"James W. Pumphrey, long a prominent and active businessman of Washington, died this morning at 8:50 o'clock at his residence 477 C Street after a short illness. Mr. Pumphrey was a native of Washington, born here September 12, 1832, and lived here all his life. He was connected with the livery business for many years and an important incident in his career for which he was in no way responsible, was the circumstance that from his stables on C Street, N.W., John Wilkes Booth rented a horse prior to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and on which he afterward escaped into Maryland where he met his death. The spurs which John Wilkes Booth wore on this expedition were borrowed from Mr. Pumphrey, although the latter had no knowledge of the purpose for which the assassin intended to employ them. For some time after this tragic event, Mr. Pumphrey was under surveillance and was not relieved until after the trial and conviction of the parties who were accused of association with John Wilkes Booth in the assassination. At the end of these trying times, Mr. Pumphrey who had already been acquitted by the courts was also acquitted in popular estimation and continued for many years in his original business. He was active, energetic and very charitable in each and every walk of life. He had during life many friends which he continued to hold until his end.""While Mr. Pumphrey was identified in a striking manner with the great closing tragedy of the Civil War, he always held, and his views were believed, that the idea of assassination arose in the mind of Booth alone, and that all of the others who were accused of participation in that sad event were influenced by that peculiar and erratic character. He exhibited the deepest sympathy for Mrs. Surratt whom he regarded as wholly innocent of participation and it is said he sat mounted on his horse for hours waiting in the hope of having the privilege of carrying President Andrew Johnson's reprieve to Mrs. Surratt then imprisoned and afterward executed at the arsenal in this city.""Mr. Pumphrey often told his friends that his only connection with the Lincoln conspiracy was that he lost his horse. Booth had taken from the Pumphrey Stables the horse which was afterward killed by Herold, Booth's companion after escaping into Maryland to avoid detection and capture. Mr. Pumphrey was for some time under arrest, in common with almost everybody that knew anything about or had any possible connection with this incident of American history but as stated he was at the time and has since been absolved of all connection with that lamentable affair."
James W Pumphrey
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- 27 Feb 2016
- 27 Feb 2016
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