Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Local Author to Sign Book on Capture of John Wilkes Booth at Antiquarian Book and Paper Show on Sunday, April 19

On April 14, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was shot by the assassin John Wilkes Booth and would die early the next day.  This singular act would ignite the largest manhunt every seen in the United States.

In 12 days a military search party led by Lt. Luther Baker would capture David Herold, a co-conspirator, and kill Booth.  Baker soon after would move to Lansing, Michigan where he would invest in real estate, work in the Auditor General's office, and go on the lecture circuit to tell his certain of the flight of Booth and his ultimate capture.

Now, for the first time, the Historical Society of Greater Lansing has published the 45 minute lecture in chapbook form accompanied with 19 archival photographs and prints depicting various aspects of the assassination and the death of Booth.  The book also contains the "Horse's Tail", a first horse account by Buckskin, Baker's trusty steed in the capture and later companion at lectures and in Lansing parades.

The book, "Assassination of Abraham Lincoln," is edited by local historian Craig Whitford and will be formally released at the Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show on Sunday, April 19 in the Lansing Center.

Whitford said his research shows that only four copies of the lectures exist, three in archives and one with a Baker family member who has loaned that copy to the Society.  It is on display in the Society's Lansing Goes to War exhibit in Lansing City Hall lobby.

For the book Whitford wrote a foreward which puts the lecture in context.

He writes about the end of the Civil War: "A jubilant atmosphere prevailed throughout much of the North on Monday April 10, 1865, church and school bells rang out and the nation's colors were proudly displayed.  Less than five days later the ringing of the bells took on a somber tone; the national colors would be joined with black mourning cloth, crape, and ribbons."

Whitford has written three other books on Michigan History, "Postmarked: Michigan, Mich. 1847-1848," Craig A. Whitford and David L Mackey, 1987.  Self published, 36pp, ills,: "Airport Kid Learning to Fly," Marion "Babe" Weyant Ruth and Craig A. Whitford, 2003.  Michigan Historical Press.  96pp., illus. and "Lansing City on the Grand, 1836-1939," James MacLean and Craig A. Whitford, 2003, Arcadia, Images of America.  128p., illus.

Whitford has a passion for Lansing's history serving for more than 10 years on the Ingham County Historical Commission as an active member and president.  He is past president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.  Craig was appointed in 2002 by Governor John Engler to the Michigan Quarter Commission, for the selection of the State's Quarter Dollar released in January 2004.  Craig actively collects, conducts research and provides presentations on various subjects relating to the history of Lansing and Ingham County.  He resides in Holt with his wife, Kathy.

Whitford will be signing the book at the Antiquarian Book and Paper Show.  The book is $5 with all proceeds going to fund Society activities.

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