Wednesday, March 23, 2011


by C. F. Eckhardt 

Was J. Frank Dalton really none other than the legendary Jesse James?

Did he really conceal a vast amount of stolen treasure/

For more info read the article below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ginnie and Lottie Moon

Virginia "Ginnie" and Charlotte "Lottie" Moon were two sisters born in Virginia. In 1831, the Moon family moved to Oxford, Ohio. The girls grew up in southwest Ohio. While Lottie was being courted by Ambrose Burnside, Ginnie was attending Oxford Female College. The girls were known to have many suitors, and allegedly Lottie jilted Burnside at the alter. Eventually Lottie settled on Common Pleas Judge James Clark and they were married in January 1849.

Although support for abolition was growing in Ohio prior to the beginning of the war, Ginnie did not share the same sentiment. She asked the President of Oxford College to permit her to go home to her mother, who had moved to Tennessee after the death of her father. The president refused so Ginnie shot out every star on the U.S. flag waving over the college grounds. She was immediately expelled and moved to Memphis to be with her mother.

Lottie stayed in Oxford, Ohio, with her husband Judge Clark.  The Clark family sympathized with the South and the Judge was even a member of the underground organization, Knights of the Golden Circle. Couriers carrying secret messages for the Confederates occasionally stopped at the Clark home. In one such incident, a messenger arrived at the Clark residence with a message that needed to be delivered to Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. Disguising herself as an old Irish woman, Lottie volunteered to carry the message to Lexington, Kentucky. She was successful in delivering the message and this stunt began Lottie's career as a Confederate spy.

While in Memphis, Ginnie and her mother worked as Confederate nurses. Posing as a woman meeting her beau in Ohio, Ginnie began slipping across the Union line with information and supplies. In Ginnie's last attempt to deliver a message from the Knights of the Golden Circle, she recruited her mother to accompany her. She assured her mother they would not get caught since they had family in Ohio. They successfully made it to Ohio but on their return they were apprehended on a boat traveling to Memphis. When a search was ordered, Ginnie ate the secret message!

The damning evidence of the secret correspondence was destroyed but the search produced "forty bottles of morphine, seven pounds of opium, and a quantity of camphor (1)." Ginnie demanded to see her sister's former beau, Ambrose Burnside, who was now a Union General. When word got back to Lottie of her mother and sister's predicament, she disguised herself as an English invalid to persuade Burnside to release her family. Burnside immediately recognized her and had her arrested. Even though the charges were dropped against the ladies, the event signaled the end of the spying days of the Moon Sisters.

Vogel, Cynthia. Civil War Women: They Made a Difference. CAM-TECH Publishing, Fletcher: Ohio, p.42

The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives

The Enemy Within: Copperheads and the Knights of the Golden Circle

Of Snakes and Men

Support for President Lincoln was far from unanimous in the Northern States, and the same was true of the State of Ohio. Though Ohio was the home of influential Abolitionists and the main passage of the Underground Railraod, there were many Southern sympathizers living within Ohio's borders, specifically near the Ohio River. Even though these individuals were not permitted to own slaves in Ohio, many of them still had slave-owning familes in the South and supported their rights to own slaves.

Among this group of Lincoln's Northern critics were the Peace Democrats, better known as "Copperheads." During the presidential election of 1860, Stephen Douglas was the Northern Democratic candidate opposing Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln. After Lincoln won the 1860 election, Douglas worked to negotiate peaceful solutions between North and South. However, after the South seceded, Douglas supported Lincoln's use of military force to reunite the country.

Two months after the Battle of Fort Sumter and the outbreak of the Civil War, Stephen Douglas died on June 3rd, 1861. His death caused the Northern Democratic Party to spilt. The two different factions were known as the Peace Democrats, Northern Democrats critical of Lincoln and seeking to find a peaceful resolution to the secession, and War Democrats, Northern Democrats supportive of President Lincoln's military action against the South.

Copperheads:What's in a Name?

The copperhead party - in favor of a vigorous prosecution of peace!
 The name "Copperhead" was coined after an anonymous letter was sent to the Cincinnati Commercial. The writer of the letter suggested that the motto of the Ohio Peace Democrats should be derived from Genesis 3:14: "Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the day of thy life." From the motto came the name "Copperhead", after the venemous snake with the name found in Ohio.

By 1862, the name became widespread and the Peace Democrats tried to turn the name into their own. In addition, the nickname for a penny was, coincidentally, "Copperhead." Since Lady Liberty was on one of the faces of the penny, the Peace Democrats chose her to symbolize "people deeply concerned about incursions on their rights." With the skillful twist of symbolism, the Peace Democrats used the penny to represent their beliefs. The symbol became popular among the "Copperheads" and many began to wear pins made out of pennies to show their loyalties.

Knights of the Golden Circle

The secret society known as the Knight of the Golden Circle (KGC) were responsible for spying for the Confederates and other subversive acts to undermine Union military efforts to defeat the South. The KGC was formed a decade before the Mexican-American War as the Southern Right's Club (SRC) by George W. L. Bickley. Southerners, disgruntled by the banning of slave trading nearly thirty years prior, relocated to Texas in the hopes of re-establishing the African slave-trade.

By 1855, the pro-slavery SRC evolved into the KGC. Several chapters had developed by this time, including in the North. Throughout the Civil War, Northern KGC members facilitated the Confederate government by providing classified information on Union activities. Ohio KGC spies used their ties to Ohio to freely cross Union and Confederate lines to deliver secret messages and supplies. Many of the Ohio KGC members allegedly lived near the Ohio River, close to the Mason-Dixon line.

Lincoln's Assassination

On April 14th, 1865, President Lincoln, only a month into his second term, was assassinated at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Booth, an actor, and other conspirators devised a plan to assassinate the President in the hopes of crippling the Union to allow for an overthrow of the government.

It is speculated that Booth was a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, initiated as a member in 1860 in Baltimore, Maryland. If the conspiracy theories are correct, this may have been the last ditch effort of the pro-slavery movement to prevent abolition.

For more infomation about the Assassination of President Lincoln visit

Lincoln's Critics: the Copperheads of the North By Frank L. Klement and Steven K. Roqstad
Copperheads: the Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North By Jennifer L. Weber

For more information on Stephen Douglas visit's-in-a-name?

The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives

OUT OF OUR PAST: Butternuts storm Centerville streets

On May 2, 1863, the Civil War battle lines were drawn in Centerville.

It wasn't North versus South but Abington Butternuts perceived as southern sympathizers against their Wayne County neighbors.
(Butternuts or Copperheads were purported members of the Knights of the Golden Circle, who urged President Lincoln to seek peace with the Southern Confederacy and not crush the rebellion by force of arms. Some wore Butternut or Copperhead symbols of defiance.)

The Butternuts "stormed the streets of the county seat at Centerville ... having had the gall to wear Butternut pins and to shout their allegiance to the Confed [sic] leader, Jeff Davis."

Nearly 100 people from Richmond armed themselves with rifles, shotguns and muskets "and fell over themselves scurrying to Centerville."

According to the May 8, 1863, Palladium: "The little army formed a line of battle and charged the Butternut invaders on the double-quick. The Butternut cowards did not wait for the shock of clamor, but went at once to the skedaddle, and dust rose in their stead. Though the main body escaped, five of the Copperheads were overtaken and deposited in jail. The deputy U.S. marshal with a Richmond contingent of about 50 men rode in fast pursuit. On approaching the little town of Abington, it was found that armed Copperhead pickets were posted on the outskirts, who seeing what was coming, attempted to run, but the sight of a few cocked shooting irons pointed toward their backsides ... they halted. Five more were made prisoners for the calaboose.

"Marching further into Abington, some 16 or 18 more prisoners were taken, most of whom were armed with shotguns, revolvers and squirrel rifles. A leader of the Copperheads, two or three of his sons, and three others were made prisoner. All of these proved to have been in the previous Centerville raid ... They were marched to the county seat and placed in the calaboose. Twenty-seven prisoners were now in lock-up, all being citizens of Abington and vicinity. The casualties of the affray were a broken shotgun, a busted snoot, a stolen Butternut pin, a bunged Copperhead ... and 27 confined traitors alive and well, having yet to repent of their evil ways. Fearing an attempt would be made to release the scoundrels, the jail and all approach to Centerville were guarded on Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night ... On Sunday afternoon, an extra train from Richmond took reinforcements over to the seat of war, and a bevy of armed citizenry were there in carriages and buggies in quite a temperamental calamity."

