About the Blog:
The story is a well-known one: On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. His tragic death the next morning was a stunning blow to a country that had just begun to emerge from the dark shadow of a Civil War that had lasted four long years. Instantly, and appropriately, Lincoln became an American saint. He gave his last, full measure for his country and was struck down just after completing his goal. Abraham Lincoln’s actions and resolve have earned him the title of our country’s greatest president.
But, there is another part of this story. It is the story of a young, misguided actor driven to extremes. It is the story of a group of conspirators who were determined to strike back against a government that was finally taking active steps to uphold the creed that “all men are created equal”. While the actions taken by the Lincoln conspirators were abhorrent, they represent an important part of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. This blog aims to teach about and discuss those involved in the death of Abraham Lincoln not because I agree with their actions but because sometimes the darker parts of history can shed the most light on the past.
Studying the end of Lincoln’s life does not mean one sympathizes with the assassin. John Wilkes Booth was, and will always be, one of the greatest villains in our history. He was a racist, white supremacist coward who shot an unarmed man in the back of the head. Booth is not a man to admire, look up to, or to venerate in anyway. Yet, he is still a crucial part of Lincoln’s story. By studying, analyzing, and interpreting the actions of John Wilkes Booth and the other conspirators, we can better understand the impact that Lincoln had on the world around him. We cannot truly honor and appreciate Abraham Lincoln without understanding the complexity of his death.
On this website, you will learn about John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Mary Surratt, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, Edman Spangler, John Surratt, and the countless other people who were involved, in some way, in the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. This website provides image galleries, maps, videos, projects, posts, and pages, demonstrating how the assassination of Lincoln has impacted our world. I hope that this site will be a worthwhile educational resource about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It is a fascinating chapter of Lincoln’s legacy that deserves to be explored and studied.
Note: This site was formerly called BoothieBarn and many of the links prior to 2020 still contain that name and watermark. For information about the name change, please read this post.
About the Author:
My name is Dave Taylor and I am an elementary school teacher. For many years, I have been fascinated by the events of April, 1865. As a child growing up in Illinois, I never understood how anyone could kill Abraham Lincoln, our country’s greatest President. I started doing more serious reading and research on the matter in high school when I was introduced to the Stephen Sondheim musical, Assassins. Ever since then, I have found that the rabbit hole that is the Lincoln assassination is infinitely deep. There are countless branches to the story which all provide fascinating insights into the minds of those involved.
In 2012, I moved from Illinois to the state of Maryland. Being so close to the nation’s capital and the escape route of the assassin has given me the chance to explore my favorite period of history in person. Sharing my visits to the many historical places around me through this blog has become one of my favorite activities.
In addition to writing and maintaining this blog, I am one of the guides for the John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tour organized by the Surratt Society. We provide a narrated 12 hour tour of John Wilkes Booth’s escape, from Ford’s Theatre all the way to the site of his death near Port Royal, Virginia. The Surratt Society puts on several tours each spring and fall and also caters to groups that would like to schedule their own private bus tour. Visit the Surratt House Museum website for more information.
I enjoy giving speeches and presentations about different aspects of the Lincoln assassination story. A list of my former speaking engagements, press appearances, and published articles outside of this blog appears at the end of this page.
Questions, comments, or inquiries about speaking engagements can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking Engagements, Press, and Tours:
Previous speaking engagements:
- “Southern Hospitality: The Garrett Family and John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at the 14th annual Surratt Society Conference, March 16, 2013
- “John Wilkes Booth and the Garrett Family” by Dave Taylor for Historic Port Royal’s general membership meeting, April 22, 2014
- “The Lincoln Conspirators” – Dave Taylor panelist with Michael Kauffman and Kate Clifford Larson at the Lincoln Group of New York, March 28, 2015
- “A House Divided: Edwin and John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Tudor Hall, April 12 & September 13, 2015.
