Newspaper from Sep. 18, 1866

Wilkes Booth and his Dead Body

  • Full Title

    Wilkes Booth and his Dead Body [From the Cincinnati Union of Sunday]

  • Description

    News article with details of what happened to the body of John Wilkes Booth.

  • Transcription


    Wilkes Booth and his Dead Body. -
    [From the Cincinnati Union of Sunday}
    The Louisville Courier has the following:
    “Wilkes Booth, whose body Secretary Stanton took so much pains to dispose of, so that no man should ever know the spot where it was buried, is reported to be in Europe. The story is that the man who ‘Boston Corbett’ so heroically shot, and whose body Stanton refused to exhibit to any one that ever saw Booth, was a poor wretch hired by the assassins to personate Booth, in order to facilitate the escape of the latter. Whether there be or be not any truth in this story, it will never cease to be a suspicious circumstance connected with the fate of Wilkes Booth, that Stan-ton refused to deliver the body that was brought up from Virginia to his friends or even to let them look upon it.”
    Dating a couple of months from the time that Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, was shot and killed by Boston Corbett, in the attempt to capture him, sensation stories like the above have been of frequent occurrence. Of course there is not a shadow of truth in the tale of Booth being still alive. The body was fully recognized as being that of Booth, and although tales were told about it be-ing secretly taken out to sea and sunk, and others about it being buried at mid-night, in an obscure place, by two men employed by Government, and who were sworn to secrecy, yet facts, known to but few, and carefully kept from the newspa-per press, show that the body was given over to the relatives of Booth, and that it was buried in either New England or in Canada.
    The facts, as we had them at the time on authority not to be doubted, are as follows:
    A few days before the body of Booth so mysteriously disappeared, our informant, a resident of New York, and favorably known as a dramatic writer, was called upon after bank hours to cash the draft of an undertaker, a near neighbor, who stated that he had received an order from the Booth family, to repair to Washington with a coffin, and there to receive the body of John Wilkes Booth, which would be surrendered to him on their order, and to convey it North for burial. The under-taker said he would return, and pass through New York, en route with the body, on a Thursday evening, or on Friday morning of the same week.
    The morning after the undertaker left Washington, the report came by telegraph that the body had mysteriously disappear-ed—that it had been secretly buried—one report said in an old field, another in the Penitentiary yard, and still another that it had been taken to sea and sunk.
    The undertaker did not return to his family until some days had elapsed. He came from the North, but declined to give any information relative to the place where John Wilkes Booth, under another name, had been buried. Should it get out, he said, the grave would be violated and the body removed, and the family were naturally anxious that this should not be.
    These facts coming to us from the source they did, are more than sufficient to convince us, not only of the death of John Wilkes Booth, but that his body, with a pledge of secrecy freely given and fully kept, was given over to his family for burial, and that, except the relatives of Booth and the undertaker, no living being knows where the last remains of John Wilkes Booth are interred. No slab marks the last resting place of the assas-sin. The man who dug the grave knew not for whom it was intended, and in the burial permit was inserted a false name. In his unknown grave the assassin will lie until the grave gives up its sheeted dead, and all are called to judgement.

    [Transcription by Alicia B., Ford's Theatre Society.]

  • Source

    Springer Collection, Oakland University Special Collections

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  • Cite this Item

    Louisville Courier. "Wilkes Booth and his Dead Body [From the Cincinnati Union of Sunday]". Louisville Courier. Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed July 12, 2020. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/806