Saturday, November 20, 2010

John Wilkes Booth

I took a trip out to Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore. It's a beautiful cemetery and has several notable persons buried there. Most famously, John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Lincoln, is entombed there.

The neighborhood surrounding the cemetery is noticeably neglected and crime-ridden. I saw several drug deals going down right in the open. Abandoned buildings were boarded up and I saw some questionably dressed young women walking up and down the street. Against my better judgment, I stopped at a gas station to get a drink. The clerk was caged completely behind a solid metal door and bulletproof glass. A little slot at the bottom of the glass allowed the customer to slide cash or credit card underneath.

The cemetery itself is stunning. A great stone wall at least twelve feet high encloses it (with barbed wire coiled around the top) and there is a great stone arch which you must pass under to get into the cemetery itself.

I signed in with an elderly gentleman who enthusiastically agreed with me about the beauty of the place. He gave me a list of notables buried there and a map to find their graves.

The place is massive and the gentleman told me that it was 65 acres. I don't know if I misheard him or if that's accurate, but seeing everything will take a few visits.

I'd already read that John Wilkes Booth was buried in this cemetery and the gentleman told me that most people who visit are looking for his grave. I felt a little embarrassed to admit that I was curious about it, too.

Finding his grave took a long time. I had the map, but I'm just not very good at reading them. I had to walk out to the main walk a few times to regain my bearings.

The cemetery was so still and quiet, even for a cemetery (and I've been in a few). Most unnerving were a large number of ravens, cawing loudly. There was one that watched me quietly for quite a while from a large marble statue. It reminded me of Poe's The Raven and I kind of wondered if Poe was inspired to write that poem by the very thing I was observing.

Anyway, on to the grave. I kept looking and saw the name "Booth" on a large needle-shaped monument. I ran up to it, knowing that if this wasn't John Wilkes, I had to be getting close. I carefully walked on all sides of the monument, but couldn't find John's name.

Before you ask, no, I don't know what that yellow ball is. There's another, lighter colored yellow ball above and to the right of the bright one. I'm guessing that it's the angle of the sun or something. I've never had that appear in any of my photos before.

I'm sorry, but I could not get a decent picture of the words and I didn't write them down. I can make out "...and his wife who outlived him 33 (??) years."

John Wilkes Booth's family is apparently buried in this plot. The monument itself carries the name of his father, Junius Brutus Booth. I find it interesting that he had a Roman name and his monument is itself very Roman inspired, right down to the laurel wreath.

I finally found John's name:

It's difficult to read, but it says "To the memory of the children of Junius Brutus & Mary Ann Booth." Then, listed below are "John Wilkes, Frederick, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Henry Byron, (illegible.)"

John Wilkes himself is buried in an unmarked grave (at the request of his family) within the family plot. The family plot is not large, perhaps 15' X 12'. The other members have their own markers.

I'm planning another trip out to Green Mount Cemetery over this winter. I wonder if the ravens will still be there when I get back.

Stay tuned for more Green Mount pictures.

1 comment:

  1. How interesting. I've got to agree with you, it looks like a beautiful cemetery. I look forward to seeing pictures when you go back in the winter time.