John Wilkes Booth’s Assassin: Man of Mystery
April 26, 2010

Booth Wanted Poster

Booth Wanted Poster

On This Date In History:

A new conspiracy theory got started when presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth was killed in a barn on this date in 1865. It’s kinda interesting how infamous he is to this day.   Americans these days generally are pretty poor when it comes to history yet, this guy is probably one of the better known villains known to just about everyone.  Probably not as well known as Colonel Sanders, but still,  most people recognize the name John Wilkes Booth.  That was true in 1865 as well because he was quite famous as an actor.  Today, it would be like a famous, good looking actor like Brad Pitt being an assassin. Or maybe more like Alec Baldwin because Booth’s brothers were also actors and all three followed in the footsteps of their father, Junius.   Anyway, after he murdered President Lincoln, Booth escaped Ford’s Theatre by jumping from the presidential box to the stage.   His spur caught in a curtain or some bunting and he landed awkwardly such that he broke his leg.   The story of Booth’s escape remains so compelling that as recently as 1995, the Washington Post published a story retelling the fugitive’s tale.  

Booth Brothers (L-R) John, Edwin, Junius Jr.

No doubt, the broken leg  complicated his original plan for elusion.   He and co-conspirator David Herold made their way to the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd on April 15, 1865.  In a statement to authorities, Dr. Mudd recounted that he had met Booth previously at St. Mary Catholic Church in Bryantown, MD, where he was introduced by Mudd’s neighbor, J.C. Thompson, as someone looking to purchase some land.  Booth  spent the night at the doctor’s home before purchasing a horse from Mudd’s neighbor.  Suspicion has held that Booth was really recruiting Mudd as an accomplice but the evidence at the time obviously was not too convincing.  Mudd was convicted later for aiding Booth but President Andrew Johnson pardoned Mudd after the doctor served four years in prison.   Mudd set Booth’s leg in a make-shift splint and he and Herold left the next day.  Eventually, they crossed the Potomac River into Virginia where Booth had hoped to gain sancutary.

Artist Conception of Booth Being Dragged From Garrett's Barn

 They came to the farm of Richard H. Garrett south of Port Royal, Virginia.  Garrett’s 11-year-old son grew up to become a Baptist minister and made a little cottage industry of retelling the tale of the final hours of John Wilkes Booth.  According to the then young Garrett, Confederate mail had been halted after Lee’s surrender and the family had no idea that the president had been killed.  However, it must be noted that many historians have been unable to confirm the story of Booth’s visit with the Garretts except that a detachment of men who were hot on the trail of Booth and Herold caught up with the men and found them hiding in Garrett’s barn on the morning on this date in 1865.  Herold surrendered when the order was given for the men to do so, but Booth refused.  

David E. George Claimed on Deathbed in 1903 He Was John Wilkes Booth

Rev. Garrett’s story notwithstanding, the whole Booth episode has been muddled over the years and there are many loose ends, which I suppose is one reason why it remains a relatively popular subject in literary circles.  There is a website that claims that the Ghost of John Wilkes Booth appeared in Chicago and said that he really broke his leg falling off his horse.  Keep in mind that this site thinks there was a Union General “McClennon” and not the proper McClellan, so I’m not sure how much stock to put in it. A more famous story is that of  Finis L. Bates, who wrote in 1907  that Booth really escaped, changed his identity and committed suicide in 1903.  In some association with that story, there has been a rumor that Booth lived as John St. Helen in Texas before moving to Enid, Oklahoma as David E. George and then killed himself. 

Booth's Supposed Mummy

Anyway, the prevailing orders to the pursuers of the assassin were to take Booth alive. With the presumed guilty party trapped in the barn, he had nowhere to run so they could have just waited him out.  Instead, the Union soldiers lit the barn on fire to try and smoke him out. But, before he had a chance to come out, Sergeant Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett stuck his musket through a slit in the barn walls and shot him.  I think the thought is that the bullet severed Booth’s spine. So, the assassin was killed and whenever an assassin is killed before being brought to trial, conspiracy theories begin.   That has certainly been the case with John Wilkes Booth.   

Booth's Escape Route Took Him To Garrett's Barn April 24, 1865

Corbett testified that he fired a carbine, yet the autopsy showed Booth was killed with a pistol bullet. When Booth was dragged from the barn, the officer in charge said, “He shot himself.” Then of course came the claims that Booth really wasn’t killed and that it was all made up or the dead guy was a Booth lookalike.   There is also the theory that Corbett was part of a cover up and that he killed Booth to make sure that the accused couldn’t talk.   That same type of thing came up 100 years later when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald following the assassination of President Kennedy. In the early 20th century, a carnival barker claimed that he had the mummified body of John Wilkes Booth. I’m not sure if anyone has explained how or why the presidential assassin would have been turned into a mummy but I suppose the display was intended as proof that they got their man!

