Skip to main content
Please contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for assistance with accessing these materials.

2:8. Correspondence to W.P. Campbell., 1903 - 1924.

 File — Box: 2, Folder: 8

Scope and Contents Note

From the Collection:

The E.H. Swaim Collection is comprised of correspondence, documents, manuscripts, photographs and newspaper clippings. The collection was assembled in its present state by E.H. Swaim, an attorney in Eden, Texas, who has a strong interest in the Lincoln assassination and John Wilkes Booth. The collection, which consists in part of the papers of Finis L. Bates, W.P. Campbell, and Clarence True Wilson, concerns the events surrounding Lincoln's assassinaiton and Booth's flight from Washington. The major bulk of the material, however, deals with the controversy relating to Booth's death in Virginia on April 26, 1865. An opinion claims that Booth was not the man killed at Garrett farm by federal troops. The most common theory contends that Booth escaped south, later settling in Texas under the name John St. Helen. Around the turn of the century, St. Helen allegedly moved to Oklahoma, changing his name to David E. George, where he committed suicide in 1903. His body was mummified and exhibited for many years as the assassin of Lincoln.

The collection includes letters and affidavits from three main sources: persons who had some involvement in the events surrounding the assassination and Booth's escape; members of the Booth family or persons who were acquainted with the family; and individuals, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, who believed that they had known John Wilkes Booth after 1865. Also included in the collection are numerous photographs, some quite important and unique, including a tin-type of St. Helen which was given by him to Finis L. Bates. Among the collected documents is a deed for property in Canadian County, Oklahoma, purchased by George; a page from a register of the Anstine Hotel in El Reno, Oklahoma, containing George's signature; and a 1902 will written by George, accompanied by a letter revoking the terms.

On July 27, 1956, E.H. Swaim acquired the collection of Clarence True Wilson, Methodist minister and temperance leader, who collected avidly on the assassination and John Wilkes Booth. In the process he purchased the papers of Finis L. Bates, who had known St. Helen in Texas during the early years of his legal career. Under the confidentiality of a client-attorney relationship, St. Helen confessed to the assassination of Lincoln. After St. Helen's death, Bates published the "Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth." Wilson also acquired the papers of W.P. Campbell, author of "The Escape and Wanderings of John Wilkes Booth." Wilson's own unpublished manuscript, "Lincoln's Assassin Lived: The Living Death of John Wilkes Booth," is included in the collection.

The Swaim Collection comprises 14 boxes of material (7 linear feet). Box 1 consists of correspondence files maintained by Swaim in his own research, as well as a ledger kept by Bates, containing correspondence, affidavits, and newspaper clippings. Boxes 2-6 include the papers of Bates, Campbell, and Wilson, as well as material from James N. Wilkerson, Dr. Richard D. Mudd, and James H. Rees. Boxes 7-8 contain collected correspondence, documents, and newspaper clippings, filed alphabetically by individual. Photographs are found in Boxes 8-9. Box 10 Folder 25 contains a partial list of clippings. Finally, Boxes 11-13 contain newspaper clipping files, arranged either alphabetically by author or chronologically by date.


  • 1903 - 1924.

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off-site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.


From the Collection: 7.25 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


Container Summary

Filed alphabetically. Corresp. (4/2/1924) from "Boston Globe" to W.P. Campbell. Corresp. (4/2/1924) from W.P. Campbell to Ray Standard. Corresp. (2/14/1924) from W.P. Campbell to C.P. Bissett soliciting any information on Booth. Corresp. (4/28/1924) from W.P. Campbell to Knights of Pithias concerning a bequest made by George to the society. Corresp. (8/11/1922) from W.P. Campbell to John L. Mayer requesting information regarding Captain Jett, a relative. Corresp. (3/31/1924) from W.P. Campbell to Mrs. Art Norman concerning his interest in research and lack of interest the George estate. Corresp. (3/19/1924) from W.P. Campbell to Lyman Beecher Stowe concerning the work of Bates, his own publications, and the intention to publish another work on Booth. Corresp. (2/5/1924) from John H. Carson to W.P. Campbell concerning John Wilkes Booth II. Corresp. (2/25/1923) from Florence E. DeMond to W.P. Campbell concerning the DeMond family. Corresp. (12/18/1922) from W.C. Edwards to W.P. Campbell concerning Emory B. Peter of Denton (Texas) and a man named Ravenswood believed to have been Booth. Corresp. (9/13/1922) from William Garrett to W.P. Campbell concerning stories told by the Garrett family about the night Booth was killed. Corresp. (8/27/1923) from J.E. Herndon to W.P. Campbell concerning David George in Oklahoma. Corresp. (10/1/1922) from George A. Huron to W.P. Campbell regarding Boston Corbett. Corresp. (8/8/1923) from Illinois State Historical Library to W.P. Campbell requesting "Oklahoma: The Mecca for Men of Mystery." Corresp. (8/23/1922) from Dora C. Jett to W.P. Campbell not related to Captain William Jett. Corresp. (8/15/1922) from New-York Historical Society to W.P. Campbell regarding material relating to Booth. Corresp. (3/18/1903) from M.W. Payne to T.F. Kensley regarding his stepfather John Wilkes Booth. Corresp. (3/30/1923) from J.K. Smith to W.P. Campbell requesting an article and photographs of Booth (J.K. Smith a collector). Corresp. (7/17/1922) from H.J. Sturgis to W.P. Campbell regarding the inquest after George's death and his findings that George was not Booth. Corresp. (8/25/1923) from the "Fayetteville Observer" to W.P. Campbell regarding the whereabouts of M.W. Cager Payne. Corresp. (9/19/1922) from M.C. White to W.P. Campbell regarding the surviving children of Frederick DeMond. Corresp. (8/17/1923; fragment) from Tal Willmee to W.P. Campbell regarding his acquaintance with St. Helen. Corresp. (8/22/1923) from Roy J. Wilson to W.P. Campell regarding the marriage of Booth and Louisa Payne, Crager Payne. Corresp. (10/16/1923) from Roy J. Wilson to W.P. Campbell regarding Laura Ida Booth. Corresp. (8/28/1923) from Roy Wilson to Campbell expressing continued interest and willingness to assist in research. Corresp. (1/10/1924) from Roy Wilson to W.P. Campbell regarding Laura Ida Booth and Cager Payne. Corresp. (2/9/1924) from Roy Wilson to W.P. Campbell regarding marriage of Booth to Louisa Payne.

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057