The Macabre Saga of Ogarita Booth Henderson

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By J.T. Colfax

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Stone Opera House Stage Door: Where Ogarita Booth Henderson and her husband, Al, worked with the Floy Crowell troupe.

Editor’s Note: What follows is what will hopefully become a series of articles from Mr. J.T. Colfax, resident of Binghamton, New York.  In late 2006,  J.T. found an entrance to a tunnel in his backyard.  Since then, he has followed the path of the tunnel, from the top of Mt. Prospect, to the bowels of downtown Binghamton. The incredible stories tell about a place little-seen by Binghamton residents, but which includes a history of prohibition-era rum-running, mysterious deaths, and … as you will see in this article … the transplantation of an entire cemetery.  Think of this as an early Halloween treat. Enjoy.

Bubbling forth now is the story of two cemeteries. One, the Binghamton City Cemetery, obliterated by commerce over 100 years ago; the other, Glenwood Cemetery, with a history of neglect stretching equally as long. They were five miles apart, but in 1907, their stories joined together when 1,330 bodies were evicted from the City Cemetery and carted by a team of drays through the freezing winter streets of Binghamton to rest at Glenwood Cemetery.

Mixed within this grisly drama, we give a heavy spotlight to the story of Ogarita Booth Henderson, a resident of Glenwood Cemetery since 1892. Her story will be accorded and afforded the star power to out-shadow the stories of hallowed, forgotten, and neglected lands.

The cemetery stories will follow in more precision and in keeping with this site’s emphasis on LAND. She is an inmate in a beautiful hilltop cemetery on a low-key mountain named Prospect.

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The Rita Booth material that follows will be short on words for this reason. There just isn’t enough good information available. Her story will be interpreted here in the merest of nutshells. You will be soon bombarded with photographic depictions of articles related to her death in Binghamton, and you will see that none of them allow you to fully settle in to an understanding of her claim to be the daughter of Lincoln’s “assassinator.”

For now, go into the digital world of factoid presentation. What follows, in a series of photographs of articles, probably constitutes the best collection online of items relating to her story — and that is a shame, for it is not through hyperbole that I make the claim “best collection”; rather, it is through endless hours of searching online, and on microfilm in the Binghamton Library that makes me aware that this collection is both MEAGER and the “best.” I fully hope that someone makes me eat the claim.

Descendants of Ogarita Booth Henderson can be found to this day online seeking more information to prove their point. One can find endless references to people possessing THIS or THAT, which proves some point, but although they have the ability to troll ancestry sites, they seem averse to using the internet to SHOW any documentation.

And, with that rap on the knuckles out of the way, let’s proceed to rove through her story in this photo-voluminous manner, in which you will interpret the story your own way. I point out one more time, though, that Rita Booth rests in Glenwood Cemetery, which received 1,330 bodies in a disruption from the “old” cemetery in 1907. The story of that follows her story, and it is, as Twain would say, “no slouch.”

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Because Ogarita Booth Henderson’s story gurgles online in such a way as to truly be a waste of time at this point (Oct. ’09), here is a lump sum nutshell of the story of Rita Booth.

Ogarita Booth Henderson claimed to be the product of a secret marriage between her mother and John Wilkes Booth. Below you will see death notices that include that claim, and also an article from 1885 which does not elaborate on its reason for existing, but includes a mention of her as John Wilkes Booth’s daughter.

Before the presentation of these materials it is expediant to provide a link to a wiki about the situation.

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Click to Learn More

The above was not done out of sloth…but it provides the basic gist of her story and leaves us unencumbered to present the following unfiltered material, some of which probably contributed to that story.

Here is a small vault of information from its proper time:

A 1924 Binghamton Press article about Glenwood Cemetery’s history sums up her story like this:

“Mrs. Ogarita Henderson, daughter of John Wilkes Booth, assassinator of Abraham Lincoln was a pretty young actress when she visited Binghamton 35 years ago, while playing her first real character role with a show troupe. She suffered an attack of acute indigestion while here and died suddenly in the Crandall Hotel. She was hurriedly buried in Glenwood Cemetery and her show troupe moved on to the next stand. Her grave, marked only by a small pine tree has been almost forgotten.”

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IN this way we can see that the three foot tombstone currently on her grave was not there for at least the first 32 years of her residency in Glenwood Cemetery. As for the remark that the acting troupe immediately moved on, I have found a notice in the April 6th, 1892  Binghamton Herald Republican that the troop actually extended their planned stay by one day, and at the discounted price of 10 cents per ticket. This extension appears in adverts and in a column mention.

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Here is how the Binghamton Herald Republican presented the announcement of her April 12th 1892 death in their April 13th 1892 edition:

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And here is how the New York Times presented it in their April 15th 1892 edition:

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As for Ogarita Booth being shown to claim relation to John Wilkes Booth before her death, there is this, which is from seven years before her death in Binghamton. This is from the New York Times in 1885, and though the meaning of the thrust behind the article is not explained, this article does show that she was able to present herself without apparent question as the daughter of John Wilkes Booth to at least one New York Times reporter.

She was 26 years old at this time:

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Below you will see an advertisement for the Floy Crowell troupe from April 5th 1892. Although Rita and her husband Al Henderson are not mentioned, they were among the 19 players in the production of revolving plays that promised, “NO DULL MOMENTS.”

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And in every issue of the Binghamton Herald Republican during this period when the Floy Crowell troupe was in town, often only inches away from the show’s advert about their Opera House appearances, and including the issue that announced her death…there was also this advertisement for the cemetery that soon received her corpse. I have spent a lot of time on looking at Binghamton microfilm papers and I am not familiar with any other period in which the Glenwood Cemetery advertised so blatantly, expensively, or at all. The photo below is of an advert that was running daily during this period. This is shown at the end of the Rita Booth portion of this essay, but, those who intend to continue on to the coming information about the digging up of 1,330 bodies and their trek through town, should take note of the name HULBERT at the bottom of the advert. That is Hulbert SENIOR,..and we will meet his son at an elderly age when we take the bright lights off Miss Booth, and return to discussing both the missing and existing cemetery.

