April 14 & 15 – Two Memorable Dates for Two Memorable Events

April 14, 2011: Barry Cauchon

Two significant events occurred on the dates of April 14 & 15. The first occurred in 1865 when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The second occurred 47 years later in 1912 when the RMS Titanic struck and iceberg and sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S ASSASSINATION: 146 years ago today

President Abraham Lincoln attended the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre on the night of Friday (Good Friday) April 14, 1865. The war had been over for less than a week and the President truly looked forward to enjoying an evening out. At about 10:15 pm, as the play was underway, John Wilkes Booth slipped into the Presidential box and shot the President.

Mortally wounded, Lincoln was carried across the street to the Petersen home where he lived for another few hours. At 7:22 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 15 he succumbed to his injury and died.

SINKING OF THE RMS TITANIC: 99 years ago today

The RMS Titanic, traveling on its maiden voyage from Europe to the United States, struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m on Sunday, April 14, 1912 and began taking on water. Soon the Captain and crew realized that there was no hope in saving the ship and she would eventually founder. At 2:20 a.m. on Monday, April 15, the ship sank. There were not enough life boats on board to save everyone and 1517 people died in the disaster.

Since I was a boy, the dates of April 14 and 15 have stayed with me due to these two tragic events and I make special note of them each year their anniversaries arrive.

Best.

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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Boy at the Hanging Revisited…Your Opinion Welcomed

October 01, 2010: Barry Cauchon

A young boy (left) views the hanging bodies of Mary Surratt and Lewis Powell on July 7, 1865.

This week, I had a series of emails from Professor of History, Martha Sandweiss at Princeton University. She had read my article from March 07, 2009 called Who Was the Boy at the Hanging (Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos). This features a story by researcher Steven G. Miller based on a 1914 Washington Star article sourced by Michael Kauffmann. The piece focused on trying to identify a boy found in one of the ten Alexander Gardner photographs of the Lincoln conspirator executions. In the photograph, the young boy stands fixated in front of the scaffold gazing upon the lifeless bodies of the four executed conspirators.

Professor Sandweiss complimented the story and says the Miller article is an excellent hypothesis. But she believes that the image of the boy, identified as John C. Collins, seems to show a boy much younger in age (8-10 years old) than Collins was on July 7, 1865. Collins was born on September 19, 1850 which would have made him 14 years old at the time of the executions. Professor Sandweiss believes that there is about a 4-6 year difference in age between the boy in the photo and Collins.

How old is this boy?

As part of Professor Sandweiss’ research into the story about this ‘boy’, she has questioned the reasons for this age difference. She concedes that Collins was probably at the hangings but challenges whether the image is actually of him? Could this be someone else? Are there records of other boys attending the executions?

To answer the last question, I can tell you that there was at least one other boy present. The person I’m referring to was Alfred C. Gibson, one of General Hartranft’s clerks. At the time of the executions, he was probably around 16 years old. In two different newspaper interviews given between October, 1927 and April, 1928 (over 62 years after the executions), Gibson claimed he witnessed the executions and stood about ten feet in front of the scaffold and George Atzerodt’s position. Gibson’s statements should be taken with a grain of salt as some of his ‘memories’ conflict with other first person eyewitness accounts. But if his recollections are true, and that he did indeed stand in front of the scaffold, then it is not far from the location where the ‘Boy at the Hanging’ is found.

As tempting as it is to suggest that Gibson could have been the ‘boy at the hanging’, I personally believe that this is not the case. The main reason is how the boy in the photo is dressed and equipped. Gibson had a room inside the penitentiary so he would not have needed to carry a gunny sack or other field equipment. John C. Collins or another field soldier, would more than likely have needed these items.

Does this help Professor Sandweiss to further her research? Perhaps not, other than to show that at least one other young boy was present at the hangings. Since that is the case, there is no reason to believe that others were not there as well. If this boy was not John C. Collins or Alfred C. Gibson, then I’m at a loss to know who it could be. To date, I have not come across any research that suggests any other boys there that day.

