JONES, Thomas A., Confederate mail runner; farmer. 14 ALS, 1 ADS, most to E.A. Fostell, a photograph collector, Washington, D.C., 31 October 1890-20 February 1891. 61 pp., 8o.
A CONFEDERATE ON THE LINCOLN MEMORABILIA MARKET
Jones, who aided in the escape of Booth and Herold, was, twenty-five years later, earning his living amassing photographs of sites connected to the assassination and conspirators. He elaborates on the availability of assassination photographs and memorabilia in Washington: "...The bills offering the reward I do not think any of them can be found. Boston Corbit [sic] I mite try and see if his Photo can be found. I also think I can get four photos giving the view of the arrangement of the execution of the four persons hanged as accomplices...I have one of the original Play cards of the play at the theatre that coppy can not be had for less than $100.00 which I did not think you would give for it. I can have a coppy taken from it with the names of all the actors which was arested at that time. I can also get a coppy of one of the hand bills taken from the original ordered by Stanton the night of the assination [sic] offering $10,000 reward for the assassins...The house that the President died in is just the same as when the President died only the white square spout you see is a slab of marble fastened in the wall with the inscription. Theis is the House that President Lincoln died in, which inscription you can make out with a magnifying glass - The house with porch in front, and man standing under the porch is Mrs. Surrats house. She rented and kept boarding houses and it is said the conspirators assembled. It is an old fashioned house and has had no changes made since the War...I have had a good deal of work to do to get said Pictures. You might have looked Washington over for six months and I doubt whether you could have found the pictures you will get through me.
Of the famed Gardner photographs of the hanging, according to Jones sets were already rare, a quarter century after the execution: "It was entirely accidentally that I crossed the 4 pictures representing the hanging of the criminals. I found them in a Government office and would not permit them to be moved so we had to go to the offices and have them taken so they were taken from the first and only pictures taken after the hanging. The negatives was sent to the War Department and possibly destroyed...Please find a statement of the cost of the last pictures 4 of which you have, and the 4 you will next receive.... the pictures of the hanging of conspirators would have never perhaps been seen outside the walls they were hung after they were taken the day of the hanging. I never heard of them and never saw them untill after the publication spoken of. When I had been looking around the City to see if I could find out any thing about the Boat that Booth went across the River in, I happened to make some inquiries of a soldier who told me if I would to a certain House in the arsinal grounds I would perhaps learn something about the matter. So when I went to the said house I found the 4 pictures spoke of. I mention this so you may see that if they are worth anything to you it was a mere accident you got them as they were found where few persons ever visit..." -- [With]: 5 small notebooks listing approx. 1000 items in a 19th century Lincolniana collection. (14)