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    [John Wilkes Booth]: 1892 Eyewitness Account of Richard Baynham Garrett. R. B. Garrett was eleven years old when John Wilkes Booth and David Herold came to his home in Port Royal, Virginia. His father, Richard Henry Garrett, owned a tobacco farm and played host to the fugitives for two days until their apprehension. Richard, junior, hid them in the Garrett tobacco barn and brought them food. He later wrote to Edwin Booth, relaying John Wilke's dying words and sending a lock of the assassin's hair. As an adult, he became a Baptist minister, serving in various locales including Austin, Texas. During the late 1880's and early 1890's, he delivered talks on the subject at colleges, church gatherings and chatauquas. He felt that he could provide an accurate view of the events. His lecture notes are contained in this 6" x 8 ¾" composition book inscribed "R. B. Garrett, Austin, Texas. July 16th 1892" on the cover. There are 50 pages of "lecture" and seven additional pages with transcripts of testimonials. The material is referred to by the author as "a chapter of unwritten history". The manuscript is written in ink and remains in fine condition with some repairs to the binding and restoration to the back cover, of little consequence. In part: "When they rode up to the yard gate I went out with my father to meet them. The one dressed in the uniform of a Confederate captain said, 'Mr. Garrett I suppose you hardly remember me.' 'No, sir, I believe not,' said my father. 'My name is Jett, I am the son of your old friend Jett of Westmoreland County.' Then turning to the other men, he introduced Lieut. Ruggles and then said, 'This is my friend Mr. James W. Boyd a Confederate soldier who was wounded at the battle of Petersburg and is trying to get to his home in Maryland. Can you take care of him for a day or two until his wounds permit him to travel.' The next morning when I arose I noticed for the first time hanging on the post of his bed in which Mr. Boyd slept, a belt which held two large revolvers and a pearl handled dagger, while laying on the mantle was a leather case containing a pair of opera glasses... About two o'clock that night my father was awakened by a knock on the door. Thinking that some of the servants were sick he went to the door in his night clothes and when he opened it a man standing on the step thrust a pistol into his face and told him to 'open his mouth at his own peril'... At this time some of the men came up and said, 'Captain there is someone in the barn.' With the barn surrounded by the troops, the officer in charge called upon them to surrender. The man we knew only as Boyd replied, 'We don't know who you are, whether friend or foe. Perhaps you are our friends and if so there is no need for us to surrender.' The reply was 'We won't stop to argue that. Come out and see who we are.' Boyd finally said, '... boys bring a stretcher, I will never surrender. Another stain on the glorious old banner.' The barn was set on fire. Framed in great waves of fire the crippled man leaning on his crutches and holding his carbine in his hand... At this moment a crack of a pistol was heard, and we who were watching saw him sink down where he stood... As Booth laid upon the grass near the burning barn he said, 'Captain it is hard that a man's property should be destroyed. He does not know who I am...' He then called to the officer standing next to him and said, 'Tell my mother I died for my country, I did what I thought was best.'" An historic document that was highly valued by Donald Dow, with good reason. It may be the only hand-written, first-hand account by R. B. Garrett. This and other Garrett-related items was acquired from family members by dealer Bill Kulick of Federal Hill Antiquities who dispersed the collection in 1997.



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    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    24th Saturday
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