History says that an actor and southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, walked into the Ford Theater and shot President Abraham Lincoln in the head while the President and his wife watched a play. He then jumped to the stage and fled into the night. It was some time later that, according to the official story, he was found in a tobacco barn and shot by an overly-eager soldier and died there.
However, for a long time there have been theorists who supposedly had reasons and theories to believe that Booth did not suffer that fate. Some said he escaped from that tobacco barn and lived another 38 years, running from place to place, before killing himself. These same theorists said that it was the body of another man that was taken from that barn and buried in a family plot.
Now, thanks to modern DNA evidence and descendents of Booth’s family, these theories may finally be put to rest. The evidence may lie in the grave of Booth’s brother Edwin Booth and within the vertebrae from the person who was shot in the barn which is currently housed in the National Museum of Health which is located in Washington, D.C. as well as the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.
Edwin Booth’s gave is located in a grave in Cambridge. The Booth family descendents have agreed to let him be exhumed and have DNA extracted. Then, the DNA could be compared to DNA from the vertebrae to determine if they are related. There have been attempts to exhume the body located in that family plot where the man shot in the barn was buried, but those who own and control that grave have denied the request.
There are some who are concerned with this new attempt, as well. Some say that any damage done to the vertebrae might ruin a piece of history. So, although it seems like something that could put a 145-year-old mystery to rest, there are some who aren’t quite so sure.