Witness to Lincoln’s assassination
was concerned about Booth’s injury
Samuel J. Seymour, at age five, primarily was concerned about John Wilkes Booth’s injury following his leap to the stage at Ford’s Theater.
The Maryland native, the last surviving person present the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, vividly remembered Booth’s jump from the President’s box. Booth broke his leg when he landed awkwardly after shooting President Lincoln.
Seymour’s godmother, Mrs. George S. Goldsboro, had taken him to the theater to see “Our American Cousin.” They sat in the balcony opposite Lincoln’s box and had a great view of the President and Mrs. Lincoln. Seymour noted that he saw the President waving and smiling at people.
“All of a sudden, a shot rang out a shot that always will be remembered and someone in the President’s box screamed,” Seymour said. “Then, I saw Lincoln slumped forward in his seat.”
Seymour, who died in 1956, noted that he did not actually see the assassination, but did witness the President’s assassin jump from the box to the stage. He said he didn’t know at that point that Lincoln had been shot and that Booth had shot him.
Ironically, Seymour recalled that while traveling in his coach, he had seen men with weapons and feared they were pointed at him. When his nurse (Sarah Cook) pinned his torn shirt with a safety pin, she accidentally pricked him, causing the youngster to cry, “I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot!”
Two months before his death at age 96, Seymour appeared as a mystery guest on the CBS-TV quiz show “I’ve Got a Secret,” where his story was revealed. He died 91 years to the day of Lincoln’s assassination.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Civil War historian and re-enactor Doug Lippman for submitting this story.)