Some believe that Lincoln’s assassin was not killed by Union soldiers, but escaped and lived until 1903.

John Wilkes Booth

John St. Helen and John Wilkes Booth


Autopsy revealed similarities between men

In April of 1865, after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, two thousand Union troops searched for the killer:  an actor named John Wilkes Booth. On April the 26th at 4:00 AM, soldiers surrounded a tobacco barn on Garrett Farm, near Port Royal in Virginia. They had information that Lincoln’s assassin was inside the barn. A man surrendered, but it was not John Wilkes Booth, but 21-year-old David Herold, known to be one of Booth’s co-conspirators.

Lieutenant Edward Doherty decided to smoke Booth out by setting the barn ablaze. The soldiers were under strict orders to take Booth alive. But as the troops moved in, a sergeant shot a man who was hiding inside. Two soldiers dragged the body from the inferno, but was it really John Wilkes Booth? Historian Nate Orlowek doesn’t think so:

“There is tremendous physical evidence that proved beyond a doubt that John Wilkes Booth, in reality, was not killed by the Federal Government Officers as they claimed. In fact, he lived until January 13th, 1903, when he died in Enid, Oklahoma territory.”

Four of Booth’s co-conspirators were hanged

Those who challenge the official account believe that in the confusion following the Civil War, evidence may have been recorded incorrectly or perhaps even covered up. Even some high-ranking military officers questioned the official story of Booth’s death. In the early 1900s, John Shumaker, the army’s General Counsel to the Department of the Army wrote:  “The evidence put forth by the government to support the conclusion that the body was that of John Wilkes Booth was so insubstantial that it would not stand up in a court of law.”

Nate Orlowek and Dr. Arthur Chitty each spent years independently studying the Lincoln assassination. According to Dr. Chitty, they arrived at the same conclusion:

“The most persuasive evidence to me, at Garrett’s Barn, that the man in the barn was not Booth is the fact that his friend David E. Herold came out of the barn and the first thing he said was, ‘The man in there is not Booth.’”

Historian James Hall disagrees and cites a 40-page statement made by David Herold to government investigators just 36 hours after Herold’s arrest:

“Herold referred to Booth ten times by name when he was discussing what went on in the barn while it was being surrounded by the solders. To me, that’s conclusive. I can’t see where they get the idea that he’d come running out and say it’s not Booth.”

Booth’s papers were found in the Garrett barn

Dr. Chitty claims Herold was pressured into changing his story:

“He was in fear of his life. He had been incarcerated with a canvas bag over his head and just a little hole to be fed through. He was under terrible emotional strain and was trying to save his neck, and so, therefore, when he thought that he would survive by changing his story, he changed his story.”

According to Nate Orlowek, other eyewitnesses also refuted the government’s identification of the man killed at Garrett’s Farm:

“Lieutenant William C. Allan worked for the United States Secret Service in 1865. In August of 1937, his widow, Mrs. Helen Allan, told a journalist that her husband had told her that he saw the man at Garrett’s farm who had been killed and that the man had red hair. And that the government knew that that man was not Booth, but they were determined to foist this man on the nation as Booth.”

Every historical account says Booth’s hair was jet black. Eyewitness testimony about the red-haired man was supported by two other Union soldiers: Joseph Zisgen and Wilson Kenzie. Nate Orlowek says the men were friends with Booth in New Orleans:

“Kenzie was a Quartermaster and was free to go wherever he wanted, basically, within the military lines. And so he went with Zisgen to Garrett’s barn because he had an interest in what was going to happen to Booth.”

In 1922, when he was 77 years old, Kenzie detailed what he saw at Garrett’s Farm in a sworn affidavit:

“As I rode up, Joe Zisgen called ‘Here, come here Sergeant, this ain’t John Wilkes Booth at all.’  I could see the color of his hair. I knew at once it wasn’t he.  His body was exposed and he had no injured leg.” 

Six physicians recorded their findings in an affidavit

Nate Orlowek says the men were told to keep the truth a secret:

“And he said that the officers told them there will be dire consequences for anyone who tells the truth. The military really meant business and they were not going to risk their lives just to tell the truth.”

