News

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: , , , | 66 Comments

Upcoming Online Classes on the Lincoln Assassination!

Going through a bit of history withdrawal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? I know I certainly am. Other than a nice outdoor tour of Dr. Mudd’s cemetery that I ran back in October 2020, I haven’t done any history stuff “in the field” in over a year! With Booth escape route tours, in person conferences, and talks at museums like Tudor Hall and the Mudd House scuttled until larger portions of the population are able to get their vaccinations, we must continue to rely on technology in order to come together to talk history. That’s why I’m excited to highlight two different online classes that are coming up that anyone can take part in virtually.


The Lincoln Assassination: Southern Maryland and the Plots Against Abraham Lincoln by Bob Bowser for the College of Southern Maryland

The first class is coming up next week and is being run through the College of Southern Maryland, a local community college in the region. The name of the class is The Lincoln Assassination: Southern Maryland and the Plots Against Abraham Lincoln. It is being taught by a good friend of mine and a very knowledgeable historian, Bob Bowser. A fellow teacher, Bob earns his living teaching AP history classes to high school students in Charles County, Maryland. In addition, Bob is the President of the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Society. The Mudd House museum has made tremendous growth over the last few years as a result of the passionate work being done by Bob and the rest of the board. Bob has a true passion for the Lincoln assassination story and I’ve always leapt at the chance to take his walking tours of the Mudd house property and listen to his special talks. I know that Bob will do a phenomenal job presenting the story of Southern Maryland in the plot against Abraham Lincoln.

Bob Bowser conducting a walking tour of the Mudd House property in 2019.

Bob’s class takes place over the course of three days. The first one is on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm EDT. The second session is Thursday, April 7, 2021 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm EDT. The final class will take place on Saturday, April 10 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm EDT. All of the classes take place online over Zoom. All you need to participate is a computer that is compatible with Zoom to see Bob’s presentations and take part in his discussions. I find Zoom very easy to use and when you sign up for the class you will receive instructions on the few things you need to do to get your computer ready. Many of us have already been using Zoom for work and other things during this pandemic so there is practically no set up at all.

In order to sign up for Bob’s The Lincoln Assassination: Southern Maryland and the Plots Against Abraham Lincoln class please visit the Personal Enrichment portion of the College of Southern Maryland’s website and select the History and Current Events category. From here you select the Lincoln Assassination course, add it to your cart, and then complete the registration process. The cost of the class (which goes to CSM for providing it) is $65.

At the time of this posting there are only 9 spots left for Bob’s class. So, if you are interested in joining it, I would recommend reserving your spot soon. If you do, I will be one of your classmates as I’m pretty sure I was the first person to stake a claim when Bob told me about it! I’m very excited to see what Bob is going to put together and know that it will be fascinating.

Dave Taylor and Bob Bowser with some very “on brand” face masks.


With the world starting to open up again and more people choosing to take advantage of in-person Road Scholar programs, the following online program has been cancelled.

The Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln by Dr. Samuel Wheeler for Road Scholar

In addition to Bob’s class next week, I also wanted to advertise a class that I will be helping with that will be coming up this summer. This class is called The Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln and is a five day course organized by the Road Scholar organization.

The class is being taught by Dr. Samuel Wheeler, a noted Lincoln expert and the former State Historian of Illinois and Director of Research and Collections at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The five day course offers virtual field trips to many sites associated with the life of Abraham Lincoln with Dr. Wheeler as your guide. For each “field trip”, Dr. Wheeler has recruited a different Lincoln scholar to join the class and share their knowledge about the 16th President. Among the expert guests that Dr. Wheeler has scheduled for this class are:

Dr. Catherine Clinton

Dr. Matthew Pinsker

Harold Holzer

and me!

While I definitely out of my league amongst these titans of Lincoln studies, I am honored that Dr. Wheeler thought of me to present the story of Lincoln’s assassination to his students. I first met Dr. Wheeler in 2016 when I presented at the ALPLM about John Wilkes Booth and he has been very supportive of my work ever since. The Road Scholar class is scheduled to run June 21 – 25, 2021 and each day begins at 11:00 am EDT. It is completely virtual and a detailed itinerary for each day can be found HERE.

