GEN. ALBERT PIKE IDENTIFIES BOOTH

by Caveat Lector

 Here we see General Albert Pike identifying a living John Wilkes Booth in Texas in 1884.

It seems some folks just will not stay “dead”. – CCC

Excerpt from:
The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth: or, The first true account of Lincoln’s assassination, containing a complete confession by Booth 
by Finis Langdon Bates, 1907
CHAPTER XV.
GEN. ALBERT PIKE IDENTIFIES BOOTH.
While trying to trace Booth after he left Fresno,
California, I read a story from Col. Edward Levan,
of Monterey, Mexico. He says that a man whom he
believed to be Booth roomed with him during the
winter of 1868, in Lexington, Kentucky. The two
became quite friendly, and Col. Levan openly de-
clared to the man, who was going by the name of
J. J. Marr, that he believed him to be John Wilkes
Booth. Mr. Marr did not deny the allegation, but
shortly thereafter left Lexington, where he was
“playing the character of a lawyer.”
Col. Levan says that he afterward learned that
Mr. Marr had settled at Village Mills, Texas, and
from there went to Glenrose Mills, Texas, at which
place I first met John St. Helen, and where he de-
clared himself to be John Wilkes Booth.
Col. M. W. Connolly, a distinguished newspaper
man, at present and for many years past connected
The Veteran Mason, Statesman, Lawyer and Poet, as He
Appeared at the Time of His Recognition of John Wilkes
Booth at Port Worth, Texas, in 1885.
with the leading papers as editor-in-chief, a gentle-
man of the highest type, a brilliant writer and a man
of honor and integrity, says :
“I am strongly inclined to believe that David B.
George, who died at Enid, Oklahoma Territory, was
John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed Lincoln.
“In 1883, while in the little town of Village Mills,
Texas, I met George, although I never knew his
name, and cannot say whether he went under that
name or not. He impressed me. I had seen Edwin
Booth once in Galveston, and had some knowledge
of the appearance of the Booth family. Later I went
to Fort Worth as editor of the Gazette, under the
late Walter Malone. I had forgotten all about my
casual acquaintance of Village Mills.
“One night I was in the Pickwick Hotel barroom
talking to Gen. Albert Pike, who had come down
from Washington on legal business. I had called on
him to inquire about a claim against the government
in which he was interested the claim of the heirs
of my wife’s grandfather, Major Michie, of La-
Grange, Tennessee, whose cotton and cotton gins
were burned by the Federal troops when Grant was
at LaGrange. Capt. Day, of Day & Maas, proprie-
tors, was behind the bar. It was in 1884 or 1885,
and we were unconventional then.
“Tom Powell, mayor of Fort Worth, joined us, and
Temple Houston, youngest son of the ex-Governor
of Tennessee, the man who whipped Santa Anna at
San Jaeinto, and the first president of the Texas
republic (Gen Sam Houston), was there. I was
about to leave, was waiting for a pause in order to
excuse myself ; Gen. Pike was explaining how he had
been credited with the authorship of ‘The Old
Canoe,’ which he said was written by some woman;
just then my Village Mills friend came in accom-
panied by some one, I think Long Scurlock, who
used to edit the Chronicle at Cleburne, Texas. Capt.
Day turned to make a change. I was watching Gen.
Pike closely (trying to get away), when suddenly
he threw up his hands, his face white as his hair and
beard, and exclaimed :
‘”My God! John Wilkes Booth!’ He was much
excited, trembled like an aspen, and at my sugges-
tion went to his room. He seemed weakened by the
shock, the occasion of which I could not realize at
the moment. I saw him climb the stairs to his room
and turned to look for my Village Mills acquaint-
ance, but could not find him.
“While talking to Temple Houston the next morn-
ing I pointed out my Village Mills friend when I
was called to Gen. Pike, who was standing on the
opposite side of the street, and Temple Houston
promised me that he would look the man up and get
a story. I have heard that the alleged Booth, the
man whom I had met, moved to the Territory later,
but I took no newspaper interest in the matter.
