Kate M. Scott's Sworn Statement
Concerning Her Activities During the Civil War
And Her Relationship with John Wilkes Booth

The following document has been transcribed from the original, sworn statement housed in the Neff-Guttridge Collection. Other documents readily available for reading on the Internet are several housed in the A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment: Selections from the Tilton C. Reynolds Papers, an American Memory Project collection mounted under the auspices of the Library of Congress. Simply use your browser's "find": function and search on "Kate" to locate several letters by her. Kate Scott is mentioned also in the Introduction to Robert I. Boyington's Army Life Journal (1861-1863): With His Wife's Army Nurse Information, as produced by Robert W. Ford, in 2001.

In a letter reproduced in the introduction, Mary K. (McFarland) Boyington writes to Scott in 1907 of her experiences to Kate Scott, author of books including History of the One Hundred and Fifth Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers in 1877, who collected information for the Association of Army Nurses of the Civil War, 1861-1865, and served as its national secretary and was engaged on writing its history at the time of her death.

Kate, who published a highly regarded and extensive history of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania in 1888, was a member of the Order of the Tear, a pacifist organization. Throughout her life, following the War of the Rebellion, as she dubbed it, she was involved in many charitable acts and continue to write.

There are many more references to her on the Internet than are mentioned here, and these may increase once it is known of her involvement with John Wilkes Booth, as it is revealed in the sworn and notarized statement below. Kate Scott died on April 15, 1911 not so very long after she recorded these remarks.

A note on the editing process. You are encouraged to look at the original, which was typed throughout in capital letters and with minimal punctuation. The editing approach has been either to supply obvious omissions by the typist of the documents between brackets or to place "[sic]" after a spelling or similar error. Having no expertise on Pennsylvania, the editor welcomes notification of other errors of which he may not have been aware.

This is my true and honest statement made by me on the twenty-seventh day of October, this year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ten, at 2317 - 13th Street, Washington, District of Columbia, the northwest section, said statement being made to Osborn Hamlin Oldroyd, Esquire by Kate M. Scott of 295 Jefferson Street, Brookville, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and late of the Army Nurses during the War of the Rebellion associated with the 105th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, to wit:

        I was born at Ebensburg, Cambria County Pennsylvania on October 5,1837 my father being John Armat Scott and my mother Hannah Scott, nee Gray. Soon thereafter my father and mother removed to Brookville, Jefferson County and it was there that I grew into adulthood. My life was in the most part uneventful until the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion and at that time I was a completely innocent and naïve young lady from a small country town and lacking the ability to cope with the fast talking men of the large cities. I was graceful enough in my home but felt terribly insecure when I left.

        When the war started I was in my twenty-fourth year and being courted by a young man from Clarion. He, in the fervor of the times, immediately joined a regiment of troops forming up for the coming fight. He came to see me and to tell me. I did not want to let him go unless I could go with him and I readily became determined to become a nurse with the troops. I immediately wrote a letter to the commander of the military district and within several weeks received instructions on how I should apply. The requirements read that only those women who were of temperate of [sic] habits, plain of sight, buxom but restratined [sic] in their relations to others, and of impeccable morals need apply. I made my application and on July 5, 1861 I received authorization to report to Camp Jamerson, near Alexandria, Virginia and to report to Colonel McKnight at that [sic] no later than July 20th. I made my preparations and as I was ordered, reported to Harrisburg to draw my money for the trip to Washington. When I got to the capitol I could find no one to report to and no one knew anything about my orders. I sat day after day waiting for someone to issue me the money with which to make the trip. I was staying at a boarding house on a back street and I learned to know several young ladies there. The assigned date arrived and passed and I could still not find the person from whom I was to receive my money for travel. I took a job sewing uniforms and carefully saved every cent except what I needed to keep body and soul together. I had been promised $16 for travel money and so when I had that much I caught the train on my own. I arrived in Washington on November 26 and then still had to make the trip to Camp Jamerson. I presented my orders to the provost marshall [sic] at Washington but he was unsympathetic and said that no women could pass over the river. I tried several other offices and when no one would take me or give me allowances to pass, I got hold of some mans [sic] clothes, put them on, packed my clothing in my carpet bag and walked to Camp Jamerson. When I got to the bridge the sentry stopped me and would not let me cross so I went to the officer and told him that I was to go to Camp Jamerson to work on the defenses there and he issued me a pass. When I got to Camp Jamerson the sentry again stopped me and inquired of what I wanted and when I told him the same story he sent me to the provost. He did not believe but thought me a spy and was going to put me in the detention when I saw Colonel McKnight walking by and I ran to him, pulled off my hat, and told him who I was. He doubled up with laughter when he saw me and the look on the face of my captors. He took me to his tent and gave me something to eat after which he arranged for my quarters, a bath, and an introduction to the medical officer. He was not upset because I had not arrived on time but he had wondered what had become of me since I had written to him that I was coming. I was by this time completely out of funds and had not eaten for two days. I had terrible blisters on my feet where I had walked about twenty six miles from the railroad station. I was tired and sore and hungry but I had made it. I was now a nurse with the troops.