The cost for this Road Scholar class is $499, which, admittedly, is pretty pricey. I know not everyone will be able to swing that and I wouldn’t want you to sign up for it only to listen to me blabber on. That being said, for you big Lincoln buffs, I know you will love this class and find it worthwhile to learn from and ask questions of Lincoln luminaries like Dr. Wheeler, Dr. Clinton, Harold Holzer, and Dr. Pinsker. I’m also hopeful I can make my day on the assassination an interesting and entertaining one. If you’re looking for something educational to do with your latest round of stimulus money or your tax return why not consider spending a week with Dr. Wheeler learning about Lincoln from the comfort of your own home?


I hope to see some of you during one of these two classes. As an educator I always stress to my students the importance of being a lifelong learner. We each have expertise and knowledge to share with others. As Chaucer wrote “And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” I look forward to learning with and teaching some of you in the months to come.

Categories: History, News | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Vanished: John Wilkes Booth

Last year I was contacted by a couple of podcasters named Jen Taylor and Chris Williamson who asked me if I would like to appear on their show, Vanished. The podcast originated as a deep dive into the mystery behind Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in 1937 and the many different theories about what happened to her and Fred Noonan. The entire season on Earhart was widely praised and the pair were specifically complemented on their unique format. Not only do Jen and Chris present the evidence on the different theories proposed by their guests, but they then take it to court, with each host advocating for a specific side. Jen is an actual defense attorney and this allows the pair to put these theories to the test and try them in a court of their own making. While looking for different cases to pursue for their second season, Chris stumbled across the John Wilkes Booth escape theory which posits that another man was killed at the Garrett farm on April 26, 1865. The pair then went about looking for guests who would like to talk in favor of and against this theory in order to put it to the test.

At first, I was reluctant to agree to be on a podcast about the “Booth” mummy. Those of you who keep up with the different TV documentaries that have aired in recent years about the Lincoln assassination know that the escape theory has been played to death. Practically every show covers this topic, with many being based solely around it. As a person who studies this history, this is very frustrating for me because pretty much all of those TV shows portray the escape theory as credible when all the evidence I know says the complete opposite.

I mean…seriously…don’t get me started

Despite my hesitation to take part in this podcast however, in the end I found myself swayed by the format Jen and Chris use. Unlike a 45 minute docudrama on the “History” channel, Jen and Chris really wanted to get into the nitty gritty and explore the reliability of the evidence. I found this very refreshing and really the best way to present a theory such as this one. So, I signed on to discuss the true history (as close as we can ascertain it) with Jen, the talented lawyer, on my side.

I have to say that I had so much fun being on Vanished. I recorded multiple hours with Jen as we first explored the story of Booth’s escape and death and then addressed the problems with the escape theorists’ evidence. Vanished is a long form podcast and several of the Booth episodes are multiple hours long. I would definitely encourage you to start at the beginning and hear the evidence from all of the guests, but I also understand that it is a time commitment, especially if you are new to podcasts. However, if you are interested and willing to sit through at least one 4-hour episode (and remember you can absolutely start and stop it to digest it in parts), I wanted to really highlight the “trial episode” of the series which just dropped. In it you will hear Chris interview Nate Orlowek, who has been championing the Finis Bates / John St. Helen / David E. George theory for almost 50 years. Then you will hear Jen cross examine Nate and his evidence. Then I make my second appearance on the show where I discuss the problems with the escape theorists’ evidence. This episode also includes an interview with Mark Zaid, the attorney who represented Nate Orlowek during the Booth exhumation hearing that occurred in the 1990s. It’s a jam packed episode and includes both Chris and Jen’s closing arguments. In my mind, if you can only listen to one episode, this is the one to tune in for:

Click this image to listen to Vanished: John Wilkes Booth episode 4 “Trial by Jury”

That being said, the prior episodes are also very good with one of them featuring my original appearance where I discuss the escape of Booth and his death at the Garrett farm. Kate Clifford Larson, author of The Assassin’s Accomplice is featured on another of the episodes and, in my opinion, really steals the show with her knowledge on Mary Surratt. I really recommend you give the whole series a listen. I think, taken together, it really demonstrates the different ways people think about and conduct historical research. Even when I listened to the folks I vehemently disagreed with, it helped me understand why they believe what they believe.

