NEW ADDRESS FOR THE ‘ABRAHAM LINCOLN RESEARCH SITE’

 

March 7, 2010: Barry Cauchon

ANNOUNCEMENT

I just received a note from Roger Norton, the webmaster for the wonderful Lincoln website called the Abraham Lincoln Research Site. Roger has created his own domain for the site and announces that he now has a new URL. If you have visited Roger’s site over the years and have saved his old URL, now is the perfect time to change it. Here is the information below.

Abraham Lincoln Research Site

OLD URL:  http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/Lincoln2.html

NEW URL:  http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln2.html 

As I have many links to the Abraham Lincoln Research Site within the articles posted here on A Little Touch of History, I will begin to change them. If you find any that I’ve missed, please let me know so I can rectify the situation.

Congratulations Roger on finally creating a domain of your own. I know you’ve been working on it for some time.

Best

Barry

 

outreach@awesometalks.com

 
 

 

 

 

WHO WAS THE BOY AT THE HANGING (Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos)

March 07, 2009: Barry Cauchon

 

dfgdf

A boy stands staring at the hanging bodies of Mary Surratt and Lewis Powell in a close up from the Lincoln conspirators execution photo called "All is Done (1)" by Alexander Gardner. The identity of the boy has always been a puzzle for researchers. However, researcher Steven G. Miller published an article in 1993 which may have answered the question.

As part of my 15 chapter series called The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos, A Study In Detail, plenty of questions have been raised by the photos. One puzzling image that caught my attention was the picture of a young boy standing in front of the scaffold in the photograph called “All is Done (1). I had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Steven G. Miller, Lincoln assassination researcher/expert who specializes in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth. Roger Norton of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site says that Steven Miller is “probably the most knowledgeable Boston Corbett expert in the world”. Boston Corbett is the soldier who shot John Wilkes Booth at the Garrett farm.
 
 

But back in 1993, Steven Miller’s focus was on the boy seen at the hanging. He published a paper in the Surratt Courier in which his research not only argued very convincingly as to the identity of the boy but also names him. It’s a great article and Mr. Miller has graciously allowed me to reproduce it here.  I have added one correction [in brackets] regarding the sequence number in the Gardner series as being the fourth photograph. However, since 1993, other photos  in the series have been discovered, so it is now considered number seven.

 

  

dsf

Is this John C. Collins?

 Article from the Surratt Courier  dated January 25, 1993.

 Who Was The Boy At The Hanging? by Steven G. Miller.

 

The most famous photograph of the execution of the Lincoln Conspirators is the one which shows the four bodies hanging limp and motionless on that hot July afternoon. The widely-reprinted image by photographer Alexander Gardner was the fourth [revised to seventh] in the series that he took that day. A close examination of this dramatic and grisly photo reveals a puzzle that had intrigued scholars for quite some time.

 The crowd has parted somewhat and right in the middle of the soldiers is a teenage boy in uniform. Who was this underaged spectator? Was he a drummer boy for a Veteran Reserve Corps Regiment, a camp-follower or the son of an officer stationed at the Old Penitentiary?

 Thanks to some pieces that just seemed to fall into place this micro-mystery may be solved at last.

 Michael Kauffman located an article called “Recollections of Boston Corbett” by John C. Collins from THE WASHINGTON STAR, April 12, 1914. Collins said that during the last two years of the war he was “the company boy,” a sort of regimental mascot, for the 16th New York Volunteer Cavalry.

 In this article Collins wrote that his older brother William “allowed me to accompany him on his return to the camp after a brief furlough to his home. It was expected that this visit would be of short duration and that after I had had a few days experience of actual camp life I would be returned to my home.”

 

Unfortunately, John Collins wrote, William was wounded in a skirmish with Mosby’s men before John could be returned home. After a short hospital stay William returned to his regiment, only to be captured on June 24, 1864, in the same battle in which Boston Corbett was taken prisoner. Collins, Corbett and several others were shipped to the infamous prison at Andersonville, Georgia. With no one to take him back to New York John Collins was stranded with the regiment.

 

John Collins said: “I was given a pony which had been condemned because (it was) too small for a cavalryman, a uniform was cut and made for me by some soldier who had been a tailor.  . . . I enjoyed all the privileges and shared in much of the life of the regiment, except picket duty  . . . I think it was even whispered that the little white-headed boy had some occult influence in the renown which came to the regiment as the captors of J. Wilkes Booth.”

