Posts Tagged With: Aiken

The Lincoln Assassination On This Day (May 23 – May 29)

Taking inspiration from one of my favorite books, John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Art Loux, I’m documenting a different Lincoln assassination or Booth family event each day on my Twitter account. In addition to my daily #OTD (On This Day) tweets, each Sunday I’ll be posting them here for the past week. If you click on any of the pictures in the tweet, it will take you to its individual tweet page on Twitter where you can click to make the images larger and easier to see. Since Twitter limits the number of characters you can type in a tweet, I often include text boxes as pictures to provide more information. I hope you enjoy reading about the different events that happened over the last week.

NOTE: After weeks of creating posts with multiple embedded tweets, this site’s homepage now tends to crash from trying to load all the different posts with all the different tweets at once. So, to help fix this, I’ve made it so that those viewing this post on the main page have to click the “Continue Reading” button below to load the full post with tweets. Even after you open the post in a separate page, it may still take awhile for the tweets to load completely. Using the Chrome browser seems to be the best way to view the tweets, but may still take a second to switch from just text to the whole tweet with pictures.

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Grave Thursday: Frederick Aiken

Each week we are highlighting the final resting place of someone related to the Lincoln assassination story. It may be the grave of someone whose name looms large in assassination literature, like a conspirator, or the grave of one of the many minor characters who crossed paths with history. Welcome to Grave Thursday.

Frederick Aiken


Burial Location: Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Connection to the Lincoln assassination:

Frederick Aiken was one of Mary Surratt’s defense counsels at the trial of the conspirators. A dramatic version of his exploits during the trial was the subject of the 2010 movie, The Conspirator, starring James McAvoy and Robin WrightDuring the course of researching for the film, it was discovered by researcher Christine Christensen that Aiken had been buried in an unmarked grave in D.C.’s Oak Hill Cemetery. The Surratt Society completed a fundraiser to mark Aiken’s grave. I briefly posted about the installment of the grave marker in 2012.

I highly recommend Christine Christensen’s article about Aiken’s life called, Finding Frederick.

Coincidentally, Frederick Aiken is buried within throwing distance of another attorney at the trial of the conspirators, William Smith Cox, the lawyer who represented Michael O’Laughlen. Later, Walter Cox would be involved in a trial for another assassinated president when he was the presiding judge at the trial of Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield.



GPS coordinates for Frederick Aiken’s grave: 38.914285, -77.058428

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The Marking of Frederick Aiken’s Grave

On June 14, 2012, the Surratt Society dedicated a new grave marker for Frederick A. Aiken.

Mr. Aiken was part of Mary Surratt’s legal consul during the Conspiracy trial. The production and release of Robert Redford’s film about Mary Surratt and Frederick Aiken entitled The Conspirator, led to the discovery by researcher Christine Christensen that Mr. Aiken was buried in an unmarked grave in Washington D.C.’s Oak Hill Cemetery.

Aiken’s resting place when it was unmarked

The Surratt Society, having previously taken up funds to mark the graves of Edman Spangler and Elizabeth Keckly, started a fundraising campaign to mark his grave. The dedication service was attended by members of the Surratt Society and Museum, a group of Honor Guard reenactors, and even some descendants of the Aiken and Clampitt family (Aiken’s legal partner in Mary Surratt’s case). Short speeches were given based on the biographical details gained from Christine Christensen’s impressive research (Her 29 page document about Aiken can be read by clicking HERE). The Aiken descendant gave a nice speech while playing a recording he had made of the chimes of a grandfather clock. That grandfather clock was in an Aiken house that Frederick spent time in as a child. You can hear a short recording of them by clicking HERE. At the close of the ceremony, as the group was dispersing, the cemetery was visited by a doe and her fawn. The following are just a few images of that day sent to me by Betty Ownsbey, Lewis Powell’s biographer:

A descendant of the Aiken family (left) and Clampitt family (right). Sadly, Frederick Aiken had no children of his own and so he has no direct line.

The Honor Guard at Aiken’s Grave

Visitors at the Cemetery

Finding Frederick by Christine Christensen
Betty Ownsbey

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Resurrecting Gravestones

April 14th is the 147th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.  Several generations have passed in that time.  Most recently, we mourned the passing of the last of Dr. Mudd’s grandchildren, succinctly showing the time that has elapsed since the great crime.  As has been done for ages, we mark our lost generations with gravestones.  They are a reminder of their time on earth and their influence on others.  Unfortunately the stones on which names are placed are not impervious to time’s unceasing march.  Water, wind, heat and cold, erase names and dates.  Markers stand as unreadable, phantom reminders of people and lives unknown.  Along with the elements, humans, both directly and inadvertently damage stones.  Markers are chipped, broken or fallen by human hands.  For many of these stones, this is the end.  Without families aware of their destruction, they remain broken, fallen, and forgotten.

