Neff-Guttridge Collection of the Lincoln Era
The initial portion of the Neff-Guttridge Collection of the Lincoln Era, named for donors Ray A. Neff and Leonard F. Guttridge, was received in March 2000. With an emphasis on primary materials, the collection contains thousands of letters, hundreds of glass negatives and tintypes from the 1860s and 1870s, over 500 cartes des visites accompanied by index materials prepared by Neff, modern photographs and negatives prepared by Neff from the John Wilkes Booth diary held by the National Parks Service, investigative files of interviews with descendants of individuals connected to the Lincoln assassination, and microfilm sets of primary materials in the public domain dealing with the assassination of Lincoln and other matters. Among the public domain primary materials received thus far and available to researchers are the following microfilm sets and accompanying indexes: Turner-Baker Papers and Lincoln Assassination Suspect Files. Additional microfilm sets include Mosby's Partisan Rangers; Forrest's Scouts; (Newsom's) 18th Tennessee Calvary; Carrington Papers; and selected reels from 1864 and 1872 of Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General.
Also available are the Potter Papers, acquired privately by Neff. While many of the interviews conducted by the Andrew G. Potter, his brother Luther, and other former National Detective Police members survive only in transcription, there are many original materials in the Potter Papers, either photocopied from or in original handwritten pages, with many more appearing in pencil than in ink. In addition to interviews are depositions, and surviving photographs in the Potter Papers. The papers here described were in fact created under the aegis of General Lew Wallace, who had been appointed by Ulysses S. Grant to investigate suspicious deaths which occurred after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
The Potter materials were stored for many years in a carriage house on the Wallace estate and subsequently damaged by bird droppings and fire. Potter retrieved these materials for further investigation and with the thought of publishing a work based on them. By the time Ray Neff acquired the Potter materials, many of the original documents had deteriorated. Consequently, authentication of content of the transcript materials has been based largely on factual verification, supporting research material Neff gathered regarding the creation of the transcripts, and other materials, e.g., the Kate Scott Papers and the Turner-Baker Papers.
Along with the pamphlet accompanying the microfilm of the papers, Neff's own extensive index to the Turner-Baker papers has been input into a searchable HTML catalog. In addition, Ray Neff's and Leonard Guttridge's extensive records of research materials are being input into a Web-searchable database and are available for searching even as the database is being created.
In August 2003, Leonard Guttridge and Ray Neff published Dark Union: The Secret Web of Profiteers, Politicians, and Booth Conspirators That Led to Lincoln's Death with John Wiley & Sons. The publication of this work paved the way for some previously withheld material available to researchers for the first time. However, work is nowhere near completion in the making unique holdings of the Neff-Guttridge searchable online, as the donors continue to donate materials.
Within the Neff-Guttridge Collection, as it has been shown, are many smaller collections of materials, many of them in microfilm prepared under the auspices various agencies of the U.S. government. But these are not the only holdings. In addition to these materials are document and photograph collections related to individuals with knowledge of Booth or other aspects of the Lincoln era of interest to Neff and Guttridge. Among these are a collection of materials belonging to Kate Scott. Scott, whose existence may be verified by searching on the Internet and among collections found in the Library of Congress-sponsored American Memory Project, was an intimate acquaintance of John Wilkes Booth as well as a Civil War nurse and later an author of published works. A section below details documents in the Neff-Guttridge Collection of interest. Some effort has been made to compare signatures in several documents in the American Memory Project against ours. We are certain this is the same person. Of particular interest is Kate Scott's claim to have met with John W. Booth after he was declared dead.
Another individual of note is Dr. Richard Gemmecke. A longtime member of the Indiana State teaching faculty and later an administrator, Gemmecke served as the Dean of Arts and Sciences, beginning in 1962, and as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs in 1971 until his retirement in 1973. He was also a professor of history. The Special Collections Department recently received a donation of a 600-page typescript of a book which was to serve as a fifth volume in the prestigious history of the state published by the Indiana Historical Society, extending coverage through 1966, but was never published. Dr. Gemmecke's manuscript is available for use by interested researchers.
Yet, it is Gemmecke materials of a different natureletters, memoranda, and even personnel documents many acquired by Ray Neff, who worked under Dr. Gemmecke, which will be of interest to followers of the Neff-Guttridge claims concerning Andrew Potter and John Wilkes Booth. Richard Gemmecke, it is revealed, in a succession of documents, met Andrew Potter and reached many of the same conclusions concerning John Wilkes Booth authors Ray Neff and Leonard Guttridge present in their book Dark Union. Family members have granted us the right to selectively publish documents in part or whole which bear on these matters. Links to these documents appear in a separate section below.
More on the Existence of Andrew Potter
In a recent book, Lincoln Legends, it has been alleged, among other things, that Andrew Potter never existed and that the Potter Papers are therefore fraudulent. The following letter dated January 7, 1930, from lawyer and later Indiana judge Robert Stewart to Elizabeth Bossom, daughter of John Wilkes of Terre Haute, indicates that Andrew Potter was a real person very much involved in matters addressed in Dark Union, a book on the Lincoln assassination and related matters by Leonard Guttridge and Ray Neff. The content of the letter was validated in the presence of both Guttridge and Neff by Stewart's widow during at least three separate conversations at which both Dark Union authors were present. While the PDF is of a photocopy, Mr. Guttridge possesses the original and will be providing the letter for addition to the collection in the near future.