“An Awesometalk With” BETTY OWNSBEY, author of Alias Paine, the Lewis Powell biography

May 02, 2010: Barry Cauchon

LINK TO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With Betty Ownsbey 08-Mar-10

Running Time: 35:00

I am really pleased to present my interview with Betty Ownsbey, historian, researcher and author of ‘Alias Paine’, the biography of Lewis Powell, Lincoln assassination conspirator who was tried, found guilty and hanged on July 7, 1865.

Betty lives in Richmond, Virginia. I grew up in nearby Hampton, so I feel a connection to Betty as a fellow Viriginian. I found her to be charming, witty and passionate about the Lincoln assassination.  She is full of life and you will get pumped up just listening to her.

Our interview covered the following subjects:

  • Frustrations in research
  • The discovery of the Hartranft Letterbook
  • Lewis Powell, his family and history
  • Sharing and living history
  • Horses and the Civil War riding style and how it affected John Wilkes Booth escape from Ford’s Theatre

The red roan is the type of horse that David Herold rode during his escape with John Wilkes Booth. Herold's horse's name was Charlie.

  • Lewis Powell’s skull
  • Penny Dreadfuls

I hope you enjoy the interview.




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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great interview! I too wanted to know how she got interested in researching Lewis Powell. I’ve read her book over and over and still find him fascinating. Please share my email address with her as I would love to meet her and see her collections, discuss her research next time I am in VA. I lived in Hampton Roads many years and get back there often. Sounds like she could keep me in awe for hours. Thanks so much for all the work you do and for sharing your interest with the rest of us.

    • Hi Kari: Thanks for writing. I’ll forward you nice comment to Betty. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.
      Thank you for you enthusiastic compliments for my blog as well. I really appreciate them.
      Have a great day.

  2. great interview barry. she sure knows her stuff.

    • Hi Gina: Yes she does. I’ll pass on your words of praise to Betty.
      Thanks so much.

  3. I think everyone should be reconized in this world. thats because everyone is a part of making history. like a movie isn’t a movie if it’s just main characters. even the the smallest roles are important. this is why i love when people try to reconize people that arent known well. i enjoyed the interveiw. social studies is my favorite subject. i just went on my 5th grade saftey patrol trip going to washington dc.i visited the ford theatre museum and saw a little part of history about louis powell and a picture of him in jail. i was very intrested and wanted to know more. thank you for having time for that interveiw. i hope i hear from you!!!!

    • Hi Brennah: I am so glad you wrote to share you thoughts and experiences. I assume you are in the Maryland/Virginia area. I used to live in Hampton, VA. a long time ago and I too took my 5th grade trip to Washington D.C. We visited Ford’s Theatre and the Petersen House (across the street) where President Lincoln died, Arlington Cemetery and the US Capitol building. Years later, I work in museums and last year met the curator of Ford’s Theatre. The history of Abraham Lincoln is all around us. His life and death are told in many ways and as you mentioned, there are many people who are part of that story who are not well known.
      I will be in the Washington area in March. I love coming to visit schools and meet the students to share some of the cool stories about history that are not usually known. I will write you at your email to talk more about this. If your teacher is interested, and the schedule and location works out, perhaps I might be able to visit you in March.
      Have a great day and thanks again for writing.
      History is a lot of fun.

  4. Look forward to reading the book! I’m interested to know how Betty Ownsbey liked the movie “The Conspirator”. It was filmed in Savannah and my mother-in-law’s home on West Taylor Street stood in for Mary Surratt’s boarding house in Washington.

    • Hi Mercy: Betty is a good friend of mine. Go to our facebook page INSIDE THE WALLS and post your question there. She frequents the site and I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer your question directly. Betty lives in Richmond, VA and has been hobnobbing with the cast and crew of Spielberg’s new Lincoln film. It’s always fun stuff. I was down on the set of The Conspirator for two days at Fort Pulaski when they filmed the execution sequence. Movie making is organized chaos but very fun stuff.

  5. […] “An Awesome Talk With” Betty Ownsbey (interview by Barry Cauchon) […]

    • Hi Allen: Thank you for your question. I have passed this onto my friend Betty Ownsbey (Powell’s biographer). If anyone can answer this for you, it would be her. If you don’t hear from her directly, I’ll post whatever response she sends back.
      Many thanks.

  6. My grandfather Andrew Jackson Powell was born in Manassas Va 1836. Have been told that there is a connection in relation to Lewis Powell. Does anyone have info on Powell ancestry. Thanks, AL SIDEL

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