DescriptionChristian Rath, Executioner of the Assassination Conspirators, Autograph Letter Signed, one page, 6" x 9.5", Jackson, Michigan., 26 December 1901, to Al Emmett Fostell. advises that "John Surratt lives in Baltimore, Md., his sister Carrie did [i.e., died?] in Washington, D.C. . . . has an aunt there. Genl. Hartranft... is dead." A postscript returns thanks "for the Merry Christmas & to you a happy N. Year." Rath, a Captain in the 17th Michigan, had been a sheriff before the Civil War and as such occasionally performed the duty of hangman. For this reason he was assigned to execute Lewis Payne, Mary Surratt, Davy Herold and George Atzerodt. A gallows large enough to hold them all at once was built under Rath's direction in the yard of Washington's old penitentiary He personally knotted and tied the ropes that were put around their necks, and on 7 July 1865 relayed the signal for the gallows trapdoors to drop, ending their lives. Also: Union General John F. Hartranft, who was in charge of guarding the Lincoln conspirators during their trial, and who read them their order of execution on the gallows, Autograph Letter Signed, while governor of Pennsylvania, on 8" x 10", "Executive Chamber" letterhead (top of page missing portion, mounting remnants on verso), Harrisburg, 1873, asking an unnamed Colonel to deliver an address. Near fine.
Provenance: evidently Fostell, number 75.
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