Thankfully, when someone shouted, "Bridle thy emotions! Whoever makes thee angry has won already" things calmed down.

"No further disturbance occurred ... and the cheering news was brought to Richmond on Sunday eventide about 12 o'clock:

The paper continued:

"On Monday next, 19 of the prisoners were taken to Indianapolis, eight being released in consideration of their youth and naiveté. The Abington 'Benedict Arnolds' were henced to the capital and, after an investigation, 12 more released. There were now seven Abington brigands to contend with."

Back in Wayne County, a search was made in Abington that revealed "a cache of shotguns, rifles, revolvers, flasks and bottles filled with powder, buckshot, bars of lead, some whisky, all found in fence corners and in corners of sheds."

The feeling prevailed locally that "the sorry lot were simply terribly misguided and easily swayed."

Alfred J. Lashley of Centerville was sent to reason with the imprisoned "Wayne County transgressors" in Indianapolis. After his talk, he went to see Oliver Morton. Both men ultimately felt "the Abington rowdies were innocent of disloyal intent ... They were merely easily wooed and highly impressionable."

The "polecats were thus flushed home," having been warned by Gov. Morton to "be careful what you say or do. These are troublesome times. It is a very serious thing that many of you are wont to spit vile epithets that will divide and distract our country. In putting a stop to such practices, your leaders from now on will be held principally responsible. ... You are victims of a traitorous propaganda. As well I might place a number of smallpox hospitals in the heart of a city and then punish the people for becoming infected with that loathsome disease, as to allow newspapers and public speakers to belch forth their disloyal and treasonable doctrines, and to blame the people for becoming contaminated therewith. Such things will not do in these times ... To kill the serpent speedily, it must be hit on the head! Go! And do no more!"

The Butternut activity in Abington subsided, but six days later the Wayne County "True Republican" reported, "A female visitor to the Centerville was wearing one of the Butternut pins... and the capture of that pin was made by some desperate and faithful Union women, Miss Groves and three other young ladies -- Mary E. Kuhn, Fanny Hall and Mattie Thomas -- who held the hands of the Butternut girl, while Miss Groves took the pin off! -- We understand that Miss Groves was bitten by the Butternut from Abington. 'Tis a shame!"

Steve Martin is a reference librarian at Morrisson-Reeves Library and a member of the Palladium-Item editorial board.  “Wayne County Bicentennial by the Numbers,” compiled by Steve Martin in conjunction with the Palladium-Item in commemoration of the Wayne County Bicentennial, can be bought at the Palladium-Item, 1175 N. A St. in Richmond during office hours, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Cost: $19.99 plus tax (and shipping if needed). Info: (765) 962-1575.|head

The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


 The Knights of the Golden Circle or K.G.C. had its beginnings in the formation of Southern Rights Clubs in various southern cities in the mid-1830s. These clubs were inspired by the philosophies of John C. Calhoun (1782–1850). Calhoun had an illustrious political career serving as a congressman from his home state of South Carolina, a state legislator, vice president under the administrations of both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, and a U. S. senator. In addition to the Southern Rights Clubs, which advocated the re-establishment of the African slave-trade, some of the inspiration for the Knights may have come from a little-known secret organization called the Order of the Lone Star, founded in 1834, which helped orchestrate the successful Texas Revolution resulting in Texas independence from Mexico in 1836. Even before that, the K.G.C.'s roots went back to the Sons of Liberty of the American Revolutionary period.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was reorganized in Lexington, Kentucky, on July 4, 1854, by five men, whose names have been lost to history, when Virginia-born Gen. George W. L. Bickley (1819–1867) requested they come together. Strong evidence suggests that Albert Pike (1809–1891) was the genius behind the influence and power of the Masonic-influenced K.G.C., while Bickley was the organization's leading promoter and chief organizer for the K.G.C. lodges, what they called “Castles,” in several states. During his lifetime, Boston-born Pike was an author, educator, lawyer, Confederate brigadier general, newspaper editor, poet, and a Thirty-third Degree Mason. From its earliest roots in the Southern Rights Clubs in 1835, the Knights of the Golden Circle was to become the most powerful secret and subversive organization in the history of the United States with members in every state and territory before the end of the Civil War. The primary economic and political goal of this organization was to create a prosperous, slave-holding Southern Empire extending in the shape of a circle from their proposed capital at Havana, Cuba, through the southern states of the United States, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. The plan also called for the acquisition of Mexico which was then to be divided into fifteen new slave-holding states which would shift the balance of power in Congress in favor of slavery. Facing the Gulf of Mexico, these new states would form a large crescent. The robust economy the KGC hoped to create would be fueled by cotton, sugar, tobacco, rice, coffee, indigo, and mining. These seven industries would employ slave labor.

In early 1860 newspapers across the country reported that the Knights of the Golden Circle were recruiting troops in numerous cities to send to Brownsville, Texas, for the planned invasion of Mexico. History is unclear about what went wrong with this invasion, but most historians agree that the well-laid plans never materialized and the invasion never happened. Some say that it failed because George Bickley was unable to provide adequate troops and supplies, but with a civil war looming on the horizon, the invasion’s failure may have been caused by the K.G.C. leaders believing they could not go to war on two fronts simultaneously. They called off their plans for Mexico and started preparing for war with the North.

When tensions between the North and South were at a breaking point and the Civil War had not yet begun, the Knights of the Golden Circle held their convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, from May 7–11, 1860. George W. L. Bickley, as president of the K.G.C., presided at this historic event. The records of this convention have survived until the present day and provide an excellent view of this order's divisions or degrees, goals, accomplishments, and size.

The K.G.C.'s first division was described as being "absolutely a Military Degree." The first division is further divided into two classes: the Foreign and Home Guards. The Foreign Guards class was the K.G.C.'s army and was composed of those who wanted "to participate in the wild, glorious and thrilling adventures of a campaign in Mexico." Those of the second class or Home Guards had two functions: to provide for the army's needs and "to defend us from misrepresentation during our absence."

The second division or class was also divided into two classes which were the Foreign and Home Corps. The Foreign Corps was to become the order's commercial agents, postmasters, physicians, ministers, and teachers and to perform the other occupations that were vital to the achievement of K.G.C. goals. The second class of this degree was the Home Corps. Their job was to advise and to forward money, arms, ammunition, and other necessary provisions needed by the organization and its army and to send recruits as rapidly as possible.

The two classes of the third division or degree were the Foreign and Home Councils. The third division is described in the convention's records as being "the political or governing division." The responsibilities of the Foreign Council were governmental, and it was divided into ten departments similar to those of the United States federal government.

One little-known historical fact that is presented in the records from the 1860 K.G.C. convention is that the Knights had their own well-organized army in 1860, before the Civil War had even begun, so they were prepared in the event of war with the North. In May of 1860 the Knights of the Golden Circle reported a total membership of 48,000 men from the North, who supported "the constitutional rights of the South," as well as men from the South, with an army of "less than 14,000 men" and new recruits joining at a rapid rate.

Shortly before the Civil War began, the state of Texas was the greatest source of this organization's strength. Texas was home for at least thirty-two K.G.C. castles in twenty-seven counties, including the towns of San Antonio, Marshall, Canton, and Castroville. Evidence suggests that San Antonio may have served as the organization’s national headquarters for a time.

The South began to secede from the Union in January 1861, and in February of that year, seven seceding states ratified the Confederate Constitution and named Jefferson Davis as provisional president. The Knights of the Golden Circle became the first and most powerful ally of the newly-created Confederate States of America.

Before the Civil War officially started on April 12, 1861, when shots were fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and before Texas had held its election on the secession referendum on February 23, 1861, Texas volunteer forces, which included 150 K.G.C. soldiers under the command of Col. Ben McCulloch, forced the surrender of the federal arsenal at San Antonio that was under the command of Bvt. Maj. Gen. David E. Twiggs on February 15, 1861. Knights of the Golden Circle who were involved in this mission included Capt. Trevanion Teel, Sgt. R. H. Williams, John Robert Baylor, and Sgt. Morgan Wolfe Merrick. Following this quick victory, volunteers who were mostly from K.G.C. companies, forced the surrender of all federal posts between San Antonio and El Paso.