“I never saw J. Wilkes Booth, but I have seen his
pictures, and while I am in no way certain, I am
strongly of the belief that the man who died at Enid
was John Wilkes Booth. I am quite sure that the
venerable author of ‘Every Year* believed it was
the infatuated actor, and I am sure that he was
amazed to find that his bewailment, ‘There are fewer
to regret us,’ did not include the man who took a
leading part in our great national tragedy.”
It is of interest in this connection to state that
Fort Worth, Texas, is only about forty-fives miles
to the northeast of Grandberry, Texas, my old home
and St. Helen’s. It was from this place, in 1878,
that he drifted to Leadville, Colorado, and from
thence to Fresno, California, and was next seen in
1884 or 1885 at Fort Worth, Texas, near his old
home, by Gen. Albert Pike, in company with M.
W. Connolly, and by Gen. Pike recognized as John
Wilkes Booth.
The man supposed to be Booth was seen by others
before he settled at Glenrose Mills, for Dr. H. W.
Gay says :
“I knew John Wilkes Booth in 1857, and while I
was at Fort Donaldson, a prisoner of war, the news
was flashed over the world that President Lincoln
had been slain by John Wilkes Booth. I was horri-
fied to think of such a thing, for Booth, though a
boy when I knew him, in appearance was the most
accomplished gentleman with whom I had ever come
in contact. All who knew him well were captivated
by him. He was the most hospitable, genial fellow
to be met, and when drinking or much in company,
he was always quoting Shakespeare, or some other
poet. How many times have I seen him strike a
tragic attitude and exclaim:
O’The aspiring youth who fires the Ephesians dome
Outlives in fame the pious fools who reared it.’
“I read of his capture and death and never
doubted it until the year 1869. I was then living in
what is now Tate county, Mississippi. One evening
about dusk a man came to my house claiming that
he was one of the Ku-Klux Clan run out of Arkansas
by Clayton’s militia (the Clayton referred to being
Powell Clayton, until recently Ambassador to Mexico).
“I soon recognized this man as an erratic fellow.
During his stay at my house he told me that John
Wilkes Booth was not killed, but made his escape
and spent a short while in Mexico with Maximilian ‘s
army, but got into trouble, and his life was saved
by reason of the fact that he was a Catholic. The
man also stated that during Booth’s short stay in
Mexico he had lived in disguise as an itinerant Cath-
olic priest. He also told me the story of how Booth
had escaped after the assassination was done, and it
corresponded exactly with Mr. Bates’ story as told
by John St. Helen, even to the crossing of the Mis-
sissippi river at Catfish Point and going thence up
the Arkansas river to Indian Territory. And that
Booth afterward met Junius Brutus Booth and his
mother in San Francisco.”
This meeting was possibly arranged while John
Wilkes Booth was in the Indian Territory, and may
explain in some measure his employment to drive a
team from Nebraska City, Nebraska, to Salt Lake,
Utah, for Mr. L. Treadkel, in 1866 or 1867, and his
unceremonious desertion of duty before reaching
Salt Lake City.
So we have Booth, or St. Helen, meeting his oldest
brother, Junius Brutus Booth, at San Francisco in
1866 or 1867. Again we locate him in Lexington,
Kentucky, in company with Col. Levan, in 1868 or
1869, and seen by Dr. Gay in Tate county, Mississip-
pi, in 1869. In 1872 I met and knew him intimately at
Glenrose Mills, Texas. In 1883 Mr. Connolly saw
him at Village Mills, Texas, and again in 1884 or
1885 at Fort Worth, Texas, where he was recog-
nized by Gen. Albert Pike.
At Fort Worth we lost sight of Booth for a num-
ber of years, but it seems from the best obtainable
information that he drifted into the vicinity of Guthrie,
Oklahoma Territory, but was located at He.i-
nessy, Oklahoma Territory, in the year 1896, play-
ing the role of a gentleman of leisure, under the name
of George D. Ryan, where he remained until some
time in the year 1899, when he located at El Reno,
Oklahoma Territory, sixty-five miles south of Hen-
nessy, stopping at the Anstein hotel, where he was
domiciled in 1898 when I took up the matter with
the government authorities at Washington. %
On moving to El Reno, in 1899, Booth made de-
posits of money, opening an account with the State
bank of that place, under the name of David E.
