A New Chapter

In 2012, I moved from my home state of Illinois (The Land of Lincoln) to Maryland. I had been teaching in Illinois for two years and enjoyed it, but managed to get a job at an elementary school in St. Mary’s County Public Schools in Southern Maryland. The appeal of being able to live in the same area as the history that so fascinates me was almost all the encouragement a 24 year-old Dave needed to move across the country. And I have never once regretted the decision of leaving my family behind to embrace my passion. For the past nine years, I have been able to do so many things and explore the Lincoln assassination story in ways I could never have imagined. I’ve camped out in the woods that John Wilkes Booth passed through during his escape, given tours at the room where the trial of the conspirators happened, been interviewed on live TV and radio talking about the Lincoln assassination story, spent a night at the Booth family home, and, my favorite activity of all, I’ve taken 20 busloads of people down the John Wilkes Booth escape route tour for the Surratt Society. Being in Maryland has helped shape me as a historian and an educator.

With that being said, our priorities in life can change quickly sometimes. At the beginning of 2021, I was a recent divorcee who was asked to be interviewed on Vanished –  a podcast that was investigating the “Booth escaped and got turned into a mummy” conspiracy theory. The cohost assigned to me was Jen Taylor (no relation) and we had a great time essentially shredding the conspiracy theorists’ so-called evidence that a different man was killed in Booth’s place on April 26, 1865. After the podcast wrapped up, Jen and I continued to find excuses to talk to one another. One day, Jen had to take a long drive and decided to call me so that I could keep her company on her trip. We talked on the phone during her entire car ride, and after she got back home, and further into the night. Before long, I heard birds chirping and saw the sun was rising. We had talked for over 9 hours straight! Since then, I’ve talked and videochatted with Jen everyday. When my spring break from school came in March, I cancelled my planned trip to Fort Jefferson, to fly out to Austin, Texas to see her and her two amazing boys in person.

We both quickly realized that we had found our person and that we loved each other. It came fast and without warning but we knew that everything we’d experienced had been designed to lead us to each other. We had both been in bad marriages before and that’s how we knew we had finally found the selfless and committed partners we both deserved. Since March, I’ve flown out to Austin every other weekend. Eventually, Jen was able to make a trip to Maryland to see my neck of the woods. While taking Jen on part of the John Wilkes Booth escape route in May, I proposed to her on the banks of the Potomac at the spot where John Wilkes Booth and David Herold tried to cross.

We are in the midst of planning a wedding for next year in Granbury, Texas – the same town where the John Wilkes Booth imposter, John St. Helen, lived and allegedly confessed his identity to Finis Bates. In essence, Granbury is the birthplace of the “Booth escaped” theory and, if it wasn’t for that town and its notorious inhabitants spinning some yarns, Jen and I would never have met. I used to avoid the Booth escaped theory like the plague because it was so nonsensical, and now it’s a key part of my marriage origin story.

I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to start my life with Jen and her boys. I have a family waiting for me in Texas. Today was my last day at St. Mary’s County Public Schools and in two weeks (on the anniversary of the conspirators’ execution as a matter of fact) I will be leaving Maryland for good. I have truly loved living in such close proximity to the Lincoln assassination sites (and cemeteries) for the past nine years, but what I will miss most of all are the many wonderful friends I’ve made here in Maryland. I will sincerely miss you all, but my future is with my wife and stepsons in Austin.

Now before you worry too much, this does not mean I’m going to stop researching, writing and speaking about the Lincoln assassination. Quite the opposite. In fact, I’m hoping to increase my output here in LincolnConspirators.com once I finish my Master’s degree in American history at the end of the year. I already have ideas for my thesis and am hoping it can turn into either an interesting feature here on the site or maybe, possibly, a book. In addition, Jen and I are planning to make a podcast series focused on the trial of the Lincoln conspirators.

In terms of talks and speeches, I’m planning on coming back to Maryland for the annual Surratt Society Conference, my talks at Tudor Hall, and other special events. My favorite thing in the world is narrating the Surratt Society’s John Wilkes Booth escape route bus tours and you better believe that I will fly back as often as they want me to get my fix. In addition, COVID has introduced us all to the virtual meeting and Civil War Roundtables. I am always available to do online and Zoom lectures to different groups.

In many ways, things will stay the same here on LincolnConspirators.com, I just won’t be living in Maryland anymore when I write about these things. At times I may have to reach out to the locals to go and snap a picture of a grave or something, but when I started this site I was living in Illinois so I know I can still do good research from afar. In the interim between posts, I still highly recommend you follow me on Twitter as I am always tweeting and retweeting Lincoln assassination material over there.

I’d like to thank you all for your continued support as I travel to a new state to start this new chapter in my life with Jen and her boys. You can take the Lincoln assassination researcher out of Southern Maryland, but you can’t take the Southern Maryland out of the Lincoln assassination researcher. To my local friends and students, take care of this state (and its graves) for me. Don’t worry, I won’t be a stranger.

