The Execution and Burial of Lewis Powell

Though I have already published a post today about the 155th anniversary of the execution of the four condemned conspirators in the death of Abraham Lincoln, I have another quick one to mark the occasion. Over the last three days I have been in Florida visiting sites connected to conspirator Lewis Powell. Someday in the near future, I will be publishing a very long post all about Lewis Powell’s early life and the post-assassination lives of his parents here in Florida complete with images I have taken during this trip. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you all a video I shot today at Lewis Powell’s grave in Geneva, Florida. In the video, I read accounts of the execution on this day and discuss the post-execution wanderings of Lewis Powell’s skull. I hope you enjoy it.

Categories: History | Tags: , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “The Execution and Burial of Lewis Powell

  1. Lane Zangwill

    Thanks Dave,Geneva cemetery video vicariously completes my viewing of the conspirators gravesites.starting with ft McNair original sites and visits to cemeteries in DC and Baltimore,I have made the circuit. Lane Zangwill

    • Lane,

      This visit completed my own viewing of all of the conspirators’ gravesites too (save for George Atzerodt whose final resting place remains a mystery). I am happy I could help you experience it too through the video.

  2. William B Canfield III

    Great video, Dave. As an assassination “buff” of many years, Powell is the one conspirator that has captured by interest. Mary Surratt was likely railroaded into martyrdom as an enabler. Atzerodt and Herald were unsophisticated country bumpkins mesmerized by Booth. Powell is only conspirator who showed any native intelligence and any understanding of the consequences of his part in the plot. His time with Mosby was very limited. He took the name Paine from the family with whom he boarded while in the 43rd under Col. Mosby. Some historians attempt to link Mosby to the Booth plot via Powell but that is a stretch, unsupported by any actual evidence. Bill Canfield (McLean, VA).

    • Bill,
      I tend to agree with you when it comes to the theories connecting Mosby to Booth. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the evidence to draw that line as intriguing as it might be.

      I do disagree with your assessment regarding David Herold. I think Davy gets a bad rap due to the way in which his lawyer chose to defend him – i.e. “He was a boyish simpleton who followed Booth’s every word”. This was just a ploy by Frederick Stone to try and save his client. Herold was a well educated young man with only Dr. Mudd having more schooling than him. Herold was no doubt influenced by Booth but the idea that he was uneducated or completely mesmerized seems too simplistic for me.

  3. Brenan Nierman

    I suspect that the Gawler who was the undertaker who took Powell’s body into his custody was the founder of the funeral home in Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda today. That was where President Kennedy’s body was taken after it was autopsied at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
    Today, Rock Creek Cemetery is the final resting place of Gore Vidal, George McGovern, and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, TR’s first child. It also features the sculpture “Grief” above Clover Adams’s grave. When Eleanor Roosevelt learned of his husband’s affair with Lucy Mercer, she used to go there and sit and ponder.
    And to think that Powell could have been another ghost about that place, the most lovely cemetery in DC!

    • Brennan,
      In truth, Lewis Powell’s body is interred at Rock Creek. It’s only his skull that is in Geneva. So perhaps the headless ghost of Powell does haunt Rock Creek!

  4. Carlo Rosati

    You have done a great job on this project. You should be proud of your work.

    Carlo J Rosati Forensic Examiner

    • I’m not sure if you are referring to the trial project or this video, Carlo, but I appreciate the kind words.

  5. Gary Gilbert

    …just a word of thanks Dave……great stuff as always

  6. Steve Holley

    Great report. Thanks for your thorough research. A question for you: Since I am in the ministry, I have an interest in the clergy who ministered to the Lincoln family before and after the assassination, and those who ministered to the conspirators during the trial and prior to their execution. Do you know of any research material existing on this particular area of assassination story? Thanks again for your excellent presentations.
    Pastor Steve Holley
    Burke, VA

  7. Paul Hancq

    Thank you, Dave. I haven’t been on one of your in-person tours for a while now and I miss that, so it was a pleasure to join you today on this virtual tour of Powell’s gravesite. Paul

  8. t\\

    Dave, Thanks for this insightful video and also the account of the executions. It was almost like being there. A horrifying day, but justice was served. Be careful while you are in Florida. Leila

    • Thank you, Leila. I knew I was going to shoot a video but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I thought reading from two of the best books out there was a good way to go about it.

  9. Richard Sloan

    One of the most imaginative chapters of your blog. Well done, man. Well done. Will you be going to Ft. Jefferson during this trip?

    • Richard,
      I went to Fort Jefferson last year and it was supposed to be the subject of my talk at the 2020 Surratt Conference that was cancelled. Hopefully I’ll be able to present it in 2021.

  10. Charles Carter

    Although not a great angle, from the photograph of Powell’s skull it looks as though at a fairly young age he lost his lower left first molar (6 year molar) also referred to as tooth #19 and he also lost #21 his lower left first bicuspid.  Because tooth #19 wasn’t replaced, he had considerable mesial tilting of his 2nd and 3rd molars (12 year molar and wisdom tooth).  He is also missing tooth #27 his lower right cuspid.  To me it looks like the missing teeth on top were probably lost at some point after death.  This is just my opinion.  I am not a dental pathologist. I think your posts on the Lincoln assassination has been absolutely fascinating.  Thank you for all of your effort.  It’s been a great learning experience. Chuck Carter, DDS

  11. Pingback: Lincoln Assassination Ephemera |

  12. Joan M Fish

    I can’t believe that cavalry is spelled calvary, on his tombstone. Freudian slip? Shame that such a beautiful young man died like that. But he went to his death a man.. I don’
    t know why I’ve become obsessed with him…

  13. Kay Barmore

    Thank you, Dave. You are a wealth of information.

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