Fake Conspirators Pictures

Ernest Hartman Richter was arrested in his home in Germantown, MD when detectives found his cousin, conspirator George Atzerodt, sleeping there. Richter, who went by his middle name, Hartman, made the mistake of trying to protect his cousin and originally told invstigators that Atzerodt wasn’t there. He was brought back to Washington, imprisoned aboard the U.S.S. Saugus, and photographed by Alexander Gardner on April 25th. After that, he was sent to the Arsenal Penitentiary, transferred to the Old Capitol Prison, and eventually released.

Joao M. Celestino was a Portuguese ship captain who had his schooner and valuables confiscated by the U.S. government in 1864 for running the blockade. He held a strong hatred for Secretary of State William Seward, whom he blamed for his losses. The night of the assassination, he was heard to say he wanted to kill Secretary Seward. After Lewis Powell attempted to do just so later that evening, people remembered his remarks, and Celestino was arrested and placed aboard the Saugus before being moved to the U.S.S. Montauk. He had his photographs taken on April 27th with conspirator David Herold, who had just been captured. Celestino was transferred to the Arsenal as well, before being released, himself.

These are the Fake Conspirators – the men whose faces are preserved alongside those of John Wilkes Booth’s inner circle. They are a farmer protecting his cousin and ship captain with a justifiable grudge against William Seward.

Click on a picture below to see the larger image and a description

Back to the Picture Galleries



17 thoughts on “Fake Conspirators Pictures

  1. Pingback: New Gallery – Fake Conspirators | BoothieBarn

  2. Richard Sloan

    I remember seeing the full face pic of Richter mis-identified as Dr. Mudd in a c. 1960 article in the NY Times magazine or book review. It ws a piece written by a man named Berger. I know that Celestino has been definitely identified in those other photos. Yet to this day I still have a notion that they are pics of Thomas A. Jones! It must be the squinty eyes, the mustache, and the pea jacket.
    Speaking of wrong identification, I just spotted, in my local Barnes & Noble, a new teen book on the attempt to steal Lincoln’;s body. It contains a photo of Lincoln lying in State in the NY City Hall, but the caption states that it’s a picture of him lying in State in the East Room of the White House! Why don’t authors or publishers check out these things?! * # % ?!

    • William T. Schwartz

      Years ago I sent a letter to Laurie Verge saying the same thing, that this was Thomas Jones, not Joao Celestino, referencing a photo from The Web of Conspiracy by Theodore Roscoe, and a picture from Twenty Days of the same man. She wrote back to me saying that she had talked with Michael Kaufman about it and, to paraphrase her, I didn’t know what I was talking about. I mentioned the pea coat, hat, shape of moustache, etc., to no avail. I am glad that I lived long enough to find out someone else drew the same conclusions. I doubt that I will live long enough to get a retraction from Laurie Verge about it, and will not be standing on one leg waiting for it.

      • Laurie Verge

        Mr. Schwartz – I assume you are sitting down, so you may want to stand up and raise one leg in satisfaction because I will retract my previous statement (which I hope was not that rude!). I was replying on behalf of Michael Kauffman, with whom I had sought an answer. My apologies.

        • Laurie Verge

          Hold on – I just re-read your post and Richard Sloan’s from 2013. I will still apologize, but this time for the misunderstanding. In no way will I concede that the picture correctly stated as Celestino’s is actually Thomas Jones! Sorry.

        • William T. Schwartz

          Good Heavens! I never would have dreamed that you would respond to that remark! Very courageous and decent of you to have done so. I recall feeling chastised for no good reason. Thank you for your response.

          • Laurie Verge

            I do try to offer good customer service, and instruct my staff at Surratt House to do likewise. I just want to make certain that you understand that the photo in question is not of Thomas Jones, but rather is that of Celestino.

            Many years have passed since the publications of both Web of Conspiracy (which is still one of my favorites – despite some factual errors and a tilt towards anti-sStantonism) and Twenty Days (also a favorite). Astute researchers and scholars since then have cleared up misconceptions of the past.

      • Jeffrey Bloomfield

        As a matter of fact, I think the reason that Roscoe identified the photo (in his interesting “Web of Conspiracy”) was that of Captain Celestina, was that “Web of Conspiracy” was published in 1959 – 60, and it was fairly up-to-date in it’s research as of that time. In February 1957 American Heritage Magazine published an article called “The Unknown Conspirator” by Philip Van Doren Stern (who had written a whole book about Booth years before). It was the first account of the career of Captain Celestina’s run-in with the law and his being suspected of being involved with Booth in his plots. Roscoe was aware of this, and his tracking down and locating those photographs made the possibility of one being of Captain Celestina very real.