Orlowek says the government autopsy was performed by a physician who was acquainted with Booth:

“Doctor John F. May was a Washington surgeon who removed a tumor from the back of Booth’s neck a few months before the assassination in 1865. His statement is now in the National Archives.  Like all the other government records on the case, it was held secret for seventy years.”

Dr. Chitty claims that, like the others, Dr. May was also pressured into lying:

“John Frederick May wanted to tell the truth and he recognized that this was not Booth, but it was made pretty clear to him very early on that ‘this better be Booth.’ And so we have the curious affidavit which starts out saying ‘I’m sure this is Booth.’  And then goes on to say, ‘But it doesn’t look like Booth. But this is certainly Booth.’ Signed, John Frederick May.” 

Nate Orlowek sites a lack of documentation:

“Now, had the government really believed that that body was Booth’s, they would have taken pictures of it, they would have had many, many, hundreds of people identify it, but the war department didn’t do that. The government knew that that man was not Booth.”

The body was secretly buried in the basement of the Old Naval Prison in Washington. But if John Wilkes Booth was not killed at Garrett’s barn, then what happened to him?

In 1865, the government moved quickly to close the books on the Lincoln assassination.  The trial of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators resulted in four hangings and three life sentences. The details of the conspiracy were classified as “secret” and hidden away.  Today, some experts believe that Booth actually escaped, and that he lived in the South under assumed names for another 38 years.

In 1907, an attorney from Texas named Finis Bates published a book, called “The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth.” In its pages, Bates claimed that he learned the true story of Booth from a man named John St. Helen of Granbury, Texas. In 1877, when John St. Helen was seriously ill and afraid he was about to die, he made a startling confession to Finis Bates. He said his real name was John Wilkes Booth. Nate Orlowek:

“Well, Bates, of course, thought this guy was crazy. He had been told, as everyone else had, that Booth had been killed in 1865, so he thought the man was just hallucinating.  And Booth said to him, ‘No, I really am John Wilkes Booth, and now that I’ve told you my secret, I want to give you the whole story.’ So he poured out for Bates a very long confession, detailing in great detail the kidnap conspiracy, the murder conspiracy, how he got out of Washington, how he escaped altogether.”

St. Helen explained that all the bridges out of Washington were closed after nightfall and heavily guarded. But he had been given a password that allowed him to cross. According to Nate Orlowek, one of the guards on duty that night, a man named Frederick Demond, wrote a letter that supports this account:

“In that letter, Demond says that at about 10 P.M. that night, a Captain rode up to the bridge and said if anyone comes up using a certain password, let ‘em through.  And that password was ‘T.B. Road.’ Demond says that was very peculiar because never before had anyone been allowed to cross the bridge using a password.”

Not everyone who was on the bridge that night agreed. Author and historian James O. Hall:

“Sergeant Silas Cobb, who was in charge of this squad at the bridge, didn’t say anything about passwords. All he said was, ‘I thought these people were proper people to go across the bridge and I let ‘em cross’”.

Booth had broken his leg while fleeing. After secretly seeing a doctor, he continued his escape hidden in the back of a wagon. Though he was a fugitive, Booth made the dangerous decision to take personal papers that could identify him as Lincoln’s assassin.
At one point, says Nate Orlowek, it was believed that soldiers were approaching:

“He thought they were Northern soldiers, so he was hurriedly yanked out of the back of the wagon and hustled into the woods. When that happened, his papers and other personal affects fell out.”

Booth sent a messenger back for the papers. But then another messenger arrived with bad news:  Union soldiers were closing in. Booth could no longer wait for his papers and left immediately. It was the man sent back to retrieve Booth’s papers who was in the Garrett barn when it was surrounded by Union troops. This man carried Booth’s papers, so he was identified as the assassin.

