Log in

Booth mystery must remain so - for now

john wilkes booth John Wilkes Booth

The drama is clearly the longest running of any that John Wilkes Booth played during his acting career.

Was Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, killed by a soldier at a tobacco barn near Port Royal, Va., on April 26, 1865, as history books and government accounts record?

Or was someone else shot through the neck and declared to be Booth as a way of putting an end to the national tragedy? Did the president's killer actually escape?

Though those questions are settled in the minds of most scholars, they have intrigued and frustrated some historians and Booth family members, including some locally, who hoped to finally find answers.

But last month, they were disappointed when the Army thwarted an effort to compare the DNA from the man in the barn with that of Booth's more famous thespian brother, Edwin.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20130331_Booth_mystery_must_remain_so_-_for_now.html

Booth Matriarch - Mary Ann Holmes

In 1821 Mary Ann Holmes left England in the company of a young, rising English actor named Junius Brutus Booth. They sailed to the United States by way of the Island of Madeira. After their arrival in Virginia, Booth almost immediately went on stage and thus began a wildly successful career in the New World that would last for over thirty years. Mary Ann would give birth to ten children, many of whom were born on the Booth farm in Harford County, Maryland, where Tudor Hall would be built by Junius and Mary Ann in 1851-52. The fact that Junius left behind in England his first wife, Marie Christine Adelaide Delannoy Booth, and a son named Richard Junius Booth, would cloud Junius and Mary Ann's relationship for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, Junius and Mary Ann shared a great and romantic love that lasted until Junius's death in 1852 and beyond.

Mary Ann Holmes Booth

Happy Birthday Asia!

Happy Birthday to Asia Frigga (Booth) Clarke. She was born 175 years ago on November 20, 1835. This youngest daughter of the Junius and Mary Ann Booth married comic actor John Sleeper Clarke, raised a large family, and wrote several books about her father and her brothers Edwin and John Wilkes. Booth historians owe much of what they know about the Booth family to Asia.

Asia Frigga (Booth) Clarke (November 19, 1835 in Bel Air, Maryland -May 16, 1888 in Bournemouth, England), was the youngest daughter in the family of ten children born to Junius Brutus Booth and his wife Mary Ann Holmes. Her famous brothers were Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth.

On April 28, 1859, she married John Sleeper Clarke at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. The couple had eight children, two of whom, Creston and Wilfred, became actors. Because of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 by John Wilkes and the effect this had upon the family, she and her husband emigrated to England, where they remained.

Asia became the poet and writer in the family, and it is through her work that we are able to gain some insight into the lives of the Booths, particularly John Wilkes. The Unlocked Book, John Wilkes Booth, a Sister's Memoir was written in 1874, but she kept its existence secret, fearing it would upset her husband, who had been imprisoned because of his association with the assassin, and being called to testify at the trials of the co-conspirators. It was not published until 1938 by C.P. Putnam's Sons, when her heirs felt the public would be receptive. Her memoirs were edited and republished in 1996 as "John Wilkes Booth: A Sister's Memoir."

She is buried in the Booth family plot at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.

The Booth Brothers in 1864 - Part 2

J. Wilkes Booth in Montreal: “Some of us devils may have to settle there soon.”

While Edwin was thinking about voting for Lincoln, his brother, John, was due north of him with far different thoughts in mind, at least according to the unnamed “Correspondent (of) Hamilton Canada Times.” The article was printed in the CHICAGO TIME of May 10, 1865:

“On an evening during last fall, [1864} I was introduced to J. Wilkes Booth at the St. Lawrence Hall, in Montreal, and indulged in a friendly contest at billiards with him. My opponent seemed to have been indulging freely in stimulants, not appearing to be intoxicated at all. In the course of the recreation, a peculiar ‘run’ drew from him a remark touching on my partiality for the ‘pockets,’ and thereupon a sudden thought seem to flash upon his mind, and raising his cue, he continued in a manner somewhat excited, ‘Do you know I have got the sharpest play laid out ever done in America? I can bag the biggest game this side of ----; just remember my address. You’ll hear of a double carom one of these days.’

“I paid little regard to his remarks at the time. {but} in the course of the evening some allusion occurred to the presidential canvas then progressing in the United States Booth seemed to be inspired with great feeling on the subject, and among other observations, said ‘it make makes damned little difference, head or tail – Abe’s contract was nearly up, and whether reelected or not, he would get his goose cooked.’ At one time my opponent . . . clapped me upon the shoulder, with the remark: ‘By ---, I like your Canadian style; I must post myself in Canuck airs; for some of us devils may have to settle there shortly.’”

john wilkes booth

Link: http://www.lincoln-assassination.com/bboard/index.php?topic=2203.0

The Booth Brothers in 1864

Part One, “An American Citizen All Over.”

It has long been said that Edwin Booth voted for Lincoln in the election of 1864, but the exact details were seemingly lost. In an excellent little book called Banners and Bugles; A Record of Ulster County, New York, and the Mid-Hudson Region in the Civil War, author Elizabeth H. Plank presents this story:

Edwin was friendly with several prominent citizens of Rondout, NY, a small town about 75 miles north of New York City. Among these people were landscape artist Jervis McEntee and John P. Hageman, the editor of the Rondout Courier. They had a hand in enabling Edwin to cast his ballot for President Lincoln.