Love,

Dave Taylor

Categories: News | Tags: , , , | 59 Comments

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59 thoughts on “A New Chapter

  1. Happy, happy news! Warm wishes to the four of you!

  2. Anita Gash

    Congrats to you , your future bride and the boys. Best too in your new teaching position.
    Anita

  3. You need to follow your heart. Will you be teaching in Texas?

    • At the moment, I do not have a teaching position set up in Texas. I want to focus on finishing my Master’s first and am open to seeing where it might lead me.

  4. Congratulations to both of you!

  5. davg2000

    Best wishes to you, Jen, and those boys, Dave! Good for you!

  6. Steve

    Congrats and best wishes!

  7. David (Gene) Ingram

    My congratulations to both of you, I just moved my Daughter, and my grandchildren from Austin back to our home in Memphis,Tennessee. The home of Mr. Bates, Grandfather of the actress Ms. Kathy Bates. My youngest Daughter lived down the street where Mr. Bates lived when he brought Mr. Booth’s mummy! I give talks on Mr. Booth, or I did until Covid hit the country, I am also a collector of Booth , and Lincoln CDVs, along with several other famous people, at almost 79, it is almost my passion now. In my TV room I have life size standees of both Booth, and Lincoln, if you look me up on Facebook, you will see both of them together. I feel I have some kind of connection with Mr. Lincoln, he died on April 15 at 1865 the same time my Great Uncle was born I am not sure what my Great Grandfather, a former Confederate Soldier thought, he lost a leg at Gettysburg, he didn’t believe in slavery, he was a school teacher before the war, and opened the first school for children of color in Mississippi after the war! I don’t do twitter, if you posted on Facebook I could follow you there. I won’t take up any more of your time, just wanted you to know, that are those that think Booth didn’t die in Garrett’s tobacco barn, and that Sargent would have to have been 15 foot tall to have shot Booth, scientists have proven that, also the man they say was shot, James William Boyd was from Jackson, Tennessee just North of where I live! If you could find the 12 or 13 pages missing from Booth’s diary, that Mr. Staton removed it would clear up a lot of things! I hope to read the book that you will probably write! D. E. (Gene) Ingram

    • Joanne Kline Gunzenhauset

      A nice bit of info. I never believed it was Boston Corbett either, i guess that was the thought behind Lee Harvey Oswald taking the fall also!

      • Just for the record, it was Boston Corbett who shot Booth. Also, while I’m not an expert on Kennedy, the evidence there is pretty clear that it was Oswald.

    • Thanks for the well wishes. The James W. Boyd theory is an interesting one. Of course there’s no substance to it as the actual James W. Boyd was killed in 1866 – a year after he was supposed to have been the man shot in the barn. Also, scientists have not proven that Boston Corbett had to have been 15 feet tall to shoot Booth. I think people fail to take into account that Booth was hobbling and leaning forward when Corbett shot him in the neck. The very slight downward trajectory of the wound can be accounted for in Booth’s body position and motion towards the door. Also, there is no evidence that Stanton did any sort of alterations on Booth’s diary. As I tell people in my Booth tour, the diary was actually a 1864 datebook and Booth was still a touring actor up through May of 1864. The missing pages of the diary consist of January through May. The most logical explanation for the missing pages is that Booth removed all of the pages that contained mundane acting details in order to start his manifesto on the first blank pages available to him. No conspiracy here.

  8. Kevin A Sockwell

    Sooooooo very happy for you!!!

  9. Jen

    I love you. ❤️

  10. Judi Saville

    What a wonderful tribute to your 9 years in MD and to your new life and family in TX! We love you and are cheering you on as you start this new chapter. Your words “happier now than I’ve ever been” says it all. What could be better than that!?! So happy for you, Dave! ❤️

  11. Gary Gilbert

    my favorite post of yours yet……just a great story……very happy for you…….and ….I think you need to make the book happen…..another thing that , like Jen and the kids, is meant to happen I think……and I’ll buy the first copy……congrats ……Jen and those dudes are getting a great guy……all the best…..Gary Gilbert

  12. Lisa Tuttle

    Congratulations! What a wonderful story–and so nice you met through your shared interest. I lived in Austin way back in the 1970s & still have friends there — it is a place I love. My interest in Lincoln-related things began when I was researching the lives of my ancestors and found that my great-great-grandmother had been one of the first women who worked in the Treasury Department, beginning in 1863, and right on into the 1920s. (Her parents had emigrated from Ireland to Baltimore.) So, to me, the arc connecting Maryland to Texas makes perfect sense. Have a great life with your new family.

    • Thank you, Lisa. I assume you’ve read my post about Spencer Clark which briefly mentions the Treasury Girl scandal that he was a part of. What a schmuck he was. I’m glad that Grace Bedell, the girl who convinced Lincoln to grow a beard, didn’t succeed in getting a position in the Treasury like she wanted. Talk about a toxic work environment!

  13. Doug Easterly

    Congrats Dave. I met you on the 150th of Booth death in Port Royal, VA. Im glad you too got together. Best of luck to you and Jen!

