On this 158th Anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, DutchRoot presents a profile of W.W. Gorthy (1842-1930), the last surviving member of the posse that captured Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
Gorthy's association with the dramatic end of the Civil War is what made him notable to folks beyond Missaukee County, Michigan, where he spent most of his adult life. But to the locals, Gorthy was already a known and colorful character among many veterans of the American Civil War.
Eventually, Gorthy had three wives, eleven children, and at least three scrapes with the law. He helped pioneer a town in northern Michigan, and was instrumental in Moorestown's innovative logging railroads in the rush to harvest the old forests.
Gorthy wasn't particularly rich of influential, and not many have rushed to write his biography, but his consistent colorful presence in the story of Missaukee's origins runs like a shiny vein of ore through the foundational history of the area. It's a tale worth telling.
Linked below is a document that captures details of W.W. Gorthy's life as compiled from original sources, along with transcriptions of his narrative of encountering Booth (appearing in the National Tribune, 10 February 1927) and his obituary (Cadillac Evening News, 26 April 1930).