(Note: In the space of 24 hours hours we have received two new articles about Rita Booth.  Those and any subsquent materials will be added under the cemetery story below):

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An article in the Binghamton Herald Republican (which is too obscured for photos) during the week of Rita’s troupe arrival in Binghamton details the Binghamton City Alderman attempting to pass legislation to abandon the City Cemetery and turn it into residential lots.

The City Cemetery was not only in disrepair, but was also in the way of progess. There were other graveyards, and all were cheaper than City Cemetery. But only Glenwood was taking out expensive advertisements at the time.

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Eldredge street, where the "Old City Cemetery" was located.

The last sentence in Superintendant HULBERT’s advertisement for Glenwood Cemetery (above) is conspicous: “All orders for removing bodies will be promptly and carefully performed.” This is not in keeping with the usual mention of what undertaker took charge of a fresh body. Although it is in the realm of conjecture, this sentence is probably inserted into the advertisement to encourage those with means to transfer loved ones from that decaying cemetery with a threatened future to Glenwood Cemetery. Two of the most famous and prosperous families in town had already done so in previous decades (Whitney and Dickinson). Items up for discussion in town council meetings were often publicized well in advance…sometimes by bulletin board…and so it is assured by the large article (not shown), that it was well known the Binghamton City Cemetery was in a period of crisis; was probably not even accepting more burials; was under threat of condemnation; and was a long known place of disrepair. This was just plain “in the news” as Ogarita Booth Henderson, her husband Al, and the rest of the Floy Crowell troupe were in town.

Rita’s husband, Al Henderson, must be assumed to be the one to make the funeral decisions. All the early notices bear his name — and so do the articles about them signing together for various gigs. He would have probably seen the notices of the show, in the 4 days it was supposed to be in town, and also the suddenly added 5th day with a matinee and evening show. Some of these would have been interesting to him as a person involved in the show and how it was advertised. The advertisement for Glenwood Cemetery was always only a few inches away from any mention of the Floy Crowell show. If he and a non-ill Rita looked at the adverts as they arrived in town, they would have had within their vision adverts for Glenwood Cemetery, never knowing they would soon need the services of such. And if they followed the papers, they would also have seen the roots of the eventual abandonment of the City Cemetery, argued not for the first, nor the last time in print, but squarely in their time in Binghamton.

Lengthy articles can be found in Binghamton papers for a seventeen-year period showing much angst and controversy over the attempts to close the Old City Cemetery. Finally, on July 16th 1906, the council got their measure passed, and relatives or friends were told to have descendant bodies removed by December 1st. The city allowed the less-than-generous sum of ten dollars in expenses to families wishing to do this privately. Remaining bodies or bones would be removed to Glenwood Cemetery.

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The enclosed photograph of an article about City Engineer Giles, and his task of staking out residential lots at the site is from January 1st 1907 (Binghamton Press).

Eight days later, F. B Hulbert, the supervisor of Glenwood Cemetery, and the son of the previous supervisor began the morbid task of moving 1,330 bodies across five densely populated miles — right through the business district.

Hulbert’s hired laborers had to cut through four feet of penetrating frost before the digging got easier. The remains were placed in pine boxes, and then stacked “with geometric precision” on carts drawn by a team of drays.

A January 29th, 1950 Press article depicts an elderly Mr. Hulbert standing over a collapsed tombstone recounting the story. The contract Mr. Hulbert signed with the City Of Binghamton stated that he was to be paid $8.50 per body. He was to remove the remains from the Old City Cemetery; place them in a three foot pine box; transport them to Glenwood; rebury them; and place a new marker if an old one didn’t exist.

Mr. Hulbert found that the Old City Cemetery had been “poorly administrated” [sic], and would end up seeing his work described the same way for decades. Records, “were missing and confused. Bodies were buried so indiscriminately that it became necessary to excavate almost the entire cemetery,” the Press reported. Later, when contractors began to build on the site, more bodies were found.

“Because of the inept method by which records were kept, hundreds of bodies were never identified,” the 1950 Press recounting says, “Graves were opened and bodies were found missing. Tombstones were found over empty graves.”

A city inspector named George A. Lincoln was assigned to oversee the exodus to Glenwood Cemetery. He kept a diary of the goings-on. His March 6th entry is peculiar:
“Partial body of adult. Remains were wrapped in a carpet and only about 18 inches below the surface. Reported to coroner and by him ordered to be interred as usual.” Mr. Hulbert recalled the incident 43 years later, remembering that a monkey wrench and a hatchet were found with the cut up body. Still, the coroner wanted this graveyard secret put back under the ground, albeit 5 miles away.

Eight days later, Mr. Lincoln wrote: “Body of adult–not identified (A clay pipe and rusty razor had been buried with this body.)”

Mr. Hulbert tells the story of finding 66 bodies in a common pit. These were determined to have been pulled from the Potter’s Field portion of the Old Cemetery years earlier to make way for Liberty Street to be built. For nearly two decades the City had been publicly debating the abandonment of the Cemetery, and yet, they had been quietly doing it all along.

Mr Hulbert told the Press that the City refused to pay the agreed upon $8.50 per corpse for these cases. He was finally instructed to place these remains three to a box, at the $8.50 rate. For the completed job, Mr. Hulbert was paid about $12,000 dollars.

Mr. Hulbert received many complaints for the state of Glenwood Cemetery. As part of his contract for the City Cemetery removals he was required to “set out in the corners of the lots trees and shrubs of value not less than $100.” Mr. Hulbert says this was done, but some of these plants were killed in a dry summer, and others were strangled by weeds.

“We’ve taken it standing up for many years,” Mr. Hulbert said of the complaints, “we don’t want to shirk any responsibility, but since the bodies were reburied the City of Binghamton never has paid a penny for their upkeep. For the price we received we hardly could be expected to maintain the plot.”

