After he was poisoned for breaking his Masonic oath of silence, John Wilkes Booth’s corpse was rented out to carnivals and sideshows.
by Mark Owen
The outlaw Jesse James killed the actor John Wilkes Booth at the Grand Avenue Hotel in Enid, Oklahoma in 1903 after Booth repeatedly reneged on his oath to never talk about his secret membership in the Masonic-oriented Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) and his role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Booth’s heavy drinking combined with his continual boasting of exploits within the KGC eventually brought him to the attention of Jesse James. It was also reported that Booth regularly partook of laudanum, an opium derivative. This is when he would become particularly verbose.
Again we have to rewind…
The outlaw Jesse James was not killed by Bob Ford in 1882. Jesse faked his death as an expedient way to throw off Pinkerton agents, assorted railroad barons, gun fighters and the bounty hunters scouring the country for him.
He and Ford would become partners in many business ventures spanning decades. James operated under more than 50 aliases in his long life before dying at the advanced age of 107 under the alias J. Frank Dalton in 1951 in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Jesse was a 33rd degree Freemason and a high-ranking Knight of the Golden Circle.
The KGC evolved from a Scottish secret group known as The Society of the Horseman’s Word, otherwise known as the Horse Whisperers. This fraternity recited passages from the Bible backwards and practiced folk magic as part of their rituals, in addition to having Masonic-style oaths.
Headquarters for the Knights of the Golden Circle was 814 Fatherland Dr. in Nashville. This was the home of KGC operative Frank James, elder brother of Jesse James. Years later it became the Dixie Tabernacle, original home of the Grand Ole Opry.
The KGC claimed 200,000 members all over America during the war. All of the men in Lincoln’s cabinet were Knights, save for Lincoln. The KGC was heavily financed by the London and Paris Rothschild brothers. Their goal was to foment as much chaos and discord as possible in order to keep the country divided and to usher in a Rothschild-owned central bank.
But Lincoln had his own plans. During his presidency, his 50% tariff jump-started the American steel industry, while his railroads, subsidies for mining, free land for farmers and free state colleges transformed a bankrupt cotton-exporting country into the world’s greatest industrial power within 25 years.
Lincoln knew that he was waging a separate but equally brutal war against Rothschild-dominated Wall St. firms with his attempt to reassert government control of its credit. He put through anti-usury and other strict banking laws, sold bonds directly to the people and issued hundreds of millions of national currency.
With these reforms “The Great Emancipator” had signed his own death warrant.
Lincoln knew that his time was short. He confided to his bodyguard Ward Lamont a week before he was killed that he had a vision of his own death.
But there were powerful people that believed in him.
During the Civil War Lincoln negotiated a pact with Czar Alexander of Russia whereby the Russian Navy was sent into the ports of San Francisco and New York to help block the Rothschild ships that were running armaments to the South.
After the appearance of the Russian ships in American waters, the Rothschilds canceled contracts to build more blockade running boats. The Czar won the day for the North as Russia promised to go to war with any nation that attacked America.
In 1867 when the war ended and Lincoln was dead, President Andrew Johnson received a bill in the amount of $7.2 million for the rental of the Russian fleet. The Constitution forbids giving tax dollars to any foreign nation for any reason whatever except for the purchase of land. Johnson directed Secretary of State William Seward to purchase Alaska from the Russians for $7.2 million.
These details of ‘Seward’s Folly’ have been excised from the historical record. This is because Imperial Russia was the only European country without a central bank. They were the greatest foes of the Rothschild Syndicate.
Also, since the time of the Empress Elizabeth, Russian Jews had been confined to an area known as the Pale of Settlement. Jews could not live beyond the Pale. Long ago attempts were made to remove all Jews from Russia entirely unless they converted to the Orthodox Church. The Pale of Settlement was the next best solution.
The Rothshchilds underwrote the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The murder of Czar Nicholas and his family was their revenge for the treatment of their co-“religionists” in times past and for daring to stand against the inauguration of a Rothschild dominated central bank.
And the Rothschilds also underwrote the financing of the Knights of the Golden Circle.
Their gold and dollars were laundered through a Montreal bank by Confederate Secretary of State, Judah Benjamin, ‘the brains of the revolt.’ Benjamin was running so many Confederate spies out of Montreal that it was known as ‘the second Richmond.’