George. Assuming the character of a journeyman
house painter he took a contract and painted a small
cottage for Mr. Anstien, the proprietor of the An-
stein hotel, and advertised himself as David E.
George, house painter, in the Daily Democrat, a
newspaper published at El Reno, but took no jobs of
painting after that first one for Mr. Anstien, and did
no other work in this nor any other business at El Reno.
At the El Reno State bank, where Booth made his
deposits as David E. George, the tintype picture of
St. Helen (Booth), taken twelve years after the as-
sassination of President Lincoln, was at once identi-
fied by the officials of the bank as being a true like-
ness of the man David E. George, who made the de-
posits at their bank and with whom they were per-
sonally acquainted. At the request of Mr. Bellamy,
one of the bank officials, I went with him to another
bank, the name of which I do not now remember,
and was introduced to the president of this bank,
whose name I believe was- Dr. Davis, who at once
identified the tintype picture of St. Helen as a true
and correct likeness of David E. George.
After remaining at the Anstien Hotel for quite a
long while David E. George (Booth) bought a cot-
tage at El Eeno, paying thirty-five hundred dollars
for it, where he installed a family by the name of
Simmons, who were to board him for the rent of the
place. He told the Anstiens that he was tired of
hotel life and requested them to look for a wife for
him, saying in a joking way that he would pay hand-
somely for one well suiting his fancy, who would be
willing to take charge of his cottage home.
Mrs. Simmons also took to board with her the
Methodist minister and his wife, the Rev. and Mrs.
Harper. Mr. Harper is a man of means and follows
the ministry as a matter of choice and not as a means
of livelihood, and his wife is a lady of great refine-
ment and culture, occupying in church and social
circles a high position. Being thrown much together
in the ordinary course of everyday life at the cottage
Mrs. Harper as well as the members of the Simmons
family grew to be on intimate terms with George
(Booth), who fell ill with his chronic asthmatic af-
fliction, from which he suffered a great deal, and
was removed from his cottage home to the Kerfoot
Hotel. Mrs. Harper, Mrs. Simmons and other kind-
hearted ladies of the city visited George (Booth),
who by right of birth and breeding moved in the so-
cial circle to which he was born, regardless of his
advertisement in the Democrat as a house painter,
performing for him such ministries as were neces-
sary.
Mrs. Harper makes the following statement:
“Mr. George (Booth) had been a resident of the
Territory for several years. He had always been
well supplied with money, the origin or source of
which no one knew, for from some mysterious source
he received a regular remittance. He was a familiar
figure in Guthrie, El Reno and Enid. My acquaint-
ance with Mr. George led me to believe him to be a
very different person from what he represented him-
self to be as David E. George, the painter. He was
eccentric, and though he claimed to be a painter of
houses, yet he did no work. He was possessed of
the highest degree of intelligence, had always the
bearing of a gentleman of cultivation and refine-
ment, and in conversation was fluent and captivat-
ing, while he discussed subjects of the greatest mo-
ment with learning, familiarity and ease. There
were very few people with whom he cared to asso-
ciate. Generally he was gloomy, though at times he
would brighten up, sing snatches of stage songs and
repeat Shakespeare’s plays in an admirable manner.
He was so well versed in these plays and other writ-
ings that he would often answer questions with a
quotation.
“At one time the young people of El Reno had a
play of some kind. One of the actors became ill and
Mr. George (Booth) filled the place to the great ad-
miration and entertainment of those who saw him.
When surprise was expressed at his ability as an
actor he replied that he had acted some when he was
a young man.
“Regarding his people, he told different stories.
One time he said his father was a doctor, and he
and a brother were the only children; that his
mother had married again and two half brothers
were living in the Indian Territory, their name being
Smith, and that he had property in the Indian Ter-
ritory. Again he seemed very lonely at times, and
said that he had not a relative in the world. He was
subject to fits of melancholia, was extremely sensi-
tive, quick tempered and rather excitable. He said
he had never married. There seemed to be some-
thing constantly on his mind about which he thought,
and which made him miserable. He seemed to love
to have one understand that he was in trouble and
appreciated sympathy.
