Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Monument to John Wilkes Booth? Unusual Landmark in Troy, Alabama

The (Former) John Wilkes Booth Monument
Today marks the anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by actor and conspirator John Wilkes Booth.

For most people of his time, North and South, the anniversary marked a sad day in American history. But for Joseph Pinkney Parker of Troy, Alabama, it was a day to be celebrated.  Parker was a police officer, teacher and Baptist church member, but he was perhaps best known as a hater of Abraham Lincoln.

Called "Pink" Parker by his friends, he would dress in his Sunday best each April 14th to celebrate the day when John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln. Residents in Troy humored or ignored his one man Booth celebration, but in 1906 Parker ignited a national controversy about their town that they could no longer ignore.  He erected a monument to John Wilkes Booth and asked for permission to put it on the courthouse lawn.

City and county leaders in Troy balked at that idea and refused, but Parker erected his monument anyway, in a prominent spot on his own property facing Madison Street in the South Alabama city.

Monument now is Parker's Headstone
The monument caught the attention of the national media and newspapers across the nation did stories on Parker's Monument to Booth.  They often got the facts wrong, claiming it had been erected by the city itself, but "Pink" Parker enjoyed all the controversy and kept his monument right where it was despite calls that he remove it.

It stayed in its spot facing Madison Street in Troy until Parker died in 1921, when his family quietly removed it and had it recarved to serve as his tombstone. It stands today in Troy's Oakwood Cemetery, but with no trace of the original inscription:  "Erected by Pink Parker in honor of John Wilks Booth for killing Old Abe Lincoln."

So far as is known, it was the only monument ever erected to John Wilkes Booth. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/boothmonument.

2 comments:

Rob From Amersfoort said...

What fascinating story! Thank you for telling it.

Dale said...

Thank you very much for the kind words! The little monument has always fascinated me. He must have been quite a character.

Dale