The Escape of John Wilkes Booth

This story is only indirectly connected to Dayton, but too fascinating not to share!

In 1924, Whitney Bolton, editor of the Dayton Daily News, wrote an article telling of the escape of John Wilkes Booth, after interviewing reporter John Young. At age seven, Young had attended the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre with his father. It was a night Young would never forget.

Near the end of the second act, a shot rang out and a man crashed to the stage, brandished a long knife, yelled, “Sic semper tyrannis!” and ran away, a significant limp in his step.

Years later, Young interviewed James Kelley, a man who had been a member of the Richmond Theatre Company with John Wilkes Booth. Booth and Kelley had shared a dressing room and the services of a young dressing valet named Henry.

When the war started, Booth became passionate for the South, at first enthusiastically, then slowly becoming sullen and angry. The change in his mood caused John Wilkes Booth to be fired from his acting job. Booth left for Washington, and took Henry with him. He left behind a number of play manuscripts with scribbled notes in his handwriting. Kelley kept the manuscripts.

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The Day They Hung John McAfee

In 1825, a man by the name of John McAfee was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to death by hanging. Although he never made a formal confession, he was said to have written one out in rhyme:

Draw near young man and hear from me
my sad and mournful history.
And may you ne’er forgetful be
of all this day I fell to thee.

Before I reached my fifth year,
my father and my mother dear
were both laid in their silent grave
by Him who their being gave.

No more a mother’s love I shared,
no more a mother’s voice I heard,
no more was I a father’s joy –
I was a helpless orphan boy.

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Bess Little

By all accounts, Bessie Little lived a life full of ups and downs. Born as Tressie Doty and orphaned, she was adopted at the age of two by Peter and Elizabeth Little from the Miami County Infirmary in Troy.

She was known to be a sweet girl, studious and kind. She was a regular at her church, and a beauty to everyone who knew her, including Albert Franz.

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Urban Legend Series: Library Park

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Library Park was once a cemetery in Miamisburg. Known as Village Cemetery, it set a record for the most ghost sightings in one location in Ohio. In the 1880s, people reported seeing a ghostly figure of a woman roaming the cemetery grounds. Day after day, more and more people from the town reported seeing the same thing. People from all over came to town to see this, gathering at 9 PM. She was seen on such a regular basis for so long that people would have been more surprised if they didn’t see her.

However, the residents of Miamisburg were not so pleased by this apparition. People became agitated at her nightly appearance, and started to disinter the graves, moving them to nearby Hill Grove Cemetery, in hopes that the haunting would end.

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