Jewish World Review
Kin of Lincoln's assassin agree to brother's body ID tests
By Edward Colimore
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT)
Edwin became one of America's greatest Shakespearean actors, while
Now, for the first time, Booth descendants have agreed to exhume Edwin's body, adding drama to the family's story and delighting historians who have speculated that
By using DNA comparisons, relatives from the
Is Lincoln's assassin in an unmarked grave at
"I'm absolutely in favor of exhuming Edwin," said
"It's better to know," said her sister
The sisters, with a third sibling,
"You'll never be the actor your father was," a customer reportedly told him.
"When I leave the stage, I will be the most famous man in America," Booth fired back, according to accounts.
An hour and a half later, the dark-haired actor — a matinee idol of his time — shot Lincoln in the State Box at Ford's and dropped about 11 feet to the stage, breaking his left leg.
History says Booth was cornered 12 days later by detectives and Union soldiers in a tobacco barn at the Garrett farm in
Or was he?
Efforts by descendants to open the
The family had hoped to use the skull and photographic techniques, along with other identifying scars, to make an identification.
Their best option now is to compare DNA from
The Booth escape "is a story that never seems to die," said
"I have always been disturbed by the opposition from recognized Civil War historians" to uncover the truth, he said. "We have the means, and it's certainly worth solving an age-old mystery. Why wouldn't you want to do that?"
Probably no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than
"If the man who killed our greatest president got away and a giant hoax was perpetrated on the American people, then we should know about it," he said.
Orlowek, 53, has trailed Booth through the reports of witnesses who claimed another man was shot at the farm:
He's followed the trail of carnivals that exhibited the mummified body of a man the barkers claimed was
His conclusion? Booth escaped 145 years ago to live in
George's mummified remains were allegedly last seen at a carnival in
"Society exists based on the knowledge of itself and the truth of its history," Orlowek said. "We believe in getting the truth no matter what it is. ...
"If we are proven right," he said, "history will be set on its ear. This will teach us that just because something was blindly accepted in the past, that it is not necessarily true."
The Booth conundrum comes down to the DNA, say family members.
Once a sample is retrieved from
A panel judges such requests, based on their merits and social, legal and ethical implications, officials said.
"We do not approve destructive testing on nonrenewable historical artifacts," said
Possible harm to the artifact must be weighed against the benefits of the testing, said
"It's a question of preserving the physical evidence of history and not putting it at risk," said Smith, who believes the accepted version of what happened at the Garrett farm.
"If the preponderance of evidence is that this is a myth, then should we be investing scarce historic resources?"
Historians such as Herman, though, say the test "wouldn't destroy the sample." A tiny drill could extract what's needed.
"If it compares favorably, that's the end of the controversy," Herman said. "That was Booth in the barn, end of case.
"If it doesn't match, you change American history," he said. "Booth would have a fine time making headlines in the newspapers again. Someone else was shot" at the Garrett farm in that case, he said.
Booth descendants "always refer to that man as the 'body in the barn,' never