 

Collins talked about the hunt for the assassins and discussed the character and career of Sergt. Boston Corbett. He wrote that Corbett “ . . . gave me his photograph with his autograph on it after he had killed Booth, and I remember his placing the forefinger of his right hand in the palm of my hand and saying that that was the finger that had pulled the trigger .”

 He also said that he was present at the hanging of Mrs. Surratt and the others. His eyewitness account is particularly interesting. He tells of the strict security that was in evidence around the prison. Outside the walls was, he said, “a double line of soldiers for the entire length, standing by twos with bayonets touching one another.” There were guards at each entrance and signed passes were required for admittance.

 Collins went on to say:

 “I have never quite known exactly how I did it, but I actually went through all these lines of troops without a pass, and in less than twenty minutes from the first attempt I was stationed not thirty feet away from the scaffold and in full view of everything said or done in connection with the execution. I suppose the fact that I was dressed in uniform had much to do with it. I think I am the youngest of living people who witnessed the most historical execution in this country.”

 Collins said that he had reason to regret his boldness after the trap fell, however: “Boy thought I was, I turned away with a sensation of horror and faintness and a feeling that I have never since lost, that I had no wish ever to witness another such scene.”

 Who were William and John Collins? Is there any verification for this wonderful story?

 

The records of the Sixteenth N.Y. Cavalry confirm that William Collins was a private in Company K. Prior to enlisting in the 16th he served in Company G, 28th New York Infantry.

 

According to the regimental history of the 28th N.Y. Infantry John Collins was born September 28, 1843 in Albion, New York. He was in the 28th N.Y. from May 22, 1861 to June 2, 1863. During this time he was captured and paroled by the Confederates twice. He had been promoted to the rank of sergeant when he was mustered out.

 He reenlisted as a private in Company K, 16th N.Y.V.C. on June 20, 1863 and served until October 3, 1865. He returned to Albion and farmed there until his death in March 1904. The unit history of the 28th N.Y. said he was one of the members of the Garrett’s Farm Patrol and received a share of the Reward money, but this is incorrect. Pvt. Collins had close contacts with members of the Patrol but was not one of them, nor did he receive any Bounty.

 

In the Doherty Archive is a letter from William Collins to John E. Hoover, Capt. Doherty’s nephew, written shortly after Doherty’s death. William Collins advised the family on how to obtain a pension for Doherty’s widow. He also wrote about Boston Corbett’s prison life in Andersonville and he mentioned the “bad blood””between the soldiers of the Garrett’s Farm Patrol and the Baker clan. Collins also told Hoover about John Collin’s presence at the Execution.

 In this letter, dated May 10, 1897, he said his brother “ . . . was present and saw the execution. Capt. Doherty I believe let him into the yard. He was only a boy at the time and was enlisted in the Regt as he was too young but he staid with the Regt. for about 18 months and was a general favorite with all the Officers and particularly Capt. Doherty. Col Switzer (Colonel Nelson B. Sweitzer) of the 16th N.Y. Cav. was determined to have him educated and sent to West Point at the close of the war, but he wanted to come home with the rest of us and did so.”

 William mentioned that his brother John was a graduate of Yale University.

 

Yale University‘s Alumni Office provided a listing for John from THE YALE OBITUARY RECORD 1928-29. It gave the following details:

 

John Chamberlain Collins was born on September 19, 1850 in Albion, New York. His parents were Michael Collins, an Irish-born farmer, and Susan Prime Collins, a descendant of a Pennsylvania Dutch family. He “joined the 16th New York Cavalry (although too young to enlist) and remained with it as a volunteer helper, stationed near Washington most of the time; was with that regiment at the time of capture of the assassins of President Lincoln and also accompanied it in the scouting and warfare against Colonel John S. Mosby.”

 After the end of the war Collins attended the Normal School in Brockport, New York. He then moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he founded the New Haven Boys Club in 1874, (“It was the first organization of its kind”, he later recalled) and served as director until 1877. He was instrumental in establishing the Boys Clubs in the U.S. and Canada and worked with that organization for many years. He enrolled in the Yale Divinity School and received a B.A. degree in 1875 and a B.D. in 1878.

Collins served as an evangelist and missionary in Nebraska, superintendent of the New Haven Gospel Union, editor-publisher of THE GOSPEL UNION NEWS and director of the International Christian Workers Association. He died in New Haven on August 26, 1928 and was buried in Whitneyville, Conn.