As it turned out, St. Helen didn’t die after his deathbed confession. He left town as soon as he recovered. Finis Bates was convinced the story was true. Historian James Hall isn’t:

“Can you imagine a young lawyer talking to a bar owner down in Texas. A gullible young lawyer. So he just fills him full of a great big long story.  And later on Bates, that was the name of this young lawyer, embroidered the story nicely.  And wrote a book about it.”

Is it possible that John St. Helen was really John Wilkes Booth? A comparison of photographs does show a striking resemblance.

In 1903, while staying at a boarding house in Enid, Oklahoma, Nate Orlowek says
John St. Helen committed suicide by drinking a glass of wine laced with strychnine:

“Bates had the body preserved. He took many pictures of the body. And eventually, he had the body mummified to preserve it for posterity, to prove once and for all that the government had fooled us all and he was not going to allow that cover up to stand.”

In 1931, six Chicago physicians examined the mummified body of John St. Helen and recorded their findings in an affidavit. They specifically noted a scarred right eyebrow, a crushed right thumb, and a broken left leg. John Wilkes Booth is known to have had all three of these unusual characteristics.

Did John Wilkes Booth actually escape Union Troops only to kill himself 38 years later in an Oklahoma boarding house? Those who would know took that secret to their graves.


Though the story of Booth’s escape seems hard to believe, the Smithsonian Institute concluded it was worth a closer look. The Smithsonian even proposed exhuming the body of the man killed at Garrett’s farm, the man officially named as John Wilkes Booth. The Booth family agreed. However, a state court refused permission. The mystery surrounding Lincoln’s assassin still remains.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season four with Robert Stack and in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis FarinaVarious seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. Avatar

    Bill Blaski

    I believe John ST Helen was that of John Wilkes Booth. TB TB Road

    Spitting image. Now in the case of Billy the Kid
    I don’t believe Brushy Bill was Billy


  2. Avatar


    Because of the age of the case, “evidence” i.e eyewitness statements, testimony, army records, hearsay and conjecture can easily be misconstrued. However, if the Smithsonian Institute has concluded the findings are worth a closer look and the Booth Family have indeed agreed to exhume the body of the man killed at Garrett’s Farm, then surely the biggest question here is why has a state court has refused permission of exhumation? When a question of identity can easily be resolved with today’s forensic abilities, it seems strange that a state court would block the almost certain answer as to who this man was. Does this not fuel the flames of yet another conspiracy?


  3. Avatar

    Lynda Taylor

    This may sound obvious and they may have already thought of this but, since they aren’t allowed to take dna from the person buried as John Wilkes Booth to compare to his brother Edwin Booth, then why not ask to take dna from John St Helen? This would rule out John St Helen as being really John Wilkes Booth. If St Helens mitochondria dna does not match Edwin Booth then they are not brothers and that theory would be debunked.


  4. Avatar

    Kay Ferraro

    I believe you will find this article interesting.


  5. Avatar


    why wasn’t Booth body dug up and a dna test done on him I remember that his family gave permission but a court struck it down. Why not put this ridiculous story to rest once and for all


  6. Avatar

    Robert Wallace

    I have, for many years, been completely convinced of the fact, that John Wilkes Booth indeed DID escape capture; I Absolutely
    Wholeheartedly stand with Nate Orlowek on the premise that someone other than Booth was in Garrett’s tobacco barn with Herold–and when he emerged Harold exclaimed: ” It’s not Booth “. . . that he subsequently was threatened that it had better be Booth.
    There’s so many items of fact that placed together, one can’t help but clearly see there’s concrete doubt of Booth’s death in 1865.
    The overriding contention that completely baffles me to no end–there are bone fragments in that one museum purported to be from the vertebrae from Booth. . .DO THE DNA on them and PROVE to us delusional, out of our mind and ” out to lunch ” conspiracy nuts that we’re all Wrong; WHY do those, like James O. Hall, every time { third time now I believe }, block the DNA testing on those remains. Do the test, prove they belong to Booth–and as Mr. Orlowek has declared, I will admit and believe what the History books have declared for 154 years now: Booth was killed at Garrett’s tobacco barn. Until then, I categorically believe he DID indeed ESCAPE! ! !


