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Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
07-23-2012, 06:05 AM (This post was last modified: 07-23-2012 06:12 AM by BettyO.)
Post: #1
Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
In going over the Personal Effects listed in Hartranft's Letter Books - I've noticed one thing - Hartranft lists the personal effects of Mrs. Surratt, Herold and Atzerodt. Powell is not mentioned. We know that Powell had given his pen knife to Eckert after offering it to Doster, who refused the gift. What became of the little knife? Also, Powell had given Gillette his Bible and a "few other things." Were these articles given to Powell early at his request in order to give them to Gillette? Why were the other conspirator's effects held or listed in the Letter Book and not Powell's? Obviously Hartranft had Powell's effects as well, so why not list them? Certainly Lew Powell didn't have a box in his cell in which to "store" his personal effects!

What do you all think regarding this? Did Eckert get all of the effects? According to one report, as late as 1908, Lew Powell's slouch hat was housed in the Office of the Adjutant General.....

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(Scan, Steers, Edward, Jr. and Holzer, Harold, The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators, Their Confinement and Execution, as Recorded in the Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft, Louisiana State University Press, 2009)

"The Past is a foreign country...they do things differently there" - L. P. Hartley
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07-23-2012, 06:22 AM (This post was last modified: 07-23-2012 06:28 AM by Gene C.)
Post: #2
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
I thought Powell's personal effects were taken when he was arrested, and he even given different clothes to wear. Maybe his personal effects "disappeared" so that Eckertt never received the knife. As for his bible, don't know how he could read it with the hood on. Maybe just having one was of some comfort, whether he had the opportunity to read it or not. Or, was it really Gillette's bible that he let Powell borrow and read with him on Powell's last day?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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07-23-2012, 06:25 AM (This post was last modified: 07-23-2012 06:49 AM by BettyO.)
Post: #3
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
(07-23-2012 06:22 AM)Gene C Wrote:  I thought Powell's personal effects were taken when he was arrested. As for his bible, don't know how he could read it with the hood on. Maybe just having one was of some comfort, whether he had the opportunity to read it or not. Or, was it really Gillette's bible that he let Powell borrow and read with him on Powell's last day?

Powell's effects were taken away (with the exception of one item which was given back to Powell in order to comfort him until the trial commenced) at the time of his arrest; supposedly they were remanded to the care of Eckert for some reason. They were then given to the court as "evidence". The Bibles were given to the prisoners at the insistence of Dr. Porter once the trial got underway. Porter also stated in mid-June that because he felt that the prisoners were going mad under the hoods that they be given time to exercise in the yard and that they also be allowed to read for a bit each day. This is obviously where Powell got the Bible. According to Gillette, Powell had written his name on the flyleaf. Powell gave it to Gillette to sent to his parents. I'm just confused as to why Hartranft didn't list Powell's effects. Since the relatives of all three of the other conspirators were actually there on the 6th and 7th you would think that Hartranft would have given the effects to them at that time....

"The Past is a foreign country...they do things differently there" - L. P. Hartley
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07-23-2012, 06:36 AM
Post: #4
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
A condemended man's bible must be an eerie possesion to have. I guess it was of some comfort to the bewildered parents.
Betty, do you know when his partents found out about Lewis's involvement in the assassinatin and his death?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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07-23-2012, 06:38 AM (This post was last modified: 07-23-2012 06:39 AM by RJNorton.)
Post: #5
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
Betty, I have a copy of the Surratt House booklet From War Department Files: Statements Made By The Alleged Lincoln Conspirators Under Examination 1865. Do you know why there is no statement from Lewis Powell in there?
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07-23-2012, 06:54 AM (This post was last modified: 07-23-2012 07:01 AM by BettyO.)
Post: #6
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
(07-23-2012 06:36 AM)Gene C Wrote:  A condemended man's bible must be an eerie possesion to have. I guess it was of some comfort to the bewildered parents.
Betty, do you know when his partents found out about Lewis's involvement in the assassinatin and his death?