If you like this series of Vanished, definitely check out the other cases they have done and subscribe so you can follow along with the next one. They are planning episodes in the near future on hijacker D. B. Cooper and dreaded pirate Henry Every. You can access the show online or through any normal podcast provider like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.

Also if you want to hear more from Jen doing her defense attorney thing, I highly recommend her standalone podcast, In Defense of Liberty. Jen takes historic court cases and explains how they contributed to criminal law in America. She is really good at taking complex legal ideas and presenting them to everyday folks in a compelling way. I’ve learned a lot from Jen through our discussions and have been fascinated by each episode of In Defense of Liberty I have listened to. Definitely give her a follow.

I’d like to thank Jen and Chris for having me on their show. While I’ve done other podcasts before, I really appreciated how deep they were willing to go in this case. It really wasn’t something I’d ever seen done before.

So, now it’s your turn to go tune in and listen to the evidence being presented. Did John Wilkes Booth really escape justice in 1865 and live out his life in Texas and Oklahoma before ending it all and being turned into a mummy? What is the evidence that the escape theorists have for their beliefs? And how do people like myself evaluate and assess what they bring to the table? Check out Vanished it get the fullest accounting that has ever been told about one of the strangest tales in the Lincoln assassination story.

Categories: History, News | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Assassin’s Doctor is Free Today!

I am a big fan of the work of author Robert Summers. Bob is a great-grandchild of Dr. Samuel Mudd and has done an extraordinary amount of research on his ancestor. He takes an honest approach relating Dr. Mudd’s connections to John Wilkes Booth’s plot to kidnap Lincoln and his subsequent assistance to the assassin on the run. Bob has released several books on specific aspects of Dr. Mudd’s life, but his magnum opus is his book, The Assassin’s Doctor: The Life and Letters of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd. The book is not only a biography of Dr. Mudd, but also a valuable collection of primary sources about Dr. Mudd. I have a paperback copy of The Assassin’s Doctor and it weighs in at over 700 pages! It’s a priceless part of my library and I am constantly referring to it when I research and write about Dr. Mudd.

While I, of course, encourage you all to purchase Bob Summers’ wonderful physical book, for today only (12/5) you can get the ebook version of this book for FREE! Amazon is selling its Kindle ebook version of The Assassin’s Doctor for a whopping $0. It’s the same content of Bob’s 700+ page book, sent directly to your phone, tablet, or computer…for free! Please take advantage of this amazing offer by clicking here or on the picture below.

Even if you don’t have an Amazon Kindle (I don’t), you can still get this book. All you will have to do is install the free Kindle app on your smartphone or tablet. After that you can download the free ebook version of The Assassin’s Doctor from Amazon and read it right in the app. The ebook version has the added benefit of being completely searchable. It’s better than a traditional index!

As stated, this deal is only good for today, Saturday, December 5, 2020. If you are reading this after 12/5, I encourage you to still pick up Robert Summers book. It’s a great resource and worth far more than the regular list price.

Happy reading!

Dave

Categories: History, News | Tags: | 10 Comments

The Trial Today: Epilogue

If you have followed along during these last two months as the Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators project was published day by day, I would like to congratulate you! You have essentially reenacted and relived the same experience of those who lived through May and June of 1865. During those two months, the whole country was transfixed by the daily newspaper updates regarding the trial of the Lincoln conspirators. By coming to this site and reading the testimonies and arguments from each day, you have shared in that experience.

