It was April 14, 1865 - when John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. The search for the assassin and his associates began immediately.

Heading up the search were two cousins from Lansing, Luther and Lafayette Baker. The Bakers had been in New York looking for bounty jumpers when the assassination took place. Luther was a local detective and Lafayette headed the U.S. Federal Detective Police. It was Lafayette who was in charge of the Secret Service investigation, with Luther assisting and the 26th New York Cavalry coming along.

Lafayette looked over all the details and finally traced Booth to Virginia almost two weeks after Lincoln died. It was on the morning of April 26, 1865, they found Booth and co-conspirator David Herold hiding out in a barn in Virginia. Luther proceeded to yell out to Booth, “surrender, or we shall burn the barn and have a bonfire and a shooting match”. Herold came out and surrendered, but Booth stayed put, determined to get away. The barn was set on fire by the cavalry and Booth began to realize he better somehow get outta there. He slipped out a back door but was spotted by Sergeant Boston Corbett, who shot Booth in the neck. It was Luther Baker who traveled to Washington D.C. to deliver Booth's body.

Luther wrote about this experience in 1886 and can be seen in the Archives of Michigan.

(In a related topic, there is a rumor that a relative of John Wilkes Booth's used to live in Lansing on W. Ottawa Street.) 

Take a look at the photos below, including one of Lansing's Lieutenant Lafayette Baker, who led the search for Booth.



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