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Monday, May 2, 2016

Series to explore local connection to Lincoln assassination

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

American history collides with theories of international mystery in "Dark Union: The Secret Web of Profiteers, Politicians and Booth Conspirators That Led To Lincoln's Death," an account that describes the role of Brazil and other Hoosier cities in the complex series of events surrounding the assassination of the 16th American president.

In a series of articles beginning this week, The Brazil Times will report the claims set forth in this nonfiction book several decades in the making. Co-authors Ray Neff and Leonard F. Guttridge will explain their theories of Northern and Southern political collaboration for profit. They will talk about their beliefs regarding the botched kidnapping-turned-assassination of Abraham Lincoln, who many local residents believe spent the night in the McKinley House while traveling through Clay County. They will also describe the federal government's alleged role in the assassination, and the part of Hoosier officials in the subsequent investigation.

Meanwhile, David Vancil, Head Librarian, Rare Books and Special Collections at Indiana State University, will address the authenticity of the papers and photographs collected by Neff and Vancil through the years. Now donated to the ISU Cunningham Memorial Library as the Neff-Guttridge Collection, the documents and materials gathered from various areas of the United States have been combined into a single collection for use by historians and other researchers. Vancil will also talk about the value of the materials, regardless of whether the theories outlined in "Dark Union" can be proven true or false. At the heart of the narrative is the question which may inspire readers to re-examine how they view not only American history, but how history is recorded and preserved: Whose body is in the grave of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin?

Neff and Guttridge explore the possibility of a case of mistaken identity, and how that theory can be traced back to Terre Haute. They will explain the outcome of their inquiries to the U.S. Government regarding conducting non-destructive DNA testing on a piece of spinal column alleged to be that of Booth.

And finally, the two authors will discuss how it is that a copy of the will of Lincoln's assassin can be purchased in the Clerk's Office of the Clay County Courthouse for a mere $2, and the probability that the direct descendants of Booth could be residing in the Brazil area today.

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