- “A History of Rich Hill: A Stop on the Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Rich Hill Farm for Charles County’s Lincoln 150th Weekend, April 18 & 19, 2015
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Veteran Motor Car Club of America’s 2015 National Heritage Antique Car Tour, April 19, 2015
- “The Death of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at the unveiling of the new highway marker for the Garrett farm site at the Port Royal Museum of American History, April 26, 2015
- “Mr. W: Friend of American Liberty” by Dave Taylor at Historic Port Royal’s 16th Annual Fourth of July event, July 4, 2015
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth: Rich Hill and Garrett’s Farm” by Dave Taylor at the Historical Society of Charles County, October 24, 2015
- “Behind the Walls of Rich Hill” by Dave Taylor at Rich Hill Historic Site, November 1, 2015
- “Southern Hospitality: The Garrett Family and John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the King George County Historical Society, November 19, 2015
- “Choose Your Own Path: The Lincoln Assassination” by Dave Taylor at the Charles County Public Schools HITS Expo, March 19, 2016
- “Rosalie Booth: The Eldest Sister of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Tudor Hall, April 3 and October 9, 2016
- “The Collision of the USS Massachusetts and the Black Diamond” by Dave Taylor at St. Clement’s Island Museum, April 24, 2016
- “Booth arrives at the Peyton House skit” by Dave Taylor and Mike Kauffman as part of Historic Port Royal’s John Wilkes Booth Escape Tour through Virginia Tour, April 30, 2016
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” by Dave Taylor for the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, MD, May 23, 2016
- “Huckleberry: The Home of Thomas A. Jones” by Dave Taylor for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage in Charles County, May 28, 2016
- “The Murderer: John Wilkes Booth and the Plot Against Lincoln” by Dave Taylor for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, June 29, 2016:
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” by Dave Taylor for the Rotary Club of Charlotte Hall, MD, July 19, 2016
- “The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the University of Maryland Association of County Agriculture Agents, October 4, 2016
- “An Evening with John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Friends of Rich Hill and the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, MD, March 3, 2017
- “Assassination ‘Extras’: Their Hidden Histories” at the 18th annual Surratt Society Conference, April 1, 2017
- “John Wilkes Booth in Port Royal, Virginia Walking Tours” by Dave Taylor for Historic Port Royal, April 22, 2017. Click the following numbers to see snippets of these tours: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- “Rich Hill Open House” by Dave Taylor for the Friends of Rich Hill, April 23, 2017
- “Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.: The Eldest Brother of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at Tudor Hall, May 7 and September 3, 2017
- “‘You know best, Captain’: The Executed Conspirators in Lincoln’s Assassination” for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, June 27, 2017
- “The Making of an Assassin: The History of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Chesapeake Civil War Round Table, September 14, 2017
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” by Dave Taylor for the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, November 10, 2017
- “The Unearthed Stories of the Lincoln Assassination” by Dave Taylor for the Archeology Society of Maryland: Central Chapter, January 28, 2018
- “‘Freedom’s Battle at Christiana’: The Conflict in Pennsylvania that Radicalized John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor at the 19th annual Surratt Society Conference, April 7, 2018
- “Joseph Booth: The Youngest Brother of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for Tudor Hall, May 20 and October 7, 2018.
- “The Lincoln Assassination in St. Mary’s County, Maryland” by Dave Taylor for the Rotary Club of Leonardtown, MD, June 21, 2018.
- “Beyond the Courtyard: The Final Hour of the Lincoln Conspirators” by Dave Taylor, Bob Bowser, and Mike Callahan for Society for the Restoration for Port Tobacco, MD, July 6, 2018.
- John Hubbard reenactment by Dave Taylor at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, February 2, 2019.
- “The Making of an Assassin: The History of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Perryville (MD) Public Library, April 6, 2019.
- “The Making of an Assassin: The History of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for the Lynchburg Civil War Round Table, April 10, 2019.
- “Frederick Stone: A Life of Service and Secrets” by Dave Taylor for Thomas Stone National Historic Site, May 5, 2019.
- “‘Born Under an Unlucky Star’: The Childhood of John Wilkes Booth” by Dave Taylor for Tudor Hall, June 2 and October 13, 2019.
- John Hubbard reenactment by Dave Taylor at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, August 3, 2019.
- “Dr. Mudd on Trial” by Dave Taylor for the Dr. Mudd House Museum, September 21, 2019.
- John Hubbard reenactment by Dave Taylor at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, November 2, 2019.
- Thomas Hubbard reenactment by Dave Taylor at Grant Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair, February 1, 2020.
- “Dr. Mudd on Trial” by Dave Taylor for the Dr. Mudd House Museum, February 15, 2020.
- “The Prisoners of Shark Island: Fort Jefferson and the Lincoln Conspirators” by Dave Taylor at the 21st annual Surratt Society Conference, April 4, 2020 (Cancelled due to COVID-19).
- “A Grave Tour of Dr. Mudd’s Cemetery” by Dave Taylor for the Dr. Mudd House Museum, October 24, 2020.
- “John Wilkes Booth: The Making of An Assassin” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Society’s Annual Conference (virtual), April 23, 2022.
