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John Wilkes Booth: Proof He Didn’t Die in Garrett’s Barn by Caroline Merriman (Age: 13)

As Napoleon once said, “What is history, but a fable agreed upon?” We know that original history says that John Wilkes Booth died in Garret’s barn…, or so we think. A group of historians including Nate Orlowek, Allison Bruning, and Dr. Krista Latham think that he didn’t die in Garett’s barn and he lived many years after until 1903. That’s when he committed suicide in an Oklahoma boarding house. He was turned into a mummy and kept hidden by Finis L. Bates. The press continues for the truth about whether John Wilkes Booth died in Garret’s Barn, or killed himself in an Oklahoma boarding house. It’s still continuing today!

John Wilkes Boothe was a famous actor and performed in many plays in Ford’s Theater, like Julius Cesar and the one that Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln went to called Our American Cousin. There, John Wilkes Boothe shot President Abraham Lincoln. It was only 6 days after he freed the slaves in the United States. The killing shocked the country. Then John escaped out of Washington, only to be shot at Garret’s barn. That’s the original story.

Now for the other story. He did the same thing. Only, after he escaped out of Washington, he found out the authorities were behind him and he left the barn. The man who got shot was a man named Boyd who was also wanted for his crimes. He was sent to get the papers that fell out of John Wilkes Booth’s pocket along the way. When he got back the authorities were right behind him, so he hid in the barn. The authorities yelled at him to surrender. Another guy in the barn named David Harold surrendered saying, “It’s not John! It’s not John!” The authorities were like, “Yeah right.” When the authorities shot him, the papers were in his pocket and they found the papers, so it was claimed to be John Wilkes Boothe. But it was really Boyd, so Nate says that the authorities are wrong.

So we are still trying to figure out who did what here. Did he escape from Washington only to be shot at Garret’s barn? Or did he live many years afterward until 1903? You can watch two videos on YouTube and see what you believe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPtfCbmLz2o&t=571s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo9Hhk9-KMI&t=53s.

I believe that he was not shot in garrets barn because of visual evidence. Two soldiers said that the color of Boyd’s hair, the guy who got shot in the barn, was red. John Wilkes Booth’s hair is brown. Joanne Hulme said that her mom said that he lived many years afterward. On Louisa’s deathbed, she told her daughter, Laura Ida Booth, that John Wilkes Booth was her father and he lived many years after his supposed death.

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