Grave Of Lincoln’s Assassin Disclosed At Last

In September of 1910, the Magazine ran an interesting article about the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination, telling surprisingly tragic stories of those who were in the booth with Abe and his wife. When I posted the article here, a reader named Deej left this note in the comments:

The Magazine article says at the end that Booth’s body was thrown overboard at night, location unknown. That’s not true. He was taken back to DC where a careful identification and autopsy were performed, several of his vertebrae were removed, and can be seen to this day in Washington. In 1869, after IDing the remains again, the govt released his body to the Booth family, and he was buried in the family plot in Baltimore.

I wrote back to that reader telling him to stay tuned because an upcoming article would address that. This is that article.

For fifty years after the assassination, Booth’s fate was kept a secret. In this article, the truth is finally revealed to the public.

Although there are 90,000,000 of people in the United States, not 500 could tell you what became of the body of the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. Some will tell you that the body of John Wilkes Booth was burned to ashes in the Virginia barn in which he was captured. Others will express the opinion that the remains of the misguided actor were cut to pieces and mysteriously dropped into the sea. Then, to add interest to the mystery, some one will claim to have positive information that Wilkes Booth is still alive, and is living under an assumed name in one of the Southern States. One strange story is to the effect that Booth assumed the name of J. W. Bickford of Pittsburg, and that he confided to his roommate in Lexington, Ky., during the months of January and February, 1869, that he was the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

The body of John Wilkes Booth was not burned to ashes in the Virginia barn nor consigned to a watery grave in the Atlantic Ocean, but it was buried with great secrecy in the presence of at least a dozen witnesses, of whom two are still alive, in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore, Md.

The body rests within the same inclosure that contains the graves of his illustrious father and patient mother, as well as other members of the Booth family.

It was but natural that the burial could not take place with the great American public looking on at midday with tear-stained eyes. The body was not consigned to its final resting place until nearly four years after the greatest and saddest tragedy in the history of the Nation.

The article goes on to describe how the body was buried in secret, and how the cemetery helped with the deception.

GRAVE OF LINCOLN’S ASSASSIN DISCLOSED AT LAST: After Nearly Fifty Years, the Spot Where J. Wilkes Booth’s Body Is Buried Is Located — Living Witnesses to Midnight Interment Tell the Story. (PDF)

From February 26, 1911

2 responses to “Grave Of Lincoln’s Assassin Disclosed At Last”

  1. Thanks, Dave.

    When I read that first article, I hadn’t realized that the location of JWB’s grave had been kept secret from the public for a half century. I guess having the benefit of looking back on these events and reportage from here in the early 21st century affords certain advantages LOL.

    The thing that strikes me while reading these papers is the fact that so many conspiracy theories rose up around JWB right from the start (But then again, I guess given some of the major events we’ve witnessed since then, and the inevitable theories, I shouldn’t be surprised). And I suppose the fact that his eventual fate was kept secret by the govt for so many years just added fuel to the theories.

    Even today, there’s still controversy over who really died in Garrett’s barn. The Booth decedents are currently fighting for exhumation for DNA testing.

    But like most conspiracy theories, this one seems to wilt under the preponderance of contemporary evidence. There were credible witnesses all along the way, including medical personnel–the doctor who did surgery on Booth recognized the scar on the body. People who worked with Booth & knew him well viewed the body at several different times and confirmed the identity. Details of the autopsy and subsequent IDing of the body seem more than enough eveidence that Booth was killed in that barn and Booth is buried in the family plot in Baltimore.

    Fascinating site you have here. Reading these articles shows how much has changed in just 100 years, and yet in some ways, not so much.


  2. The front of the obelisk in the middle of the family plot in Baltimore’s Greenmount Cemetery is labeled “BOOTH” in raised letters. Visitors often leave pennies — with Lincoln’s face showing — propped up inside the two “O’s”.


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