Perhaps the best documentation as to the power and influence of the Knights of the Golden Circle during the Civil War is The Private Journal and Diary of John H. Surratt, The Conspirator which was written by John Harrison Surratt and later edited by Dion Haco and published by Frederic A. Brady of New York in 1866. In this journal, Surratt goes into great detail when describing how he was introduced to the K.G.C. in the summer of 1860 by another Knight, John Wilkes Booth, and inducted into this mysterious organization on July 2, 1860, at a castle in Baltimore, Maryland. Surratt describes the elaborate and secret induction ceremony and its rituals and tells that cabinet members, congressmen, judges, actors, and other politicians were in attendance. Maybe the most significant revelation of Surratt's diary is that the Knights of the Golden Circle began plotting to kidnap Abraham Lincoln in 1860, before Lincoln was even inaugurated in 1861, and continued throughout the Civil War, resulting in President Lincoln's assassination by fellow Knight Booth on April 14, 1865.

After trying unsuccessfully to peacefully resolve the conflicts between North and South, the Knights of the Golden Circle threw its full support behind the newly-created Confederate States of America and added its trained military men to the Confederate States Army. Several Confederate military groups during the Civil War were composed either totally or in large part of members of the Knights of the Golden Circle. One notable example of K.G.C. military participation in the Civil War included the Confederate's Western Expansion Movement of 1861 and 1862 led by Lt. Col. John Robert Baylor and Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley.

In 1861 Albert Pike travelled to Indian Territory and negotiated an alliance with Cherokee Chief Stand Watie. Prior to the beginning of hostilities, Pike helped Watie to become a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Watie was also in the K.G.C., and he was later commissioned a colonel in command of the First Regiment of Cherokee Mounted Rifles. In May 1864 Chief Watie was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate States Army making him the only Native American of this rank in the Confederate Army. Watie's command was to serve under CSA officers Albert Pike, Benjamin McCulloch, Thomas Hindman, and Sterling Price. They fought in engagements in Indian Territory, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri.

One of the most feared organizations of all Confederates, whose members were in large part Knights of the Golden Circle, was what was called Quantrill's Guerrillas or Quantrill's Raiders. The Missouri-based band was formed in December 1861 by William Clark Quantrill and originally consisted of only ten men who were determined to right the wrongs done to Missourians by Union occupational soldiers. Their mortal enemies were the Kansas Jayhawkers and the Red Legs who were the plague of Missouri. As the war raged on in Missouri and neighboring states, Quantrill's band attracted hundreds more men into its ranks. Quantrill's Guerrillas became an official arm of the Confederate Army after May 1862, when the Confederate Congress approved the Partisan Ranger Act. Other leaders of Quantrill's Guerrillas included William C. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, David Pool, William Gregg, and George Todd. Some of the major engagements this deadly guerrilla force participated in included the Lawrence, Kansas, raid on August 21, 1863, the battle near Baxter Springs, Kansas, in October 1863, and two battles at and near Centralia in Missouri in September of 1864. The bulk of Quantrill's band wintered in Grayson County, Texas, from 1861 through 1864.

The K.G.C. played the major role in what is referred to as the Northwest Conspiracy. The Confederate plan was to use the great numbers of Knights in the Northern states to foster a revolution that would spread across Indiana, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and any other state in the North where it was feasible. The Baker-Turner Papers, part of the U.S. War Department’s conspiracy files, revealed much of the history of this widespread movement but were kept sealed for ninety years. James D. Horan, the first person ever allowed access to the U.S. War Department's Civil War conspiracy files and the Baker-Turner Papers in the early 1950s, published Confederate Agent: A Discovery in History in 1954, which details the Northwest Conspiracy. His work used these previously-sealed documents and information gathered by numerous investigators, including the private papers of Capt. Thomas H. Hines, C.S.A., of Kentucky, who was the mastermind behind the huge conspiracy.

Throughout the Civil War, one of the Knights of the Golden Circle's most important roles came in its infiltration of Union forces. Nowhere in the country was this influence more apparent than in the state of Missouri where K.G.C. members filled the ranks of the Enrolled Missouri Militia which was commonly known as the Paw Paw Militia. A newspaper article from the Daily Times of Leavenworth, Kansas, July 29, 1864, serves as a good example in their interview with a member of the Paw Paw named Andrew E. Smith. Smith said:

I am 22 years old and live in Platte county, about two miles west of Platte City I was a member of Captain Johnston's company of Pawpaw militia, under Major Clark, and served about six months.... I am a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle. I joined them at Platte City, and was sworn in by David Jenkins of that place. All of the Pawpaw militia, so far as I know, belong to them....

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Most historians accept this date of surrender as the official end of the Civil War. The Knights of the Golden Circle as an organization, however, continued to work to achieve their goals, which included a prosperous South, for many decades after the Civil War. What had been a secret society adapted to changing conditions and, after the war, became even more secretive than ever before.

In October 1864 U. S. Judge Advocate Joseph Holt submitted a detailed warning to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton about the dangers posed by the Knights of the Golden Circle that was, by that time, operating under various aliases. This document is commonly called the Holt Report, but its real title is A Western Conspiracy in aid of the Southern Rebellion.

After the war's end, the K.G.C. went underground and used many aliases to hide their activities which included making preparations for a second civil war should that option be necessary. Some K.G.C. members accompanied Confederate Gen. Joseph O. Shelby to Mexico. Some soldiers returned to their homes, while others relocated to more remote frontier areas like West Texas where they could help build towns and cities that conformed to their ideals. Some Knights like Jesse Woodson James, older brother Frank James, and Cole Younger turned to robbing Northern-owned railroads, businesses, and banks after the Civil War.

The Knights of the Golden Circle, according to most authorities, ceased its operations in 1916 for two primary reasons. The United States had entered World War I, and by that time most of the old Knights of the Golden Circle had died.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: An Authentic Exposition of the “K.G.C.” “Knights of the Golden Circle,” or, A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861, by A Member of the Order (Indianapolis, Indiana: C. O. Perrine, Publisher, 1861). Donald S. Frazier, Blood & Treasure: Confederate Empire in the Southwest (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996). Warren Getler and Bob Brewer, Rebel Gold: One Man’s Quest to Crack the Code Behind the Secret Treasure of the Confederacy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004). Dion Haco, ed., The Private Journal and Diary of John H. Surratt, The Conspirator (New York: Frederic A. Brady, Publisher, 1866). Joseph Holt, Report of the Judge Advocate General on “The Order of American Knights,” alias “The Sons of Liberty.” A Western Conspiracy in aid of the Southern Rebellion (Washington, D.C.: Union Congressional Committee, 1864). James D. Horan, Confederate Agent: A Discovery in History (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1954). Jesse Lee James, Jesse James and the Lost Cause (New York: Pageant Press, 1961). K.G.C., Records of the KGC Convention, 1860, Raleigh, N.C. (http://gunshowonthenet/AfterTheFact/KGC/KGC0571860.html), accessed May 5, 2010. Dr. Roy William Roush, The Mysterious and Secret Order of the Knights of the Golden Circle (Front Line Press, 2005).

Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group:

Jay Longley and Colin Eby

The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives

Monday, March 7, 2011



About the author: PAT SHANNAN is the assistant editor of American Free Pressnewspaper in Washington, D.C. He has been active in the effort to uncover the truth about U.S. presidential assassinations for 40 years. He now makes his home in Mississippi.

ONLY DAYS AFTER UNION SOLDIERS allegedly tracked down and shot dead the assassin of 16th President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the rumors began to fly: It wasn’t Booth that they shot; Booth escaped; he went back to Canada where the banksters had funded him in the first place; a Confederate soldier by the name of J.W. Boyd died in his place.

As with most government cover-ups, the official story did not mesh with the facts. But what was the truth? Most of the rumors were no more than inflated conjecture that grew with time, as all gossip always does. On the other hand, time sometimes also has a way of pushing the truth to the surface (as in “murder will out”), and this truth took over 70 years to appear in print for the first time and another 70 to be repeated here.

Nearly five years after being allegedly shot and killed and secretly buried, John Wilkes Booth (hereinafter “Booth” or “JWB”) sired a son born February 27, 1870. This is confirmed in the 70-year-old treasure tome written by Booth’s granddaughter, Izola Forrester, entitled This One Mad Act.