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Mr. Hulbert, and many of his family members, including his father, who is probably the man who placed Ogarita Booth Henderson in her grave, are all buried on a steep ravine in Glenwood Cemetery. Their plots are a stones throw from her grave. Random pieces of tombstones can be seen dotting the ravine, some of them working their way into a brook, washing away into a storm drain.

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(NOTE: Above are two articles sent in generously by Author Ron Franscell, “The Dark Night.” Click on the thumbnail to view the larger version).

The stage where Rita did her last performances.

The stage where Rita did her last performances.

Editors Note: Over time, newly found items about Ogarita Booth Henderson will be whispered in the comments below, where several updates already exist.

35 comments on “The Macabre Saga of Ogarita Booth Henderson

  1. Katrina on said:

    I am a coworker of the author of the above article, and his computer is deader than Ogarita all the sudden. He asked me to add these later-found facts as a missing reel from another Binghamton paper has turned up at the library.

    1) The Binghamton LEADER reports on OHB’s death in much the same fashion as articles above but on April 15, 1892 it reports that it was not known who she was when buried. It reports that her husband Al Henderson was not working with the Floy Troupe and that he rushed to Binghamton from NYC, arriving just in time to be at the death bed.

    2) The Leader reports that Al Henderson and the couple’s young daughter were the only two people to follow the hearse to Glenwood Cemetary. She went on in 1937 to write “This One Mad Act” as seen in the Wiki link.

    3) The Leader says that “Rita” did complete all the performances scheduled at the Opera House, playing a variety of small parts.

    4) A who’s who from the 1910′s credits Al Henderson with bringing the Mikado to American stages for the first time.

  2. jtcolfax on said:

    My thanks to Katrina for posting the above while my computer was down. For expediency I will continue with newly found items here…whispering add on’s in the comment box. Here are some happenings:

    I asked the New York Post’s longtime gossip columnist Cindy Adams to throw some limelight on Ogarita for her 150th birthday, and it was very amusing to find out that she did “do” her in her October 28th 2009 column. I can’t help but feel that a showbiz gossip column is exactly where Rita would have liked to be.

    In more serious Rita news, here are some Old items I have found:

    ST. Paul Daily Globe/Monday June 16th 1890
    Wilkes Booth’s Daughter

    “At the Globe theatre with the Boston Comic Opera Company is an actress whose name and family connection impart a great degree of interest in the general public. Her maiden name was Rita Booth but she is now the wife of Mr. Henderson, the director of the company.
    Mrs. Booth Henderson says she is the daughter of John Wilkes Booth. She remembers her father distinctly, although but 8 years old at the time of his death. She was asked concerning the truth or falsity of the recently published statement of some woman living in the South to the effect that her father was not dead, but that another man had been shot on that eventful morning more than 25 years ago. She emphatically affirmed that her father was dead, that he was shot at the time, and that SHE SAW HIS BODY A NUMBER OF TIMES before the burial. (emphasis added). She says she has a diary containing much important memoranda of her father’s life, and papers of his, and sometime she will make them public.”

    And now: here is a bad review, which seems rare for her:

    ST. Paul Daily Globe/ Friday Feb. 15th 1889:

    (when acting in a play called the Leader at Hennipin Avenue Theatre ):
    “Miss Rita Booth as “Camille” was badly handicapped but managed to live through the performance.”

    NOTE: One would be wise to note the difference in the story concerning the idea that Rita’s Mother saw John Wilkes Booth’s body, and now, in this June 1890 Globe article it is Rita who saw it as well, and “numerous times.”

  3. jtcolfax on said:

    Incidental NOTE: If you look at the 7th original photo shown, the one which is introduced with this:
    “Below you will see an advertisement for the Floy Crowell troupe from April 5th 1892″, you will see the word “GREAT” in the bottom right hand corner. Just above that, you will see blurry print that speaks of the tickets for the Opera House being on sale at QUIRKS drug store. I thought it should be mentioned that Mr. Quirk lived until at least 1917, and that he had, so he said, in various old papers, participated in the Battle of The Light Brigade, and was personally nursed by none other that FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE in the CRIMEAN WAR.

  4. jtcolfax on said:

    (Keep in mind that the Binghamton papers are unindexed in the library: hence the disconnection in finding new (old) materials.)

    A lengthy article in the Binghamton Press from 10-29-1972 yields the following info:

    1) states that Rita collapsed ON the stage at the Stone Opera House on opening night.

    2) the tombstone on her grave was placed in October or November 1972 by Rita’s grand daughter, Rita Shepard of Ft. Lauderdale FL. The monument was built by the Bares Monument Company. (My search of an old directory shows the Emmerich J. Bares was an attendant at the Binghamton State Hospital in the 1940′s, and opened his monument company by the 1960′s.)

    3) The Crandall House was located at 127 Court Street, which is around the corner from the Opera House, and it specialized in housing theatrical troupes. (they would have been able to walk down the alley from hotel to opera house).

    4)Rita’s daughter, who was the only other attendee at her funeral besides Mr. Henderson, was named Beatrice, and she is the mother of Mrs. Shepard who ordered the grave stone.

  5. jack ronayne on said:

    It is true that John Wilkes Booth was not shot and killed in Garrett’s Barn in Caroline County, Virginia. The man killed in the barn was an unknown Confederate soldier, shot and killed by Sergeant Boston Corbett under direct instructions from the NDP under Colonel Baker and Officer Conger (later promoted to Lt. Colonel for delivering the soldier’s out of date diary (1864) to Baker in Washington).
    John Booth disappeared when he knew about President Lincoln being shot in the theatre. Booth was at the Ford theatre the same night but had reneged in his plan to kidnap Lincoln. He was effectively framed by the NDP who had been informed of the kidnap plan by Captain Gleason from Louis Weichmann (a government clerk and friend of John Surratt).
    The assination plot involved right wing elements of the government and the army. The backers were the banker’s that also included elements of industry and the press.
    Booth lived on but I have no confirmation of when he died. It is said he died in 1903 having escaped abroad but their are many differing accounts. Ogarita could not have seen her father’s body with his head decapitated. However in the post mortem of the Unknown soldier by the Surgeon General Willam Barnes, he performed an autopsy in the neck. This is said to have ‘turned into a decapitation’ when it was buried by Colonel Baker in the old prison Arsenal on the Potomac in 1865, (now Fort MacNair). In 1896 it was dug up and buried in Greenmont Cemetery, Baltimore and supposedly witnessed by John’s brother, Edwin Booth and family.
    I do believe however that Ogarita may well have been the daughter of John Booth and born in 1859, from later evidence and the writings of Izola Forrester, a brilliant author.

