Monday, September 29, 2008
More on George Atzerodt
Over the weekend, for some odd reason, a picture came to my head, one that I had shown Jim and April earlier this year. First a little refresher:
George Atzerodt was a conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
He lived in Port Tobacco with his common law wife Mary Wheeler.
He and his brother ran a carriage shop in town.
One of our objectives for the Preserve America grant has to do with finding that carriage shop. Information gathered led us to believe that the shop was behind the Chimney House.
When we were doing shovel test pits behind Chimney House and found nothing to lead us to believe it was there, we started talking. It was during this conversation that nobody could remember seeing any historic photos of the shop in all the pictures of the house. This is when I spoke up and said that Scott and I had seen one up on the top floor of the courthouse.
Well, as you can see from the picture below, it wasn't a picture, it was a sketch. According to the Wearmouth's book on Port Tobacco, this sketch was done by journalist George Alfred Townsend in 1885, noting that it was a repair/paint shop located behind the house.
Look at the sketch again. Notice anything else odd about it? In all the photos we have of Chimney House, not one of them has a covered front porch on it or even what appear to be remnants of one. If this sketch was done in 1885 and our earliest photographs of the house are in the early 1900's (roughly 1910), then it was torn down before.
Could this be a journalists imagination just trying to make the house look in better condition than it was? Remember that most of Port Tobacco was in shambles after the Civil War as people migrated out of town. Is the repair/paint shop located behind Chimney House?