“He remained with the Simmons family three
months and treated everyone with the greatest kind-
ness and consideration. Never do I remember his
mentioning the history of his past life or that he
was other than David E. George until the time he
thought he was going to die that was about the
middle of April, 1902.
“He had gone up town, but returned shortly and,
entering the room where Mrs. Simmons, Mrs. Bears
and myself were seated, he made some remarks re-
garding the weather, which was unusually fine for
the time of year. He then went to his room and in
about fifteen minutes called for us, and said :
” ‘I feel as if I am going to be very sick.’ He
was lying on his bed and asked me to get him a
mirror. For some time he gazed at himself in the
mirror.
“Mrs. Bears said she could see the pupils of his
eyes dilate and believed that he had taken mor-
phine. Being uneasy, she went out o. che room and
got him a cup of coffee and insisted until he drank
it, but when she suggested sending for a physician
he roused himself and in a peculiar and dramatic
manner and voice said, while holding the mirror in
front of his face :
” ‘Stay, woman, stay. This messenger of death
is my guest, and I desire to see the curtain of death
fall upon the last tragic act of mine, ‘ which passion-
ate utterance brought tears to our eyes. And when
I turned to wipe the tears from my eyes he called
me to his side and said :
‘ ‘I have something to tell you. I am going to
die in a few minutes, and I don’t believe you would
do anything to injure me. Did it ever occur to you
that I am anything but an ordinary painter? I
killed the best man that ever lived.’ I asked him
who it was and he answered:
” ‘Abraham Lincoln.’
“I could not believe it. I thought him out of his
head and asked: ‘Who was Abraham Lincoln?’
” ‘Is it possible you are so –deleted– as not to
know?’ he asked. He then took a pencil and paper
and wrote down in a peculiar but legible hand the
name, ‘Abraham Lincoln,’ and said:
” ‘Don’t doubt it, it is true. I am John Wilkes
Booth.’
” ‘Am I dying now?’ he asked. ‘I feel cold, as if
death’s icy hand was closing my life as the forfeit
for my crime.’
“He then told me that he was well off. He seemed
to be perfectly rational while talking to me. He
knew me and knew where he was, and I believe he
really thought in fact that he was dying, and asked
me to keep his secret until he was dead, adding that
if any one should find out now that he was J. “Wilkes
Booth they would take him out and hang him, and the
people who loved him so well now would despise him.
He told me that people high in official life hated
Lincoln and were implicated in his assassination. He
said that the suspense of possibly being detected
preyed on his mind all the time and was something
awful, and that his life was miserable. He said that
Mrs. Surratt was innocent and he was responsible
for her death as well as that of several others. He
said that he was devoted to acting, but had to give
it up because of his crime, and the fact that he must
remain away from the stage, when he loved the life
and profession of acting so well, made him restless
and ill tempered. He said he had plenty of money,
but was compelled to play the character of a work-
ing man to keep his mind occupied.
“In the mean time Dr. Arnold arrived and as ft
result of his efforts Mr. George was restored. After
this he was very anxious for weeks regarding what
he had told me and questioned me concerning it.
I answered him that he had told me nothing of im-
portance, but he seemed to know better. One day
he saw me looking at a picture of Lincoln and asked
me why I was looking at it. I told him that I had
always admired Lincoln.
” ‘Is that the only reason you have for looking at
it?’ he asked, regarding me with a fierce look. A
peculiar expression came over his face, his eyes
flashed and he turned pale and walked off.
“One peculiar feature of Mr. George, or Booth’s,
face was that one eyebrow was somewhat higher
than the other. I have noticed him limp slightly,
but he said it was rheumatism. That Mr. George had
a past we all knew, but what his secret was remains
unknown except in so far as he may have communi-
cated the truth to me.”