Forrester was born in 1878 in Baltimore and spent much of her early life in New York, Chicago and Boston when she reached school age. There she lived with her grandmother while her mother, Booth’s daughter, had carried on the family tradition of show business, appearing in theater productions all over the country.

In 1937, Izola wrote that because of her relationship to Booth which gave her access to the family records and because of the stories told to her by her mother (Booth’s daughter), grandmother (Booth’s wife) and her “Uncle Harry” (whom we will introduce shortly), and also because of long-secreted information given to her voluntarily by many responsible persons after learning that she was Booth’s granddaughter—not to mention the 40 years of ceaseless research she did to find new material and verify reports and rumors—she was able to conclude, without any doubt, that:

1) Booth, contrary to “common knowledge,” was married before the war and had his home in the Shenandoah Valley;

2) Lincoln’s assassination was instigated by men high in the order of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC), said to have been a branch of Freemasonry, flourishing in the North as well as in the South. They believed that the South could rise again, and did not disband until 1916. The Confederate gold, never found after the fall of Richmond, was believed to have been captured and controlled by this faction.;

3) Booth escaped from the Garrett Farm through the aid of this order and lived in exile (California, England and India) until his actual death in 1879 or later. Booth’s granddaughter claims about her book:

In this book I present my reasons for believing as I do. I realize that there are gaps in my story [for instance, at exactly what particular time Booth was in the various locations], due to the fact that many who knew it have died, but particularly because nearly all written evidence has been deliberately destroyed [mostly by government agents]. I hope that what has been left me, and what I have discovered through the help of many friends and strangers, will help piece the facts together and solve once and for all the mystery around John Wilkes Booth.


As most people learned in school or read in books and magazine articles, 26-year-old John Wilkes Booth, nationally renowned actor and known Southern sympathizer, silently slipped into the private box of Abraham Lincoln, where the president and his wife and another couple sat enjoying the presentation of Our American Cousin on Good Friday evening, April 14, 1865.

Booth had several known confederates whose pre-planned assignments were to simultaneously carry out the murders of other high-ranking administration officials—namely Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. These men and others were involved in a foiled kidnap plot of Lincoln exactly a month earlier, when the president was not riding in the carriage he was believed to be in late on the night of March 14.

The plot elevated to a plan of murder of the president, vice president and secretary of state because the war had ended with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Confederate army the previous Sunday, and Booth not only wanted revenge against the hated Lincoln but believed that Lee might reconsider and reorganize the troops if the Union administration was in disarray and without any leadership.

Those active with Booth in the murder plans included Lewis Thornton Powell, a large, handsome ex-Confederate soldier who had adopted the alias of Lewis Payne. He had been wounded and captured at Gettysburg, escaped from a hospital in Baltimore and joined John Singleton Mosby’s Confederate guerrilla rangers. In January of 1865, he deserted Mosby and went back to Baltimore, where he was arrested for assault on March 12. He was released after signing an oath of allegiance and a statement that he would not engage in activities against the North.

While he had used his own name of L.T. Powell when signing a receipt for clothing issued to him as a member of Mosby’s Rangers, he signed the oath of allegiance as “L. Payne.” (Because of identification problems, he would be referred to as Payne throughout the 1865 conspiracy trial, which was likely fine with the Powell family members back home.)

Powell (Payne) was the son of a Baptist minister in Florida. He was a clean-cut, well-coordinated and fearless young man who made an excellent impression upon all who saw him. Even the hangman who knew him in the prison and on the gallows later would comment that this young fellow conducted himself with dignity and admirable composure. Powell had the intelligence and savoir-faire to carry out the convincing deception necessary to penetrate to the very bedside of Secretary of State William H. Seward in an attempt to beat and stab him to death.

Booth also recruited George Atzerodt, a rather brutish carriage painter and blockade-runner, who provided another pair of willing hands, at least for the attempt to kidnap Lincoln. When Booth changed his plan from kidnapping to murder, a protesting Atzerodt was the man he assigned to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson. Atzerodt’s value lay in his familiarity with the countryside and the river crossings in the Port Tobacco area, but as it soon turned out, he lacked the stomach for murder.

Also part of Booth’s group was a young drugstore clerk named David Herold, who guided Powell to Seward’s house and then followed John Wilkes Booth out of town (southeast) across the Navy Yard Bridge, accompanying him on the escape ride and acting as a guide and personal servant.

Booth and others of his group frequented the Washington rooming house of Mary Surratt at 541 H Street NW. (Today, it is a Chinese restaurant.) She had moved there six months earlier, following her husband’s death, and rented out the family farm and tavern 10 miles south in Surrattsville (now Clinton, Maryland) to a man named John Lloyd, a retired D.C. policeman.

Mary’s son John was deeply involved in the conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln, but luckily for him, was out of town when Booth changed the plan to murder. It was always questionable whether his mother was actually involved in any plot but the prosecutor’s persuaded a witness to point the finger at her and she was convicted. She is the only woman in the history of the republic to hang in an official execution.

At the height of the hysteria in the days immediately following the assassination, over 200 people were under suspicion and arrested. Ironically, Mary’s 23-year-old son, John, who was certainly guiltier than most of the earlier conspiracy, managed to evade punishment when he was captured and prosecuted two years later, because of a lack of evidence against him.

Booth was familiar with the popular play Our American Cousin, and knew that one of the uproarious comedic lines would come at approximately 10:15 p.m. when actor Harry Hawk barked at the female character, “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologizing old man-trap!”

The follow-up lines might have been even funnier: “Well now when I think what I’ve thrown away in hard cash today, I’m apt to call myself some awful hard names. $400,000 is an awful big pile for a man to light a cigar with. If that gal had only given herself to me in exchange, it wouldn’t have been a bad bargain. But I dare no more ask that gal to bemy wife than I dare ask Queen Victoria to dance a Cape Cod reel.”

The audience never heard it. The screams from Mrs. Lincoln disrupted the play’s proceedings, quickly followed by the recognizable actor John Wilkes Booth leaping to the stage from the president’s box, landing on and breaking the fibula (the smaller of the two main bones of the lower leg) in his left leg because he was thrown off balance when the spur on his right boot caught in the colorful bunting decorating the outside of the box as he descended.

Booth (or Herold, following Booth’s instructions) had drilled a small peephole that afternoon through the inside door to the Presidential box. Then that night, shortly after 10 o’clock, he had entered via an outside door to a small standing area, jammed the outside door with a crowbar, and silently lay in wait for the comedic punch line by Hawk before entering and shooting Lincoln in the back of the head. Most in the audience below never heard the shot and were actually first alerted to it by the wild screams of the first lady.

A young Brooklyn newspaper reporter, who would later attain immortality as a poet, was in the audience that night, and his pen provided the most interesting and vivid description of all. Walt Whitman said, in part:

Through the general hum following the stage pause, with the change of positions etc, came the muffled sound of a pistol shot, which not one-hundredth part of the audience heard at the time—and yet—a moment’s hush—somehow, surely a vague, startled thrill, and then—through the ornamented, draperied, and stripped space way of the president’s box, a sudden figure, a man, raises himself with hands and feet, stands a moment on the railing, leaps below to the stage (a distance of 14 or 15 feet), falls out of position, catching his boot heel in the copious drapery (the American flag), falls on one knee, quickly recovers himself, rises as if nothing had happened (he really sprains his ankle but unfelt then)—and the figure—Booth, the murderer, dressed in plain black broadcloth, bare headed, with a full head of glossy raven hair, and his eyes like some mad animal’s, flashing with light and resolution; yet with a certain strange calmness, holds aloft a large knife—walks along not much back of the footlights—turns fully toward the audience, his face of statuesque beauty, lit by those basilisk eyes, flashing with desperation, perhaps insanity—launches out in a firm and steady voice—the words “Sic semper tyrannis”—and then walks with neither slow nor very rapid pace diagonally across to the back of the stage and disappears. (Had not all this terrible scene—making the mimic ones preposterous— had it not all been rehearsed, in blank, by Booth

Further, in the closing paragraph of his news report and after his description of the cries of Mary Todd Lincoln and the mayhem in the audience that followed, Whitman also observed and commented upon the behavior of the federal agents and soldiers moving into action:

In the midst of all this, the soldiers of the president’s guard, with others suddenly drawn in the scene, burst in—some 200 altogether—they storm the house, through all the tiers, especially the upper ones–inflamed with fury, literally charging the audience with fixed bayonets, muskets and pistols, shouting, “Clear out! Clear out, you sons of bitches.” Such wild scenes, or the suggestion of it rather, inside the playhouse that night!