        I might add that other people were held by the government all over the country as suspicious types who may have been involved in the Assassination Conspiracy or knowing Booth and other conspirators. As a member of a different website regarding Jack the Ripper, one of the possible suspects in that case was “Dr” Francis Tumblety, a successful quack, who was imprisoned in St. Louis, Missouri on such suspicions, and then released (he tried to sue the Federal Government afterwards, to little avail). Tumblety usually worked between Washington, D. C. and the state of New York, and there was some suspicion that while in an office in Brooklyn his office clerk and assistant might have been David Herold (I may add there is very little outside of odd comments in newspapers to support this. Tumblety had a really heavy handlebar moustache, so the photo of “Celestina” or whoever cannot be of him.

  3. Rich smyth

    Great pics Dave! I was scrolling down hopeing to find a pic of Celestino’s grave. Maybe next time.

    • That’s your job, Rich. How successful have you been in the past finding obscure graves abroad? I believe Pedro’s article mentions the last sighting of Celestino was in Brazil. Not much to go on unfortunately.

  4. Pingback: Hartman Richter’s Grave | BoothieBarn

  5. TF

    the Classic “Twenty days” of the Frederick Mearse Collection of CW Pictures-One page has Hartman Richer photo as a unidentified suspect and compared with Dr Mudd picture {p.197} ! One page has Celestino picture misidentited as Thomas JOnes {p.203}

    real picture of Thomas Jones at

  6. Jeff Bloomfield

    The first time I ever crossed Joao Celestino’s story was in an article entitled, “The Unknown Conspirator” by Philip Van Doren Stern in an issue of American Heritage Magazine in 1957. He felt that Celestino might have been (like Dr. Mudd) involved in the kidnapping scheme, had the plotters planned to sail a trussed-up Lincoln down the Potomac into the Chesapeake and then the Atlantic down the Virginia Capes to get him to Richmond. As it was the first time Celestino was brought to anyone’s attention, Van Doren Stern had little final information to say about the sea captain. In Theodore Roscoe’s “Web of Conspiracy” (1960) Celestino’s story is included among the tales of third parties who were harried as a result of contact with Booth and the conspirators, and that well illustrated book included these photos of unknown conspirators. Roscoe saw some portraits of a distinguished looking man with a sharp goatee beard who had been identified by some as Dr. Mudd, but lacked Mudd’s forehead. Roscoe suggested that they were the pictures of Celestino, though he suggested this in a doubting way.

    There has been, in recent years, another “unknown conspirator” who has been brought back from the past – Dr. Tumblety, a quack medical man who sold herbal medicines (and made a literal fortune with them). Tumblety, except for one woodcut newspaper drawing, has not photo – he had a really large handlebar moustache. He enjoyed odd military outfits. He’s of some interest to amateur criminologists and crime historians because his apparently documented knowledge or relationship to Booth (mostly in newspaper accounts) is half his story, In December 1888 he returned hastily from England, skipping bail on charges of soliciting men for sex. However, there were rumors that he was wanted for something more serious, as Tumblety had an outspoken hatred for prostitutes – he may have been (for awhile anyway) suspected of being Jack the Ripper. If you are interested he is listed in the “Suspect” section of the message boards of the “Casebook: Jack the Ripper” website. Some articles about Dr. Tumblety from newspapers, relating to his Booth connection, are posted there too.

  7. Pingback: Grave Thursday: Hartman Richter | BoothieBarn

  8. Stephan A. Whitlock

    Joao M. Celestino appears to be the Capt. John Celestina mentioned in the bogus “sworn statement” of Kate M. Scott, and shown in an alleged photo of the Neff-Guttridge collection (on the right) with Robert Bernard, aka Rob Rover, (possibly another non-existent person). The John Celestina in the Neff-Guttridge collection was much nattier, had darker hair and parted it on the other side. In other words I’m doubtful that John Celestina was the man in the Neff-Guttridge photo.

    John Celestina was released from the Old Capitol Prison on 8 Jul 1865 and given 10 days to leave the country. I have 3 news clippings as sources for that information, the best one being 10 Jul 1865, Mon, Pg2, Evening Star, Washington DC. John Celestina was Portuguese, as shown here, but in one of the clippings they said he was Cuban.

    • Stephan A. Whitlock

      Celestino is also mentioned a few times as being John Celestina in another news article in The Gettysburg Times, Nov. 19, 1963, Pg11. The article is titled “Gen. Hartranft’s Letter Book Describes Prison Trial Of Lincoln’s Assassins”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: