“An Awesometalk With” Nikaela Zimmerman, Kansas State Historical Society; owners of the Lincoln conspirators gallows crossbeam

June 24, 2009: Barry Cauchon 

nzimmerman

Nikaela Zimmerman, Assistant Registrar/Conservation Technician for the Kansas State Historical Society

Earlier this month, John Elliott, my friend and research partner on Fort McNair and the Washington Arsenal Penitentiary, sent me a photo of an artifact in the collection of the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS). It is a portion of the gallows crossbeam that was used to hang the four Lincoln conspirators. I contacted Nikaela Zimmerman, Assistant Registrar / Conservation Technician at the KSHS and she graciously consented to an interview about the crossbeam, the exhibition it is currently displayed in and the Kansas State Historical Society’s role in preserving Kansas history.  Note: The photos of the Gallows Crossbeam and the Bloodstained Playbill from Ford’s Theatre are courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society.

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B. Hi Nikaela. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. The first thing I’d like to ask you concerns the Kansas State Historical Society. Can you tell us a little bit about the society and the role it plays in Kansas?

N.  The Kansas State Historical Society as a whole was founded in 1875. So we’ve been around almost as long as Kansas has been a state. Kansas became a state in 1861. We were founded by a group of Kansas editors and publishers. And we didn’t become a trustee of the state so we weren’t officially the state historical agency until 1879. We are the official repository and guardian of materials related to the history of the state of Kansas. 

B. Is the collection housed at the Kansas Museum of History?

N. It is! When the society first started out, it wasn’t broken down into divisions. It was all one umbrella. Now we’re broken into several different divisions. Within the Kansas State Historical Society the Kansas Museum of History is one of those divisions. The Library and Archives is another division. And we also have an Education division, a Cultural Resources division which includes Archaeology. And then we have sixteen historic sites throughout the state that are under another division. So we’re all part of one whole. We all serve the same purpose of preserving Kansas history. So we all do slightly different things.

B. Not knowing exactly how the system works, can you tell me how many museums are under the umbrella of the Kansas State Historical Society?

N. For the state of Kansas, we’re it. We are the official history museum. Basically, every county in the state has its own small historical society and they’re independent of us. Now, throughout the state, our historic sites are part of us and we manage them. We have a person there who works for the state who manages that site and the artifacts that are kept at that site. But for the most part, it’s us.

B. The reason I originally came across your website was because you have an exhibition on right now called Lincoln in Kansas which has a number of artifacts that relate to the blog that I write and am involved with. Would you tell us a little bit about that exhibit?

N. Sure. Since 2009 is the bi-centennial of Lincoln’s birth there are many museums in the United States that are doing exhibits related to him. It might sound a little odd that Kansas would have a Lincoln exhibit but Lincoln did visit Kansas in 1859. So the exhibit focuses on that and the other connections that Lincoln had with our state. At the time of his visit to Kansas, the territory was in the midst of a bloody battle to be entered into the Union as a free state. Lincoln was a rising political star. In the previous year he had just done the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The visit to Kansas was beneficial to both the territory and to Lincoln. People in Kansas thought that if they had Lincoln on the side of the Free-Staters it would increase their chances of getting into the Union as a slave-free state. And it benefited Lincoln because he was testing the political waters leading up to the 1860 Presidential elections. And it was a great opportunity for him to build some contacts in this part of the country and in a new area; not only for his campaign but for his law career. So while he was here he visited several cities in northeast Kansas like Atchison, Leavenworth, Troy and Elwood. In each city he gave a speech. He used that opportunity to practice and perfect a speech that he would deliver later at Cooper Union in New York. And many historians as you probably know cite that speech as one that turned around his presidential campaign. So that’s a large part of the exhibit, focusing on his visit to Kansas and what he did while he was here.

B. What artifacts are in the exhibit that relate to Lincoln’s visit?

N. There aren’t too many left. The sites where Lincoln spoke…most of them are gone now, so only pictures of them remain.

There’s a plaque which marks the building where Lincoln spoke in Leavenworth. It was the Planters House Hotel and there was a plaque on the building before it was razed. So we’ve got that.

Lincoln was possibly distantly related as a cousin to a man in Kansas named Mark Delahay who became a judge later on. So there are a few artifacts relating to the Delahay’s.

There is a pot (laughing)…this is crazy! There is a pot lid that may have belonged to Lincoln’s mother and then she gave it to another family member and it was passed down through the line and ended up in Kansas. So these are a collection of strange, random things in that section of the exhibit just because it’s a difficult period to collect from since the territorial period was 1) so long ago and 2) things that they had were so expendable.

B. In all the museums I’ve worked in and visited in my career, it’s those kinds of artifacts that I love most; the unique ones with the strange stories attached to them.

However, two of the artifacts that we spoke about earlier this week are not related to Lincoln’s visit to Kansas but rather to his assassination and the conspirators involved. And it was through connections in Kansas that these artifacts came to be in the KSHS’ historical collection. Can you tell us about these artifacts and how they ended up in Kansas?

N. The two artifacts you are talking about are; one is a gallows crossbeam and the other is a fragment of a playbill.

The gallows crossbeam came from the gallows on which the Lincoln conspirators were hanged in 1865. Again, it seems a little strange that such a piece would end up in the state of Kansas. What possible connection could there be?

A section of the gallows crossbeam taken from the scaffold used to hang the condemned Lincoln conspirators on July 7, 1865.

A section of the gallows crossbeam taken from the scaffold used to hang the condemned Lincoln conspirators on July 7, 1865.

We’ve had the piece of the gallows in our collection since 1885. It’s one of our older artifacts. At the time it was collected our secretary was named Franklin G. Adams and he strongly believed that history should be collected while people who experienced it were still alive. So he was going out trying to find things, especially related to the Civil War, that could illustrate what happened. And he could still talk to the people that experienced it and have a good oral history, a good record of what those people experienced.

He found out from a colleague in Washington D.C. that the gallows used to hang the Lincoln conspirators was being stored in pieces at the Washington Barracks. And so he wasted no time in contacted a man named Lieutenant Sebree Smith who was at the Washington Quartermaster’s Office and asked him if might be willing to send a piece of the gallows to the historical society for the collections. And as luck would have it Lieutenant Smith had been stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for a period of time. He considered himself a Kansan and he happily agreed to send as much of the crossbeam as the historical society wanted. So at the time he shipped out the piece of the gallows that we have in our collection he also acquired a sworn statement from a man named George Tatsbaugh, who stated that he worked as a storekeeper at the Washington Arsenal from 1865 to 1881 and he witnessed the “top beam of the ‘Surratt Scaffold’ [as it’s sometimes called] was buried in 1865 under a large pile of timbers to secure it from curiosity seekers”. He went on to say that he did recognize the piece being sent to Kansas as the top beam from the gallows. And we’ve had it in our collection ever since.

B. One thing that I noticed when I read your brief on it was that the piece was made out of pine. And that surprised me. I didn’t know that about the scaffold. And my next question dealt with what part of the crossbeam did this section come from.

N. There was a little correspondence between Adams and Smith about which section of the crossbeam it was. Because when Smith sent the original letter to Adams saying “Yes, we have this” he indicated that the crossbeam had two mortise points in the middle. And Adams had looked at the pictures that Alexander Gardner had taken. He had also seen the drawings from Harper’s Weekly and he could not understand because in those depictions there was only one support beam in the center so why would there be two mortise holes? So he sent back a letter and Sebree Smith cleared it up by saying “Whoops, I was wrong. Looking at it again there was only one”! And if you look at the piece we have there’s one mortise.

B. But at this point you do not know if you have the center piece or one of the ends?

N. Right. It came from somewhere along the top crossbeam.

B. It can only be one of three locations by the looks of it (laughing).

That’s exciting. It’s a very interesting piece.

N. We are very excited to have it. It’s pretty cool.

B. It’s on display right now in the Lincoln in Kansas exhibit. Is this, and the other artifact that we are going to talk about in a minute, normally on display?

N. No. Unfortunately, they are not normally on display. They are kind of special things that we pull out for exhibits like this. And just for safekeeping they are usually kept in storage. At all times, 24/7, you can go onto our website and see images of them and read the provenance. Both of them can be found in the “Cool Things” section of our website.

B. If my readers have not been to your website, it’s definitely worth a visit. Go to www.kshs.org. To find Cool Things, click Collections and you will find the link there.

The second artifact is related directly to the assassination and it came from Ford’s Theatre. It’s a small corner of a playbill from the performance of Our American Cousin on April 14, 1865. It looks like a small tear or cut corner of the playbill. What are your thoughts on this Nikaela and the story behind the artifact?

A corner of a bloodstained playbill taken from Ford's Theatre on the night of Lincoln's assassination, April 14, 1865.

A portion of a bloodstained playbill taken from Ford's Theatre on the night of Lincoln's assassination, April 14, 1865. The blood is Abraham Lincoln's.

N. It looks like the piece was cut. I have a feeling that the man who owned it cut it into pieces and maybe kept some of it and maybe divvied it up amongst other people who were interested because it’s a very clean cut.

The man who donated it was named Dr. Thomas D. Bancroft. And he was very active in Kansas during the territorial period. He was part of the Free State movement in Kansas. He fought with James Lane and John Brown against guerrilla fighters from Missouri which are two names that are heavily associated with the abolitionist movement. And he was also part of the frontier guard who protected the White House under the leadership of James Lane during the first days of the Civil War. So during that time the frontier guard was quartered in the east room. He may have met Lincoln during that period. He was also present at Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural. So there’s a possibility that he somehow knew, or at least met, Lincoln. 

Most importantly though, Bancroft attended the play in Ford’s Theater the night Lincoln was shot.  He was among the men who stood at the head of the stairs to keep the crowd back as Lincoln was carried from the theater.  As Lincoln passed the men, drops of blood fell to the floor near where Bancroft was standing.  Once Lincoln was carried from the theater, Bancroft went back and he wiped up the spots with his program. And he kept it in his possession until donating it to the historical society in 1901.

So it’s also another, slightly disturbing, but very interesting artifact.

B. Absolutely. And again it’s good to hear the connection to Kansas because people would not normally think of the state of Kansas as being the keeper of artifacts from that period in our country’s history.

So I’m glad I came across you folks.

N. It’s interesting when you go through the exhibit to see how many connections there were between Lincoln himself or Lincoln and the assassination that appear in Kansas. Like John Wilkes Booth once performed Hamlet at the Union Theatre in Leavenworth which is ironic because then, Lincoln spoke there. Boston Corbett, who was the man responsible for shooting John Wilkes Booth in the manhunt afterwards. He became the Sergeant at Arms in the Kansas House of Representatives and was later sent to Topeka State Hospital after pulling his gun and threatening to use it in the Kansas House. He escaped from the State Hospital and then disappeared. Nobody knows what happened to him. The woman who wrote to Lincoln as a child and told him he should grow a beard later move to Kansas, to Delphos, Kansas and she’s buried there. And another woman named Vinnie Ream was a young sculptress from Kansas. As a teenager she moved to Washington DC and sculpted a bust of the President when she was sixteen. And then when she was eighteen she received a commission for a Lincoln statue that went into the US Capital. And Lincoln’s last sitting with her in her studio was April 14, 1865. And he left from there to go to Ford’s Theatre. So there are a lot of interesting connections.

B. Amazing stuff! 

N. Yeah. It’s so much fun.  

B. It sounds like you are a fan of that period. 

N. I am. I think Lincoln is very interesting. It’s fun that we have this exhibit up and it’s fun that we get to study a little more in depth about his connections to Kansas.

B. The exhibit is at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, Kansas. How long does the exhibit run until?

N. The Lincoln exhibit will be open until July 26, 2009.

As well, we are also in the process of raising funds to try to preserve some of our Lincoln artifacts. We have a banner that was used at one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. We have a silk umbrella that was used to shield Lincoln from a snow storm in Utica, New York. And we have a dress that was worn at Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural ball. Those things are all in need of conservation and treatment. But it’s so expensive to do that, we have to have a grant and we have to have matching funds. So we are having a “Lincolns for Lincoln” campaign and if anyone would like to donate to help us get those artifacts preserved they can do so on our website.

B. If anyone is interested in donating to help this worthy cause, I’ve posted the information below.

Nikaela, this has been great. Let me ask you one last question before we end our conversation. Do you have any other things planned for the Kansas History Museum in the future?

N. Right now we are working on our permanent gallery. We’ve been in our building for 25 years and it’s kind of time for an update. So we’ve been taking it kind of a piece at a time and this summer we are working on a section about Explorers. But we’ve also recently upgraded our Trails section and a section on Bleeding Kansas, the period leading up to statehood and the Civil War. So, they are very interesting and much prettier to look at now than they were before. And we have an exhibit about the importance of the automobile in Kansas that should be opening with any luck after the first of next year.

B. Do you have anything opening for the latter part of the summer after Lincoln in Kansas ends?

N. Unfortunately when Lincoln goes down we are going to take a bit of a break because of the economy. So our main thing this summer is that we do a film festival each summer that’s outside on the lawn and we project up onto the wall of the building. This year we are exploring the Hollywood version of history and museum work. It’s always a lot of fun and people get a kick out of sitting outside to watch a movie even when it’s 110 in Kansas in July.

B. Nikaela. Thank you very much. It’s been wonderful talking to you and I look forward to catching up with you and the Kansas State Historical Society in the near future.

N. Thank you.

DONATIONS: If people wish to donate to the “Lincolns for Lincoln” fund they can go to the following URL: http://store.kshs.org/store//product.php?productid=17705&cat=413&page=1.  There is a drop down menu where they can designate where they wish their money to go, and they should select “preservation of collections”.  Since the exhibit went up at the end of January, we’ve raised over $1000 towards the conservation of the Lincoln artifacts.  Most of that has been through coins in a donation box.  People love Lincoln!

END 

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

KING TUT TOURS ON THE MOVE AGAIN

June 17, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: In 2004-2005, I was the Sr. Project Manager for the current King Tut exhibit (which I affectionately call Tut 1). And although I am no longer working on that project, I do keep up with the folks involved and see how things are going from time to time. So I thought I’d give you an update on what is happening. The two King Tut tours are on the move once again.

Tut 1 called Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs will open on June 27, 2009 in San Francisco at the de Young Museum. The exhibit  is currently scheduled to run until March 28, 2010.  The city is abuzz with excitement about having the exhibit back in town. The de Young Museum was one of seven museums in the United States that hosted the original King Tut exhibit back in the 1970s. 

king-tut-bust

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs first opened in Basel, Switzerland in 2004, followed by a run in Bonn, Germany. The tour was then taken over by a group from the United States (Arts and Exhibitions International, AEG Live and the National Geographic Society) and opened its first show n Los Angeles in June, 2005. The following cities have hosted the exhibit:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • London, England
  • Dallas, TX
  • and now is headed to San Francisco

Tut 2 called Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohswill open on June 27, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Childrens’ Museum of Indianapolis. It is currently scheduled to run until October 25, 2009. From there, the tour will continue to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and run from November 24, 2009 to April 18, 2010.

JE-60689_250

This tour began in Vienna, Austria at the Volkerkunde Museum Vienna and was on display from March 9, 2008 to September 28, 2008. It was exhibited under the name Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs. After that, the show traveled to the United States and now is named Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. The exhibit has, or will visit the following cities:

  • Vienna, Austria (ended)
  • Atlanta, GA (ended)
  • Indianapolis, IN (opening June 27, 2009)
  • Toronto, ON, Canada (opening November 24, 2009).

Both Tut 1 and Tut 2 each have over 130 objects from a variety of Egyptian sites including 50 of which come from Tutankhamun’s tomb.

What these exhibits ARE NOT displaying

Two of the biggest misconceptions about these two exhibits are that the following artifacts are included and on display:

  • King Tut’s mummy
  • Golden Mask

This is absolutely not the case. Regrettably, neither of these artifacts are included in the current tours. In fact, Tutankhamun’s mummy has never even left its tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt since its discovery in 1922. And although thousands of people visit the tomb annually, the mummy was never on public display there until November of 2007. It was then that King Tut’s mummy was put in a special climate-controlled display case inside the tomb where visitors are now able to view it.

Picture 475

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) stands over the mummy of Tutankhamun now on display in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt.

The Golden Mask is also not on tour with these two exhibits. It remains on display at The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. However the mask was part of the original exhibit Treasures of Tutankhamun that toured in the 1970s. Many people remember that blockbuster exhibit because of the Golden Mask and they assumed that it would tour again with these new shows. Unfortunately the Egyptian government stated that it would never again allow the mask to leave Egypt as it is considered a national treasure and must remain safely in Egypt.

The icon often used in the current advertisements for these new exhibits confused many people because it looks like the Golden Mask but in fact is a “golden canopic coffinette”. The coffinettes (4 in total) were used to hold one of Tutankhamun’s internal organs after the embalming process was completed. They are amazing in detail to see in person. They have similar features to the Golden Mask but are tiny in comparison. The head and shoulders of the Golden Mask is 54cm high (21-1/4″)  while the height of an entire canopic coffinette only measures 39cm high (15-3/8″). Each exhibit has one of these coffinettes on display.

Golden Mask

King Tut's Golden Mask is not on tour and remains in The Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Canopic coffinette. Each touring exhibit features one of these wonderfully intricate artifacts which are only 15-3/8" tall.

Canopic coffinette. Each touring exhibit features one of these wonderfully intricate artifacts which are only 15-3/8" tall.

To buy tickets to the exhibits, go to www.kingtut.org.

Best
Barry

INSTANT REPLAY – LINCOLN ASSASSINATION ARTIFACTS (where to find them)

June 15, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Instant Replay is a feature which posts previously run articles for those who may not have read them in the past. Please enjoy this Instant Replay of LINCOLN ASSASSINATION ARTIFACTS (where to find them) originally posted on August 3, 2008. To date, it is the #1 posting with over twice as many hits as the next closest article. Recently added is a portion of the gallows crossbeam which the Lincoln conspirators were hanged from (Kansas State Historical Society). Quite an amazing artifact.

Enjoy the story.

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/lincoln-assassination-artifacts-where-to-find-them/

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

ANTHONY ROBBINS HAS ME FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS

June 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I will be away from my computer over the next 5 days as I am working at a large Anthony Robbins event in Toronto for the Power Within. It’s the same one I worked at last year. For those who know the event (UPW), yes I will once again be walking on red hot, 1200 degree coals in the infamous Fire Walk! Trust me, it’s a cool thing to do. If you can walk on fire, you can pretty well do anything…and that’s the point.
Tony Robbins and crew from the 2008 UPW event in Toronto. I'm just peeking out in the last row second from your right.

Anthony Robbins and crew from the 2008 UPW event in Toronto. I can be found in the last row, second from your right.

When I worked at Tony Robbins’ event last year, I was in the mindset of making sure that the ‘paying guests’ were well taken care of and that I, and my teammates, did everything we could to make the event as successful as possible.

But even as a volunteer you can’t help but soak in much of the content that Tony shares with his participants. And that got me thinking. Did my life change in the past year since the last time I did this event? The answer is a resounding YES!

Here are some of the highlights that have occurred for me in the last year.

1. I started this blog “A Little Touch of History” in May, 2008. But it really didn’t take off until August, 2008  just after I did Tony’s event.

2. I wrote about 100 articles and the contents for a book which I am currently in the process of producing. Neither of these things were on my ‘to do list’ last year.

3. I made some great new friends and colleagues this year. Something that I truly cherish in my life. You gals and guys know who you are.

4. I gave up coffee (and have only had 3 cups since last July, 2008). The desire is no longer there. Prior to that I was doing 3-4 cups a day.

5. I was welcomed into the Lincoln research community which blew me away. I had always been in awe of the great work that these fine folks have done and to be treated with great respect and kindness by them was humbling. Thank you to you all. I’m proud to rub elbows with you all.

6. I met and spoke with President Bill Clinton, former World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus. I never thought that would ever happen!

7. I started doing public speaking presentations at schools and even at a conference. It is one of my real passions.

…and the list goes on.

Perhaps it was just ‘MY YEAR’ for these things to happen.  Or can they be attributed to Tony’s influence? Honestly, other than giving up the coffee (which is directly related to the event) I can’t say for sure. But I believe things happen for a reason and I will continue to read the signs that have been placed in front of me to act upon.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings but I’ve got a pretty good idea that this train will continue to roll down the tracks and gather more and more steam. Whatever happens, I’m really looking forward to the experience.

I’ll speak to you upon my return next week. If you have stories like this that you’d like to share, please feel free to drop me a line here and I’ll be happy to post them.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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NOTE: If you are interested in joining my mailing list for updates on the progress of my book, The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos: A Study in Detail please send me your email at the outreach@awesometalks.com and I will be happy to add you to the list.

INSTANT REPLAY – THE FAME OF MAJOR GENERAL LEW WALLACE

June 5, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Instant Replay is a feature which posts previously run articles for those who may not have read them in the past. Please enjoy this Instant Replay of The Fame of Major General Lew Wallace originally posted on September 1, 2008. It was one of my favorites.

Best. Barry

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THE FAME OF MAJOR GENERAL LEW WALLACE

Civil War Union army officer, Major General Lewis “Lew’ Wallace is well known to historians for his involvement in many high profile events. But the one that he is most famous for will come as a surprise to you.

Brigadier General Lew Wallace

For much of the Civil War, Wallace acted as division commander under Ulysses S. Grant. He commanded troops in several battles, the most high profile being the Battle of Shiloh. Regrettably, due to a communication mix up between Grant and Wallace, he led his troops away from the fighting and did not get back until the battle was almost over. Grant blamed Wallace for the mix up. For the rest of his life, Wallace would try to clear his name with the Union military commanders (including Grant) but with little success. 

