Abraham Lincoln's Assassination
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THE STRANGE AND EERIE EVENTS THAT CAME IN THE YEARS AFTER LINCOLN'S ASSASSINATION!

Edwin Booth, John Wilkes Booth's brother, died on June 7, 1893. Two days later, at the time Edwin's casket was being carried from the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City, there was tragedy at Ford's Theatre. A 40-foot section of the front of the building collapsed from the third floor killing 22 people and injuring many others.



Harper's Weekly photo of bodies being removed from Ford's after the collapse.
Boston Corbett, the soldier who shot John Wilkes Booth, was appointed assistant doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. In the state house, on Tuesday, February 15, 1887, feeling paranoid after being threatened by several men in Topeka, Corbett pulled out his revolver, made some threats, and waved his weapon in the air. No one was hurt. Corbett was arrested, declared insane, and sent to the Topeka Asylum for the Insane. On May 26, 1888, Corbett jumped on a horse that had been left at the entrance to the asylum’s grounds and escaped. He went to Neodesha, Kansas, and stayed briefly with Richard Thatcher, a man he had met during his imprisonment at Andersonville during the Civil War. He said he was heading for Mexico. Although a few stories exist, there is no absolute proof that Boston Corbett was ever heard from again. He may have gone to Minnesota. His final demise, however, still remains a mystery
The young couple (Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris) who attended Our American Cousin with the Lincolns got married on July 11, 1867. The couple had three children. Rathbone suffered from "dyspepsia" or indigestion and severe mood swings. He was probably taking an opiate that could be purchased over the counter in the 19th century. In 1882 the Rathbones moved to Germany. On December 23, 1883, Rathbone went berserk. He tried to kill the children, then shot and stabbed his wife to death, and finally stabbed himself. When the police arrived, Rathbone mumbled, "Who could have done this to my darling wife?" and went on about people "hiding behind the pictures on the wall." He spent the rest of his life in an asylum for the criminally insane in Hildesheim, Germany. (The children were sent to live with Clara’s brother, William Harris and his family.) While in the asylum Rathbone maintained that the walls were hollow and contained a spray apparatus which blew dust and gas on him causing headaches and chest pain. He died on August 14th, 1911, at the age of 73. He was buried in Germany in the city cemetery at Hannover/Engeohde. SOURCE: The research of Mr. James O. Hall and Mrs. Peggy Hlavacek in a July 1982 article titled "The Rathbone Connection" by Frank Rathbun in the Surratt Society News. For years it was felt Rathbone’s remains were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid. Then it was felt the bones had been dug up and disposed of by cemetery personnel. However, new research by Eva Elisabeth Lennartz of Kiel, Germany, has shown that the remains of Rathbone still lie buried in the cemetery.
In May 1875 an insanity trial for Mary Todd Lincoln was held in Chicago. The jury found Mrs. Lincoln "insane and a fit person to be in a state hospital for the insane." Mary spent the next several months in an asylum in Batavia, Illinois.
William A. Petersen, the German tailor in whose house the president died, accidentally took too much laudanum (a mixture of alcohol and opium derivatives) on June 19, 1871. He was found by Washington police on a park bench. The police took him to the station where they tried to pump his stomach. However, it was too late, and Petersen passed away. Petersen's wife, Anna, died exactly four months later. The Petersens were buried in Washington in Prospect Hill Cemetery.
On November 7, 1876, a gang of ghouls tried to steal Abraham Lincoln's body from the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. Their goal was to hold the body in exchange for the release from prison of a counterfeiter named Ben Boyd. The thieves had Lincoln's casket partly out of the sarcophagus when detectives, who had heard of the plot, rushed forward to stop the larceny in progress.
Robert Lincoln, the president's son, was in the White House when his father was shot. On July 2, 1881, Robert was with President James A. Garfield at Washington's Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station when the president was shot by assassin Charles J. Guiteau. In his own words, Robert reached the stricken Garfield within 15 seconds of the shooting. Finally, on September 6, 1901, when President William McKinley was shot by Leon F. Czolgosz at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, Robert was on a train just arriving in Buffalo.
In February 1869 President Andrew Johnson released John Wilkes Booth's remains to the Booth family. On February 15th the pine coffin was opened and the body identified. Booth's head was found to be entirely detached from his body. The remains were sent to Baltimore, and there the detached head was passed around and looked upon by those present for the identification. Booth's third, fourth, and fifth cervical vertebrae, which were removed during his autopsy, are housed along with several mementos from Abraham Lincoln's autopsy (including the bullet that killed the president, the probe used to remove the bullet, fragments of the president's skull, hair from the president, and the blood-stained cuffs of the lab coat worn by Dr. Edward Curtis at the autopsy) at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Md. Additional hair samples from Lincoln's autopsy are in the Lincoln Room Museum in the Wills House in Gettysburg and the Weldon Petz Abraham Lincoln Collection, at the Plymouth Historical Society & Museum which is located in Plymouth, Michigan. Another fragment from Booth's autopsy is in a bottle in the Mutter Medical Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In October 1994 a petition was filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to exhume Booth’s remains from Green Mount Cemetery. The petitioners were people who identified themselves as Booth’s relatives. The cemetery argued that its solemn duty was to protect the sanctity of those interred unless there was overwhelming evidence that the body buried there was not Booth’s. Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan ruled that the evidence for exhumation was insufficient. His 1996 decision was upheld by the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis.