But this project was much more than just a reading of the trial transcript. It contextualized and clarified the different testimonies explaining how they related to each conspirator. This project brought in the diaries, articles, memoirs, and recollections of those who had actually been present in the room where it happened. Taken altogether, you now have a better understanding of the trial of the Lincoln conspirators than practically anyone from 1865, save for those select few who took part in the proceedings.

I hope you all have enjoyed this chronological exploration into the trial of the Lincoln conspirators and feel that the investment of time has been worthwhile. As I noted when I introduced this project, my goal was to make the trial of the conspirators more accessible and understandable to everyone (including myself). It’s a key part of understanding the complexity of Lincoln’s death, but is too often overlooked because of its own intimidating complexity.

The old proverb asks the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” with the answer being, “One bite at a time.” According to a trial statistics sheet found in the collection of commission member Lew Wallace, the testimony in the trial constituted 4,300 handwritten pages, “making a solid file of [manuscript] somewhat over 26 inches high”. In addition to the testimony, the pages of arguments in the case numbered 700, putting the whole trial at around 5,000 handwritten pages. William Edwards’ ebook version of the trial transcript which I utilized and summarized for this project clocks in at over 1,400 pages. Finally, the text alone for the project on this site is equivalent to over 300 pages. If you’ve read through all of the pages in this trial project you have, metaphorically, eaten an over 300 page elephant, one bite at a time.

While the daily updates regarding the conspiracy trial will now cease, I still have a few more posts scheduled for the future in order to make the project even more user friendly and accessible. I have gone through and created an index for each conspirator. These indexes provide descriptions and links to all of the testimony relating to that specific conspirator. In this way, those who are interested in looking only at the testimony concerning Dr. Mudd, for instance, can go to the standalone Dr. Mudd Testimony page which will give them links to all the applicable testimony concerning him. Specific conspirator index pages will be released sequentially in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that.

As I stated in the beginning, I have been working on this project for over two years – reading, researching, collecting, summarizing, writing and assembling. I have been told numerous times in the comments and elsewhere that I should publish this as a book. However, I feel that this project, as envisioned, would not work as a book. What makes this project valuable as an online feature is how so much of the testimony can be hyperlinked in order to provide readers access to the original transcripts and documents with ease. The project also links to previous testimony and outside resources and references. In my mind, a traditional book would fail to provide the interactivity that makes this project unique. Not to mention that if this project was turned into a book, at over 300 pages long, it would likely appear just as daunting and inaccessible to the general public as the original trial transcripts. I designed this project to be a helpful guide for students of the Lincoln assassination and would rather it be widely accessible to all on the internet rather than in the hands of only the select few who would want to purchase it in book form.

With that being said, I am still very proud of this project which was, in my eyes, the equivalent of writing a book. I appreciate all of the kind words that you have left for me in the comments and in emails over the past two months. If you really enjoyed this project and want to help support me in future research on this site, I would like to ever so shamelessly direct you to the new Donation button I have put up here on LincolnConspirators.com. The button can be found at the end of this paragraph as well as on the side menu (bottom menu for mobile users). As is obvious from my real world job as an elementary school teacher, I don’t do any of this for the money. Still, I know the content that I create for this site is informative and valuable. If you have the desire and the financial means to help me continue to research, learn, and share, I would be truly grateful. I can’t promise another big, book-sized research project anytime soon as I still have another year to go in my Master’s program, but I’m constantly looking for new information which I share here and on my Twitter account. Even small donations add up and help me in the purchasing of books, articles, and the annual renewals of expensive research subscription sites like Ancestry, Fold3, GenealogyBank, Newspapers.com, and others. Your donations will also help to pay for the upkeep of this site to ensure that LincolnConspirators.com will continue for years to come.

I truly hope you have enjoyed learning about the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Remember that the entire project will always be accessible by clicking on “The Trial” on the top menu or by visiting www.LincolnConspirators.com/the-trial. Thank you again for all of your support.

Sincerely,

Dave Taylor

Categories: History, News | Tags: | 23 Comments

BoothieBarn is now LincolnConspirators.com!