  6. jack ronayne on said:

    For the complete re-construction of Licoln’s assassination and the escape of the ‘supposed assassins’ read ‘Our American Hero’ by JK Ronayne.

  7. Ostrem on said:

    Thanks for the article, an interesting compilation of information about Ogarita Booth-Henderson. In case Mr Colfax or others are interested in more info, go to http://www.iffp.com/
    In the Scanned Document Archive there is a lot of material regarding Ogarita and her family. It probably contains a lot of “treasures”.

    Regards from an Ogarita descendant.

  8. jtcolfax on said:

    Thank you very much for the link, Ostrem. I had an older computer when I wrote the article and I could not get anything from the site you mention to open at that time. I see it now, and very much enjoyed the materials.

  9. Ostrem on said:

    I am the contact person at iffp.com (see bottom line of front page); send me an email if you’d like to discuss Ogarita further. Unfortunately, the documents on the site are not well organized, and no one – as far as I know – has gone through all the material that’s there, we just scanned it and didn’t have time to read it all; you might discover something new.

  10. jack ronayne on said:

    Errata: In Line 12 it should read Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes not William Barnes.

  11. jack ronayne on said:

    There is an interesting account by Charles B. Huppert titled ‘How Our Best Known Assassin Became A Hoosier’ on the Webb. Inside, it relates a story from an interview with John C. Shaffer supposed Editor of the ‘Terre Haute Star’ with Izola Martha Mills at ‘her home in Indianapolis’ but never published.

    This is the story of how Izola (mother of Ogarita) had received a letter (circa 1st June 1865)from John Booth, about 6 weeks after Abe’s assassination. He asked her to meet him in Central Park (NYC) and she did; and both then went to Montreal. They spent only two weeks together there, awaiting his mail to arrive. ‘During this time he executed a Power of Attorney which gave powers to proceed with litigation in regard to some oil property he owned in western Pennsylvania.’ After this they parted and she never saw him again.

    I would have to take this story with a pinch of salt even though I know for certain that John Booth (publically known as John Wilkes Booth) was not killed in Virginia. However Izola’s story is quite possible for the following reasons and circumstances:

    a) I believe John’s mother lived in New York city with her older son Edwin who was also very rich and famous as an actor. They never arrested Edwin but did keep a close eye on him (should John return). This NYC home I get from John Surratt when he mentions (in his lectures)that he visited Booth’s home in New York, on the 4th or 5th April 1865. The servant said that ‘he’ John, (or did he mean Edwin? or both?) had left for a theatre engagement in Boston. However it is likely that it was Edwin because he was to perform in Boston at this time. There is also a letter from the theatre manager Henry C. Jarrett at Parker House (dated Sat. 15th April; 7 am) to Edwin saying he was closing the Boston theatre till further notice, temporarily stopping his engagements with Edwin.

    b)There is a parallel with John Surratt who had escaped to Montreal(staying at the St. Lawrence Hotel) and disguising himself as a fashionable gentleman ‘with an Oxford cut jacket and a round top hat, peculiar to Canada at that time.’ A week later he left Montreal in a hack and disguised himself as a huntsman, crossing the St. Lawrence to stay in a village 9 miles south of Montreal.

    The parallel I draw is that John Booth was the consumate actor (and also a blockade runner), with the cheek of the devil and could easily have disguised himself by shaving his famous moustache off and cutting his long hair. He had many rich and powerful friends (including Andy Johnson) and a large maternal family and could have gotten around easily just like Surratt did. In fact I suspect Lucy Hale (Senator John P. Hale’s daughter: the man who’s statue in Washington states he was a powerful Abolitionist and also stopped the flogging of navy men but also their rum ration) may have helped him; because it was reported (but unconfirmed) that John met Lucy at the front of the Ford theatre at the intermission, before Abe was shot.

    And c) John had every reason to sort out his liquid assetts, stocks, land and property before disappearing altogether. He left a will for his mother (including his Boston land, later transferred to Joseph)and brothers (including stock in an oil well for Junius) and his sister Rosalie; except Asia was not included. She ‘wrote’ that it was a good thing because ‘the government would use it as a whip’ against her. I also find this surprising because John was very close to Asia.

    So although this supposed story from Izola is possibly true there is no strong supporting evidence for it, except there is indeed very weak circumstantial evidence. I also find it difficult to appreciate that John was carrying on with two relationships at near enough the same time, but of course, he needed all the friends he could trust especially those he was passinately involved with. And indeed John above all else was a passionate man.

  12. jack ronayne on said:

    Errata: Last line- passinately should read passionately.

  13. S. Jones on said:

    Mr. Roynayne,
    I found what might be dubbed “historic joy” in reading the piece; and appreciated the photos of the old articles to back it up. I thought it was sort of made clear that no sides would be taken (perhaps it was subtle) but though I think you are serious and mean well, you are polluting the pool. Your long comments seem to have no substantial back-up, whereas it seems like in the article an effort was made to show proof.

  14. jack ronayne on said:

    Thursday 14th Jan. 2010.

    S.Jones.

    I am not sure if your statement of ” historic joy” includes my article or not (smile).

    However you are correct, my statements are presented as one would in any discussion. You would have to read the book ‘Our American Hero’ to find all the proofs you need , if you had a mind to.