Until recently historians didn't know what happened to Lewis Powell's remains. They were not claimed by his family and were buried in Washington's Holmead Cemetery in 1869. The cemetery was disbanded in the mid-1870's, and there is no record of what happened with Powell's body. However, his skull was discovered in 1992 in a collection of the Smithsonian Institution. The FBI confirmed the skull as Powell's. On November 11, 1994, Powell's skull was buried next to his mother's grave in Geneva, Florida. Lincoln assassination experts Betty Ownsbey and Michael Kauffman participated in the burial. Pastor Daryl Permenter of the First Baptist Church of Geneva performed the services. The Geneva Cemetery is a very quaint cemetery. The headstones of Lewis and his mother (who was born in 1811) are in a semi-shaded area.
Anna Surratt, Mary Surratt's daughter, had tried to see President Andrew Johnson to plea for clemency prior to her mother's hanging. Two men were instrumental in preventing her from seeing the president. One was ex-Senator Preston King. On November 13, 1865, King tied a bag of bullets around his neck and committed suicide by jumping off a ferryboat on the Hudson River.
The other man who prevented the meeting with the president was Senator James H. Lane. On July 11, 1866, Senator Lane shot himself to death at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
During the weeks after the assassination, Mary Todd Lincoln received a great deal of comfort in the White House from Dr. Anson G. Henry, an old and trusted family friend. Dr. Henry accompanied Mrs. Lincoln back to Illinois when she left Washington in May of 1865. A few months later, on July 30, 1865, Dr. Henry drowned when the steamer Brother Jonathan, on which he was a passenger, sank off the coast of northern California.
In January 1929 the Surratt House was raided and padlocked by federal authorities for housing large stocks of paraphernalia being used to violate the nation's prohibition laws. During the 1970's the house was raided on account of numbers racketeering. According to the February, 1999, Surratt Courier, since "becoming a nice Chinese restaurant in the 1980's, we have only heard good things...."
John Lloyd died in an unusual manner in 1892. A great-niece recalled: "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." (Source: "That Man Lloyd" by Laurie Verge in the April 1988 Surratt Courier.)
Several American towns apparently heard reports of Lincoln's assassination before it actually happened. For example, George Kulzer (1831-1912), a pioneer of Stearns County, Minnesota, told the following story about St. Joseph, MN: "That was an eventful year, 1865. In April, an odd thing happened in St. Joseph. Early in the morning on Wednesday, the 14th, people were horror-stricken to hear that President Lincoln had been assassinated. No one knew how the news had arrived, since we had no telegraph. Later we heard that Mr. Lincoln had indeed been assassinated, but not until late in the evening of that day. No one remembered how the news had started. Weeks later, some of the Eastern papers heard of it and tried to infer that the priest of St. Joseph knew of a Catholic plot against the government and had spread the news prematurely. This was, of course, ridiculous. Father Bruno was indignant, but some people wanted to believe it, and many years later it would still be whispered." Mr. Kulzer was wrong on the day of the week, as the 14th was a Friday. Manchester, New Hampshire, also received the news on that Good Friday before the press releases were dispatched from Washington. Also, on the afternoon of April 14, the Whig Press in Middleton, New York, announced that Lincoln had been killed by an assassin.

For 87 years it was thought no photographs of Mr. Lincoln in an open coffin existed. Then, in 1952, 14-year-old Ronald Rietveld discovered one hidden away in the Illinois State Historical Library while researching the papers of Lincoln's personal secretaries. (Dr. Rietveld retired in 2009 as a professor emeritus at California State University in Fullerton.) The photograph had been taken by photographer Jeremiah Gurney, Jr., on April 24, 1865, as the body lay in state in City Hall in New York. Afterwards, it was immediately confiscated by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and was unknown until re-discovered by Rietveld.

Illinois State Historical Library Photograph Discovered by Ronald Rietveld

NOTE: President Theodore Roosevelt wore a ring containing a lock of Abraham Lincoln's hair when he was inaugurated in 1905. The hair had been cut by Dr. Charles C. Taft, one of the attending physicians the night of the assassination. The hair was purchased by John Hay on February 9, 1905, and was given to Roosevelt less than a month later. In his Autobiography, Roosevelt wrote, "When I was inaugurated on March 4, 1905, I wore a ring he (John Hay) sent me the night before, containing the hair of Abraham Lincoln. This ring was on my finger when the Chief Justice administered to me the oath of allegiance to the United States."


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