“Cleydael” is the home of Dr. Richard Stuart who was visited by John Wilkes Booth during his flight after murdering Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. Stuart refused to give medical aid or room and board. He did however give them food and then forced them to leave. Cleydael was one of the last homes Booth would ever see.
Story of Cleydael
richest resident, Dr. Richard H. Stuart, built the “Cleydael” house as a summer
home in 1859. The location was
originally called “Neck Quarter,” but his wife renamed the site after a Belgian
castle that had belonged to her grandfather.
Prior to gaining notoriety as one of fugitive John Wilkes Booth’s many
unexpected hosts, “Cleydael” had hosted the daughters of General Robert E. Lee
(who were cousins of Mrs. Stuart), after being forced away from their Arlington
home during the Civil War.
The home had fallen into disrepair but has undergone
renovation in recent decades. The
historical marker to this sight is missing. It was originally at the intersection of Dahlgren Road (Virginia Route 206) and Cleydael
John Wilkes Booth’s Escape
Fugitives John Wilkes Booth and David Herold finally landed
and worked their way south. They stopped
by the home of Confederate ally Elizabeth Quesenberry near the Potomac River but got sent off with farmer William Bryant
towards the home of Dr. Richard Stuart.
On Sunday, Apr 23, 1985, the conspirators stopped there looking for
medical aid for Booth’s broken left leg.
Dr. Stuart knew of Lincoln’s
assassination and was suspicious of the men.
He refused to help in any way other than food and sent them away after
dinner. Despite his desperation to avoid
capture by Union soldiers not far behind, Booth was so offended by the doctor’s
lack of hospitality he took time to write a bitter letter to send him. Stuart was arrested for aiding Booth, but it
was Booth’s letter that provided proof that he innocent of complicity in the
After dinner, Stuart sent the fugitives away in the direction
of a nearby home of a free black man, William Lucas. After a night in the Lucas cabin, Booth made
his way across the Rappahannock
River to the Peyton House, then to Garrett’s farm
where he was killed during the attempt to arrest him by Union troops.