Lewis' family had moved sometime further down the road from Live Oak during the war after they purchased another farm, so his father got Doster's letter requesting him to come to DC to identify Lewis as his son, quite a bit late. Reverend Powell stated that he received Doster's letter on the day of the 6th of July. Doster had supposedly mailed the missive about the middle of June! You can therefore see just how messed up the lines/mail routes and roads of the deep South were after the war. Parts of Florida were pretty much extremely rural. In haste, Reverend Powell left home and got on a train to go to Washington, unaware that his son had already been condemned and had less than 24 hours to live. Supposedly, the luckless Reverend Powell traveled overnight the 100 miles to Jacksonville to switch trains to travel to Washington when he received word of Lewis' death. He returned home to break the news to his wife and daughters. Extremely tragic....

(07-23-2012 06:38 AM)RJNorton Wrote:  Betty, I have a copy of the Surratt House booklet From War Department Files: Statements Made By The Alleged Lincoln Conspirators Under Examination 1865. Do you know why there is no statement from Lewis Powell in there?

I have repeatedly seen accounts of a supposed "Confession" by Powell in various newspapers. Just WHERE this account is or what happened to it is beyond me, unless this "confession" was verbal, which to me does not sound right. Eckert supposedly, in his conversations with young Powell, stated that he took down memorandums which were supposedly to be made into a report for Stanton. He never got around to it, according to what he told the Court at the Impeachment Trial in 1869.

I wish there was a "legitimate" confession of Powell....if there is, heaven knows where it is! That is one reason why Powell is so intriguing to me. It seems like just about anything concerning Powell as far as letters, written statements, etc. is virtually non existent for some reason!

"The Past is a foreign country...they do things differently there" - L. P. Hartley
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07-23-2012, 08:00 AM
Post: #7
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
Betty, do you think there is a chance that the Huntington Library would have anything pertaining to Powell?

From ArchiveGrid:

"Papers of Thomas T. Eckert, 1862-1877, (1862-1867 )
Eckert, Thomas Thompson, 1825-1910
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
... Washington office Eckert was entrusted with important political intelligence and diplomatic missions In March ...
Archive of Eckert's professional papers that he accumulated from 1862 to 1877; the bulk of the collection covers his Civil War service. The collection includes: 14 ledgers of telegrams received by the War Department (1862, Feb. 2 00 1867, Aug. 1); 7 ledgers of ciphered telegrams sent from Washington (1862, Feb. 1 -- 1867, July 30); 1 ledger of ciphered communications of the Army of the Potomac (1862, Aug. 29- 1863, Apr. 28); 4 ledgers of telegraphic communications of the Union post at Fortress Monroe, Va. (1863, Aug. 29 - Apr. 6, 1865), and 2 ledgers of messages that the special investigating agent Charles A. Dana sent from Chattanooga and Knoxville (1863, Sept. 10- 1864, Aug. 2). Also included are 8 letterpress books of Thomas T. Eckert's own correspondence, supply orders for the Military Telegraph, a ledger of Jay Gould's American Union Telegraph, and cipher code books with different versions of the ciphers in use by various operators."

This is from the Huntington's press release dated January 25, 2012:

"The Civil War Telegraph Archive of Thomas T. Eckert
The papers of Thomas T. Eckert range from 1862, during the early months of conflict between the North and South, through 1877, at the close of Reconstruction. The sizeable archive of 76 books includes 35 manuscript ledger books of coded telegraphs sent and received by the War Department, including 7 full ledgers of ciphered telegrams—that is, coded messages sent from Washington, D.C. Taken together, the books contain more than 100 messages from Lincoln. Also among the materials is a number of cipher books, which reveal the complex coding system used to decipher messages—including code names for Lincoln: “Ida” and “India,” among others. The Confederate Army never cracked the Union Army’s code."
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07-23-2012, 08:41 AM
Post: #8
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
(07-23-2012 08:00 AM)Linda Anderson Wrote:  Betty, do you think there is a chance that the Huntington Library would have anything pertaining to Powell?

