking at every single grave in the place to no avail. We were almost late for the last tour of the day at the Mudd house due to our searching. When we told the people at the Mudd house of our difficulty they informed us of our mistake. “Spangler,” they said, “is buried in the Old St. Peter’s Cemetery.” Dad and I had spent an hour trampling through the wrong cemetery.
This completely understandable mistake has always stuck with me. It makes me laugh to think of the time Dad and I wasted reading every grave in the new St. Peter’s Cemetery (which, by the way, is down the road from the old cemetery). It shows how helpful and important it can be to have a guide.
Since moving to Maryland I have been lucky to have the guidance of many knowledgeable individuals. As time has gone on, I’ve slowly become a guide myself and I am able to point out places relating to the assassination of Lincoln around D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Some time ago I started a project of recording the locations of various assassination places using a mapping app called Rego. At first it was just for my own reference as I pinpointed places I had visited or places that I wanted to visit. This summer I drove a circuitous route to Illinois and back so I could visit a few of those places on my list.
In August, I decided to make my map widely available. I converted my Rego map into a custom Google map complete with a color coded key. Without fanfare or announcement, the new page on BoothieBarn appeared called Lincoln Assassination Maps.
About a month after I created the page, I received a wonderful email from a man who took his grandson along the escape route and used my map to help them plot their course. I emailed him back expressing how ecstatic I was that someone had not only found the map but used it as I had hoped. Since then I’ve been slowly adding more places to the map expanding far beyond the escape route. Using aerial views and my own knowledge, I’ve tried to pinpoint places as specifically as I can, even putting markers directly on top of where graves are in a cemetery in some cases. Currently, the only map on the Lincoln Assassination Maps page is one that covers D.C., Maryland, and the Northern Neck of Virginia. Though it already contains about 100 sites, it, by no means, is complete. Future maps will highlight places in other regions such as the Midwest, the South, the Northeast, and even an International map.
With a subject as vast as the assassination of Lincoln, a guide is much needed commodity. I hope that these maps will serve as beneficial guides for those of you who want to explore the plethora of assassination related sites.
I recently visited DC for a work conference in early October. I only had about 2-1/2 days to do all the touristy stuff as much as I could. Too much to see and not enough time. But I made sure to visit The Ford Theatre and the Peterson House across the street. Awesome place and funny I was able to answer some Booth family questions from a few in line with me. When it came to the assassination questions I just pulled your blog on my phone, he he! I also stopped and visited the Surratt Boarding House now Chinese restaurant (didn’t venture in to eat though). I will definitely visit DC again in the near future and will make sure to do the JWB escape route tour too.