Found on Booth

When John Wilkes Booth was cornered by federal troops in the Garrett’s barn near Port Royal, VA, he carried with him several items. These include his diary, his weapons, his compass, and his paper items. In addition to the ones pictured, Booth also had several items that have been lost to history such as his diamond stick pin, a handkerchief, wood shavings, and between $45 and $75 dollars in greenbacks. There are also a set of keys, a map of the southern states, and a whistle attributed to Booth in the collection of the Ford’s Theatre museum, but their provenance is debatable (at least by this author).

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

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25 thoughts on “Found on Booth

  1. Pingback: New Gallery – Found on Booth « BoothieBarn

  2. Dave, your blog just keeps getting better and more essential. These images you’ve been posting are stunning and wonderfully presented. Thanks!

    • Herb Swingle

      These pieces of history make”History” come alive! Especially when you are a visual learner! Tremendous Work!

  3. Richard Sloan

    With your great research skills, how about trying to find out what happened to Booth’s note to Stuart that was used as evidence in the John Surratt trial? It’s hard to believe it was destroyed. My guess is that it was simply misfiled, or pilfered. If the latter, it is conceivable that it was subsequently lost. Let’s hope it’s still in some old War Dept. file. Does anyone else — who has the time — care to take up the search? (If found in private hands, it’s really the property of the government. That may be why its whereabouts — if in private hands — is unknown.) We have some great researchers out there, like Betty Ownsbey and Mike Kauffman. (I bet Mike already looked for it years ago!)

    • According to JOH in “On the Way to Garrett’s barn”, both the scrapped note found in a pocket of Booth’s diary (the $5 one) and the one recovered by Baker from Dr. Stuart (the $2.50 one) were present at John Surratt’s trial. They disappeared after that. I agree that it is extremely likely they are merely misfiled somewhere. I’ll try to look into it, but no promises.

  4. Jim Garret

    Good knife pictures

  5. Rich smyth

    Hi Dave, I know that the keys, labeled as having been found on Booth’s body at Fords, may in fact have been found on Herold. Is that the case with the whistle?

    • Rich,

      I believe the keys were taken from Davy’s house by investigators and were not on either of the two men. The whistle is a mystery to me too as I can’t find any record from soldiers at the Garretts that mention it.

  6. Rich smyth

    Thanks Dave. Is there evidence that they were found at Herold’s house? I don’t even remember reading that his house was searched.

  7. Rich smyth

    Thanks for clarifying the issue of the keys!

  8. Richard Sloan

    A stick pin was reportedly found on Booth, too. One of the old photos of the Booth relics in the War Dept. shows it. I think that picture appears in Hanchett’s article in a history magazine about the Booth diary pages. I think it was also mentioned by Izola Forrester in her book, “This One Mad Act.” I’d like to see a clearer photo of it, and, of course, I wonder what happ’d to it! I bet someone walked off with it! MAybe Richard Smyth will be dealing with this in his upcoming book about the assassination – related relics!

    • Richard,

      I have never seen a picture of the stick pin. If you find it, let me know as I’d be very interested in seeing it.

      Also I have not changed the font size on the blog, so I’m guessing the problem is with your settings.

      • Renee Lee

        you can see the stick pin if you look closely at booth’s photos. Lots of them show the pin — at least a tie pin with a circular shape, a stone and black enamel around it…. this fits the description of the one on his body. You have to have good eyes and look closely, but many of his photos show this pin.

  9. Pingback: John W. Booth Diary: small "upgrade" of Sarednab's replica.

  10. Jonathan Winter

    Dear Sir,

    Could you provide me with the dimensions of the Bills of Exchange found on Booth?

    Many thanks.

  11. Art Klein

    Whenever I see a photo of Booth’s compass, I am a bit saddened, and here’s why. When I first saw it in person, it was on display in the Ford’s theater building 60 years ago, before they reconstructed the theater. All the historic objects were on display in a large ground floor room. When I saw the compass, it had remnants of a candle wax dripping hardened on it. I thought of Booth perhaps in the small boat bending over the compass at night clutching a candle, the only light he could see it by. That little piece of wax told better than words could ever do, I thought, about the desperate flight of the assassin. I saw it again in photos or another visit many years ago, and then to my surprise at some point the wax was gone. Someone must have “cleaned “ the compass, and in doing so erased part of its story. Just thought you might like this piece of the tale that to my knowledge no one has ever mentioned before.


      What a great comment! Booth’s trek across the Potomac is always the “high point” of his escape for me as I have gone over the route hundreds of times with the Surratt Society’s John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tours. As we head down the hill towards the banks of the Potomac, I always imagine what the assassin must have felt knowing that he had to cross that broad river under the cover of darkness or stay put and wait for the mighty force of the U.S. government to catch up with him. He deserved what he got, but one has to put oneself in his place for just a few brief moments in order to fully feel history.

  12. Art Klein

    As JWB buffs know, among his many dalliances with his ladies, he seemed, (strange for him), oddly infatuated with the teenage Isabel Sumner, having written her romantically, asking her to burn the letters after reading. As we know, she didn’t, and they are now part of the record. What I am intrigued with is something else he sent her- that pearl ring, which she also kept, inscribed JWB to IS. Does anyone know what happened to it? Is it still in private hands?


      I believe that the ring was among the items that went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as part of the wonderful Taper collection.

      • Kenny Quinn

        Does anyone here know who Lieutenant Luther B. Baker was??? I have several items from his estate including a Red and White handkerchief he presented to his son Arthur on his ninth birthday. I have several other items including his personal belt with NY Malitia buckle and much more!!!

        • LAURA VERGE

          Lt. Baker was part of the unit that tracked Booth into the Northern Neck of Virginia and captured/killed him at the Garrett Farm outside of Port Royal. Hopefully, Dave or Kate Taylor can put you in touch with Steven Miller of Illinois, who is THE expert on the Garrett Farm Patrol.

          I am on extended medical leave from the Surratt House Museum, but if you receive no help, please contact me at and I will supply contact info.

  13. Tamera Schwartz

    I have recently found at a local secondhand store a old writing laptop. The curious thing about it is it has a sheet paper attached inside with an old booth family crest printed on. Wondering if it belonged to a family member.

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