I am sure that some of you are going to point out that the professor’s assertion about this not being John C. Collins, is based solely on viewing just one photograph. It is subjective and based on opinion rather than scientific fact. Other viewers might be perfectly content believing that the boy in the photo is fourteen. These are all fair statements but please let me be clear about why I posted Professor Sandweiss’ challenge here. Especially for you junior researchers, this is an important lesson. Where research is concerned, I am a huge believer in the need to challenge the status quo. Do not take history at face value. Don’t believe one version of history is correct just because it seems plausible without checking and cross referencing as many other sources as you can. I can’t tell you how many times my mind has been changed about something because better evidence was uncovered to disprove my former belief.

When Professor Sandweiss challenged whether the boy was 8-10 versus 14 years old, it wasn’t to be subjective about it. The age conflict didn’t sit right with her and it compelled her to investigate the subject further. And now she is actively seeking the truth. That is one way how research starts. Curiosity. Enlightenment. Challenge. Seek out more information to find the truth. Research, research, research. Cross reference. Challenge your own results. Research, research, research. Always be open to other possibilities. Believe your theory if it is plausible. If doubts remain, challenge those theories again. Never stop looking for answers.

I encourage people to weigh in on this subject. Whether you wish to comment on the story of John C. Collins or discuss research methodology, I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great day.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

An Awesometalk With JOHN ELLIOTT, Co-Author “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”

June 12, 2010: Barry Cauchon

LINK TO AUDIO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With John Elliott 02-Jun-10

Running Time: 21:30

John Elliott is my friend, researcher, writer and co-author of our upcoming book called Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. I had a chance to chat with John on June 02, 2010 and record this interview for you.

John lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and son. He has been a student of the Lincoln assassination since grade school and has been actively researching the subject throughout the years. We met through this blog in April, 2009 and found we had very similar interests in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary and the Lincoln conspiracy. As our friendship grew we found that we both developed a mutual respect for each other’s ability to continuously find cool stuff about this subject. It was great to make a discovery and then share it with someone who could truly appreciate its significance. Our partnership flourished. So on Saturday, September 19, 2009, I called John up and asked if he would be interested in co-authoring the book I had been working on. I had been focusing on the forensic study of the Alexander Gardner conspirator execution photographs and I knew that John could add so much more to the story. To my delight, John graciously accepted and we began working on the project.

In March of 2010, John and I presented a prototype of the book to a few select and trusted senior researchers at the Surratt Society Assassination Conference in Clinton, MD. We were blown away by the positive response we received. As well, we were invited by Laurie Verge to present our work at the 2011 conference next year (March, 2011).

As I was writing the intro to this interview, I went back and read the first email that John wrote me after my phone call to him in September. He sent it to me two days later on Monday, September 21 and he already had ideas for the book, including the name, which we have stuck with to this day “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”.

In part of that email he also wrote the following:

“The title is just a suggestion. Barry, I appreciate you bringing me on board to co-author but I’m still trying to figure out a way to earn my keep on this project”.

Typical of John. When you read our book, and listen to this interview, you will see exactly what he has been able to offer. Great research, cool discoveries and a great collaboration. John, I’m proud of the work you and I have done on this project and am equally proud to call you my friend.

To all my readers, please enjoy John’s interview.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

LOOKING FOR HISTORY – CHECK YOUR GRAND PARENTS’ ATTICS

November 26, 2009: Barry Cauchon

LOOKING FOR CIVIL WAR DIARIES, LETTERS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARTIFACTS AND KEEPSAKES for possible inclusion in our upcoming book and documentary about the Old Arsenal Penitentiary and the Lincoln Conspirators.

Example: Ed Isaacs family has been living in the northeastern United States for several hundred years. Last year Ed’s cousin Pam gave him the diary of his great-great grandfather George Dixon. George was a Civil War Union soldier who was stationed at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington DC during the incarceration, trial and eventual punishments of the Lincoln conspirators. Amongst other interesting notations found in the diary, George listed the cells used by the prisoners and the guards who watched over them on the last day or two leading up to the executions of four of the conspirators. Ed Isaacs contacted me awhile ago and shared George’s diary with me. We have become friends and are planning on including information about George Dixon and his diary in our upcoming book and documentary. Ed hopes that it will help celebrate his ancestor’s life and we are thrilled to do so. To read the story of George Dixon and his diary as presented by Ed Isaacs, please click on the following link  https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/an-awesometalk-with-ed-isaacs-owner-of-civil-war-diary-from-soldier-who-guarded-the-lincoln-conspirators/).

