A trip to Southern Maryland brought us to the door step of history today when we stopped by the Samuel Mudd House. You may remember that I profiled Mudd as a Thought of the Day bioBLOG on his birthday back in December (click HERE to read the bio) so when we saw the brown historical marker indicating that Mudd’s house was a few mile off Maryland’s Route 5 we had to make a side trip and explore.
You enter the Dr. Samuel Mudd House at the back of the house, at the gift shop. There a docent will greet you and take you on a tour of the house. Our docent, Russet Hodgkins, took us through the events of early April 16th when…
A knock at the door work the 31-year-old doctor and his wife “Frankie” at 4:00 am.
Two men stood in the doorway, one in need of medical attention for a badly broken leg. It was David Herold and John Wilkes Booth. News of the previous night’s assassination had not reached sleepy Charles Country. Mudd couldn’t have known that Booth had shot Lincoln. The doctor didn’t even recognize the men, who were traveling under aliases — though there was something familiar about the injured man. He had actually met Booth before (when the actor was looking to buy a horse and property in the area) but that night he was in disguise, and the poor light and a false beard fooled the doctor.
He examined the stranger’s leg on a red couch that still sits in the House’s parlor, and had him taken upstairs where he set the leg. The next day the two men acted suspiciously, turning their faces to the wall when Mudd’s wife brought them food. After a few hours rest they left, headed toward Virginia where they were eventually found at the Garrett Farm.
Investigators followed Booth’s trail to Mudd’s house and the doctor was implicated in the Lincoln assignation.Mudd was convicted by a Military Commission and sentenced to life in prison. He was sent to the military prison at the Dry Tortugas, west of Key West, Florida. When a yellow fever outbreak hit the Dry Tortugas and the prison doctor died of the disease Mudd took over. For his efforts during the epidemic President Andrew Johnson pardoned him.
He went back to his wife and children and the Maryland farm. Mudd died of pneumonia in 1883. He was 49 years old.
The house is decorated with furniture from several generations of Mudds, and it is interesting to see how this working farm passed down from generation to generation.
Don’t miss the outbuildings, especially the gravestone building (they made a mistake on his grave marker, and this “mistake” is housed at the museum.) Other outbuildings house period farm equipment, a tobacco barn, a Civil War display and more.
Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House is a privately run museum and is open March to November on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11 to 4 and Sundays 12 to 3:30. (Closed on Easter.) The museum is also open the first weekend in December for a Victorian Christmas.
Call 1-301-274-9358 for more information.