Corbett Could Still Be on the Loose!

Corbett Could Still Be on the Loose!

Corbett went on claiming he shot Booth and had a simple explanation as to why he disobyed orders.   He blamed God!   He said that God told him to do it and that his orders from God were ultimate.   He also said that God once told him to avoid sexual temptation.   To insure that he would  avoid such circumstance, Corbett said that he castrated himself with a pair of scissors in 1858.   If nothing else, it shows he was somewhat of a zealot or perhaps it illustrates that he was a nut.

If Abe Was Still Lurking in the 1870's, then Why Not Corbett Today?

I’m not sure what it took in the 19th century to disqualify one for a job because the man who was not at his post guarding the door the night the president was assassinated kept his job in security.  And, in the same way, the self-castrating-order-disobeying Corbett managed to gain employment with the state of Kansas when he was appointed as the doorkeeper of the Kansas legislature.  Corbett was dismissed in 1887 after threatening a lawmaker with a gun.   He was committed to an insane asylum (imagine that) but escaped and was never heard from again. Now, there is a famous photo of Mary Todd Lincoln from between 1870-76 that supposedly revealed the image of her dead husband standing behind her comforting her.  So, perhaps it’s best to be careful.  Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett may still be at large and  running around out there somewhere.  He may even have a pair of scissors in his hand!  But, then again,  there may be nothing to fear as the real fate of Corbett is that God simply told him to just go away.

Weather Bottom Line:  Rain chances hold tough for Tuesday as a shortwave dives down from the northwest through the flow.  Probably nothing overly significant but Monday and Tuesday will be relatively cool with a fairly fast and significant warm up for the rest of the week into the weekend.  Low  80’s by Friday if not Thursday.  Question is the weekend.  The GFS is very fast with its evolution of a storm system and its progression across the US.  If the GFS as the 12Z Monday run is verfied, then we could see some significant storms this weekend, quite possibly around post time for the Derby.  But, the European model has no such thing and keeps the deep trof way out to the west.  Tough to say which one wins out.  I’m betting on something in between….guess is we get storms but not until Sunday.  I say its a guess but maybe its an example of wishcasting.

Ghost of Booth, His Assassin; Miss CA Coverage
April 26, 2009

Booth Wanted Poster

Booth Wanted Poster

On This Date In History:

A new conspiracy theory got started when presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth is killed in a barn on this date in 1865.  It’s kinda interesting how infamous he is.  Americans these days generally are pretty poor when it comes to history yet, this guy is probably one of the better known villains even today.  Not as well known as Colonel Sanders, but still, Booth was quite famous as an actor.  Today, it would be like a famous, good looking actor like Brad Pitt being an assassin.    Anyway, Booth had escaped Ford’s Theatre by jumping from the presidential box to the stage. His spur caught in a curtain and he landed awkwardly such that he broke his leg.  That made it difficult for him to escape and he eventually got cornered in a barn near Fort Royal, Virginia.  However, there is a site that claims that the Ghost of John Wilkes Booth appeared in Chicago and said that he really broke his leg falling off his horse.  Keep in mind that this site thinks there was a Union General “McClennon” and not the proper McClellan, so I’m not sure how much stock to put in it.

Anyway, the orders were to take Booth alive. With the assassin trapped in the barn, the Union soldiers lit the barn on fire to try and smoke him out.  But, before he had a chance to come out, Sergeant Thomas

Booth's Mummy

Booth's Mummy

Corbett stuck his musket through a slit in the barn walls and shot him.  I think  the thought is  the bullet severed Booth’s spine he died.  So, the assassin was killed and the conspiracy theories began.  Corbett testified that he fired a carbine, yet the autopsy showed Booth was killed with a pistol bullet.  When Booth was dragged from the barn, the officer in charge said, “He shot himself.”  Then of course came the claims that Booth really wasn’t killed and that it was all made up.  There is also the theory that Corbett was part of a cover up and that he killed Booth to make sure that the accused couldn’t talk.  That same type of thing came up 100 years later when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald following the assassination of President Kennedy.   I’m not sure why but someone went and mummified the body of John Wilkes Booth…I suppose as proof that they got their man!

Corbett Could Still Be on the Loose!

Corbett Could Still Be on the Loose!