Benjamin was very wealthy and owned a sugar plantation manned by 140 slaves. After the war, he fled Richmond and eventually wound up in London where he made a very comfortable living as a Queen’s Counsel. It is difficult to get data on Benjamin as he burned his personal notes so frequently that one historian referred to him as a ‘virtual incendiary.’
After the Lincoln assassination police found decoding sheets in Booth’s Washington hotel room. A matching coding device was found in Benjamin’s Richmond office.
Returning to John St. Helen/David George/John Wilkes Booth
Jesse James was the treasurer and comptroller in sole possession of all gold & silver bullion and money of the Knights of the Golden Circle. In this capacity he paid Booth an annual pension of $3600 with the proviso that Booth honor his KGC oath of secrecy and never talk about their activities or the Lincoln assassination. He and other Knights repeatedly warned Booth to curb his loose tongue, but to no avail….
Jesse had no choice but to silence his Lodge Brother.
Jesse tracked Booth to the Grand Hotel in Enid one winter evening in 1903. Jesse made Booth drink a large glass of lemonade laced with a copious quantity of arsenic. Booth drank the lemonade and quickly expired. Jesse scattered many of Booth’s papers around the corpse for easy identification. He then went down to the hotel lobby and gave the manager a gold coin and asked him to look in on his friend David George in the morning, as George was feeling ill.
The next day the press had a field day. The story exploded. Thousands of reporters came to Enid from all over the country to report the death of John Wilkes Booth.
Booth’s body was taken to a mortuary across the street from the hotel that was owned by W.B. Penniman. Many people identified the corpse as Booth including a retired couple named Harper whom Booth had confided in.
Penniman embalmed the body and coated it with Vaseline. The arsenic went a long way to preserving the skin. Booth’s attorney Finis Bates read the press reports in Memphis and hastened to Enid where he identified the body. A funeral trade journal in 1909 stated that within a few weeks the corpse had ‘the drawn and tanned look of an old mummy.’
Penniman laid Booth out in his mortuary and charged curiosity-seekers 10 cents a peek. Tourists viewing the corpse would steal the collar buttons and sometimes remove locks of hair for souvenirs. One intrepid visitor tried to sever one of the mummy’s ears with a pocket knife.
But when the drawing power of the Booth mummy waned, Penniman handed over the body to Finis Bates. Later on, Bates rented out the body to carnivals and sideshows.
The corpse traveled for years as part of a show featuring freaks and strange animals. It even emerged unscathed from a circus train wreck that killed eight people.
At one point the mummy was even kidnapped and ransomed. In 1931 it turned up in Chicago where a group of doctors performed an autopsy and took an x-ray and pronounced its Booth-like injuries authentic.
In 1932 a couple named Harkin bought the mummy and displayed it from the back of their truck. Hecklers would sometimes claim that the mummy was made out of wax, but Mrs. Harkin silenced them by rolling the mummy over and opening a flap on its back that had been cut away during the original autopsy. The mummy wore nothing but khaki shorts and between shows Mrs. Harkin would lacquer the skin with Vaseline and comb its hair.
Some wag declared that John Wilkes Booth was back in show business…..
The mummy vanished from the public eye in the 1950s.
Mark Owen is a researcher living in Toronto. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Part One- Lincoln Assassin Escaped
Some articles consulted:
Why the British Kill American Presidents by Anton Chaitkin, The New Federalist 1995
The Rothschild’s International Plot to Kill Lincoln by Paul Goldstein, New Solidarity 1976
Why the Rothschilds Murdered Lincoln by Barbara Dreyfuss, New Solidarity 1976
The Mummy Mystery by Michael Finger, Memphis Flyer 2007
Some books consulted:
Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth by Finis Bates 1908
Escape and Wanderings of John Wilkes Booth by WP Campbell 1922
Return of Assassin John Wilkes Booth by WC Jameson 1999
Lincoln Money Martyred by Fabius Melton Butler 1935
This One Mad Act by Izola Forrester 1937
Murdering Mr. Lincoln by Charles Higham 2004
The Lincoln Conspiracy by David Balsiger 1977
Jesse James United States Senator by Ralph Epperson 2005
Jesse James and the Lost Cause by Jesse Lee James 1961
Jesse James Was One Of His Names by Del Shrader 1975