The Undying Conspiracy of John Wilkes Booth’s Body

TIME

Twelve days after John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, he was fatally shot by an army sergeant as the barn he was hiding in burned to the ground. Or at least that’s the conventional narrative of Booth’s final hours.

Despite the fact that Booth’s body had been identified by a number of people who knew him well, some conspiracy theorists maintained that Booth escaped to Texas, and that the man shot outside that barn had merely been a look-alike. In Finis L. Bates’ 1907 book Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth, the author contends that Booth assumed a new identity, John St. Helen, and lived in exile until taking his own life in 1903.

Following the success of his book, Bates began to display the mummified cadaver he claimed was Booth’s at traveling carnivals. According to LIFE, the mummy, which was for some reason…

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About Gunny G

GnySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952--'72 PC: History, Poly-Tiks, Military, Stories, Controversial, Unusual, Humorous, etc.... "Simplify...y'know!"
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