UPDATE: February 11, 2009: I received a comment from Bernie O’Bryan who professionally portrays General Wallace at events and he advises me that Wallace and his troops only missed part of the battle rather than when it was almost over. Bernie stated the following, “Well, actually almost over for the first day, but the Battle of Shiloh was a two day battle, Wallace’s troops arrived in the later part of the first day, but opened the battle the next day and saw more than their share of fighting on that day”. Thank you Bernie for the clarification. I really appreciate it.

But by the end of the war, Lew Wallace began to become a visible public figure in other arenas.

Event #1: In 1865, after President Lincoln had been assassinated, eight conspirators were arrested and put on trial in a military court. Wallace was chosen as one of twelve men to sit on the military commission responsible for trying the one female and seven male defendants.

After a two month trial, they would find all eight conspirators guilty of various offenses. Four would be sentenced to hang, three would be given life sentences and one would receive a 6-year sentence.

 

Four conspirators in the Lincoln assassination are prepared for hanging on July 7, 1865.

Four conspirators in the Lincoln assassination are prepared for hanging on July 7, 1865.

 

Event #2:Then in late July, 1865, Wallace would again sit on another military commission. This one for the war crimes trial and court-martial of Confederate Henry Wirz, the commandant of the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp.

With over 12,000 prisoners dying while under his watch in 1864, Wirz was held responsible for the deaths and put on trial for war crimes. Although Wirz’s culpability was highly controversial, he was still found guilty and sentenced to hang in Washington DC on November 10, 1865.

 

Wallace resigned from the army on November 30, 1865 and entered politics, holding several positions over the next 20 years.

Event #3:From 1878 to 1881, Wallace served as governor of the New Mexico Territories. On March 17, 1879, Governor Wallace met with, and attempted to offer amnesty to, the notorious outlaw, Henry McCarty a.k.a. William H. Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid for his involvement in the Lincoln County War. Unfortunately, Billy the Kid did not follow through with his part of the deal, and Wallace withdrew his offer. Billy the Kid would be shot and killed on July 14, 1881 by Sheriff Pat Garrett. 

Event #4: In contrast to his military and political careers, Lew Wallace was also a gifted writer. He would write and publish three novels during his lifetime. However, it was his second novel that would bring him untold fame. On November 12, 1880, Wallace released Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ”.

The novel became a tremendous best-seller. It soon out sold Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the best selling American novel. It would remain the top selling American novel for over fifty years until 1936 when it was finally overtaken by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

One stage play and two films were made of Ben-Hur. The most memorable film being the academy award winning movie from 1959 starring Charlton Heston.

Many believe that much of Ben-Hur was a semi-autobiographical account of Lew Wallace’s life.

Lew Wallace died February 15, 1905 at age 77.

END

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING THE LINCOLN CONSPIRATORS EXECUTION PHOTOS: A STUDY IN DETAIL

June 1, 2009: Barry Cauchon

CU - Mary Surratt seated (lt)(AAS1)(64)

I wanted to let everyone who has been following my blog for the past year know that it has been a very successful venture. One of the most successful postings I produced was the 15-chapter series called The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos: A Study in Detail.

I have been working on formatting this study into a book version for several months and am glad to report that I have reached the point where I must regrettably remove the content from this blog and begin finalizing the document for print. The final version of this will grow from 15 chapters to about 20-25 chapters as I have lots of other tidbits that I want to add.

But to not cut people off entirely from the study, you still have access to Chapters 1 to 5 on line here so you can get a feel for how the overall project was produced. I’m sorry if it is like reading a story and then having to stop right when it’s getting good but regrettably, it is a necessary step I’ve had to take.

When appropriate I will report on how you can obtain a copy of this book if you wish. If you want to write to me and get on my mailing list, I’ll be happy to give you updates as I have them available. outreach@awesometalks.com

In the meantime, I am working in conjunction with Mr. John Elliott to bring you a new series on Fort Lesley McNair and the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. John is from San Antonio, Texas and we have been working on some research concerning the Fort and the buildings that are directly connected with the historic hangings which took place in 1865.  We’ll report on the anticipated restoration of the 3rd floor room in Building 20 that originally held the trial of the Lincoln conspirators. And perhaps even tell you the story of the mysterious Lady in Black that has appeared in the building for years.

Copy of Wash DC 1861 Washington Arsenal 1

US Arsenal in Washington DC with the Old Arsenal Penitentiary (the location of the Lincoln conspirators trial and executions). Map circa 1861.

 

Thank you all for your interest in my blog. I hope this series is as interesting to you as the last one was.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com