Tuesday, March 24, 2009

(Former) Monument to John Wilkes Booth

This site is not in Florida, but I stumbled across it recently and thought it might be of interest. Troy, Alabama, is a university town on U.S. Highway 231 about 70 miles north of the Florida line.

Troy is also the home of what remains of what I believe to have been the only monument erected to the memory of John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed President Abraham Lincoln at the end of the War Between the States.

Contrary to media reports of the time, the monument was not erected by the town or through funds raised by its citizens. Instead, it was placed in 1906 through the efforts of a single individual, Joseph Pinkney "Pink" Parker.

Pink Parker, as the story goes, was a Confederate soldier from Alabama who served in a Georgia regiment. When he returned home from the war, he found that his family had been brutally treated by Federal soldiers and Union sympathizers while he was away at the front. This was not that uncommon, but unlike many others, Parker refused to "forgive and forget."

A teacher, police officer and Baptist church member, he hated Abraham Lincoln with a passion. In fact, he would observe the anniversary of Lincoln's assassination each year by dressing in his finest clothes and holding a one man celebration on the streets of Troy. Then, in 1906, he commissioned a monument bearing the inscription: "Erected by Pink Parker in honor of John Wilks Booth for killing old Abe Lincoln."

Parker hoped to place the monument on the courthouse grounds, but the community's leaders declined. Unwilling to give up his idea, he erected it instead in his front yard facing Madison Street in Troy. The move prompted a national media frenzy, particularly among Northern newspapers which editorialized fiercely for the removal of the monument. It still until the time of Parker's death in 1921, however, when his sons had the Booth inscription removed and used it as his tombstone.

To learn more and see additional photos of the former monument to John Wilkes Booth, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/boothmonument.

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