Whitman would soon follow with his poem, Captain, My Captain, which seemed the cry of the nation at the time, at least in the North. The things he saw that night must have been the inspiration for the poem.

After leaping to the stage and snapping the fibula in his left leg (Whitman thought it was only a sprain), Booth limped to the rear door, mounted a horse held by an unwitting confrere and rode to the Navy Yard Bridge. Even though it was after the 9 p.m. curfew for leaving the city, Booth talked his way past the sentry by saying that he needed to get home for the night. Most of the sentries had relaxed the rules because the war was by then officially over. Booth then joined up with David Herold on the Maryland side of the district limits and began the ride toward Dr. Samuel Mudd’s home in rural Maryland with the hope of gaining some medical relief for his aching leg.

Booth and Mudd had met at least once the previous autumn regarding the purchase of a horse, and when Booth and Herold arrived at 4 a.m. following the assassination, Herold was riding that horse. Booth wore a false beard in hopes that the good doctor wouldn’t recognize him. But, even if Mudd had recognized Booth, there was no way for him to have known of the deed Booth had committed back in the city six hours earlier. However, out of fear of being implicated, Mudd said that he didn’t recognize the man he’d helped. This was simply unbelievable to the officials at the military tribunal and probably served more to convict him than anything else.

(These trials by the military for a civilian crime were later ruled to be illegal but too late to save all of those convicted.)

Mudd set the leg and put a splint on it, after cutting off Booth’s left boot and stashing it under the bed. Late the next morning, Booth and Herold continued south, eventually crossed the Potomac River into Virginia, and wandered thereabouts for days, receiving little assistance from the locals.

Twelve days after the assassination, on April 26, (the alleged) Booth was surrounded by U.S. Army troops while sleeping in a barn at the Garrett farm in Virginia. The orders to the soldiers were to capture him alive, but when the barn was set afire to flush the men out, a crazed sergeant by the name of Boston Corbett shot Booth through the neck as (the alleged) Booth emerged from the burning barn. “Booth” died two hours later, according to the official story, and his body was taken to the Washington arsenal and buried without autopsy, and this is where the official story began to look suspect, even in 1865.

All the soldiers were sworn to secrecy and threatened with court-martial if they talked to anyone about what actually happened that night. Therefore, the official story was the only one that was ever allowed to make it into the history books. But the quiet record of multiple eyewitnesses attests to the fact that most of the important things about this case were a myth.

Even Edwin Stanton’s now famous quote, supposedly uttered at Lincoln’s deathbed when the president was pronounced dead at 7:23 the next morning—“Now he belongs to the ages”—was apparently written by Stanton later but never spoken at the scene, according to several who were there. Nobody remembered hearing it that way.

History is written by the winners, and the deification of Lincoln for the future generations was already underway. In reality, Lincoln was a tyrant willing to stoop to anything to win and the greatest violator of the U.S. Constitution in history—except for possible later equals, Franklin Roosevelt and George W. Bush—of all the 43 presidents to date.

 [Editor’s comment: In order to disavow any suggestion of Southern loyalty and bias, let us point out here that this author was born in Lincoln’s home state of Illinois and was an early hoodwinkee and admirer of the renowned rail splitter.—Ed.]

Lincoln himself stressed how important it was that the races remain separated, lest we experience the integration strife we see today, making his 1863 “Emancipation Proclamation” that of a hypocrite. That whole thing was no more than a move of political expediency and, outside of Washington D.C. and other federal enclaves, had no power of law anyway—least of all in the South. The Confederate States of America (C.S.A.) was a separate nation from the U.S.A. Therefore, the proclamation had no more power of law in the Southern states, formerly of the United States, than it would have had in China or France.

So that signing was benign and merely a slick political trick of the times (which happens to live on in the deceptive history of today) compared to the shredding of the Constitution Lincoln did whenever it suited him. In addition to deporting to Canada an Ohio senator who was outspoken against the administration and sending Union soldiers to raid and destroy, in an attempt to put out of business, newspaper offices critical of his tactics, even in his home state of Illinois, Lincoln’s most outrageous acts—long hushed by the history books—were his forced incarcerations of a hundred Maryland state legislators.

Imagine: you are a lawfully elected Maryland state representative, certainly more secure in your freedom and position than the average citizen in any society, and you get a boisterous knock on your front door in the middle of the night that results in your arrest and incarceration in the hoosegow. That was the picture in 1861. Lincoln’s problem was that Maryland was about to vote to secede from the union and become the 12th state of the Confederacy. This would have created the surrounding of the District of Columbia on all sides by the enemy, and Lincoln refused to tolerate such a certain result. Instead, the entire contingent of Maryland state legislators, totally innocent of any crime, was arrested before they could vote and spent the duration of the war in jail.

Scoundrel Lincoln was not nearly as popular as the history books would like for us to believe. In fact, there seems to be far more recorded incidents of cheering rather than weeping at the hearing of the news that Lincoln had been shot down, but one must read uncensored history to learn of this and other astounding recorded facts.

Twisting of the news in order that it always remains favorable to the current regime is no new thing, and it certainly hasn’t changed to this day, as anyone who pays attention to television can attest. Just as Lee Harvey Oswald had to be portrayed as the “lone nut” assassin of JFK a century later, the world had to believe that John Wilkes Booth and a few ragtag followers had pulled off this crime of the century. In both cases the conspiracy reached into not only the highest echelons of power but also into secret groups that had every intention of remaining secret. Hence, the news distortion and the suppression of truth.

What the soldiers reported initially, before being quieted, was that they had been told by Mr. Garrett and one of his sons that there were three men in the barn instead of two and that several of them had heard a horse gallop away just as they were approaching the barn and readying for a confrontation. If this was Booth escaping on horseback, which now seems likely when coupled with his granddaughter’s personal knowledge
and collected information, then only David Herold was left to know, and he remained close-mouthed for the next two months until he was executed on July 7.

Together with Dr. Mudd, Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlin, Ned Spangler received a life sentence at Fort Jefferson, on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, Florida.O’Laughlin died there in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867, which earned Dr. Mudd a pardon for his medical assistance to all the ailing. Arnold and Spangler were also pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in the spring of 1869, and Spangler made his home with the Mudds in Virginia for the rest of his life.

Lewis Powell (Payne), George Atzerodt and David Herold all died on the gallows with Mary Surratt at Fort McNair prison on July 7, 1865.

The body of the alleged assassin was taken to the city and buried in a secret unmarked grave beneath the floor of the Washington arsenal, which at one time served as a penitentiary. It would remain there until 1869.

Although this man had “JWB” tattooed on the back of one hand, he had red hair, a scruffy beard and a broken right leg, and looked nothing like the strikingly handsome Booth. One soldier who knew Booth was threatened by Lafayette Baker, head of the Secret Service, for voicing his emphatic opinion that the body was not that of John Wilkes Booth.

Some accounts had it that the dead man was actually one John W. Boyd, but this information was never confirmed. One theory was that, because Booth actually had his initials tattooed on the back of his hand, Union officers inked the same onto the dead man’s hand to give more credence to the false identification.

John L. Smith was a member of the party that surrounded the Garrett barn. He knew Booth and had seen him only a week before the assassination but waited until 1904 to give an interview to the New York Herald, wherein he said Booth looked “well and as fleshy as I had ever seen him. But as he lay there on the [Garrett] porch with his head in my lap, I would not have known him for John Wilkes Booth. His face was very thin; his black hair had turned quite gray [Booth was 26 at the time].

It is obvious from his words that Mr. Smith, nearly 40 years later, still feared the repercussions should he state emphatically what he knew to be true: that the dying body in his arms that night did not belong to his friend, John Wilkes Booth. Such was the lingering fear of the day.

It should be noted that all the descriptions of Booth, when alive, by the members of the Garrett family as well as soldiers and cohorts, including Confederate officers Capt. William Jett, Maj. R. Ruggles and Lt. Bainbridge, who had aided him during his flight through Virginia, dwelled upon his outstanding feature: his hair, of “a glossy, raven-black hue.”


