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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April 3, 1865: Richmond Falls, and John Surratt Departs

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One hundred and fifty years ago today, on April 3, 1865, Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, fell to the Union. The day before, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet had fled the city, having authorized the burning of warehouses …

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The Carte de Visite and the Lincoln Assassination

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Lately, I’ve developed a weakness for cartes de visite—the small photographs that were prized during the last half of the nineteenth century—and have amassed a tiny collection of them, including one of my favorites here of an unidentified lady. As …

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New Website Material for Hanging Mary

I’ve been tinkering a bit with my website. For my forthcoming novel (for which I hope to be able to post cover art soon), I’ve added a list of further reading as well as a PDF article about my research on …

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Guest Post by Jeffrey Stayton, Author of This Side of the River

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Today I’m happy to be hosting Jeffrey Stayton, who’s written a novel set in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War called This Side of the River. Over to Jeffrey! Nostalgia One of the most difficult aspects of writing …

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Dear Cousin: John Surratt’s Letters to Bell Seaman

On at least five occasions, John Surratt, the youngest son of Mary Surratt, put pen to paper to write to his second cousin, Isabel (“Bell”) Seaman, who lived with her family in Washington, Pennsylvania. The first three letters (the second …

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Merry Christmas, and An Excerpt!

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Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! I’ve been busy revising my forthcoming novel, Hanging Mary, for the publisher. Here’s a seasonal excerpt for you, set at Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse 150 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1864: The men had …

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