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The Truth about John Wilkes Booth By Caroline Perez (Age: 12)

History tells us that John Wilkes Booth died in the barn of Richard Garrett, but Nate Orlowek, a researcher fascinated by the death of John Wilkes Booth, has a different theory. Nate Orlowek believes that John Wilkes Booth didn’t die of a gunshot wound, but escaped and survived. This paper will examine both sides of this argument.

I would like to thank my teacher, Alison Bruning, for teaching me all that I know on this subject, and for getting me in contact with Nate Orlowek, a researcher that is currently focused on the death of John Wilkes Booth. Nate and Alison are both on the same team.

According to history, John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was an American Actor who assassinated President Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre, Washington DC, on April 14, 1865.

After shooting Lincoln on the back of his head, Booth jumped to the stage below, and in the process, broke his left leg. He escaped (somehow?) behind Ford’s Theatre and procured a horse. Booth, and an accomplice, David Herold, made their way across the Anacostia River, and headed toward southern Maryland. The pair stopped at Dr. Samuel Mudd’s home. Dr. Samuel Mudd treated Booth’s leg. This act earned Mudd a life sentence in prison.

Afterward, Booth found refuge for several days at the Home of Thomas A. Jones, a confederate sympathizer and agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac to Virginia. However, on April 26, 1865, Union soldiers, receiving some information, discovered Booth and Herald in the farm of Richard Garrett. They demanded that they come out and surrender. Herold came out, but Booth refused. In order to flush him out, Union soldiers set the barn on fire, but Booth still refused. Taking justice into his own hands, Boston Corbett shot and killed John Wilkes Booth. However, Nate Orlowek has a different theory.


Nate Orlowek, a researcher extremely interested in this topic on how and

where John Wilkes Booth died, currently has a theory. His theory suggests that John Wilkes Booth left the barn a couple days earlier, and the man who was shot was another confederate sympathizer. He thinks that John Wilkes Booth died in Oklahoma Territory, 1903, of cyanide poisoning. This means, if Nate Orlowek’s theory is correct, John Wilkes Booth lived an additional 38 years than what history tells us. Nate Orlowek’s most convincing piece of evidence (to me) is that the Union Soldier’s description of John Wilkes Booth was having sandy colored hair. Now, any photo of John Wilkes Booth shows that his hair is dark colored. Furthermore, the first thing that Herold said as he came out of the barn was: “That man inside the barn is not Booth.”

In summary, we may never know what happened to John Wilkes Booth. Did he die of a gunshot wound at Garrett’s farm, or did he die of cyanide poisoning, in Oklahoma territory, as Nate Orlowek suggests? However, one thing is for certain: history is never what it seems.

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