The Real John Wilkes Booth By: Mackenzie Creviston (Age: 10)
I love history, so when my mom asked me if I wanted to do the class History’s Mysteries: The Truth About Booth, I naturally was interested. My teacher is Allison Bruning. She has given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. One of those opportunities was an interview with Nate Orlowek, a historian who believes that John Wilkes Booth didn’t die at Garret’s Barn and escaped to commit suicide in the Oklahoma Territory.
This is what history tells us. On April 26, 1865 John Wilkes Booth was shot in the neck in Garret’s Barn. He died that same day. Booth had been on the run for 14 days for killing President Abraham Lincoln. The soldiers were given an order of finding Booth and bringing him back alive.
We now go back to when Booth shot the President in the head. After Booth shot the fatal bullet into President Lincoln’s head, he jumped from the box and landed on the stage breaking his left leg. Booth then limped off to escape capture. After somehow escaping Washington D.C, Booth went to Surrat Tavern and then to Dr. Samuel Mudd’s house. Mudd didn’t know who Booth was, so he set his left leg not knowing he was helping the assassin of President Lincoln. After making a stop at Samuel Cox’s house, Booth fled into the woods. He then journeyed to Col. Hughes’ house and continued to the Lucas Farm. Finally, Booth came to Garret’s Barn.
When the Union Soldiers arrived at Garret’s Barn, Boston Coreman called out for Booth to surrender. But Booth’s co-conspirator, David E. Harold came out instead and said, “This man is not Booth. He is a man by the name of Boyd.” Coreman ordered the barn to be lit on fire and later shot a bullet into the barn and killed John Wilkes Booth.
Nate Orlowek has a theory about John Wilkes Booth, which I am going to explain now. Nate Orlowek believes that Booth wasn’t shot at Garret’s Barn and escaped to live under different aliases such as John St. Helen.
One day John St. Helen got incredibly sick, when on his deathbed, he told his friend Finis Bates this, “I’m dying. My name is not John St. Helen. It is John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Lincoln.”
After John St. Helen recovered from his illness he explained to Bates his escape in greater detail.
John St. Helen said that he got out of the city because the Vice President, Andrew Johnson gave him the passcode. “The man shot in the barn,” stated St. Helen, “I believe was the man who I sent to retrieve my belongings.” Based on what John St. Helen stated, Andrew Johnson was the mastermind of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Remember how I said that in Nate Orlowek’s theory John Wilkes Booth lived under different aliases? Another alias was David E. George. David E. George committed suicide in the Oklahoma Territory by drinking arsenic. In his death papers, David E. George stated for Finis Bates to be contacted at his death. When Bates arrived for the funeral, he realized David E. George was really his friend, John St. Helen. Bates later wrote a book called The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth. Could John St. Helen and David E. George be the same person? Well, Bates had the corpse of David E. George mummified. But then after Bates died, the mummy was lost never to be seen again. I know, right! We have a lead but we can’t follow it!
John Wilkes Booth had 8 other brothers. Those brothers got married and had kids. Some of the family have teamed up with Nate Orlowek to find out if the corpse or maybe corpses (the cemetery said that there were three infants on top of the coffin that belonged to John Wilkes Booth) in an unmarked grave (where the cemetery thinks John Wilkes Booth is buried) is really John Wilkes Booth. Unfortunately, the cemetery won’t let Nate nor the descendants dig up the corpse to find out the truth.
I think that Nate Orlowek’s theory is correct because of the evidence there is. How would John St. Helen know so much about an escape from Garret’s Barn? He wouldn’t, only the real John Wilkes Booth would know! St. Helen fled town after telling Finis Bates about the escape and plot of the assassination of President Lincoln. Then after telling his landlady his “true” identity (the same story John St. Helen told, I am John Wilkes Booth) David E. George committed suicide. Finis Bates determined that David E. George was the same person as John St. Helen. Evidence shows that it is possible for John Wilkes Booth to have survived Garret’s Barn. With this knowledge, I have concluded that Nate Orlowek’s theory is correct, I hope you will do the same. Even if you don’t agree, you’ve got to believe that this theory is possible.