Many people, at both the Garrett farm and the Washington arsenal, knew that the corpse with them was not that of the real presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth. Since we know Booth was definitely at the Garrett farm earlier, it is reasonable to assume that the third man in the barn (as noted by Garrett and his son) who escaped on horseback in the nick of time, could have been nobody else but John Wilkes Booth.

The facts contributed later by both his wife and his slave boy (who would travel with him overseas for the next five years) fit with this assumed scenario. Booth’s marriage to Izola D’Arcy in January and the birth of their daughter in October of 1859 were kept secret from the public. This allowed him the freedom to acquire the reputation of being a “ladies’ man” throughout the rest of his career.

They maintained a house on a secluded farm in northwest Virginia, where Izola raised the child and Wilkes stayed when he was not on the road with his theater appearances. The author (“Izola II”) never knew the exact location of her grandparents’ farm, never naming a town or a county. She said repeatedly that the house and farm were in the Shenandoah Valley, but as close as she ever came to pinpointing it was when she wrote that it was between Winchester, Virginia and Martinsburg, which are 23 miles apart.

Martinsburg, of course, has been a part of West Virginia since West Virginia seceded from Virginia and officially became a (Unionist) state in 1863 (putting it at odds with its former brothers in Confederate Virginia).

She concludes that John Wilkes Booth escaped on horseback from the burning barn outside of Bowling Green, Virginia in the early morning hours of April 27, with the help of the Knights of the Golden Circle. This would explain why he lingered so long in this very dangerous area after his successful escape from Washington. He was waiting to hook up with his helpers who not only had fresh horses and supplies but money for his much longer ultimate escape route.

Apparently, this help arrived shortly before the Union soldiers got there to apprehend him. “John W. Boyd,” real or contrived, was undoubtedly the KGC contact who brought Booth money and a fresh horse and somehow located him at the Garrett farm. (Could Garrett have been an active KGC player who managed to get word of Booth’s needs to his cohorts in Mosby’s raiders? This is not unlikely.)

To his home and the trustworthy Izola was the most likely place he went first to further plan and execute the details of his more permanent escape. Few people even knew of the existence of this house, let alone its location. Because of an earlier falling-out with his family, it may have been that he never even told his own mother of the whereabouts of the remote farm and home.

(This might be indicated again in 1869, when the body buried as Booth in the Washington arsenal was ordered released to the family by President Johnson: It was Booth’s mother—and not the legal next of kin, Izola—who took possession and had it buried in the Booth family plot in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery. On the other hand, public mythology had it that Booth was never married anyway, so his mother
would have been the logical one to contact for the reburial.

Ironically, Izola I was in San Diego in 1869, sleeping with the real John Wilkes Booth and conceiving their son at about the same time his mother was burying the fake Booth in Baltimore.)

Incidentally, Izola II remembered her great-grandmother Booth in her last years with fondness and was treated very kindly by her. Therefore, we can know that the Booth side of the family eventually became totally aware of JWB’s offspring. Izola II believed her grandfather would have gone there first to tell his wife the details of the trouble she already knew from newspapers that he had gotten himself into, knowing that she was the one person left in the world upon whom he could depend and trust (even Edwin Booth, himself a famous actor, had not only condemned his younger brother’s act but had disowned him for a time). He knew that he could explain to her how the KGC had funded him from the start and how they would protect him in the underground travel that would take him to the West Coast.

The well-known “fact” that he was already dead would assist him greatly in his movement across country. He was headed to California, but apparently used a safer, circuitous route through both Canada and Mexico.

Certainly they laid out many plans that final night or two they had together before Booth had to skedaddle quickly. He must have told her that she would have to quietly sell the house and small farm before slipping out to California to meet him, which is what she did. Somehow Booth was able to slip through whatever security might still have been on guard, likely being protected and guided by his KGC supporters en route to an obscure train station. The train ticket would not have been purchased by him but handed to him (in disguise) just before he boarded. It is also unlikely that he traveled alone and unprotected for that long a time.


Long before she wrote her book (published by Colonial Press, Clinton, Mass.) in 1937, “Izola II” suspected that her grandfather’s source of funds and assistance was the KGC. Her grandmother had told her that he was “the tool of others,” and she often picked up inklings of the same from the writings of several other people.

Izola II’s earliest memory of the conflict within the family regarding her grandfather went back to the living room of her grandmother’s home in Boston when she was only four or five. Her grandmother Booth was visited for a few days by her own elderly Aunt Fanny, who had raised Izola I, and the two were very close—except on the subject of John Wilkes Booth. Aunt Fanny had been against the marriage from the start and now hated Booth more in “death” than she ever had when she knew him.

A large portrait of Booth hung over the couch in the living room, and Aunt Fanny was knitting. “The portrait of such a man should be destroyed or concealed forever,” she said firmly, “instead of being shamelessly hung there for all the world to see.”

Izola laughed at the folly of her aunt’s words, “for all the world to see,” when there wasn’t a living soul but her own family around her home for miles. She declared that she was the head of this household and if she wanted to hang the portrait of the one man she had ever loved in this lifetime, it was nobody else’s business.

It was then that Izola II realized that the handsome man on the wall that they were talking about, and whom she had always wondered about, was her grandfather. She continued to pick up tidbits of information through her early years without realizing the seriousness of the situation.

In third grade in a Boston elementary school in 1886, she volunteered when the teacher asked who in the class had relatives killed in the Civil War on either side. Izola raised her hand and proudly told of her grandfather who was a hero for the Southern cause and was killed in battle but she didn’t know which one. Then she said, “. . . and his name was John Wilkes Booth.”

Her teacher was aghast but quickly recovered enough to realize that rather than risk embarrassing the child in front of the others, she asked that Izola II remain for a few minutes after school. Even then she did not divulge the truth about her grandfather’s “heroism,” believing that her family would tell her when she was older, but only warned her that she must not ever mention again what she had told the class.

Nearly a half-century later, Izola wrote that it was the kindest thing that her teacher could have done at the time—a time when passions were still hot, and an eight-year-old did not need that stigma attached to her while she was growing up.

There was also the question of her teenage Uncle Harry, who was only eight years older than she and lived with them, but she would not fully resolve that question until just before his death in 1918 at age 48.

But Harry was the greatest evidence that anyone could imagine to prove Booth had not died in 1865. His mother, Izola I, quietly sold the homestead and left Virginia in 1867, taking the seven-year-old Rita (Ogarita Rosalie, almost 8, Izola II’s mother-to-be) to San Diego, California. There she reunited with her husband, John Wilkes Booth, and remained with him for more than two years. Many witnesses remembered them there from this era, but for reasons unknown Izola returned to the East Coast in 1869, this time arriving with 10-year-old Rita and pregnant with a son, Harry.

Rita also related to her daughter later of the last time she remembered seeing her father before he left in the night from their Shenandoah Valley
home in 1865 with his Negro slave aide, Henry. She had been awakened from a sleep by her black “mammy” in what seemed to be the dead of night, and wrapped hastily in a shawl. She thought there must be danger again from U.S. Army forces in the neighborhood for she had often been taken like this and carried into her mother’s room, while the household waited fearfully. But this time she was taken downstairs to the front veranda where she saw her mother standing, leaning over the railing to talk to someone on horseback. Then she remembered her nurse lifting
her over the rail to the arms of her father, who held her while he spoke in low tones to her mother.

“With him, she told me,” said the author, “and also on horseback, was Aunt Sarah’s son, Henry, the young Negro who had been Booth’s dresser (for the stage) in Richmond in 1859. My mother said that she wondered why both women were weeping and embracing their loved ones in farewell, and why the two men rode away into the night. She told me she always associated this scene with the silky mane of the horse, as she had sat there before Booth in the saddle, listening to voices and broken words, and trying to braid the long wavy hair of the horse’s mane.

Even at five-and-a-half years old she knew something serious was happening. Her father had often come and gone like this by night. But why, she thought, was this time so strangely different? She knew partly the reason when her father never came again to see them. Later she was told that her father had been killed on “special duty” for the Confederacy.

“Harry had told me that he, too, had heard the story from his sister’s lips, and even from his mother’s, but to the effect that Booth had been hidden away in his home for several days, at the time of his escape. This could only have happened after he left the Garrett Farm, because there would have been no time for him to have done it during the period of his escape that has been so fully accounted for.”