But, Corbett went on claiming he shot Booth.  So, why did he disobey orders?  He blamed God!  He said that God told him to do it and that his orders from God were ultimate.  He also said that God once told him to avoid sexual temptation.  Instead of avoiding such circumstance, Corbett castrated himself with a pair of scissors in 1858.  He was appointed as the doorkeeper of the Kansas legislature but was dismissed in 1887 after threatening a lawmaker with a gun.  He was committed to an insane asylum (imagine that) but escaped and was never heard from again.  Be careful, perhaps he’s still running around out there somewhere.  Then again, maybe God told him to just go away. 

nolan-ryanOn This date in 1970, Gypsy Rose Lee died and On this Date in 1989,  Lucille Ball passed away.

On This Date in 1990  Nolan Ryan threw is 12th one hitter, tying Bob Feller’s record.  He had a record 7 no-hitters and lost 5 no-hitters in the 9th inning.  My friends and I always went to an Astros game every series they played.  Saw Ryan a bunch of times.  We called him the Big Heater, which I like better than the Ryan Express.

Should Have Answered The Question

Should Have Answered The Question

On This Date in 2000 Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed into law the nation’s first law allowing same-sex couples to form state recognized Civil Unions.  Apparently that wasn’t good enough and now Vermont has joined some other states in making same sex marriage legal.  It is a subject that may have cost Miss California, Carrie Prejean,  her chance at winning the Miss USA title.  The question she received was far tougher than any that the other contestants got and was also presented, in my opinion, for no good reason except to push an agenda.  Not sure why Trump had that character on the judges panel.  But, what most people seem to miss is that the woman didn’t answer the question!  If she had just answered the question, she may have won.  The question wasn’t her opinion, it was about states passing allowing same sex marriage.  All she had to say was that she believed that each state should be able to allowed to make their own laws based on the will of the people, not on courts or judges.  But, instead, she gave her opinion regarding the definition of marriage. So, perhaps she should have lost since she didn’t answer the question…or maybe she should get into politics since politicians are famous for not answering questions.  It’s interesting to see how this is being reported.  The take from Fox News is quite different from the UK Telegraph and certainly, as one might expect, different from the Gay/Lesbian/Trans San Francisco Bay Times.

On This date in 1948 Stevie Nicks was born.  I found a site that lists her as “rocker/druggie”

SPC Severe Outlook Today

SPC Severe Outlook Today

Weather Bottom Line: Okay, we have some changes coming and for Derby Festival organizers it’s not necessarily good.  Sunday we pushed toward 90.  After Monday, the unseasonably warm temperatures will come to an end.  What is happening is that we have a cold front approaching.  But, its bumping into a big fat high in the Southeast and it is not too interested in breaking down much or moving much.   So, what happens is that the front slowly comes through on Tuesday and doesn’t really pass until Tuesday night.  So, rain chances will crescendo on Tuesday.  Now, with that high so fat and happy,  the front won’t move too far south.  It’s possible we have post frontal rain.  The GFS wants to throw out 1.5 inches from Tuesday midday to Wednesday midday.   The NAM tosses out over an inch but starts it earlier on Tuesday and ends it on Tuesday night.  The NAM doesn’t go farther but the GFS indicates rain chances will remain healthy through the rest of the week as the boundary lolligags just to our south and then returns back through the area as another front comes through on Friday.

SPC Severe Outlook Monday

SPC Severe Outlook Monday

The SPC loses interest on severe chances here for Tuesday, in spite of all of the action going on in the plains Sunday and Monday.  The problem is that the air aloft is warm and the jetstream winds slacken off.  So, there is a question of instability.  The vertical profiles indecies support that contention.  However, the GFS is interested in increasing thunderstorm chances throughout the week.  I’ve seen forecasts for Derby Day with a chance for rain but I think that’s the old CYA forecast because it looks like to me from the GFS that a high builds in behind the front for Saturday.   I suppose the question arises from the Euro in that it does have the ridge come in but also has a low coming out of the Southwest with a warm front swinging back up and bringing ample rain on Sunday morning.  My guess is that, should the data hold true, we have good Kentucky Derby weather with mild conditions sandwiched in between rain on Friday and Saturday night or Sunday.  But, the timing of the return flow would be a question and that is why you may see rain chances on Saturday.  It will become more clear as the week progresses.

SPC Severe Outlook Tuesday

SPC Severe Outlook Tuesday

   DAY 3 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   0223 AM CDT SUN APR 26 2009
  
   VALID 281200Z – 291200Z
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS FROM A PORTION OF THE SRN HIGH
   PLAINS THROUGH CNTRL AND N CNTRL TX…
  
   …SYNOPSIS…
  
   SHORTWAVE TROUGH THAT WILL MOVE THROUGH THE CNTRL PLAINS AND MID MS
   VALLEY MONDAY WILL CONTINUE NEWD THROUGH THE GREAT LAKES AND SERN
   CANADA TUESDAY AND DEAMPLIFY AS IT CRESTS UPPER RIDGE ANCHORED OFF
   THE ERN U.S. COAST. THIS FEATURE WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY A COLD FRONT
   THAT WILL ADVANCE THROUGH THE OH VALLEY AND NERN STATES. TRAILING
   END OF FRONT WILL EXTEND SWWD INTO THE SRN PLAINS WHERE IT SHOULD
   STALL ACROSS TX BEFORE RETREATING NWD OVERNIGHT. CUTOFF UPPER LOW
   WILL EVOLVE OVER THE PACIFIC NW…AND A BROAD CYCLONIC FLOW REGIME
   WITH EMBEDDED VORTICITY MAXIMA WILL CHARACTERIZE THE REMAINDER OF
   THE WRN STATES.
  
   …SRN HIGH PLAINS THROUGH CNTRL AND N CNTRL TX…
  
   FRONT WILL STALL SOMEWHERE FROM WRN THROUGH NRN TX AS IT BECOMES
   PARALLEL TO DEEP LAYER FLOW DOWNSTREAM FROM WRN U.S. TROUGH. SOME
   CONVECTION MAY STILL BE ONGOING IN VICINITY OF THIS BOUNDARY EARLY
   TUESDAY. RESERVOIR OF UPPER 60S DEWPOINTS WILL PERSIST SOUTH OF THE
   FRONT OR ANY REMAINING CONVECTIVE BOUNDARIES AND ADVECT NWWD INTO
   WRN TX AND ERN NM BENEATH PLUME OF STEEPER LAPSE RATES. FURTHER
   DESTABILIZATION WILL OCCUR AS THE BOUNDARY LAYER WARMS WITH MLCAPE
   AROUND 2000 J/KG. TIMING OF ANY IMPULSES EJECTING INTO THE HIGH
   PLAINS FROM WITHIN CYCLONIC FLOW REGIME WILL BE DIFFICULT…BUT ANY
   SUCH FEATURES WILL MODULATE THE CONVECTIVE THREAT DURING THE DAY.
   POTENTIAL WILL EXIST FOR STORMS TO REDEVELOP ALONG E-W ORIENTED
   FRONTAL BOUNDARY OR ANY REMNANT CONVECTIVE BOUNDARIES. OTHER STORMS
   MAY DEVELOP FARTHER WEST WITHIN THE UPSLOPE FLOW REGIME ACROSS ERN
   NM AND WRN TX. THOUGH THE BOUNDARY LAYER FLOW WILL NOT BE
   PARTICULARLY STRONG DURING THE DAYLIGHT HOURS…VEERING PROFILES
   WILL CONTRIBUTE TO SUFFICIENT…35-45 KT…BULK SHEAR FOR SEVERE
   STORMS GIVEN THE FAVORABLE THERMODYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT.
  
   AS THE SLY NOCTURNAL LOW LEVEL JET STRENGTHENS…ISENTROPIC LIFT AND
   DESTABILIZATION WILL INCREASE NORTH OF THE FRONT. THIS PROCESS WILL
   CONTRIBUTE TO A THREAT OF ELEVATED STORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HAIL
   OVERNIGHT FROM THE TX PANHANDLE…NERN NM AND SWRN KS.
  
   …OH VALLEY AND NERN STATES…
  
   INSTABILITY WILL REMAIN LIMITED ALONG NARROW AND MODEST MOIST AXIS
   PRECEDING THE SEWD ADVANCING COLD FRONT. CONVECTION WILL LIKELY
   CONTINUE DEVELOPING SEWD ALONG THE FRONT. ACTIVITY WILL BE EMBEDDED
   WITHIN MODERATE-STRONG SWLY UNIDIRECTIONAL DEEP LAYER FLOW.
   HOWEVER…THE LOW LEVEL JET WILL GRADUALLY WEAKEN DURING THE DAY. AS
   THE BOUNDARY LAYER WARMS…SOME OF THE CONVECTION MAY BECOME CAPABLE
   OF PRODUCING ISOLATED STRONG WIND GUSTS. IT APPEARS INSTABILITY WILL
   REMAIN TOO LIMITED TO INTRODUCE MORE THAN 5% SEVERE PROBABILITIES AT
   THIS TIME.
  
   ..DIAL.. 04/26/2009

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