I’m very happy to share this big announcement with all of you. From now on, this website has a brand new name and web address! Welcome to LincolnConspirators.com!

LincolnConspirators.com is the perfect name for the content you’ve come to expect from this website. Under LincolnConspirators.com you will continue to 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. All the materials that this site provides – from its image galleries, maps, videos, projects, posts, and pages – are still here and easily accessible under the LincolnConspirators.com domain. Links, shortcuts, and favorites you might have under the old name will continue to work for the foreseeable future and will automatically redirect you.


I’m sure many of you are curious as to why I’ve decided to change the name of the site. To be honest, I’ve been unhappy with the name BoothieBarn for a while. When I started this blog in 2012, it was just a place for me to put up little tidbits of knowledge that I had learned while researching and interacting with experts in the field of Lincoln’s assassination. Back then, there were only a couple of online sites where people who focused on studying Lincoln’s death could share information. As a subject, Lincoln’s assassination has not always been accepted as a true form of Lincoln research. In fact, the term “Boothie” originated with more traditional Lincoln scholars as a disparaging moniker towards those who wasted their time studying John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators. Many Lincoln scholars found it unfathomable, or even sacrilegious, that anyone would spend more than the bare minimum amount of time learning about the man who killed our country’s greatest president. An understandable division arose between the Lincoln scholars and those they deemed “Boothies”. As a result of this division, most of our modern understanding of John Wilkes Booth and his plots against Lincoln has actually come from the work of amateur history buffs and researchers, rather than academic Lincoln scholars. When, as a college student, I started doing my first real research into the Lincoln assassination, I was surprised to find the Lincoln assassination field was populated by a welcoming group of everyday people who were willing to share information without hesitation. There was no pretense or snobbery, only generosity. When the time came to decide on the name to give my fledging blog, I made sure to include “Boothie” as a symbol of appreciation to the group of people who taught me, supported me, and the only ones I thought would ever want to read it. The latter half of the site’s name was much less thought out. I figured John Wilkes Booth was killed in a barn and, well, I like alliteration. Hence, BoothieBarn was born.

While I still appreciate and love the community of “Boothies” who continue to support me and share so much, the truth is, we’re no longer the isolated or disparaged group we once were. In the last few years, I’ve seen interest in Lincoln’s assassination grow and grow. The support of this site and the hundreds of hits I get everyday shows me that people are coming to understand that the study of John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators are legitimate parts of Lincoln’s legacy. Among the greatest honors of my life has been to speak at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library about Booth and his conspirators. Lincoln scholars, and the general public, are increasingly understanding that learning about Booth is not at all the same as agreeing with him. 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. The study of Lincoln’s assassination is the study of one of the darker moments in our history. But sometimes the darker parts of history can shed the most light on the past. While I seek to understand Booth and those he interacted with, I will never support or advocate for the beliefs that he, or the Confederacy that he supported, stood for.

By changing this website’s name, I’m hoping to encourage more study into this important, yet tragic part of Lincoln’s legacy. This website has grown so much more beyond a haven for me and my colleagues. I want to continue to develop this website to add more educational resources like the recent Trial of the Conspirators project. As an educator myself, I want teachers to be able to send their students here to learn more about the events and people surrounding April 14, 1865. The name BoothieBarn requires too much explanation and lacks professionalism. While I will miss the alliteration of the old name, LincolnConspirators.com perfectly defines the content this site provides.

I’ve changed a lot from from the recent college graduate who decided to start up his own niche history blog. I’ve done a lot of growing to become a more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic person. Many things have come and gone in my life and changed me in immeasurable ways. Yet even through these periods of personal growth and reflection, my interest in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln has remained constant. It’s long overdue that my website change to reflect who I am and what I want to present to the world. I am in the process of getting my Master’s in American History. Even though I know I have done a lot of good work as BoothieBarn, I want to be able to say that I am a “real” historian, a professional. I’m proud of every piece I research and write on this website, and so I want it to have a name that I can be equally proud of.