Ms. Plant says that between the death of Edwin’s first wife and his remarriage, he “spent much time in Rondout.” She mentioned an undated account in Editor Hageman’s Courier which stated that in the fall of 1864, Edwin told his friend McEntee that he wished he could vote for Lincoln, but had no idea to go about doing so. In spite of the fact that there were only a few days until Election Day, McEntee “got credentials to register Booth, who that day voted for Lincoln.”

Plank cites a letter written by Edwin to his “Rondout friends,” dated November 11, 1864, in which he said, “I voted for Lincoln the other day, the first vote I ever case; and now I suppose I am an American citizen all over, as I have ever been at heart.”

This incident was mentioned as part of the Courier’s coverage of the assassination. Apparently Editor Hageman and McEntee felt it was important to reveal the story in order to help clear Edwin’s name. Ms. Plank says the newspaper article “does not state where the historical ballot was cast but it may have been in Rondout, and it may have been McEntee’s residence that was given as Booth’s also.” A search was made to find verification, but Plank says, “Official records are no longer in existence.”

Plank sums up Edwin’s political beliefs by saying: On March 10, 1865, apropos of news from the front, Booth wrote, “Yes, our news is indeed glorious. I am happy in it and glory in it though a Southerner born. God grant the end or rather the beginning is at hand! For when the war ceases we shall only have begun to live, a nation never to be shaken again, ten times more glorious, million times fairer, than ever before!”

(Source: “Edwin Booth Voted for Lincoln.” by Elizabeth H. Plank, in Will Plank Banners and Bugles; A Record of Ulster County, New York, and the Mid-Hudson Region in the Civil War. Marlborough, NY: Centennial Press. 1963. Pp 110.)

Edwin Booth, 1864

Link: http://www.lincoln-assassination.com/bboard/index.php?topic=2203.0

The Tragedian, the Rebel, and the Prince

This program focuses on the Booth family to evaluate their tremendous impact on American theater and, in a broader sense, to create an image of Victorian American culture. Brooks McNamara, expert on 19th-century theater at New York University, and theater historian and author Mary Henderson delve into the careers of the acclaimed tragic actor Junius Brutus Booth, Sr.; the notorious assassin John Wilkes Booth; and Edwin Booth, America’s first great Hamlet and the most important American actor of the 19th century. (30 minutes)

Link: http://digital.films.com/play/4XFBMG

edwin booth

Playlist Notes:
Transformations in Society and the Arts (03:25)
By the 1900s, the Industrial Revolution, rapid urban growth, and the Civil War had forced American society to redefine itself politically, morally, and socially. One family, the Booths, and their acting careers mirror this period.

Edwin Booth: "Prince of Players" (02:54)
In 1918, the Players' Club paid homage to its founder, Edwin Booth, the most extraordinary nineteenth century American actor. Edwin, his performances of Hamlet, and his citizenship gave legitimacy to both acting and the American theater.

Edwin Booth's Acting Style (05:26)
Edwin first modeled the melodramatic style of his father and Edwin Forrest. He soon developed his own inward style, capitalizing on his musical voice and slight frame, thus becoming one of the first actors to personalize his roles and become the character.

John Wilkes Booth (05:03)
John Wilkes Booth and his sister, Asa, idolized each other. As he grew older, Wilkes became more prone to emotional outbursts and involved in politics. The Confederate defeat in the Civil War drove him to assassinate President Lincoln.

Junius Brutus Booth, Sr. (04:33)
Patriarch to a large family, rival to Edmund Kean, and America's first great tragic actor, Junius Brutus Booth, Sr., suffered from erratic behavior and alcoholism. Edwin traveled with him, thus learning the craft from his father and fellow actors.

Edwin Booth's Personal Tragedies and Theater Legacy (05:46)
Edwin's wife, Mary Devlin, was a stabilizing force in his life affected by deep melancholy. The remainder of his life was filled with tragedy--his wife's death, bankruptcy, and his second wife's death--and success, including the Players' Club.
Theatrical advertising poster for "W. Booth," comparing himself to the "renowned tragedian Edwin Booth." While conceding that he "makes no pretenses to being as great as Edwin Booth," Mr. W. Booth points out his "natural facsimile to Mr. Edwin Booth," and that his physical similarity to Edwin Booth "excites public curiosity to witness his performances."

This poster is likely from before John Wilkes Booth's 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Although Edwin Booth remained a greatly respected actor and patriot despite his brother's horrible act, the poster's statement that "the name of Booth for two generations has been celebrated" appears somewhat indelicate in light of Lincoln's murder at the hands of John Wilkes Booth.

W.Booth_Edwin Booth Theatrical Advertising Poster, Mid-19th Century2

W.Booth-Edwin Booth Theatrical Advertising Poster, Mid-19th Century


Edwin Booth Society

Latest Month

April 2013


RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow