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John Wilkes Booth
Mummy or Myth?
 
     Background of the mummy

Well-known as the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, actor John Wilkes Booth was reportedly turned into a mummy, some thirty years after Lincoln's death, and exhibited in the backroom of an Enid, Oklahoma funeral parlor and many carnival sideshows. This myth mixes a number of themes from American history: government  cover up, conspiracy theories, and the display of human remains at carnivals. Was Booth able to escape his pursuers and live another 30 years? Or did a drifter known as David George try to convince people that he was John Wilkes Booth, either for drinks or attention? In either event, a mummy identified as that of John Wilkes Booth toured the country for years.

 

    What's special about the mummy

The mummy itself was not especially well created and received a number of treatments by the mortician. Preservation seems to have been maintained by frequent applications of Vaseline. Interestingly, the mummy's black hair turned white over the years.

The mummy, no matter its condition or location, is special because of the legend surrounding it. 

 

    Where to see the mummy

According to C. Wyatt Evans, the mummy was last seen in New Hope Pennsylvania in 1976. Since then, it seems to be have been purchased by a private collector who values privacy. Some people have tried to track it down, but at this point, no one has been able to locate the collector--or the mummy. 

 

    Where to find more information the mummy

The Legend of John Wilkes Booth: Myth, Memory, and a Mummy traces the legend of the Booth mummy, both the details that gave rise to the myth and the need that many people had to believe the myth. 

Book Cover

American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies doesn't concern the legendary mummy; it deals instead with the truth and myth behind Lincoln's assassination--was there a conspiracy? Oliver Stone take note.

The Reluctant Assassin doesn't provide the facts, but imagines "what if." It's a novel in which a man renovating an old structure finds the mummified remains of a man and a diary. The diary seems to have been written by infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth.

The Mummy by Gordon Grice is a highly readable four-page article in the November/December 2004 issue of Oklahoma Today. Grice visited the hotel where David George died and provides plenty of details with his behind-the-scenes look at the death site. Seven excellent photos are included with the article, including three of the mummy. You can order a back copy of this issue by following this link. And if you want to read something else by Gordon Grice, why not try his book  The Red Hourglass : Lives of the Predators? It covers the black widow, the praying mantis, and the brown recluse spider in some amazing prose. Highly recommended!

 Other Books about John Wilkes Booth at Amazon.com

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

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