    The book provides un-deniable photographic evidence in the final chapter supporting all of the general and specific proofs relating to John Booth and the other kidnap cospirators; that confirms all of 22 chapters, including 70 illustrations including a full appendix from the witness statements in the trial of the conspirators; of which needs to be fully assessed along with the the whole and it’s not desired or required, at this juncture.

    Having said this I realise the dilemma you might have by intimating ‘pool pollution’. Non the less I think you might allow that it could be justified under the general category of Ogarita Booth. If only to highlight other sources of information about her ‘father’.

    However I trust my ‘pollution’ will not outlaw me from this excellent site, for I have already found some rich gems in this pool.

    I am happy that my input gives further insight into the question of whether Ogarita really was the daughter of John W.Booth the actor. Up till now I just had second hand accounts on this particular subject that tended to favour Ogarita’s claim.

    But the statement from the newspaper article (NY Times. Dec 6th 1885) saying she had seen her father’s body with his head decapitated leads me now to throw much doubt on this story. This is from my own certain knowledge of what did not happen to John Booth, deduced from the proofs in my book.

    Of course this statement in itself is not a proof (to others)- just another step in the direction in the search for and revelation of a continuing series of objective proofs.

    This does not mean to say I question Ogarita herself – just the accuracy of the press article. We all know how the press can build up a story around any statement depending on their requirements for readership. And in this case there may also be a strong political reason.

    However, I must admit that it is pretty hard to get away from her implied claim that she had seen a deceased body at the morgue whom she believed was her real father and his name was John W. Booth, the famous actor.

    Ogarita would have been 5 years and 6 months at the time of John’s political death in Virginia on April 26th 1865.

    And come on- the most handsome man in America with gold teeth at 27 and in the flower of his youth ?

    And in any case ‘Booth’s’ body was kept under close guard on the Montauk on the Potomac in Washington by the authorites, before being buried in total secrecy in the Old Arsenal nearby.

    And ‘he’ was not dug up from Fort McNair (the Old Arsenal) till 1869… 4 years after Ogarita had sadly passed away.
    .
    But thankyou for your reply since it helps to have a good discussion and livens the mind into further work on the subject. In my futher work, I am now pursuing the subject of where John really disappeared to after leaving the Ford theatre that terrible night. And whether he left with Lucy Hale or not; as one witness said she saw them in the front of the theatre together at the intermission, just before Abe was shot.

    I am as yet unaware of any certain proof of this sighting however.

    Know ye the tree.
    By its fruit. (The Bible).

  15. jack ronayne on said:

    Correction: Line 29 should read ’till 1896….4 years after Ogarita had sadly passed away.’

  16. I agree with Jones wholeheartedly. This article provides insight into the sidelines of history. THe point of view is one seldom encountered in historical writing.

  17. jack ronayne on said:

    Errata: Line 29 is still un-correct.

    It should read ……(the Old Arsenal)till 1869 when it was transferred to Baltimore…..Ogarita would have been about nine or ten years old by then.

  18. Luz Manuelito on said:

    I love your stories very often because they are published in an understandable perspicuous. So I can study them although I come from Germany and have any problems to understand English articles.

  19. Fernand Ocetek on said:

    Hello!
    I am interested in learning more about the “Booth” women. It seems very unusual that there is so little history about their lives after JWB. I want to know more about Izola Mills Booth’s life after her daughter Ogaritha was born and what happened to her. Plus I am anxious to see what happened to the daughter and grand-daughter.

    If you can direct me to more information about this family, I’ll appreciate the help. Thank-you for your help in advance.

    Sincerely,

    Fernand Ocetek

  20. JT COLFAX on said:

    Thanks for your comment. The information I have presented is part of an involved research project about a buried river that runs under my yard (see my other story here at Bearings). That river is very close to Ogarita’s grave, and so, the extent of my interest in the subject is basically only about Ogarita, and her unfortunate burial here. Luckily, one of her descendants has responded in these comments with a very useful link. You will find a treasure trove there. It was posted by OSTREM…and is the Number 7 post in these comments. Hope that helps…JT.

  21. Chuck Huppert on said:

    To JK Ronayne: On January 8, 2010 you wrote on this site about my article “How Our Best Known Assassin Became a Hoosier” The interview by John C. Shaffer in 1926 of Martha Mills was not an interview of the Martha Mills known as Izola Mills Booth, wife of John Wilkes Booth. She had died in 1887. This interview was of a cousin I believe. At the time the interviewee met John Wilkes Booth after the assassination (New York to Montreal)Booth’s wife (Martha “Izola” Mills Booth) was at his farmhouse in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, with Ogarita.

    Wasn’t the body killed in Garrett’s barn removed from Ft. McNair and buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore in 1869 not in 1896?

    As to the escape route of JWB through Virginia and up the Shenandoah to Harpers Ferry, on to Brookville, Pennsylvania, NYC and Montreal I think I have pretty well mapped.

    Have you read “The Elusive Booths of Burrillville”? As I recall, this pretty much explains the last years of Izola, mother of Ogarita Booth Henderson.