    • Thank you, Doug. The death of Booth in Port Royal will always be my favorite part of the story and I will still have a connection to it in Texas. Lillie Garrett, one of the witnesses to Booth’s death, later lived in Austin and is buried there.

  14. public1946

    Congrats & best wishes for a wonderful future for you, Jen & the boys!
    Elsie

  15. Rich Smyth

    Great news Dave! Change is definitely good! Congratulations to you & Jen!

    • I got to tell you Rich, Jen and I just signed a lease for a house to rent yesterday. When we were looking at it, and I was checking out the neighborhood, one of the biggest selling points for me was that there was a cemetery within walking distance. I knew you would understand. Thanks for the congrats.

  16. Donna Peterson

    What a truely wonderful love story. It was meant to be. Congrats you two.

  17. Lane Zangwill

    Best wishes for the changes in life and location.certainly enjoyed your sharing and enthusiasm for all things Lincoln.still have more sites to visit that you have opened for us to explore. Thanks for the memories.

    • I will miss my Boothie groupies. You and Miriam were always so supportive and I could always rely on at least two friendly faces when I spoke locally. My best to both of you and I’m confident our paths will cross again. I’m still planning on giving a talk or two next year at Tudor Hall.

  18. Leila Irene Wassom

    Congratulations to you and Jen!!

  19. Erica

    Congratulations! Much love and happiness to you both ❤️

  20. Congratulations Dave!

  21. Graham Baldwin

    Congratulations to you and your new family, Dave. I am betting you’ll be a great step dad.

  22. Randal Berry

    Congrats! You’ll love Austin! I go there about 8 times a year to visit friends and relatives

  23. Wesley Harris

    Wow! Congratulations. Happy for you. I think two boys are fixing to learn a lot of history. You are going to love Texas in addition to the new family. And we’ll almost be neighbors!

    • Thank you, Wes! You are very much correct that the boys are going to be subjected to a lot more history from now on. I’ll definitely have to plan a road trip to Louisiana to come and visit you one of these days.

  24. Russell Simonaro

    Great news David.Enjoy Years ago I visited Tudor Hall and listen to a narrative on JWB. I have also taken the Booth escape route from Ford’s to Garrett Farm site. Loved it.

  25. Kay Snavely Barmore

    Congratulations to you both, and thank you, Dave, for being a great educator to young and old, and dedicated to keeping our history alive. It’s Maryland’s loss and Austin’s gain all round. We all look forward to our next lesson from you. All the best!

  26. I wish all four of you the very very best. It sounds like you totally deserve each other and I can tell there’s nothing but good in the future for you. Once again, thank you for everything you do.

  27. Diane E Adkins

    Dave, I am SO happy for you, Jen, and the boys. Isn’t it funny how things happen in our lives? I will miss working with you at Dr. Mudds but wish you and your new family all the happiness in the world. God Bless and take good care of y’all. (I plan on taking one of your bus tours when you are back this way!)

  28. You can’t leave Maryland!! 😁 just kidding you’re now closer to me haha. Congrats to you and Jen.
    Can’t wait to see her when I do my annual Ransome Center visit in Austin!

  29. Thank you so much Dave for all you have brought us on the Lincoln assassination and other facts of that time period. Best wishes to you and your new family.
    Henry Land

  30. Rich Richter

    Best to you and Jen and the boys. It sounds like a match made in heaven. I am so glad to hear you will continue your competent work and research in this most important endeavor. I consider your work to be scholarly and I’m sure this will be the case in your thesis and a subsequent book that you’re considering. Thanks for all you’ve done. Best wishes from Illinois. Rich Richter

  31. Carol Donohue

    Congratulations and best wishes to you and Jen, Dave! We will miss you here in Maryland, especially on the Friends of Rich Hill committee. Hope you still plan to write a book someday about my family, the Garretts!

  32. Jim Anderson

    Jim Anderson

    Dave and Jen best wishes and blessings as you begin this new chapter in your lives.

    The picture above of you and Jen was taken in the parlor at the Mudd House, I recognize the couch where Mudd treated Booth’s injury,

    PS I live near Canandaguia, New York. That is where John Surratt went to mass on Easter Sunday, even though he knew Lincoln had died, Surratt’s plan was to take a ferry across Lake Ontario from Rochester to Canada. When he found out the ferry did not run on Sunday he took a train east. We know the rest of the story. The church he attended was St. Mary’s. It is long gone being replaced by a restaurant. Would you believe they have a Surratt burger. Its only for take out because you have to eat it on the run.😊

    • Jim,
      I have to know if the Surratt burger is a joke or not. If it’s real then I definitely need to know what restaurant I can find it at. I’ve eaten the “John Wilkes Booth Salad” at the Milton Inn restaurant in Sparks, Maryland and the “John Wilkes Booth Burger” at the Square Cafe in Granbury, Texas. If the Surratt burger exists in Canandaguia, I will make a trip to eat it.

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