conspiracy theorists, the curtain may never be drawn on the
legend of John St. Helen. The Granbury man who loved to quote
Shakespeare is still felt by many to actually be John Wilkes
Booth, the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
who believe John St. Helen and John Wilkes Booth are one in
the same also conclude that members of Lincoln's cabinet
conspired to kill the president and then paved the way for
Booth to assume the alias of John St. Helen and escape to
are historians who scoff at such conjecture, but the popular
television series "20/20" and "Unsolved
Mysteries" have provided enough corroborating evidence to
at least arouse a collective curiosity.
to the history books, federal troops killed Booth and a fellow
conspirator 12 days after the former fatally shot Lincoln in
Washington's Ford Theater. After Booth pulled the trigger, he
reportedly leaped from the theater's presidential box to the
stage below and broke his leg upon impact.
theorists wonder how a lame Booth could have escaped to the
northern Virginia farm where he was allegedly found and killed
12 days later. They conclude that governmental conspirators
helped Booth escape.
speculation is fueled by the government's initial claim that
Booth's body was dumped in the Potomac River when in reality
it was buried in a Washington cemetery and eventually turned
over to Booth's family for re-interment in Greenmont Cemetery
John St. Helen that showed up in Granbury during the early
1970s walked with a limp and quoted Shakespeare as did the
accomplished Shakespearean actor John Wilkes Booth. John St.
Helen, a saloon keeper while in Granbury, was also known to
drink himself into a stupor every April 14, which marks the
anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.
course, St. Helen's limp and predilection for Shakespeare and
liquor may have just been a coincidence, but it remains curious
why St. Helen skedaddled when approached by a federal marshal in
Glen Rose. As the story goes, St. Helen actually lived in a small
cabin in Glen Rose for two or three years before moving to
Granbury. Without bothering to pack, Helen left Glen Rose for
Granbury as soon as he learned a local woman was about to marry a
U.S. marshal and several marshals would attend the wedding.
the most telling evidence, though, is John St. Helen's own
confession made on what he thought was his deathbed. The then ill
St. Helen, still living in Granbury, told a priest and several
others that he was, in fact, Abraham Lincoln's lone assassin. He
then revealed where they could find the gun he used to kill the
president. The gun was later found wrapped in a newspaper clipping
detailing Lincoln's untimely death.
it turns out, St. Helen survived what he thought to be terminal
illness. So in retrospect, he spilled his guts prematurely, and
maybe that's why he left Granbury without looking back. It's
commonly believed that John St. Helen taught school for three
years (1879-81) in Bandera County and then taught one year (1885)
in the first school built in Concho County's City of Eden.
of what happened to St. Helen after leaving Granbury, it's
well-documented that in 1903, an Enid, Oklahoma man named David
George claimed to be John Wilkes Booth. George also claimed to
have changed his name the first time around to John St. Helen.
After this startling
disclosure, George committed suicide. It proved to be the final
act to a mystery that may never be resolved.