 

William Collins wrote to Frank Hoover that Gen. Nelson Sweiter, commanding officer of the Sixteenth Cavalry, offered to nominate John Collins as a candidate to West Point, but that John wanted to attend religious school instead. What made him decide on this career? An important clue is found in the only recollection that John Collins wrote about the 16th N.Y. Cav., an article was mostly about Sergt. Corbett.

 

Collins said the following about Corbett: “I do not recall any other man in our regiment who made open religious profession. His tent in the camp at Vienna, Va., was only a few feet from mine across the narrow company streets. I recall him distinctly with hair parted in the middle. When I asked him once why he was his hair in this way he replied that it was because Jesus did so. The men made much sport of his religious views and eccentricities, but he took it in good part. He often expressed the view that he had been divinely selected and guided as Booth’s executioner and the avenger of the great-hearted President.”

Rev. Collins’ life-long dedication to religious and public service leads to one seemingly inescapable conclusion: that he chose this path directly because of the character and preaching of Boston Corbett.

Corbett was a true believer and often inspired religious-minded people with his good works and suggestions of “divine direction.” Rev. Collins was a religious “do-er” not just a religious talker. This sounds like the kind of Christian of which Corbett would have approved.

 It seems certain that John C. Collins was the “company boy” of the 16th N.Y.V.C. and that he was present when the Conspirators were hanged. But was he the Boy in the Photo? How many other boys were there in uniform when the Lincoln Conspirators were executed?

 Sources:

 — Boyce, C.W., A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT NEW YORK STATE VOLUNTEERS, FIRST BRIGADE, TWELFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, etc. Buffalo, New York; C.W. Boyce, 1896.

 — Alexander Gardner, Execution of the Conspirators, “Photo No. 4,” “Incidents of the War” series. See, Katz, D. Mark, WITNESS TO AN ERA: THE LIFE AND PHOTOGRAPHY OF ALEXANDER GARDNER. N.Y.: Viking Press, 1991. Pg. 189.

 — “Recollections of Boston Corbett” by John C. Collins from THE WASHINGTON (D.C.) STAR, April 12, 1914.

 — “John C. Collins and Boxing. The New Venture of New Haven’s Versatile Ex-Clergyman.” SATURDAY CHRONICLE (New Haven, Conn.), August 5, 1911.

 — Collins, John C., “Starting Something For Boys. A Bit of Autobiography for a Purpose.” SATURDAY CHRONICLE (New Haven, Conn.), December 21 and 28, 1912.

  — William Collins letter to John E. Hoover, dated May 10, 1897, Edward P. Doherty Archive, Wm. Hallam Webber Collection.

 

–Yale University’s Alumni Office, THE YALE OBITUARY RECORD 1928-29. New Haven, Conn.

 

END.

 Best

Barry

 outreach@awesometalks.com

 

—————————————————-
 

 

 

If you are interested in reading interviews by Lincoln scholars, experts, historians and even a Mary Todd Lincoln performer, please click on one of the interviews below.
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 “An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)

 “An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008) 

 “An Awesometalk With” LAURA FRANCES KEYES, Mary Todd Lincoln performer (posted on January 26, 2009)

 

 

 

 

“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’

Welcome to another edition of “An Awesometalk With”. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. Roger Norton, the creator and Webmaster of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site website. Mr. Norton contacted me in early December, 2008 in reference to an interview I did with Dr. Thomas Schwartz (see “An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian). It turns out that Dr. Schwartz was a former student of Mr. Norton’s. It’s a small world.

—————————————————————-

I can tell you that I genuinely felt honored by his email as I am a fan of Mr. Norton’s website. I believe it is one of the best sites on Abraham Lincoln online today.

As you will read, Mr. Norton considers his site ideal for students, teachers, families and the general public. It contains accurate and easy to understand information, and he genuinely enjoys sharing it with anyone interested in President Lincoln, his family and their times.

I hope you enjoy our chat.

Best

Barry.

——————————————————————————-

NOTE: This interview was constructed from several written correspondence between Mr. Norton and myself over the course of several weeks.

——————————————————————————-

December 30, 2008

BC: Welcome Mr. Norton. It’s nice to be able to share your thoughts with my readers today. I’d like to begin by asking how your website got started.

RN: I taught American history at Herrick Middle School in Downers Grove, Illinois, from 1966 – 1994. When I retired from teaching, I looked for a way of staying in education without being in a classroom. In 1996 I created a website on the Lincoln assassination. Within a short period of time, the site was enlarged with stories about Lincoln’s life. Then I added a site on Mary Todd Lincoln. The entire website was named the Abraham Lincoln Research Site, and I invited people to e-mail me with their questions concerning the 16th president, his assassination, and his family.