  22. jack ronayne on said:

    Thankyou sir.
    Yes my error on the date is immediately corrected as you can see above…it is 1869, under errata.
    No, I have not heard about the Booths of Burriville but i am interested in them.
    As you see above i now have much doubt about Ogarita being the daughter of John Booth.
    However I am open to further research on this.
    As to Izola at Harper’s Ferry this maybe true but i question she was Booth’s wife. In his letter to his mother he never mentioned a wife and she replied to him about being careful in his decision to marry. She seemed happy enough that he was thinking of marrying Lucy Hale the daughter of Senetor Hale however.
    The story of Booth escaping to Virginia then to Harper’s Ferry was researched by Ray Neff based on him unearthing reams of papers from Stokes who was writing a a book on Potter. Andrew Potter and his brother Luther or Earl Potter, were detectives following a lame Booth and a man called Hynson and a third man called Johnson (Booth’s valet). Indeed Potter lived but some doubt is thrown on him working for the NDP under Baker.
    A man called Major Potter assisted Mary Lincoln from the Ford Theatre over to Petersen house according to Major Rathbone’s statement, however. This is the only evidence I have on Potter. But General Lew Wallace the man who wrote ‘Ben Hur’ and the ‘Prince of India’ was actioned by President Grant to investigate all the unsolved murders surrounding Abe’s death and to find out what really happened to Booth, 5 years after his political death. He is supposed to have commisioned Potter do this second assignment and Potter retraced his tracks and found people were giving him more information after the troubles were over…bigger stories. I have a photo of Potter born in North Carolina to a large farming family- he is known as the man who never was by the radicals. Also Potter is supposed to have come up with deeds willing Booth’s fortune to an Army nurse called Kate Scott of Pennsylvania and her child by Booth. These deeds Potter supposedly found in a cave (Bear Cave) in Blue mountains of Virginia near West Virginia. Again more red herrings . John Booth had willed his fortune to his mother and family.
    My book shows that Booth’s trail was all fiction. There was a trail alright but it was engineered by Baker using two NDP deiectives called Tyson and Hensted (or Henson); for according to Dr. Mudd these were the names given by the two men who banged on his door only 5 hours after Abe had been shot. They were followed by Lt. Dana only 7 hours later whose cavalry camped in Bryantown for at least two days, only 2 miles from where the decoys (of which Tyson’s leg was fixed by Dr. Mudd but he was not really injured)were staying at Dr. Mudd’s house in Beantown. Then only a few days later Mudd was visited by Lt. Lovett and arrested.
    Yes i would like to read further your account of Booth’s journey.

  23. Charles B. Huppert on said:

    My article you mention “How Our Best Known Assassin Became a Hoosier” is supported by 14 exhibits. For example, there is a sworn affidavit of Kate Scott, who delivered John Wilkes Booth’s daughter, Sarah, on 8 Dec 1865, nine months after the two were together in DC for Lincoln’s inauguration. Kate also states she was with JWB in Brookville, PA several weeks after he shot Lincoln. I have compared Kate’s signature on the original 1910 sworn affidavit with a known Kate Scott signature which is on a contract I acquired in Brookville.

    There is also a Bombay, India, will of John B. Wilkes, Sept, 1883, which makes Sarah (“natural heir of my body”) and her mother, Kate, beneficiaries of his estate.

    I could also provide you with a statement of Lewis Pence, a resident of Virginia, who took Booth and party to Harper’s Ferry to visit Izola and Ogarita from where he went on to Brookville to visit Kate in May/June, 1865.

    I would need an address where to send a disk.

  24. Jack Ronayne on said:

    Dear Mr. Huppert,

    Thankyou so much for your kind reply. I do indeed find the subject of JWB’s disappearance an intrigue. I am reading James Swanson’s account in Manhunt and the best lead i have is that Booth was spotted on a train to Philadelphia within days of the murder. Another lead from the Chicago Tribune was that he was arrested by the army near Bladensburg on the road to Baltimore. If this is even remotely true then he must have been silenced, or he escaped again immediately.

    The only (uncertain) knowledge i have on Kate Scott an army nurse, is that she was involved with Andrew Potter who supposedly worked with the NDP and followed the trail to Harper’s Ferry but Booth was not there. I believe Potter’s trail was years later however, under Grant’s presidency. Though you also indicate that Izola and Ogarita (born circa 1859 and died on stage tragically (and suddenly?)age 32, were living there since or before May,1865.

    There was a Major Potter in the theatre that night according to Rathbone whom he asked to assist with Mary Lincoln because Rathbone was so ‘badly wounded’.

    I must confess I am now beginning to think that Booth may have been murdered or indeed fled the country forever.

    However this story gives me a clue that what you say about Kate Scott may have some substance to it. The reason I question it is because she was connected to Andrew Potter in sharing a will ( supposedly found in a certain Bear Cave in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia?), most of it to be inherited by Sarah. Potter was supposedly deligated by General Lew Wallace under President Grant to investigate other murders surrounding Lincoln’s death and to possibly trace Booth.

    As to sworn affidavits -whenever this occurs I put no faith in them. Why should anyone have to swear on oath that they are telling the truth to an official, without a jolly good reason.

    However since I know for certain that Booth was not killed in Richard Garrett’s barn, or even captured in Virginia, then it is theoretically possible that he met Kate Scott in Brookville,Pa or Izola Mills in New York. Indeed, he could have met with both of them even though he was supposedly engaged to Lucy Hale. Now Lucy we know for near certain, went to Spain almost immediately with her father for 5 years who had been appointed Minister for Spain. Instead however, could Booth have gone to Spain after her, or indeed secretly or un-officially with her?

    Please be free to let me know of any other information that might back up your claims on further research, which might very well throw light onto Booth’s disappearnce.

    At the time of Lincoln’s Second Inauguration (March 4th 1865) it is on record that Booth was actively dating Lucy Hale and she had got him a pass to be there at the White House, in the crowd. Indeed they had been together only since February and had become, or were soon to be engaged. But you seem to favour that it was Kate Scott that was with Booth at this Inauguration Ceremony and with whom she conceived Booth’s child- Sarah). So this needs to be tied down as it throws into question two things, either a) Booth was not at the Inauguration at all or b) if he was, then who was he really with? I favour Lucy because she was able to get him a pass being the daughter of Senator Hale. Whereas Kate Scott was a dutiful army nurse. Another point about Booth according to his loving sister Asia, is that because he was a famous actor he did have a general travel pass to travel freely North and South. These passes were issued under the auspices of General Grant.

    In regards to Lewis Pence we need to have a lot more background information as to how he was connected to Booth. I suspect there may be little or no information to be found that he met Booth somewhere or exactly where, either in Washington or elsewhere, to help facilitate in his escape from the city.

