Christmas in Springfield, Illinois, 1862

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A while back, I posted about Mary Lincoln’s close friend Mercy Conkling (née Levering). In December 1862, the Conklings’ oldest son, Clinton, was attending college at Yale, where he remained over the Christmas holidays. Accordingly, on December 28, 1862, his mother …

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Louis Weichmann: Boarder and Witness

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Of the residents of Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse, the best known–and the most controversial–is Louis Weichmann, whose testimony would help send his landlady to the gallows. Weichmann was born in Baltimore in 1842. His father, a tailor, moved to Washington and …

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Mary Surratt’s Loyal Daughter: Anna Surratt

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The second of John and Mary Surratt’s three children, Elizabeth Susanna Surratt was born on New Year’s Day, 1843, and was christened on December 10 of that year at St. Peter’s Church in Washington, D.C. For most of her life, …

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The Schoolteacher and the Surratt Family

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The failed conspiracy to kidnap President Lincoln in 1865, and the conspiracy to assassinate him which grew out of the first, drew a host of disparate people into their orbit. Among them was a Catholic schoolteacher named Anna F. Ward. …

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The Christmas Shopping Trip that Never Was

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On December 23, 1864, Louis Weichmann left his Washington, D.C., boardinghouse to do some Christmas shopping for gifts for his sisters. Instead, he was waylaid by history. Weichmann, age twenty-two, was employed in the War Department. In the fall of …

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Sarah Slater and Her Souvenir Spoons: Her Last Will and Testament

As those who are familiar with the goings-on at Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse know, one of the more intriguing characters to pass through its doors was a veiled lady named Sarah Slater, a courier for the Confederate government who traveled on …

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Mary Surratt’s Boarders

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In the fall of 1864, Mary Surratt, a widow from Prince George’s County, Maryland, moved to Washington, D.C. and opened her property at 541 H Street (the light-colored house below) to boarders. Mary’s late husband, John, had acquired the house years …

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Two Letters from a Grieving Daughter

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Whatever one believes about the guilt or innocence of Mary Surratt, her daughter, Anna, is surely deserving of our sympathy. On July 6, 1865, she had been given the horrifying news that her mother would be executed; the following day, …

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July 6-7, 1865

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On July 6, 1865, General John F. Hartranft, who had been placed in charge of Washington, D.C.’s Old Arsenal Prison, went from cell to cell, informing Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell (known at the time by his alias of Lewis Payne), …

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Lincoln Remembered in Washington, D.C.

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It’s a beautiful spring evening in Washington, D.C., way too nice to be sitting in a hotel room, but I had a marvelous two days and wanted to talk about them while they were fresh in my mind. (Apologies for …

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