Troy Cowan Topic: Testimonials that Booth was not killed at the Garrett barn

Testimonials that Booth was not killed at the Garrett barn



John A. Hopkins Jr.

W. P. Campbell of the Oklahoma Historical Society received the following letter written by John A. Hopkins Jr. of Winchester, Ky.

"My father, the late John A Hopkins, served in Stonewall Jackson's division of Lee's army. He was wounded at Appomattox and paroled after Lee surrendered, but before he went to his home in Virginia, he spent several days at the home of Mr. Garrett. He has told me many times that old man Garrett told him that the man killed in the building on his farm was not Booth....Garrett said the army troops surrounded his premises and began a siege....they set fire to the barn and shot the poor man by the glare of the fire. It was a cowardly murder, and it was done in the hopes of passing the body off for that of Booth and getting the reward."

John Stevenson

John Stevenson was a friend of Booth's. After Booth's death at the Garrett Farm, Stevenson wrote in his diary that he asked Booth's widow, Izola, to run away with him. It was then that she told him that Booth was not dead. She said that after the assassination that Wilkes had come to the farm to recuperate from the broken leg.

Kate Scott

There are others that saw and talked to Booth after his supposed death. The next statement comes from another writer actively involved in collecting Lincoln documents, Osborn Hamlin Oldroyd. As a youth, his family moved to Springfield, Illinois, into the home that President Lincoln once lived in. He became interested in collecting Lincoln memorabilia. Years later, in 1884, he turned the home into The Lincoln Museum. In 1925, Oldroyd sold his entire collection of Lincoln memorabilia, including rare books, photographs, mementos, and Lincoln's original furniture, to the government for the sum of $50,000.

In 1910, he asked Kate Scott to give a statement about her knowledge of John Wilkes Booth. Kate was a Union army nurse and met John Wilkes Booth at a military ball. On October 27, she gave Oldroyd a statement under oath. In part she said,

 "After the assassination of President Lincoln I could not believe that Booth had been involved and yet, I realized that he had been. He was such a calm and loving person but he believed so deeply in the cause of peace and freedom. Then there was the story of his death and I felt so sorry that so great a talent had been wasted. But then in July I received a letter in handwriting that was most unmistakably his, asking me to see Winston Weaver and get from him an envelope which had been left with him a number of months before. He said that I should have it at our farm on September 15th and he would call for it. It was signed "John Byron Wilkes". I did as he asked and waited in anticipation, fearing that it was a cruel hoax being perpetrated on me but when the time came, he appeared. He was without his moustache and his appearance was otherwise changed so that he looked completely different. When I expressed concern for his safety he shrugged it off saying that he was to the entire world, dead and buried and that no one would recognize him."

Ben Chitty

Another collector of historical stories was Arthur Ben Chitty. He had just received his master's degree and was working at Sewanee: The University of the South, when he discovered the marriage of John Wilkes Booth and Louisa Payne. They were married on February 24,1872. A few months after they were married, John wanted to take Louisa to Nashville. He said that in Nashville, he could collect the money that the Knights of the Golden Circle owed him. In Nashville he was recognized. Afraid for their lives, he sent Louisa back to Sewanee and he headed for Texas. He would never see Louisa again.

Finis Bates

In 1877, a lawyer by the name of Finis Bates took his dying friend's confession. His friend was calling himself John St. Helens. In that confession, St. Helens claimed that he was John Wilkes Booth and he killed Abraham Lincoln. John did not die; he recovered from his illness. Finis Bates then told Booth that he couldn't keep his secret, it would make him an accomplice. Booth decided it would be best to leave town and he disappeared.

Mrs. Harper

On January 13, 1903 a man in Enid, Oklahoma, by the name of David E. George was dying. He gave a dying confession to his landlord, Mrs. Harper. He told her that he was John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

It was later determined that David E. George and John St. Helen were the same person.
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