    In any case Chuck, as you will not be aware I have proved to myself (at least) beyond a shadow of doubt in my book (‘Our American Hero’), that Booth was cleverly framed and I show exactly how it was done. Booth never did shoot Lincoln and jump from the state box, it was all an elaborate hoax, or set up (and an illusion). Lincoln was shot from the spy hole , an approx. 3/16″ hole about 4 feet high, causing a 3/8″ to 0.4″ bullet hole, (and not a Derringer .44 ) in the first door No 7; and the assassin escaped immediately out the back way (left stage) via the back stairs at the opposite alley to Baptist Alley, next to the Star Tavern. That is the reason General Grant and the policeman John F. Parker were aptly stood down. And it was set up for one target only in the theatre-The President of the United States. At the same time they were grooming the most famous man in the land General US Grant to be the second Republican President, to be sure of a Republican Victory.

    It was also generally believed that Andy Johnson (the Democratic Incumbant) was also on the list to be assassinated along with Secretary of State, William Seward you may recall ie nearly half the cabinet. That was the rumour put about the city that very night.

    So if Kate did in fact know Booth, she would also have known he was innocent of the murder.

    Thankyou again Mr. Huppert. Please let me know otherwise and I will reciprocate.
    Yours faithfully,
    Jack Ronayne.

  25. J.T. Colfax on said:

    the above comments, especially the last, are amusing to me, because I do not, nor never did know the owner of this site well. But over time and space, I can look at him and I believe he and I see EYE To EYE when I say,……wooooooooooooooosh.

  26. Jack Johncock on said:

    In response to Jack Ronayne #24. Originally, Booth was hired by three Maryland planters to kidnap Lincoln. When that plan failed, Booth planned the assassination; he didn’t want to do the killing, while pretending that he had done it. Three groups paid Booth – the Jesuits, the Pope, and the Knights of the Golden Circle – perhaps a few million dollars. The documents were hidden in the Bear Hole Cave, until five years later. His wife went to San Diego in ’67, became pregnat with his son Harry Jr in ’69, retrieved the documents in ’70, and returned to India, where he lived until ’79 or ’83. Much of this comes from “This One Mad Act.” I’m writing a stageplay about his granddaughter – “Izola’s Coup D’Etat.” Jack Johncock BS, AA

  27. Jack Ronayne on said:

    The plan to kidnap was proposed by Booth to John Surratt on his own responsibility. (See Surratt’s own lectures). No one else was involved except this little group. They all rejected it at first particularly Arnold and O’Laughlin but they did try once by scouting the Seventh Street Hospital but Salmon Chase was in the carriage, so they reneged.
    Booth was never married and never had a child.(See his own letters where he is asking his mother for advice about marriage; she seemed happy about Lucy Hale however). He was dating Lucy Hale at this time it is said.
    The connection with the Catholics is because Surratt, Weichman and Herold attended St Charles College. They were simply Catholics and Baker denounced the Catolics of Southern Maryland in his book, ‘The United States Secret Service’.
    Booth attended an Episcopal College and later became a member of the ‘Know Nothing Society’ (loosely related to the Free Soil Party and Republicanism and anti-immigration). See ‘The Unlocked Book’ ..the writings of Asia Booth Clarke. Edited by Eleanor Fairjeon 1937. Also Published by Faber and Faber in England 1938.
    I am afraid there is not enough evidence to suggest these different women having Booth’s chidren. Potter was trying to claim inheritance for Kate Scott’s child; if you can believe any of these stories. Possibly politically motivated or indeed trying to claim inheritance if true?
    Booth never planned to kill. Indeed it was a set up and a total illusion of the assassin jumping from the box. Lincoln was shot through the Spy-Hole according to James Gifford (theatre manager and designer) who said Fergueson the Restaurant owner could not have seen the flash of the pistol nor the assassin. This was stated by Fergueson himself in court and Gifford got 39 days in the Capitol Prison for saying it.
    Booth left his will for his land and oil shares to his mother, sister Rose , Junius and Joseph. Edwin and Asia apparently were not included because they were well off. Edwin was already famous.
    The myth of Bear Cave comes from the stories about Andrew Potter the detective and Kate Scott(army nurse)who supposedly carrying Booth’s child.

  28. J.T. Colfax on said:

    I live 1800 miles now from the grave of Ogarita Booth. Remember her: Ogarita Booth. It was a weird and wondrous set of years in which I would traverse a storm drain under my yard that STARTED up in her GLENWOOD CEMETERY, where she is buried near the unmarked grave of the WONDROUS victorian learned murderer EDWARD RULLOFF. EVERYONE wants a PIECE, and so did I so much, once….but Boys, Boys,,is this really the place to debate every factoid you know about JW-BOOTH? You can keep on doing it if you want, I am sure the site’s owner Jon Haeber doesn’t care as long as it’s civil.
    But think of it like this….as the years go by, what if SOMEONE who is currently looking into the subject of OGARITA BOOTH HENDERSON comes along. SHE is the obscure ITEM brought forth in some clarity here. WHAT if they BRING FORTH something NEW about HER.
    IF SOMEONE CARES ABOUT THE OGARITA PORTION of the SAGA here are some photos to fill it out. These are ALL from the theatre where she last performed, and which she died in the hotel then next door in:
    http://i1089.photobucket.com/albums/i346/denvereen/187.jpg
    http://i1089.photobucket.com/albums/i346/denvereen/192.jpg
    http://i1089.photobucket.com/albums/i346/denvereen/224.jpg

    obviously from way beyond her time but same exact place:
    http://i1089.photobucket.com/albums/i346/denvereen/218.jpg
    http://i1089.photobucket.com/albums/i346/denvereen/194.jpg
    http://i1089.photobucket.com/albums/i346/denvereen/199.jpg