I will continue to own the old BoothieBarn domain for the foreseeable future, so all of your old links will work for the time being. If you find an old link on social media or elsewhere, it will still work and just redirect you to the same page under the LincolnConspirators.com domain. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I have changed my Twitter handle to @LinConspirators. However, if you are currently on Twitter and following me, you will still be following me after the change.

I’ve also updated the email address connected to this site to reflect the new name. Feel free to contact me at admin@lincolnconspirators.com with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.

I’ve been honored by the over one million of you who have read, commented, and supported my efforts. This site has grown beyond what I ever imagined. I will continue to provide the same content that you have to come to expect, now under the better and more professional name, LincolnConspirators.com.

Thank you for continuing to join me on this journey!

Sincerely,

Dave Taylor

Categories: News | Tags: , , | 27 Comments

Looking at General Grant

Tonight marks the end of the History Channel’s three part miniseries about the life of Civil War lieutenant major general turned President, Ulysses S. Grant. Being without cable, I have yet to see to the miniseries myself, but I am looking forward to viewing it in the near future. However, thanks to the power of promos and Twitter, I have already been made aware of one part of the miniseries that airs tonight and deals with Grant’s connection to Lincoln’s assassination. The miniseries describes how General and Mrs. Grant declined the Lincolns’ invitation to join them at Ford’s Theatre on the night of April 14, 1865. Instead, the Grants decided to travel by train to New Jersey in order to visit with their children. The miniseries shows the following scene of the Grants riding in a carriage on their way to the train depot when a mysterious stranger stops them.

After this promo was posted on Twitter, one of my followers there, Ilka, asked me if this story of an unfriednly glance between John Wilkes Booth and Gen. Grant on April 14th was true. While I had heard of it before, I always took it to be an apocryphal account with no evidence to support it other than Mrs. Grant’s lively imagination. However, as I researched it this morning, I found that the story has more evidence going for it than I thought. What follows is a Twitter thread I wrote this morning highlighting my research into this story.

Here’s the text from Col. Porter’s reminiscences as included in the above tweet:

Here is Julia Grant’s memory of the event as included in the above tweet:

In response to my thread, fellow tweeter Darin Weeks shared his skepticism regarding the story which I fully understand.

I’m not ready to 100% declare that it happened either, but I responded to Darin that at least this story (unlike a lot of others) has evidence to back it up.

After responding to Darin, I realized that, if the story was true, it might help to explain why Booth wasn’t better armed when he assassinated the President at Ford’s later that night.

In the end, we’ll never truly be sure that John Wilkes Booth was the man who gave Gen. and Mrs. Grant such an unfriendly glance on the afternoon of April 14th, but evidence shows that it could have been!

Categories: History, News | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Prelude to a Project

Over two years ago, I came up with an idea for a project. I wanted to expand my knowledge of the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. While I was very familiar with the outcome of the trial and the big revelations that the different testimonies brought to light, my knowledge of the trial, as an event, had been lacking. The trial was such a large and inaccessible part of the assassination story to a person without any legal background. Even with my knowledge of the history of Lincoln’s assassination, attempting to read the trial transcript, and make sense of it all, was an intimidating prospect.

The original incarnation of this project still shied away from the transcript itself with my interest being drawn to learning more about the experiences of the individual conspirators while the trial was going on. While we have practically nothing from the 8 conspirators regarding their day to day thoughts on the proceedings, the daily newspapers of the time often contained descriptions of the conspirators’ appearances and little mentions of their actions on the prisoners’ dock. The first draft of this project was little more than a list of the witnesses who testified on each date, followed by these descriptions from the newspapers.

However, as I went on, I found that I needed to provide at least some summation, if only for myself, regarding what each witness was testifying about. Some of the witnesses, especially the important ones, were easy as I was already familiar with the relevance of their words. However the trial consisted of 347 unique witnesses and most of them gave testimony that is only comprehensible if you know the testimonies that preceded it.