Harry was 48, living in New York City, and not in good health during this last year of his life. True to the Booth heritage (he was 6’2,” dark haired, slender and handsome as his father), he loved the limelight and had a wonderful singing voice. But Harry was tormented, and his niece, the author, knew why.

Izola II had been intrigued by the story of her grandfather ever since the incident with her third grade teacher, and, after she was grown, made it her life’s mission to learn the truth. The whispers, the abrupt cutoff of conversations when she would enter the room during her childhood, and the suppression of information after her grandmother and mother had passed on had only served to encourage her.

She had first broached the subject with Harry Jr. in 1902 but didn’t get very far at the time. She would have been 24 that year, “blessed or cursed with incurable curiosity,” she said; and Harry 32.
“Let the dead past bury its dead, my dear,” her uncle told her. “You will do no good by dragging out family skeletons or in trying to find out a secret that those we love have thought best to conceal. The lives of our mothers were shadowed by tragedy. Try to escape from it as I do, by forgetting it. We have a new generation to consider in our children.”

Izola II was unable to do that and continued to gather information over the years from others. Finally, literally on his deathbed with but 24 hours left, Harry Stevenson told Izola II that the man who posed as his father all the years of his youth, Harry Sr., had told him the whole story after he was grown—that his real father was John Wilkes Booth.

“You are not my son, Harry. You are Ogarita’s own brother,” Harry Sr. told him when he was 19. The young man was not surprised to hear it. The message arrived as more of a confirmation than a revelation. He had suspected for a long time. His first sensation was one of deep thankfulness, he told his niece, because he loved his sister more deeply than anyone in the world. He listened while the older man told him in the
same calm, detached manner how it had been deemed expedient for his mother to travel out to California secretly, to meet her husband there in the late 1860s, and Harry learned the truth of the circumstances of his birth.

Harry Sr. said he had given her the security of his own name, and personal services in making the long, overland journey and had delivered her safely into the care of Booth, when they met him in San Diego in 1868. (Izola later saw this information confirmed in her grandmother’s family Bible, where she had recorded the date of Harry’s birth and her imaginary marriage to Harry Sr. to legitimize it.)

Afterward, the elder Stevenson said that he traveled north to Sacramento and San Francisco, where he had friends living who had been KGC members in the South and had settled out west after the war. He was an excellent poker player and often did it for a living.

After two years had elapsed, he accompanied her back to Baltimore. When she and Rita arrived in San Francisco, Booth was not with her, and he had no knowledge of where she had spent the intervening months or what had become of Booth, except that she told him that he was in Asia. He imagined that she had gone there with him but didn’t ask. He did not want to possess any knowledge that might implicate and incriminate her in the future. All of the KGC members knew that each was told only what was necessary to know, and Harry Sr. had already done his part. He was no longer in the “need to know” category.


During the war, Grandmother Izola, Booth’s wife, enjoyed the household services of a Negro maid, affectionately known as “Aunt Sarah.” Sarah had a son named Henry who became Booth’s traveling mate on suspected spying missions in the North, dresser for the stage and confidant. It was Henry who left the Shenandoah Valley home with Booth around the first of May 1865, never to see his mother again. He did surface in New York City in the mid-1870s and confided some secrets of his long-ago past with at least one other close friend of Booth’s from the Richmond theater days.

Jimmy Wells had always suspected that Booth had escaped but kept quiet for 10 years. When he ran into Henry while walking up Broadway, he recognized him at once because Henry had been his attendant also in the Richmond theater. Wells managed to draw him into the lobby of a nearby hotel and press him for some delicate details known to very few, even though Henry tried to evade questioning.

Henry reluctantly admitted that he had returned from the Orient in 1871 and that he had been there with John Wilkes. When asked what he was doing now, Henry replied, “I’s been wif Marse Edwin ever since Marse John got away.”

Wells persisted until he could obtain an address in Bombay for Booth, then corresponded back and forth with the “dead” man for some time. The signature on the bottom of each letter—“John Wilkes”—examined by others later, was identical to those manuscript parts of old plays signed by Booth, which Wells still possessed. Of course, Wells had no doubt all along as to whom he had been writing to and from whom he was receiving mail, because of the content of each letter.

The author found Wells' son in Seattle in 1932 and exchanged letters. Mr. Wells wrote, “I heard my father say many times when I was a boy, ‘I know John Wilkes Booth was never captured.’”

Many years after the fact, Booth’s boyhood friend and fellow actor, John Matthews described bumping into “Johnny,” as he always called him, on Pennsylvania Avenue near 13th Street on the late afternoon of April 14, 1865. Matthews remembered with startling detail not only his final meeting and conversation with his old friend but the words of the letter Booth handed him for delivery to John Coyle of the National Intelligencer newspaper. Matthews never delivered the envelope but instead, upon learning what Booth had done later the same night, opened it, read it, contemplated the contents and its likely incriminating effect on himself and promptly burned it his fireplace. His recall of the words, however, was remarkable, undoubtedly aided by years of memorizing theater lines.

It was not published until December 3, 1881, when all danger from being charged with complicity had passed. Izola II discovered the long, detailed statement in a newspaper clipping in one of her grandmother’s old scrapbooks. Afterward, she looked up the elderly Matthews while in New York in 1902.

When Matthews learned that the visitor in his parlor was Rita’s daughter, he dropped what he was doing and welcomed her with open arms. They spent the balance of the afternoon together sharing and reminiscing, and his recall was still keen.

He told her again many of the same details that he had told the newspaper man in 1865. On the last page of her 1937 book, Izola Forrester, at age 59, synopsized her lifetime of research with this paragraph:

The strongest proof of the escape, to me, is Booth’s son, Harry. No one who had ever known him could question the relationship. Even strangers, all during his life, observed the resemblance and commented on it, to his everlasting embarrassment and unhappiness. He was not proud of the fact that he was Booth’s son. He dreaded being connected or involved with the tragic circumstances around the assassination, just as my mother did. Grandmother stood apart from it when I knew her. It was as if she had outlived its personal horror and only lived the romance of her youth in her memories of Booth. But to my mother and her brother it was an ever-present secret menace, that people might find out they were the children of the assassin of Lincoln. Whether, so far as she was concerned, this feeling died away, I cannot say, but during the last three years of her life, she wore his picture openly in the medallion brooch at her throat.

The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives

More Negros in the Ku Klux Klan

"Jesse James and the Lost Cause"
by Jesse Lee James, published  by Pageant Press, New York, 1961.

Excerpt:  (Near St. Clair, Texas) "...It was right there, at this spot, that we  decided then and there we would join the secret military police  system of the old Southland. That organization was the original Klu- Klux-Klan. Some of us were already members of The Knights of the  Golden Circle. A brand new idea came into being, since our faithful  Negro cooks and camp tenders had helped us without fear. We elected  to include into the Klu-Klux-Klan as many trusted Negroes as we could  gather around us, so believe it or not, in time we had enlisted and trained nearly twenty thousand Negro KKK's into our police system, so  they, the Negroes, could police and supervise their own race of  people, thus freeing us for the more dangerous and critical details  in dealing with the renegade whites, and those lousy Carpetbaggers."

The Knights of the Golden Circle Research and Historical Archives

The Knights of the Golden Circle are active again. Bodies are piling up fast

The Knights of the Golden Circle are active again. Bodies are piling up fast
This novel by Gwen Mayo, we have covered it here before, seems popular with romance readers and is again making some slight literary news.

Circle of Dishonor
by Gwen Mayo
ISBN-13: 978-1-61706-024-3
Obsessed with finding the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society responsible for her brother’s death, former Pinkerton operative Nessa Donnelly assumed his identity and followed his killers to Lexington, Kentucky. The trail ended there, and fourteen years have gone by.
When local prostitute Belle Brezing turns to her for help, Nessa is immersed in a murder case that threatens to expose all of her secrets. She is dealing with more than murder.
If Nessa doesn’t find the killer, she stands to lose everything—maybe even her life.
Book information:
Circle of Dishonor
by Gwen Mayo
ISBN-13: 978-1-61706-024-3
Review: A World of Secrets
[Gwen] Mayo's depiction of late-19th century Kentucky is fascinating, and the mystery is ably handled. The author has a knack for the telling detail, giving us a picture of a society struggling to recover from the consequences of the Civil War. Recommended.
- The Historical Novel Society

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Negros in the Ku Klux Klan

I wanted to bring this to your attention because here is an unrelated source that gives some credence to a statement found in the book "Jesse James Was One of His Names" by Del Schrader.