    This is WONDROUS good stuff which YOU will USE and ABUSE (I can tell).
    But it’s only wondrous good stuff about OGARITA BOOTH HENDERSON, and what it’s like to walk around in her footsteps. The theatre where she last performed is a spicy bit of HELL. It’s dangerous in so many ways, horrid molds, mounds of pigeon shit, and when you go UP, you see easy signs of where various pieces of floor have collapsed, so you really take your life in your hands. THIS is what this PIECE documents…not evey movement or theory about JOHN WILKES BOOTH. The owner of this site, Jon Haeber, has proven himself to me to be MORE than tolerant of spasms, so do what you will, he wont block you unless you advertise, but as the author of the article, I seriously have to say: what the hell are you guys talking about? This isn’t about JOHN WILKES BOOTH per se, I have grave doubts that Ogarita was really his daughter at all. I love the fact that I could sniff around her ruined stage, and that groundwater from her grave had no choice but to be flowing under my yard at the time. She’s GREAT…I brought her balloons…she was an ACTRESS, and she might very well have LIED about being a BOOTH to get parts….for me, I cant get over how her story changed after her mother died. ONCE OGARITA was the SOLE spewer of the story, she SUDDENLY had dramatic effects like being present to ID JWB’s body. I love history, and I love the truth. I ALSO love OGARITA, and if she has fooled everyone, THAT is fine with me. I brought her to the attention of gossip columnist Cindy Adams of the NY POST several years ago, and I read it over her grave.
    All I can say about Ogarita Booth Henderson now is: I would like to have some cocktails with her, and she could STILL go on being ‘pretty pretty’ and never tell me the truth on a whole night of debauchery, and I still don’t care. SHE STSPLED HERSELF TO JOHN WILKES BOOTH at an INTERESTING TIME, either by design, or for truth. IF I had DUG her up, and it went to dreamlike film, MADONNA could easily play the part when I open the casket……”TRUE OR NOT TRUE” I might scream, and all I would ever get is: a wink.

  29. Jack Ronayne on said:

    Dear Mr. Colfax,
    Did not Ogarita die suddenly during her Boston tour of gastroenteritis stricken down on stage? (President Zachary Taylor died of this). You must know the exact details better than anyone. I suspect foul play from political or dark forces. Was she not going to publicise the contents of her diary which might well have implicated some very important people? This is only a guess but it is a very passionate subject and like yourself and John Booth she certainly had no dearth of passion. She might well have become a great actress like her adopted father -one of the finest of his generation and she was following in his footsteps. ‘Her Greatest Hero’. I now see your are her greatest fan. I am working to prove to people that her father did not kill Lincoln. And I have that absolute proof myself. So we have a common goal in loving Ogarita.

  30. Jack Ronayne on said:

    Correction: From above Ogarita was stricken with ‘stomach cramps’ on the stage at the Stone Opera House in Binghampton NY. Correct me again if this is wrong.

  31. joanne hulme on said:

    I am a Booth descendent and related by blood and an intermarriage between my great aunt Cora Mitchell and JWB’s younger brother, Joseph Adrian Booth. No matter what the Surratt Museum so called ” experts” say, it is mentioned in frequent family books as to the birth of Orgorita being the son of Wilkes, go to Harvard Museum , there are tons of research papers there for anyone to look. These historians can not even agree on what happened after the assassination, let alone have any responsability about our family members. It is interesting that James O. Hall sought out these family members in the 1970s, yet the Surratt Museum seems to have no knowledge of family proof of this relationship, and Laurie Verge’s comments about these family members wanting to put this to sleep is the exact opposite of what the family members want. After 150 years, let’s lay the cards on the table and stop the coverups. If everyone that is so concerned about the Booth family investgated their own familys from all those generations, they would see that some things are hard to prove, sometimes dates are confused, births not recorded,marriage certificates lost, etc. If the so called experts would leave us alone for a minute, some of these things are not very hard to prove, but it should not be our place to prove but your place to disprove!

  32. Jack Ronayne on said:

    Dear Mr. Hulme.
    I agree heartily with the thrust of your statement. And I do know a little about Joseph, Junius, Rose, Edwin and especially Asia and their mom. They were a close loving family even if opposed to John’s mad passion with the South. John’s own beautiful letters show the warmth and love they shared. Personally I do not find anything the historians say amounts to a pile of beans. It is nearly all based on John Booth the famous actor as being the assassin of Lincoln. Only one serious Historian has pointed the finger at the Secretary of War and the army.(Also possibly Ray Neff et al suggest otherwise). That was Otto Isenschiml in his book ‘Why Was Lincoln Murdered’ 1939. Of course since then the Acolytes have been busy covering his objective and extensive research up. The Ford theatre was thick with army officers that night including 3 surgeons, one an expert in gun shot wounds. And you have only to look at Mary Lincoln’s account in Horatio Nelson Taft’s diary to unravel the insane mystery of the affair. This together with Major Rathbone and Clara Harris’s statements makes it clear that Booth did not enter the box at all.
    So I grant you if you are a descendant you should be happy to know Booth was not a murderer but a high minded young man with passion and the will to do something for the South (indeed also for the North); in order to hopefully force an exchange of prisoners of war (by kidnapping Lincoln in his carraige in the field)who were dying of starvation and disease, directly because of Stanton’s ruthlessness. The army found out about Booth’s plan from Louis Weichmann (friend of John Surratt). This was 6 to 8 weeks before the event. He informed his boss Captain Gleason where he worked as a Gov clerk in the Capitol Prison. So the plot to kill Lincoln and frame Booth must have been set up in February and March and the final touches in April by capitalising on Lincoln’s frequent visits to the theatre.
    Perhaps you will think now I am obssessed with John Booth but I will also say that if you are a descendant then surely you would not be dis-interested in knowing that others do not see Booth as an evil assassin.
    Best wishes.

  33. Jack Ronayne on said:

    My apologies I should have been adressing my letter to Joanne Hulme.

  34. Jack Ronayne on said:

    Please check this out. John Booth was the second youngest of the family?

  35. Ben Sunness on said:

    This link http://www.iffp.com mentioned above is a dead link. Any information about this site’s new location if any would be appreciated.

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