For some related to the Lincoln assassination this is the case.  John M. Lloyd is one example.  Lloyd was Mrs. Surratt’s tenant occupying her Tavern in Surrattsville (then Robeysville), MD.  One the day of the assassination, Lloyd testified that Mary told him, “I want you to have those shooting irons ready: there will be parties here to-night who will call for them.”  The shooting irons referred to were Spencer Carbines that were hidden at the Surratt Tavern during the proposed kidnapping plot.  In addition Mary gave Lloyd a package wrapped in paper later found to be field glasses.  Later that night, Booth and Herold stopped by the Tavern, took one of the carbines and the field glasses.  Lloyd was a key witness against Mary Surratt at the Conspiracy trial.  Lloyd would later die an accidental death in 1892:

“He was in the construction business and died of an accident that occurred on one of his building projects. He wasn’t satisfied with some work that had been done and went up on a scaffold to inspect it. Near the other end of the scaffold flooring a load of bricks had just been deposited. As he reached the scaffold and stood on it, the boards gave way, and he fell to the ground. The bricks tumbling down upon him crushed his head, kidneys, and other parts of his body.”

John M. Lloyd's gravestone circa January 1969. Courtesy of the Surratt House Museum

Lloyd was laid to rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery in D.C.  This is same cemetery in which Mary Surratt is buried.  He was buried in December of 1892 and his marker was standing until it fell some time in 1969.  Today, his plot is unmarked – a shining example of the many who have fallen and have been forgotten. Correction: I have been informed by gravestone expert Richard Smyth that, as of 2008, Lloyd’s marker was still on his grave.  When Rich visited Mount Olivet, he had to dig the stone out and remove the dirt and grass that had grown over it.  The current condition of the stone is unknown.

There are also those to whom, markers were never created.  In these instances we are sometimes fortunate to have cemetery records to tell us who has been placed where.  This is the case of the Surratt Society’s current drive to place a marker on the grave of Frederick Aiken.  Aiken was one of the lawyers who defended Mary Surratt at the Conspiracy trial.  A tremendous amount of research into Mr. Aiken’s life was done by researcher Christine Christensen.  Her 28 page biography about this man’s extraordinary life is available through the Surratt House Museum and has been the catalyst for soliciting donations to mark his grave.  He is currently unmarked in Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery:

A stone bearing his name, dates and a quote given by him at the trial will be put up once enough donations are received.

Finally, there are grave stones that have been resurrected so to speak.  These are stones that have been broken or worn, but have been fortunate enough to have been replaced.  Mary Surratt and Dr. Mudd are two examples of resurrected gravestones.

May Surratt was originally buried next to the gallows on which she died, in the yard of the Old Arsenal prison.  Eventually, her body was released to her family and she was interred at Mount Olivet.  For almost 100 years she was marked by this stone:

Then, around the 1970’s, this headstone was broken.  The original headstone is currently in pieces in storage at the Surratt House Museum.  They received the remnants from Boothie researcher John Brennan who asked and was permitted to have the broken gravestone.  Mary’s stone was replaced and this is the one that stands there today:

Dr. Mudd’s grave has a similar story.  Dr. Mudd died in 1883 at the age of 49.  He was buried at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bryantown, MD.  From this point until 1940, Dr. Mudd had this gravestone:

As you can see, over time, part of the stone became moss covered.  In addition, this stone mistakenly puts the doctor’s age as 48 when he was truly 49.  Lastly, this stone originally had a cross at the top that was broken off.  In 1940, Mudd descendants placed a new gravestone on Dr. Mudd’s:

Dr. Mudd’s old stone is currently on display behind the Dr. Samuel Mudd House in one of the stables:

There are many individuals related to the Lincoln assassination who are without markers.  For the key conspirators, this was done to avoid either vandalism against them or reverence for them.  It was smart then, as retribution against their final resting place was a true worry.  But 147 years have passed since their actions.  The trot of time allows us to see them as people, and all people deserve to be recognized for their time on Earth.  Hopefully, with the help of organizations like the Surratt Society and private history-minded individuals, more Lincoln assassination figures will have their final resting places marked or resurrected.

“That Man Lloyd” by Laurie Verge, April 1988, Surratt Courier
Finding Frederick by Christine R. Christensen

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