Dr. Samuel A. Mudd.
Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd was born December 20, 1833, in Charles County, Maryland, the fourth of the ten children of Henry Lowe Mudd and his wife, Sarah Ann Reeves. Young Sam was raised on the family plantation “Oak Hill,” approximately 30 miles from downtown Washington, D.C., and received his early education at Frederick, Maryland, where he attended St. John’s College for two years. On September 16, 1851, he entered Georgetown College, Washington D.C., and three years later enrolled as a student at the University of Maryland Medical Department from which he graduated.
Returning to Charles County with the ink still damp on his medical diploma, the young doctor married his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Frances Dyer (whom he called “Frank” for the reason that he already had a sister with a similar name) on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1857. They became the parents of nine children and grandparents of 33 grandchildren.
About the time of his marriage, Sam’s father gave the plantation “St. Catharine,” containing 218 acres, 1 rood, and 13 perches of land. It is one of the few plantations in the State of Maryland that has remained in the same family for more than two centuries.
St. Catharine was originally part of the Oak Hill plantation, which was owned by Thomas Mudd who came to American during the 1640s. The home was in poor condition at the time of Sam and Sarah’s marriage, and had to be restored before they could move it. The farm mainly produced tobacco, and the couple owned ten slaves, most of whom lived in quarters located on the crest of the hill adjacent to the path designated as the “Booth Escape Route.” The kitchen was changed in 1864, when Dr. Mudd purchased a cookstove to convert from open-hearth cooking. The center part of the house was built during that year by Baptist Washington and Dr. Mudd, adding two more rooms to the house.
Sam was a 31-year-old country doctor, and the father of four children (Andrew, Lillian, Thomas, and Samuel A. Mudd, II), when President Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Good Friday, April 14th, 1865. The assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, broke his leg while fleeing the scene and needed medical attention. Accompanied on horseback by David Herold, Booth arrived at Dr. Mudd’s home at 4 a.m., April 15th. Sam splinted the broken limb and let the travelers rest for several hours in an upstairs bedroom before they continued their journey later that afternoon. Leaving by way of a dirt road, Booth and Herold proceeded to Samuel Cox’s house in Bel Alton, Maryland, arriving later that same evening. On April 21st they crossed the river to Virginia and made their way to the Garrett farm near Bowling Green. In the early morning hours of April 26th, two weeks after the assassination, Union cavalry surrounded a tobacco shed where Booth was sleeping. They set fire to the shed. Booth was shot while trying to escape the flames. He died on the Garrett front porch.