  7. Avatar

    Robert Guthrie

    When you compare the photographs of John Wilkes Booth and St. Helen you see that the nose is different, the ears and the way they sit on the head is unique to one another and since when did Booth have startled eyes like a deer caught in the bright headlights of a truck at night? Unless Booth went out and had plastic surgery the photos clearly shows they are two different men. John St. was a delusional character and Booth (want to be), just like crazy people going around thinking they are Napoleon or some historical figure.


  8. Avatar


    Closely study the photographs of John St. Helen and John Wilkes Booth and see that they are two different men. Observe the nose; St. Helen’s was a bit smaller, the ears and how they set, the eyes; St. Helen had larger startled eyes. Even the chin is slightly different. Why are there those who tend to overlook such things?


    • Avatar

      Robert M. Wallace

      I still stand by my earlier post on 20th June 2019–John Wilkes Booth was NOT shot to death at Garrett’s tobacco barn the 26th April 1865!
      Two Super Awesome tomes to read on this truth are: ” Return Of Assassin: John Wilkes Booth ” by W. C. Jameson, and ” They Wanted Lincoln Dead ” by Troy Cowan; these two books are so cogent and uncover the false assumption that Booth died 12 days after shooting President Abraham Lincoln! They go in tandem with David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellliers’ ” The Lincoln Conspiracy “! These three are a ‘ must read ‘–and will truly open your mind! ! !


  9. Avatar

    Mr Anonymous

    Get a scanned copy of Bates’s entire book on Amazon Cloud.


  10. Avatar


    This information is very useful is there anymore


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In the event we determine the occurrence of a data security incident, we will notify you by email, US mail, telephone, or other means as permitted by law.

If you have questions, comments, or complaints concerning our privacy practices or if you wish to change, access, or remove your Personal Data, please contact us as indicated below.  We will attempt, where practical, to respond to your requests and to provide you with additional privacy related information.

Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. is the owner of this Website and retains all ownership rights to the information collected at this Website. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. reserves the right to change, modify, add, or remove provisions of this Privacy Statement. Any changes to this Privacy Statement will be posted here, and we encourage you to check back from time to time. In addition, Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. will notify registered users of changes as they occur.

We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit Your use of the site constitutes your agreement to accept cookies, beacons and third-party advertising. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for third-party ads.

ARTICLE 1. Personalization
1.1 We may use the contact information you give us to better tailor your Website experience to your interests, and to send you information about Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. and its services as well as promotional material on behalf of some of our partners. We may use other information that you provide to us to show you content in which you may be interested and to display the content according to your preferences. We will also share this information within Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. in order to enhance your experience on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. Websites.
1.2 In addition, we may share this information with advertisers or other third parties that are not part of the Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. family on an aggregate or other basis that does not disclose your identity or contact information.

ARTICLE 2. Online Surveys/Contests
2.1 From time to time, we may conduct online surveys and contests. These may ask you for contact information (like name or email address) and demographic information (like zip code or age).
2.2 We may use this contact information from our surveys and contests to provide you with information about our company and promotional material on behalf of some of our partners, and to contact you when necessary.

ARTICLE 3. Shopping/Commercial Services
3.1 This Website may offer shopping services, which may be offered by us or by a firm that operates a store under contract with us. If our Website offers shopping or other commercial services, you will use a customer order form to request information, products, and services. The order form will ask you to give us contact information (like name or email address), financial information (like account or credit card numbers), and demographic information (like zip code or age).

3.2 We will use the financial information that you provide to bill you for products and services. By giving our Website your credit card and related personal information, you are authorizing our store to give that information to the merchant and credit card company in order to confirm and fulfill your order.

3.3 We will use contact information from the order form to fulfill your orders. We may also use contact data to get in touch with you when necessary. We will not otherwise use or distribute your financial information without your prior approval.

ARTICLE 4. Public forums
4.1 This Website may make available chat rooms, blogs, forums, message boards, and news groups. Please remember that any information that you disclose in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information. Information disclosed by you or by others enters the public domain and may be freely used by any other persons or entities using the site.

ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at:

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.