The Randolph Peyton House was the last place John Wilkes Booth would leave while alive as he escaped following his assassination of President Lincoln. He entered Virginia expecting a hero's welcome, but he received little if any comfort from the Confederate sympathizers he visited. From here he was led to Garrett's farm were he was killed in the barn of the Garrett farm.
Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes
Booth, escaped into Virginia eight days after
the shooting in Washington, D.C.
Believing himself a hero for the deed, Booth was surprised at the lack
of celebration and hospitality he received from Confederate sympathizers along
the way. the further he fled, the less
help he received.
The Peyton House, also known as the Brockenbrough House and the
Brokenbrough-Peyton House, was one of Port
first and most famous 19th century mansions. After owner Champe Brockenbrough’s widow died
in 1849, the mansion was occupied by the Valentine Peyton family and the house
became known as the Peyton House.
John Wilkes Booth and co-conspirator David Herold left Cleydael, the
home of Dr. Stuart, with no more help than a begrudgingly-given warm
dinner. Instead of the warm beds of
Stuart’s gentlemanly estate, they were sent off to the nearby sharecropper’s
shack belonging to William Lucas, a free black man. Booth was a notorious hater of blacks and so
evicted the Lucas family so the fugitives could sleep in the house by themselves. The next morning, Booth hired Lucas’s son,
Charley, to drive him to Port Conway on the Rappahannock River. While waiting for passage across the river,
the fugitives met three Confederate soldiers—A.R. Bainbridge, Lt. Mortimer
Bainbridge Ruggles, and William Jett.
Herold could not protect the fugitives’ secret and proudly claimed
We are the assassinators of the President. Yonder is J. Wilkes
Booth, the man who killed Lincoln. The two parties rode the ferry together to Port Royal.
On April 23, 1865, Willie Jett led the fugitives to the
Peyton Randolph House. Desperate for
welcome, the two Confederate conspirators were disappointed again. They were initially invited inside, believing
Booth to be a wounded Confederate soldier.
But Randolph Peyton was not home and his two sisters, Sarah and Lucy,
balked at the men staying the night. They
considered males guests without “the man of the house” present to be
inappropriate and so Sarah suggested Jet take the men elsewhere. She first suggested the home of George
Washington Catlett across the street but they were not home either. So Sarah suggested they find accommodations
three miles down the road at the Garrett farm.
Booth was once unceremoniously again sent away. He did not know it, but the Peyton House would
be the last home Booth ever left alive.
Days later, on April 26, Union investigator Everton Conger
of the 16th New York Cavalry learned of the five Confederates who
crossed the Rappahannock together. They found Willie Jet at the Star Hotel in Bowling Green, dragged
him out of bed, and demanded to know Where are the two men who came with
you across the river? Jett told
the soldiers what he knew, that they were on their way to Garrett’s farm.
Largely abandoned today, efforts are underway to restore the house.