Booth’s, or George’s, life at El Reno was much
the same as I have found it at other places a simi-
larity and accumulative evidence unmistakably es-
tablishing his identity of person and character
wherever he located. It seems to have been his pol-
icy to change his name and character as often as he
changed his place of residence. It will be remem-
bered that when he left Hennessy for El Reno that
he changed his name from George D. Ryan to David
E. George, and his occupation and dress from that
of a gentleman of leisure to that of a journeyman
painter of houses, which character he acted to such
perfection that, although he painted but one house,
and did that in such an uneven and unworkmanlike
manner as to show that he knew little or nothing
about painting, yet people thought he knew all about
it, and just why he did no more painting the general
public did not understand. Upon inquiry, however,
George, or Booth, was always ready with a satis-
factory explanation. When the editor of the El Reno
Democrat, in which paper he put an advertisement
as a tradesman of house painting, at a cost of four
dollars a month, thinking it a useless expense, so
universally was it known that George, or Booth, did
no such work, suggested this to him, George, or
Booth, indignantly demanded to know if the editor
was uneasy about the price of the card, if so he
would pay for it in advance. The editor apologized
and the card continued from month to month for
two years, up to the date of the death of George.
Booth’s purpose in this is obvious. He wanted to
keep himself constantly before the public as a paint-
er, not that he wanted work, but to keep alive his
identity as a painter while he played the deceptive
character. The ‘little cottage painted for Mr. An-
stien was the stage setting to the character, the card
in the paper was his program and he played to a suc-
cessful finish this drama of the journeyman painter.
Booth’s idea in purchasing the cottage and estab-
lishing a home for himself was probably because he
thought he would enjoy it after a long and homeless
life, alone whether on the plains, in the mountains
or the best hotels for it was his custom to put up
at only the best hotels wherever he went. Thus,
when he reached El Reno he went to the Anstien
Hotel, the best one then in the city, and as good as
any there now. But three months of home life was
quite sufficient for him and he moved into the Ker-
foot Hotel, 1he newest and most up-to-date hotel in
El Reno, which was completed after he left the An-
stien for his cottage. Just how it was possible for
Booth to stay at this hotel, the stopping place of
most ol the traveling public, and escape detection
in his changed character from ” Gentleman Ryan”
to “Journeyman House Painter George,” by people
from Hennessy, only about sixty-five miles away,
who must have frequented this hotel, is hard to un.
derstand. Nevertheless it is true. It would be pos-
sible, perhaps easy, to deceive as to occupation, but
to successfully disguise his person, and change his
name, is remarkable and certainly required all the
genius of the actor, John “Wilkes Booth, who played
the change of name, person and character practically
in the same community. At El Reno, Guthrie and
Enid he was known as George, while at Hennessy,
within the same section, he was known as George D.
Ryan, and that he was not recognized and exposed
staggers comprehension and creates disbelief, nev-
ertheless Booth did this successfully, as he aid many
other surprising things.
Leaving El Reno, Booth, or George, arrived at
Enid on the 3d day of December, 1902, and registered
at the Grand Avenue Hotel, under the name of David
E. George. In the meantime Mr. Harper and his
wife had removed from El Reno to Enid, from which
place she made the following statement:
“On the evening of January 13th, I was startled
and surprised by reading in the Enid Daily News
of the suicide of David E. George, of El Reno, with
whom I first became acquainted in March, 1900, iu
El Reno, at the home of Mr. Simmons.
“Mr. Harper went down on Wednesday morning,
the 14th instant, and recognized him, and told the
embalmers of a confession that David E. George had
made to myself, and that they had better investi-
gate.
“I went to the morgue with Mr. Harper on the
15th and identified the corpse of David E. George
as the man who had confessed to me at El Reno that
he was John Wilkes Booth, and, as brevity has been
enjoined on me, will reaffirm my former statement
made in detail of David E. George’s confession to me
at El Reno, about the middle of April, 1900, as fully
as if same were set forth herein.
(Signed.) “MRS. E. C. HARPER.”
” Territory of Oklahoma,
” County of Garland.
“Mrs. E. C. Harper, first being duly sworn, upon
her oath says that the facts were written above by
herself; that she knows the facts she has written,
and that the same are true.
(Signed) “MRS. B. C. HARPER,
‘ ‘ Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 24th
day of January, 1903.
(Signed) “A. A. STRATFORD,
“Notary Public.
(L. S.) “My commission expires November 18th, 1906.”
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