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    Description

    Jeanie Gourlay Struthers Autograph Letter Signed, recounting her experience while performing at Ford's Theatre on the night that Lincoln was murdered. Two pages, 8" x 10", no place, no date [Media, Pa., ca. 1925]. This seems originally to have been the conclusion of a longer letter, but is complete in itself. "I play[ed] Mary Meredith in Our American Cousin the night of the assassination of President Lincoln. I began the first scene of the third act. I have always thought that Booth, knowing the piece so well, selected that particular part to work his way to the President's box." She notes that she first saw Booth in the lobby, having just entered from the street; she thought he "must have been ill, he looked so pale. I continued my scene . . . looked in front again and Booth was gone." She explains how her scene continued with the protagonist, "Asa Trenchard", lighting his cigar accidentally with a will, "the burning of which deprives him of property leaving it to Mary. The interest of the audience is centered on this part of the play, and Booth would find it easier to make his way up the stairs to the President's box without being observed." She notes that the scene "closed in on me. Ned Spangler . . . had just come from holding Booth's horse in the alley. I spoke to him, and then passed through the entrance to the passage way on the left of the audience. I was talking with a member of the company when I heard a shot and great shouting which kept up for some time. I suddenly encountered Booth coming from the first entrance. I saw the knife in his hand, he pushed me over against the scene in passing and went out the door . . . leading to the alley . . . ten or twelve feet from where I was standing. I had no idea what had taken place until I reached the first entrance, when I was told the President had been shot. There was a call from the box for water. My father who played Sir Edward Trenchard took Laura Keene across the stage to a side entrance into the box. Laura Keene raised the President's head in her arms. It was then they discovered from the blood trickling down her dress where the wound was. My father helped to carry the President from the theatre. I was on the stage with other members of the company and shall not forget as long as I live seeing him carried from the box." Mrs. Struthers notes that her sister was also on stage that night "and two brothers in front", one of them aged about fourteen and still living. A closing reference to possible government purchase of the Oldroyd collection (the basis of the current Ford's Theatre museum display) dates this letter, since the United States did in fact buy it in 1926. Scattered light toning, slightly worn across central horizontal fold, but very good.

    Provenance
    : Fostell; Charles Hamilton Galleries, New York, 31 July 1969.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
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