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    [John Wilkes Booth] Blanche Chapman Ford Autograph Statement Signed. In full, reading simply, "I can assure you of the positive identification of John Wilkes Booth's body." Penned on the upper half of an 6.5" x 9" leaf, with red pencil dateline "Mohawk Theatre, Schenectady, Dec. 31, 1912" in the hand of Lincoln collector John E. Boos; on the verso Boos has typed an identification of Mrs. Ford and a brief summary of his interview with her. Blanche Chapman Ford was an actress and sister-in-law of John T. Ford, the owner of Ford's Theatre.

    Accompanied by a somewhat later typescript (by Boos), four pages, 6.5" x 9", quoting some of her reminiscences: "'I was a girl of 8 when Mr. Lincoln was killed. . . . My mother and father were actors, and . . . I lived in the Booth family for a while before the government allowed [John Wilkes's] body to be claimed and buried in the family plot." She describes going with Booth's mother, sister Rosalie and brother Joseph, John T. and Harry C. Ford, and her own sister Ella to view his remains. "The body lay in a rude box . . . shriveled and dried, giving it a mummified appearance . . . wrapped in a rotted army blanket. The men slowly examined the corpse, because [of] rumors . . . that the assassin had escaped, and the mother was very anxious to make sure the body was that of her boy." She tells how Joseph Booth pulled down the jaw to locate a single false tooth and John T. Ford felt "carefully along the boot" for the corpse's broken ankle. These, together with its "raven hair", left "everybody...satisfied the man the world hated lay before them. I picked up a piece of the blanket. Mrs. Booth seeing me place it in my handbag asked me to cut off a lock of the hair. Mrs. Booth divided it among those present." Blanche wed Harry C. Ford, the manager of Ford's Theatre, and as a widow in the 1920s reclaimed from the U.S. government the rocking chair in which Lincoln had sat on the fatal night; it was later sold to automaker Henry Ford. All pages are age-toned and fine.

    : Boos Archive, in the King V. Hostick collection sold by Leslie Hindman, Chicago, IL, 20 April 1985; Riba Mobley Auction, Glastonbury, CT, 4 March 1989.

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    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
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