Press & Media Appearances
- Interviewed by Charles County Government Television about their Lincoln 150 event on March 27, 2015
- Interviewed and quoted in The New York Daily News article, “Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth was gifted actor, ladies’ man, ‘handsomest man in America’: experts” by Megan Wagner, April 7, 2015
- Interviewed and quoted in The New York Times article, “For a Biography of John Wilkes Booth, Terry Alford Turns to Amateur Researchers” by Jennifer Schuessler, April 13, 2015
- Interviewed by Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C. about the 150th anniversary of the death of John Wilkes Booth, April 26, 2015
- Featured and quoted in The Free-Lance Star article, “State marker to ‘Assassin’s End’ dedicated in Port Royal on 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s death” by Clint Schemmer, April 28, 2015
- Quoted in The Enterprise article “Dozens of Men Lost off Island in 1865 Remembered” by Jason Babcock, April 27, 2016
- Interviewed by NBC 4 News in Washington, D.C. about the 2016 Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage in Charles County which included Thomas Jones’ house of Huckleberry: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Historic-Homes-Tour_Washington-DC-380991271.html
- Quoted in the Maryland Independent article “Huckleberry House opens for Civil War lesson” by Michael Sykes II, June 1, 2016
- Interviewed and quoted in Pentagram article “The villainous route of an assassin is a popular Discover D.C. destination” by Jim Dresbach, April 13, 2017
- Interviewed by News Radio WTAX out of Springfield, IL: https://soundcloud.com/news-radio-wtax/6-26-17-dave-taylor-lincoln-assassination-expert-podcast June 26, 2017
- Mentioned in TheBayNet article, “Parks and Points – Rotarians honor St. Mary’s top teacher” by Ellynne Brice Davis, November 18, 2017
- Interviewed on The Railsplitter: The Abraham Lincoln Podcast episode, “Lincoln’s Assassination – Part the Second“, January 18, 2018
- Interviewed on The Railsplitter: The Abraham Lincoln Podcast episode, “Lincoln’s Assassination – Part the Third“, January 25, 2018
- Interviewed on Cemetery Mixtape podcast episode, “Kathryn Evans, Who Saw Lincoln Shot“, March 1, 2018
- Interviewed on the Rogue Historian podcast episode, “John Wilkes Booth, the Lincoln Assassination, and Public History with Dave Taylor“, May 21, 2018
- Interviewed and quoted in the Baltimore Sun article “The Maryland Park Service is merging all state park social media accounts. It hasn’t gone over well” by Hallie Miller, January 11, 2019
- Interviewed for the Vanished: John Wilkes Booth podcast episode, “They Can Only Hang Me Once” by Jennifer Taylor and Chris Williamson, January 23, 2021
- Contributor to the Who Deserves a Monument? podcast episode, “William Parker’s Rebellion at Christiana” by Sarah Lohnes, February 8, 2021
Published work outside of this blog:
- “Emerick Hansell: The Forgotten Casualty” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, November, 2010
- “Cloak and Daggers: Cutting Through the Confusion of the Lincoln Assassination Knives” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, March, 2012
- “Michael O’Laughlen: Quilter” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, August, 2012
- “The Escape Attempt of Dr. Mudd” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, November, 2012
- “Cloak and Daggers: Cutting Through the Confusion of the Lincoln Assassination Knives” by Dave Taylor for Knife World Magazine, April, 2013
- “A History of Rich Hill” by Dave Taylor for the Surratt Courier, January, 2014
- Dave Taylor is the author of the “Assassin’s End” highway marker at the site of the Garrett Farm in Caroline County, Virginia. When the former marker had to be replaced in 2015, Dave assisted the Virginia Department of Historic Resources by updating the sign’s text.
Dave Taylor is featured in the acknowledgements or references of the following books
- John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Arthur F. Loux
- Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth by Terry Alford
- Alias “Paine”: Lewis Thornton Powell, the Mystery Man of the Lincoln Conspiracy, 2nd edition by Betty J. Ownsbey
- Lincoln’s Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America’s Greatest President by Kathryn Canavan
- His Name is Still Mudd: The Case Against Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, Revised 2019 edition by Edward Steers, Jr.
- Dr. Samuel Mudd at Fort Jefferson by Robert Summers
- The Lincoln Assassination: Where Are They Now by Jim Garrett and Richard Smyth
- The Lincoln Assassination: The Flags of Ford’s Theatre by Richard Smyth and Jim Garrett
- John Wilkes Booth and the Women Who Loved Him by E. Lawrence Abel
- The Last Hope: Lies, Truths and Legends of John Wilkes Booth’s 34-Hour Escape through King George County, Virginia by Elizabeth N. Lee
- Lincoln’s Greatcoat: The Unlikely Odyssey of a Presidential Relic by Reignette Chilton
- Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth By Jennifer Chiaverini
- A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America by William B. Worthen and Mark D. Zalesky
- The Lincoln Assassination at Ford’s Theatre: Now He Belongs to the Ages by the Ford’s Theatre Society
- Images of America: Ford’s Theatre by Brian Anderson
- Lincoln’s Last Day, a Smithsonian Channel documentary
John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Bus Tours narrated by Dave Taylor
- April 4, 2015 for the Frederick County Bar Association
- April 25, 2015
- May 2, 2015 for the Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table
- September 12, 2015
- September 19, 2015
- October 11, 2015 for the General Meade Society of Philadelphia
- April 23, 2016
- July 23, 2016 for the National Press Club
- September 17, 2016
- September 24, 2016
- April 8, 2017
- April 29, 2017 for Krouse Travel
- May 20, 2017
- September 2, 2017
- April 21, 2018
- May 5, 2018 for the Green Mountain Civil War Round Table
- September 15, 2018
- April 27, 2019
- September 14, 2019
- September 28, 2019
Very interesting. I am a multi generational admirer of Congressional Cemetery….have grandparents, gr.grandparents and number relative interred there, right by the beautiful chapel. I look forward to your emails. We have driving the Booth route several times… it is all so haunting.
Just discovered you. I am a docent at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, in Springfield, IL. The place in the museum where I’m usually stationed is the Ford’s Theater section of Journey II. I’ve had a life-long interest in Lincoln in general, the Civil War, and the Assassination. I, too, will look forward to your e-mails.