Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Dr. Mudd House

Dr. Samuel Mudd
Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd was a farmer and practicing physician during the Civil War. He was a Confederate sympathizer and member of the Confederate underground.

He lived in Waldorf near Bryantown, Maryland with his wife and children. His farm was 30 miles south of Washington, D.C.

He was accused and convicted of being a part of John Wilkes Booth’s conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Dr. Mudd met Booth three times in 1864--twice in Bryantown and once in Washington-- before Booth murdered Lincoln. At his trial, the doctor stated Booth was just a casual acquaintance.

After Booth shot Lincoln he broke his left leg as he leaped from Lincoln’s box to the stage at Ford’s Theatre.

Needing a doctor’s assistance, Booth and David Herold showed up at Dr. Mudd’s house at 4:00 a.m.

Mudd Farmhouse
The doctor stated at his military trial that he did not recognize Booth. He told the tribunal that when Booth and Herold arrived they gave the names of “Tyson” and “Henston.”

Dr. Mudd set and splintered Booth’s broken leg.

He stated he did not know about the assassination until he went to Bryantown to do an errand for his wife--Booth was still recovering in an upstairs bedroom of his home at the time.

Booth and Herold stayed at the doctor’s home for approximately 12 hours, paid him $12 for his services and then headed into the nearby Zekiah Swamp.

Shortly after this Dr. Mudd was arrested and charged with conspiracy for harboring Booth and Herold as they escaped.

Mudd was tried with 6 other men and 1 woman--Mary Surratt whose story I share here.

He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He missed the death penalty by 1 vote.

Fort Jefferson prison
He was imprisoned at Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas located 70 miles from Key West, Florida.

In the summer of 1867, Yellow Fever broke out. The prison physician died. Dr. Mudd took over--he came down with the fever himself but recovered.

Because of his efforts all the decommissioned officers and soldiers signed a petition on his behalf.

President Andrew Johnson pardoned him in February of 1869. He returned home and continued his medical practice.

He died of pneumonia in January of 1883 after walking through the cold and snow to attend to a patient.

Dr. Mudd had 9 children and his descendants for many years worked tirelessly to clear his name. Historians today still debate whether he was innocent or guilty.

One compelling argument that he was guilty can be read here.

The results of an impressive “mock trial” that found him innocent can be read in the New York Times here.

Haunted Farmhouse

Today the Mudd farmhouse is run as a private museum. Several witnesses claim the house is haunted.

One author, Mike Ricksecker who wrote about this haunting in his book Haunted Maryland captured some interesting photos.

Danny Fluhart president of the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Society told Ricksecker that no one is supposed to touch the bed that Booth stayed in on the 2nd floor.

Despite this rule, the staff is often frustrated to find they have to re-straighten it because the bed is mussed when they return to the museum in the morning. A distinct human-shaped impression is always discovered.

Bed Booth stayed in.
Click to enlarge
Ricksecker was in the home with Fluhart one Monday, when the museum was closed, they discovered the bed in this state and were able to take pictures.

The following video has staff and a Civil War reenactor talking about their encounters with a variety of paranormal activity at the farm. This video begins and ends with one group’s EVP sessions at this old farmhouse.

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