 Excerpt: Chapter 8 - The Odyssey of John Wilkes Booth
"Not many people in either the North or South knew that right after the end of the Civil War we recruited twenty-thousand Negro KKK members. They were the most intelligent and reliable blacks we could find. Our theory was that Negroes would take orders easier from other Negroes. They weren't burning crosses or flogging, they were giving counsel and even financial help to the freed, but bewildered slaves. They kept busy knocking stupid ideas out of Negro heads put there by unscrupulous Carpetbaggers."

Compare the statement from the book with the article written below.

Negro Members of the KKK
Updated 3/27/10

My first source of Negro Klan membership is the book, "The Ku Klux Spirit", by J.A. Rogers, noted Negro historian of the 1920's. The Ku Klux Spirit was first published in 1923, by Messenger Publishing Co. It was republished in 1980, by Black Classic Press. On page 34 of his book we find the amazing passage: "A fact not generally known is that there were thousands of Negro Klansmen. These were used as spies on other Negroes and on Northern Whites."

    Very interesting. In the 1920's, there were plenty of original Klansmen still living as well as many other people of both races who lived during the Reconstruction Era. J.A. Rogers would have been able to interview many. Why would a Black historian make such a thing up? And if he did make it up there would have been plenty of people who would have objected. His book would not have survived to this day. Yet, it did.

    My second source is a book written by a Carpetbagger, Albion Winegar Tourgee (1838-1905). In 1880 he published his book, "A Fool's Errand", (New York: Fords, Howard and Hubert). It was republished in 1989 by Louisiana State University Press as, "The Invisible Empire". On page 79 of his book we find the passage: "There were no Colored men in the band (of Klansmen) that night. Their hands were not covered. I could see their boots and pants, and I could judge from their hands and feet. Most of them were genteel people, besides being white people. I could also have told by their language if there had been any Colored people among them. Their language was that of white men, and cultivated men."

   OK, why claim that no Colored men were riding with the Klan that night unless the witness had seen Colored men with the Klan on another occasion? The men were in their robes since the witness had to look at their uncovered hands to see that no Colored men were among them. If he's not telling the truth, why would a Carpetbagger, of all people, ever make such a thing up?

     My third source is, "Ku Klux Klan, It's Origins, Growth, and Disbandment", by J.C. Lester (one of the six original founders of the first Ku Klux Klan) and D.L. Wilson (another early Klansman). The book was first published in 1884. (I have an original copy). Reprints of this book are available from us for $7.00. The book was re-printed in 1905. In that edition, Walter L. Fleming, Ph.D., added an introduction. Again in 1905, there were still plenty of original Klansmen and others who had lived during the Reconstruction Era. In the introduction we find Fleming's statement: "Many of the genuine Unionists later joined in the movement (the KKK), and there were some few Negro members, I have been told."

   Now here we are told that there were "some few Negro members". Above we were told that there "were thousands of Negro Klansmen." But that is relative. When one considers that the original KKK had over 400,000 members "some few Negro members" could have totaled several thousand!

    My fourth source is an more modern book, "Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography", by Jack Hurst. On page 305 we find this interesting quote: "...(the Klan was) reorganized to oppose radical proponents (the Radical Republicans) of what it perceived to be Black domination, NOT to scourge Blacks themselves. Although it has been written that Ku Klux Klan ranks were open only to the more than 100,000 honorably discharged ex-Confederate veterans, the hierarchy in some areas and some instances seems to have accepted and even recruited Blacks, provided they went along with Conservative-Democratic political philosophy. In Memphis of late 1868, sixty-five Blacks organized a "Colored Democratic Club" under the watchful eye of Klansman-editor Gallaway - - who according to an account in the Appeal, "made a motion on behalf of the White men present, that they give employment and protection to Colored democrats."

    So, the Klan not only accepted and recruited Blacks in some areas, but a Klan leader made a motion that White men give employment and protection to Colored democrats. That in itself speaks volumes. Yes, volumes of ignored facts of Klan, Negro, and American history.

    That is all I have for documentation that there were Negro members of the original Ku Klux Klan. But, that in itself, is enough to prove their existence! The only thing to do now is to discover more documentation of what may very well be the least known chapter in Black  American history. I said before that Americans do not know their own history. In time I will add this to my web page, but how many of you know that there were millions of White slaves (not bonded servants, but true slaves for life) in this country? That there were free Negroes who owned slaves? That there were free Negroes who fought gallantly for the Confederate States? That the Confederate Army did not discriminate against, or pay unequally its Negro soldiers? This and more, in time will be added. But for now, back to the Klan.

    When the Klan was revived in 1915 it was originally just for Protestant White men. In time the Klan added the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, teenager and children's groups, groups for the foreign born and Colored men.

     Concerning the Colored Klansmen of the 20th century my first source is, "Women of the Klan, Racism and Gender in the 1920's", by Kathleen M. Blee. (1991, University of California Press). On page 169, we find the passage, " Even more strangely, the Klan tried to organize an order of Black Protestants, a Klan "Colored division" in Indiana and other states. Despite promises that the new order would have "all the rights of membership" of the White Klan, much preparation went into ensuring that the values of white supremacy would be preserved as the Klan expanded its racial base. The group was to wear red robes, white capes, and blue masks and was prohibited from being seen in public with White Klansmen or handling any membership funds."

   Well, if any of you ever find such a red, white, and blue robe in an antique shop or old trunk somewhere it would be as significant an historical find as discovering an original Klan robe. Likewise with any photos of the Colored Klansmen, newspapers articles, or anything else pertaining to them. Let me know if you do. (I think I'll make a couple reproductions of their robes for display.) It is presently unknown just how far the Colored Man's Klan went or how long they lasted. When the men's Klan had to disband in 1944, the separate Women of the Ku Klux Klan organization did not. They changed their name to the Women's Christian Patriotic Association and continued up to the 1960's. Could this order of Black Protestants have changed its name and still be with us to this day with its origins unknown to historians as well as its own present members?

    Now to further add to this my next source of information is from the KKK, itself. In their book, "K.K.K. Friend or Foe: Which?", by attorney Blaine Mast and published in 1924 a chapter is dedicated to discussing the KKK and its relationship to the Black population. In this chapter we see the passage:

   "The KKK claims that there is no good reason why the Colored people may not form a Ku Klux Klan of their own, and, as far as the writer knows, such an institution may exist in America. Indeed, we were credibly informed that some months ago a Klan gathering took place in an adjoining state, which was attended by some 20 colored men, for a general invitation had been extended. Those Negroes were so favorably impressed with what a distinguished speaker said, and with the general character and demeanor of the meeting, that they approached the speaker and others in authority and inquired if it were not possible for the Colored people to form a Klan of their own race. If they could get permission to organize they were anxious to do so and hoped for assistance from the officers of the KKK. So, in this particular instance, at least, some Colored men had no fear in associating with Klansmen."

   The chapter then went on to outline the ground work for such a Black Klan. It is of interest that in the same book, another chapter is dedicated to discussing the possible formation of a Jewish branch of the Ku Klux Klan. A reprint of this book is available from us for $7.00.

    We have recently made a new historical find concerning Negroes in the KKK that you will find surprising. It appears that in some cases Whites and Blacks belonged to the same local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan. Our source of information is from the book: Hard Times by Studs Terkel (1970, New York). The book is about the conditions in this country during the Great Depression. On page 239 we read:

    "The Ku Klux was formed on behalf of people that wanted a decent living, both black and white. Half the coal camp was colored. It wasn't anti-colored. The black people had the same responsibilities as the white. Their lawn was just as green as the white man's. They got the same rate of pay. There was two colored who belonged to it. I remember those two coming around my father and asking questions about it. They joined. The pastor of our community church was a colored man. He was Ku Klux. It was the only protection the working man had. ....... One time a Negro slapped a white boy. They didn't give him any warning. They whipped him and ran him out of town. If a white man slapped a colored kid, they'd have dome the same thing. They didn't go in for beating up Negroes because they were Negroes. What they did was keep the community decent to live in. What they did object to was obscenity and drinking."