With this in mind, the project expanded. I started reading the trial transcript, word for word. I am greatly indebted to the work of author William Edwards, who published the most detailed and accurate version of the trial transcript that exists. At over 1400 pages in length, I knew the task ahead of me was going to be long but I wanted to create a more interactive and, most importantly, accessible version of the trial. I took on the role of Benn Pitman, the court’s chief recorder who later published a one volume transcript of the trial using summarized testimonies. I wanted to do the same as Pitman but update it using the technology available to us. Over time, what started as a cheat sheet for myself, became an interactive resource for understanding and referencing the trial of the conspirators.

The end project, as you will soon see, consists of a day by day chronology of the trial of the Lincoln conspirators. For each day of the trial, I have documented the proceedings, summarized the testimony of each witness, and included the descriptions and recollections of the individuals who took part in or visited the trial on each day. I have painstakingly researched the 347 witnesses, rectifying misspelled names from the transcript and doing my best to find visuals that represent them and their lives. I have been assisted in this by many of my friends and colleagues whose names appear in the acknowledgement section at the bottom of the trial home page.

Each day of the trial exists as its own page here on LincolnConspirators.com and they will be released on their corresponding anniversary here in 2020. In this way you will be able to experience the trial, day by day, in the same way those in 1865 did. This post was published on May 1, 2020 and so the page for May 1, 1865 is now available to read. It contains the announcement that, 155 years ago today, President Andrew Johnson released the orders to create a military commission to try the Lincoln assassination conspirators. The decision to try the conspirators in a military court rather than a civilian trial was, and continues to be, a controversial decision with many arguments to be made about its constitutionality. However, my purpose in this project is not to debate the legality of the trial. I am more concerned about the testimony that was given at the trial and the ramifications it had on the conspirators.

Using my own limited computer abilities, I have worked to make this project as interactive as possible. Starting with May 9th, the day in which the proceedings of the trial actually began, each individual page contains a Table of Contents at the top. Using this you can click to jump down to a specific witness or conspirator. Clicking entries on the Table of Contents will also provide you with direct links to those places in the page, making it helpful if you want bookmark or share a specific testimony rather than the whole page. When reading my summarized version of a witness’s testimony, the full name of the witness is always hyperlinked. Clicking on their name will take you to their full testimony in the historical transcripts so that you can read them for yourself. In addition, when witnesses are recalled or make direct reference to the prior testimony of others, I have included hyperlinks to the corresponding testimony in question. In this way you can quickly review and/or cross reference the sometimes contrary statements being made.

A sample Table of Contents for a day of the trial.

At the beginning of the trial, the court was held in closed session. Public and private uproar over the secrecy of the court caused the doors to be opened up to outside press and visitors starting on May 13th. Starting on this date, the Table of Contents grows to include the newspaper descriptions of the conspirators and known visitors to the court room. As the trial goes on and interest in the individual conspirators’ appearances wanes, there are less descriptions available. Near the latter part of the trial an attempt has been made to supplement these areas with general descriptions of the conspirators from undated sources.

For each day of the trial, I will be publishing a corresponding post here on LincolnConspirators.com containing a teaser of what occurred on this date 155 years ago. The posts will also contain a link to newly released trial page. I apologize in advance for blowing up your inbox with nearly daily posts for the next two months. The home page for the trial project, which contains links to the individual days, will always be accessible and available, though the links will not work until that specific day has arrived. By the end of June 2020 every day of the trial project will be accessible and will remain so.

I’m very much looking forward to sharing with you this project that has occupied too much of my time over the past two years. My hope is that this project will be a helpful resource for all who seek to learn more about the trial of the conspirators.

So, while we are still about a week away before the trial of the Lincoln conspirators officially began, I invite you to visit the Home Page of the project and take a look at the Witness List for the days to come. If you’re so inclined you can even take a look at the project’s Bibliography and read through the Introduction (which is pretty much just this post again).

In the end, I hope you will come back as regularly as you can during May and June to see how the conspiracy trial plays out, day by day.

Sincerely,

Dave Taylor

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