BC: It really is a wonderful research site. And being that it just celebrated its 12th birthday on December 29, 2008; I imagine that it is still going strong and is as popular as ever?

RN: After a few years, search engines began listing my Lincoln pages near the top, and the number of visitors rose dramatically. The site, which is currently composed of 87 different Lincoln-related topics, is averaging about 1.4 million visitors a year.

BC: Wow. I had no idea that you were generating those kinds of site visit numbers. That’s awesome!

RN: It will celebrate its 12 millionth visitor (since 1996) early in 2009. February is always the busiest month. The web pages have a counter at the bottom which is a link to the site’s statistics.

It’s my estimation that I have replied to over 40,000 Lincoln-related e-mails since 1996. About half of these e-mails come from students, and about 10 percent come from overseas. Lincoln is especially popular in Europe and India.

BC: I understand that you had to change you web address earlier this fall. Did you lose readership because of this? And what caused the problem?

RN: Barry, right now my visitors are WAY down from a year ago because one of my web servers quit the business on October 31, and I had to switch about 2/3 of my site to my other server (and thus have new URL’s). I have currently lost many of my good placements in Google, Yahoo, etc. Right now I am averaging about 1,564 visitors a day; a year ago in December it was about 3,100 a day. Over the next few weeks [the 2008 holiday season], the number will grow considerably lower because schools are not in session. Then it will pick up again in January.

BC: What a shame about your loss of search engine placement. I know that it takes a long time to build up that kind of placement and get into the upper listings with the major search engines.  

RN: I am hoping that I will regain my Google placements within the next several months, but I know it may be a year or more before my number of visitors returns to the levels it used to be before the URL changes. All my stats are at http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=mrsosa66.

BC: Mr. Norton, can you tell us a little bit about your personal history and how you first got interested in Lincoln?

RN: I was born September 19, 1943, in Oak Park, Illinois, and graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. I attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. I then attended Indiana University where I received a Master of Science in Education degree.

As a youngster growing up in Illinois my early interest in Abraham Lincoln came from the stories told by my grade school teachers. In the 1960’s I became particularly interested in Lincoln’s assassination with the publication of a book entitled “Twenty Days” by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr.

My interest in the assassination led to my mock trial unit in the classroom.

BC: To clarify, as a teacher, you would have your own students perform the mock trial of the Lincoln conspirators as part of their curriculum?

RN: [Yes.] Each year in December I explained to my classes that we were going to reenact the trial following Lincoln’s assassination. I picked prosecution and defense attorneys before the winter vacation. Each attorney was given a copy of “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” by Jim Bishop. Additionally, the lawyers were given a list of their witnesses and told to prepare testimony for them. The lawyers were advised that the local library had a copy of Benn Pitman’s transcription of the original trial. The lawyers had the entire two-week vacation to prepare their case.

After vacation each class elected a judge, and I picked the witnesses and defendants through volunteers. The jury was thus composed of the shy students who preferred not to take part in the oral simulation. We tried only six defendants [rather than eight]; Michael O’Laughlen and Samuel Arnold were dropped as some eighth graders had problems getting a grasp on those characters. As my classes averaged about 33 students, many of the original witnesses were not used, and in some cases students were required to play more than one role.

After a few preparation days for the witnesses to learn the lines written by the attorneys, we started the trial. In contrast to the actual 1865 trial, the defendants were allowed to take the witness stand. I allowed the trial to go for around ten class periods. Then, after final statements, the jury was excused to vote on the six defendants. Oftentimes the verdicts were different from 1865, particularly in the cases of Mary Surratt and Samuel Mudd. However, the only times Lewis Powell was ever found innocent was when William Bell (William Seward’s butler) did a poor job of testifying.

BC: That is a fascinating school project Mr. Norton. I can’t imagine how beneficial it was for the students. Was this something that you developed yourself, and for how many years did you run this mock trial?

RN: No, when I started teaching another teacher on the staff was doing a mock trial unit, so the idea didn’t originate with me.  For several years I experimented with different trial simulations including the one that followed the Boston Massacre.  Eventually I decided the Lincoln conspiracy trial was my favorite, and over the last 24 years of my teaching career that’s the one that was done in my classroom.

BC:  You also mentioned that some of the outcomes were different from the actual trial. I am particularly interested in knowing what the outcome was for Dr. Mudd. Would you elaborate on that for us?

