The Mystery of John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln’s Assassin) :
The Virginia Kline Interview
History tells us that Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, a 26-year-old nationally known actor was trapped and killed in a barn in Virginia, 11 days after President Lincoln was assassinated.
History is about to be challenged, and here's why:
There are some who say it was not Booth who was killed in that barn, it was actually Franklin A. Robey. Witnesses at the scene describe the man shot as having red or sandy hair. Booth's hair was black. The body's face was freckled. Booth had no freckles. The body had no broken leg. Booth, in his escape from Ford's Theater, had broken his left leg.
Dr. John F. May, a Washington surgeon who had removed a tumor from Booth's neck in 1864 and conducted the autopsy, said: "The corpse bears no resemblance to the actor John Wilkes Booth."
Lt. William C. Allen of the Secret Service declared the body was not that of Booth. Senator Charles Summer argued that the government reward for Booth should not be paid because there was not enough evidence to verify it was Booth's body. Senator Garrett Davis of Kentucky stated he had never seen any satisfactory evidence that Booth had been killed.
In the early 1900's, John Shoemaker, General Counsel to the Dept. of the Army, wrote, "The evidence put forth by the government to support the conclusion that the body was that of John Wilkes Booth was so insubstantial it would not hold up in a court of law."
So what happened to Booth?
The real John Wilkes Booth escaped and lived in Enid, Oklahoma under the assumed name John St. Helen until January 13,1903, where he committed suicide, in a boarding house, by drinking wine with strychnine poison.
On May 17, 1995, in Baltimore, Maryland, relatives of John Wilkes Booth gathered in a hearing for the exhumation of Booth's body. If successful, it would only be a matter of weeks before the body was unearthed, and one of history's greatest mysteries will be resolved.
We talked on the eve of the one-hundred-and-thirtieth anniversary of the death (?) of John Wilkes Booth with one of his descendants, Virginia Kline.
Here then is our exclusive interview with Ms. Kline and a rare look at history in the making.
Q: Ms. Kline, explain to me how you are related to John Wilkes Booth.
A: Alright, John Wilkes Booth's father was Junius Brutus Booth. He had a sister by the name of Jane Booth. That sister married a James Mitchell. Of that marriage my grandfather was born. His name was Robert Gerard Mitchell. He was born in I think 1835. When he married my grandmother I think it was her second husband 'cause it appears here that she was born in 1852. Her name was Alice Cheshire. So my grandfather was born of that union of Jane Booth to James Mitchell, and his name was Robert Mitchell. So he was my mother’s father, which made Jane Booth my great grandmother, and Robert Mitchell, her son, my grandfather.
Q: At what age were you told you were related to John Wilkes Booth?
A: That makes it sound like I was sat down on a chair or something and told, "I want to tell you something." It didn't come across like that. My recollection is that it's something I guess that over the years you may hear a little talk in the family. The family really didn't talk about it.