From ArchiveGrid:

"Papers of Thomas T. Eckert, 1862-1877, (1862-1867 )
Eckert, Thomas Thompson, 1825-1910
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
... Washington office Eckert was entrusted with important political intelligence and diplomatic missions In March ...
Archive of Eckert's professional papers that he accumulated from 1862 to 1877; the bulk of the collection covers his Civil War service. The collection includes: 14 ledgers of telegrams received by the War Department (1862, Feb. 2 00 1867, Aug. 1); 7 ledgers of ciphered telegrams sent from Washington (1862, Feb. 1 -- 1867, July 30); 1 ledger of ciphered communications of the Army of the Potomac (1862, Aug. 29- 1863, Apr. 28); 4 ledgers of telegraphic communications of the Union post at Fortress Monroe, Va. (1863, Aug. 29 - Apr. 6, 1865), and 2 ledgers of messages that the special investigating agent Charles A. Dana sent from Chattanooga and Knoxville (1863, Sept. 10- 1864, Aug. 2). Also included are 8 letterpress books of Thomas T. Eckert's own correspondence, supply orders for the Military Telegraph, a ledger of Jay Gould's American Union Telegraph, and cipher code books with different versions of the ciphers in use by various operators."

This is from the Huntington's press release dated January 25, 2012:

"The Civil War Telegraph Archive of Thomas T. Eckert
The papers of Thomas T. Eckert range from 1862, during the early months of conflict between the North and South, through 1877, at the close of Reconstruction. The sizeable archive of 76 books includes 35 manuscript ledger books of coded telegraphs sent and received by the War Department, including 7 full ledgers of ciphered telegrams—that is, coded messages sent from Washington, D.C. Taken together, the books contain more than 100 messages from Lincoln. Also among the materials is a number of cipher books, which reveal the complex coding system used to decipher messages—including code names for Lincoln: “Ida” and “India,” among others. The Confederate Army never cracked the Union Army’s code."

Hey, Linda!

That is what I'm hoping...HOWEVER, trying or attempting to try to get them to respond is virtually non-existent for some reason! I'm not the only one who has written repeatedly to NO effect....John Elliott had the same problem - I don't know what it is to get information - but it's worse than pulling teeth!

"The Past is a foreign country...they do things differently there" - L. P. Hartley
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07-23-2012, 08:58 AM
Post: #9
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
Maybe when the Huntington publishes the finding aid to the Eckert Papers, we can at least see if there is any reference to Powell.
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07-23-2012, 09:04 AM
Post: #10
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
Betty, I hope I still have an e-mail address for the very nice lady at Huntington who confirmed that Powell's knife was there. If I find it, I will e-mail you.
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07-23-2012, 10:33 AM
Post: #11
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
(07-23-2012 09:04 AM)Laurie Verge Wrote:  Betty, I hope I still have an e-mail address for the very nice lady at Huntington who confirmed that Powell's knife was there. If I find it, I will e-mail you.


Thanks a bunch, Laurie! I'd really appreciate that....Shy

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07-23-2012, 11:24 AM
Post: #12
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
Am I confused, but didn't the Surratt bonnet displayed in the small museum in Andersonville, Georgia, come via Eckert? Do they have other items that came through him?
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07-23-2012, 12:05 PM
Post: #13
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
(07-23-2012 11:24 AM)Laurie Verge Wrote:  Am I confused, but didn't the Surratt bonnet displayed in the small museum in Andersonville, Georgia, come via Eckert? Do they have other items that came through him?


Yes, that is what I was told by John, Laurie; that the bonnet was from Eckert. Mr. Eckert unfortunately suffered from Alzheimer's disease before he died and according to one report was "walling" up items inside his house! The family was also pretty dysfunctional; his sons refused to speak to him or to each other - so I don't really know what was going on. I've wondered since I heard these rumors just what ELSE is walled up in Mr. Eckert's home! It still stands.... if only those walls could talk!

"The Past is a foreign country...they do things differently there" - L. P. Hartley
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07-23-2012, 01:16 PM
Post: #14
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
(07-23-2012 08:58 AM)Linda Anderson Wrote:  Maybe when the Huntington publishes the finding aid to the Eckert Papers, we can at least see if there is any reference to Powell.

That's assuming they do publish the finding aid. So far in my dealings with them, they have had to mail me whatever finding aids I've wanted. I noticed they are putting some online, but Eckert's isn't on there.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell
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07-23-2012, 01:48 PM
Post: #15
RE: Lewis Powell's Personal Effects
Betty and I did get a response today from the e-mail I sent to the special collections curator at The Huntington Library. I had asked her help a year or so ago, and she was very prompt then and now.

They did purchase what appears to be Eckert's military files at auction about three years ago. No mention was made of anyone's personal effects, however. I'm betting those might have been sold in a separate lot.
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