 

RN: The majority of time Dr. Mudd was found innocent.  But in those days books such as Dr. Edward Steers’ “His Name is Still Mudd” had not been published.  Most Mudd biographies were either neutral or sympathetic towards the doctor.  When my student lawyers researched the case they had trouble finding reasons he might be guilty.  Steers’ book opened a lot of eyes with its persuasive arguments about the doctor’s complicity with Booth.  I would recommend both Steers’ book and Michael Kauffman’s “American Brutus.”  Kauffman takes a different view than Steers, and readers can decide for themselves what they think of Mudd’s guilt or innocence.  Both authors present convincing arguments.  I exchange e-mails with both authors (both of whom have helped me with my website), so I will keep my personal opinion private.

BC: Returning to your current Abraham Lincoln Research Site, where do you produce and maintain it?

RN: I operate on a computer in our den which contains several bookcases holding about 350 books on Lincoln and family. In essence I am a “research librarian” who only deals with one topic. Questions from students are mainly related to research and help for homework. Questions from adults cover a myriad of topics ranging from clergymen seeking a Lincoln quote for a Sunday sermon to travelers wondering why there is a statue of Lincoln in Parliament Square.

BC: I like your site a lot, Mr. Norton, as I can see many people do. Is there a simple formula as to why that is?

RN: I believe the site’s appeal is due to the fact that it is written mainly for students, teachers, families and the general public. Lincoln scholars would find little new by reading my research; my goal has been to bring Lincoln and his legacy to students and the average American.

BC: In case my readers are unfamiliar with your website, I wanted to let them know that all your information is free. This is not a pay-per-view site.

RN: The Abraham Lincoln Research Site is a not-for-profit website. I operate it simply because I enjoy the subject matter and the ego satisfaction of helping people. It has been a truly wonderful retirement experience.

BC: It certainly has been beneficial to untold numbers of students and other researchers. You must be proud?

RN: Lincoln‘s life story is an inspiration for all Americans as his accomplishments and perseverance to succeed in life were phenomenal. The purpose of my website is to share his experiences and character with as many people as possible. I think this is especially important nowadays in a country that is deeply in need of positive role models.

BC: I couldn’t agree with you more Mr. Norton. I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts with my readers and look forward to speaking with you again in the future to see how you and your website are doing.

Thank you.

END

If you would like to visit Mr. Norton’s website please click on either of these attached link.

Abraham Lincoln Research Site    http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln2.html 

Best

Barry

 

outreach@awesometalks.com

 

 

—————————————————————————-

 

Other posted interviews to date:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

 “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

“An Awesometalk With” Robert Krauss, 509th Composite Group Historian 

(posted on December 16, 2008) 

 

——————————————————————————

DID YOU KNOW (PART 12) ABRAHAM LINCOLN

 1. Did you know … that a fellow by the name of Austin Gollaher (1806-98) once saved Abraham Lincoln from drowning? It’s true. Ten-year old Austin and seven-year old Abe were friends who lived about two miles from each other in Kentucky. In 1816, the two were on a hunting outing at Knob Creek when Lincoln fell in. Austin Gollaher was able to pull the almost drowned boy to safety just in the nick of time. To read the full story and an actual quote from Austin Gollaher himself, go to the Abraham Lincoln Research Site at:   http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln57.html 

 2. Did you know … that in August 1864, someone took a shot at Abraham Lincoln in an apparent assassination attempt? Once again, the Abraham Lincoln Research Site has a great article by webmaster R. J. Norton. In it, Mr. Norton refers us to a description of the event from Lincoln himself given to his good friend, Ward Hill Lamon. It’s a very interesting read.   http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln86.html 

3. Did you know … that Mary Ann Todd Lincoln, the wife of the president was only 5′-2″ tall. With the President being just under 6′-4″ tall, the difference between the two was a considerable 14 inches. They must have been a humorous sight when seen dancing together!

4. Did you know … that Abraham Lincoln was 56 years, 2 months and 3 days old when he died on April 15, 1865 from the gunshot would sustained the night night before at Ford’s Theatre. 

RECOMMENDATION — “ABRAHAM LINCOLN RESEARCH SITE” WEBSITE:

The website that I quoted above in items 1 & 2, are both from the “Abraham Lincoln Research Site”. It is an excellent source for Lincoln based information. The articles are well researched and written, and give you an excellent base for launching more indepth study. The site has been active since December 29, 1996. 

  http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln2.html 

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)

.

 

“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)

 

“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)

 

 —————————————————————-