APPEAL FOR HIDDEN HISTORY: We are appealing to others out there who might have ancestors who were connected directly or indirectly to the Lincoln conspiracy, the Old Arsenal Penitentiary, Washington DC or other Civil War occurences that related to the events that took place between March and August of 1865 in Washington DC and other surrounding areas. Items such as personal diaries, letters, photographs, artifacts, keepsakes and other Civil War related items in your possession could contain valuable historical information of great significance presently unknown to the research community. We would love to include your finds, if historically relevent, in our book and documentary.

So check your attics, basements, the old shed out back, garages, farm houses, barns and even below the floor boards of your old home. Check with your family members about stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Those conversations may give you a clue as to where your ancestors may have been during the time of the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination and conspiracy. Even if you do not know whether you have something that is important, you should inform us anyway. A name of a buddy or commander found in a diary could be very important. A location mentioned is a possibility. A comment about contemporary events from the time of the assassination may be the perfect thing we are looking for.  You never know what might be important to our projects and the historical community in general. And if you do find something that doesn’t necessarily fit within our research, we will do our best to help direct you where you can go to get more information about your find.

We are looking for genuine historical articles from the time of President Lincoln’s assassination, funeral, conspiracy trial and prisons located in Washington DC (Old Arsenal Penitentiary, District Penitentiary, Washington Penitentiary, Old Capitol Prison, Carrol Annex and Carrol Branch Prison). Items related to the Navy Yards and the ironclad monitors USS Saugus and USS Montauk could all be important clues to help tell the story better. And don’t forget the potential connection to the Confederate Secret Service primarily run out of Montreal, Canada or Lafayette Baker who was the head of the Secret Service for the Union. All great possibilities where hidden history may lie.

WHAT THIS IS NOT

Regretably we are not offering to purchase your family relics or assign a price to them. That is not our specialty and we cannot offer expert advice on an artifact’s value short of its historical significance to the story. As mentioned before, we will do our best to help direct you towards those who might be able to assist you. But no guarantees of course.

If you have an item that you think might be of interest to us, please do not use the comment area below. Instead, write me directly at outreach@awesometalks.com and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Please describe the item (and include a picture if possible). If relevent, please explain why you think this may relate to our research.

As you can see from previous postings on this blog over the past 18 months, we have had a few really cool finds that I’ve been able to share with you. The George Dixon diary, Mr. P’s original fake ‘Lincoln in Death’ photo used in many Lincoln books published over the years and some genuinely great stories from family members from their ancestor’s past.

Give it a try. Everyone has treasures in their family. Share them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

UPDATE ON LINCOLN CONSPIRATOR EXECUTION PHOTO BOOK

October 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my blog. Needless to say, it’s been an extremely busy summer and early fall for me. But I do have some interesting news for you.

First off, I want to give you an update on the progress of my book The Lincoln Conspirator Execution Photos: A Study in Detail. I have received lots of great compliments and encouragement from many of you regarding the book and I want to thank all of you for that. It drives me to continue to give you the best book I can create. For those of you who requested to be kept up-to-date on the progress of the book and be the first to know when the book will be released, I will be sending you an email shortly. If you are a newcomer and are interested in hearing more about the book and being a part of the mailing list, please write me at outreach@awesometalks.com and I will add you to the list.

IMPORTANT: Please be assured that I do not share my mailing lists with anyone and the sole purpose of this list is to keep you informed about the book as per your request!!!!!

And now I have a great announcement.

I’ve asked Mr. John E. Elliott (from San Antonio) to co-author the book with me.  John and I met through my blog and we both realized that we had a focused and tremendous interest in the history of the Washington Arsenal Penitentiary and in particular, what went on behind the walls during the conspirators’ trial and its aftermath. John’s research combined with my own forensic photo analysis, has created a perfect combination to make OUR book an excellent addition to anyone’s Lincoln Assassination library.

John and I are really excited about the merger and our joint project.  Our motivation is to make this book something that we would be proud to have on our own bookshelves and we know that you will feel the same.

For more information, please join my mailing list and I’ll fill you in with more details shortly.

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