        It was not long before I was put to work. I arrived at Camp Jamerson on the 28th, which was I believe, a Thursday, and there had been an epidemic for several weeks duration. I worked every day from then until January 5th without a day off and I worked form 16 to 20 hours a day. The hospital at Camp Jamerson, if indeed it could be called a hospital, was a clapboard building with cracks in the floor and walls so that the cold wind blew through and the fine snow even blew in in little piles. Some of the sick were in tents and when the heavy snow came in January we had to wade through it to get from one tent to another until the troops shoveled the way clear for us. The most discouraging thing though was the attitude of the officers of the camp. I had thought that we would be looked upon as some kind of angel of mercy but such was not the case. We were treated much like servants and camp followers and we were constantly being approached for illicit propositions. The surgeons were little better and there were several who were especially repulsive in their manners, or rather, lack of manners. I will not engage in name calling but there was a major in the medical service who was constantly getting me into positions where could put his hands on me and he did the same for the other two nurses who were there. Colonel McKnight sympathesized [sic] with us but he would do nothing to protect us from the lecherous officers. There were also the staff officers who, when they returned from Washington where they had been passed for the evening, would make remarks about stopping by the nurses tent for their sedative. The beastly behavior of the men was generally found in the officers and very much less in the enlisted men. There were hospital stewards there who respected us and treated us with kindness and courtesy. Had it not been for them, I would not have stayed a week.

        My true love was by this time a captain and was daily drilling his men and we both knew that when the spring came that he would be leading his troops into battle with all its dangers. But there was so little time to even see him and this nurses life was so unlike what I had expected. I was heartsick, sore, tired and I was growing impatient with the ungentlemanly attitude of the men of the army. I decided that when the army left Camp Jamerson (that is, the 105th Regt. of Pennsylvania Volunteers) that I would find a job in Washington or I would return to Brookville.

        Colonel McKnight had by this time began [sic] to suspect that I was about full of the nonsense and that I would not take much more for he called me to his tent and asked me about many things. He then issued orders which were long overdue, to all the medical officers and the staff officers, stating that the nurses were to be treated with respect and that anyone who disregarded his orders would answer directly to him. The situation improved but little as a result of this but I did feel better toward Colonel McKnight. This order also resulted in a reduction of hours for us and five new nurses were brought in. We now worked only fourteen hours a day and had one day per week off. I had not been paid since I arrived but on February first I received $24 which was two months pay but I never did get the $16 for my travel to Washington. When the first of March came I left Camp Jamerson and moved into a boarding house on Tenth Street in Washington. Several of the girls that I had learned to know lived there. I had decided to live there for a while and think over an offer which Colonel McKnight had made me before he left for the front. He wanted me to go to the South with regiment as they really needed nurses in the field. By this time Colonel McKnight had come to realize that the work of the nurses was important and that they were not there for the pleasure of the men but rather for their care and relief.

        Mr[.] and Mrs[.] Judson Weaver had come to Washington and he had taken a situation with the Census Bureau and I soon moved in with them. They had acquired a home which had a garrett [sic] room which suited me perfectly and I was about to see Washington in a new light. On week ends we would take rides in the country in Mr Weavers [sic] carriage and I enjoyed the beautiful scenery so very much. I remember this period of my life with extreme pleasure. I also attended military balls with the Weavers and at one of these social functions I met John Wilkes Booth. We danced together and I found him extremely attractive. Very soon thereafter he called on me at the Weavers and we began to keep company. I attended social functions with him and he visited me often at the Weavers. I knew that he was also keeping company with at least one other young lady but I did not fear but what [sic] I could my hold my own with the competition. How naive I was. I did not know then that Booth was married or I should not have gone out with him. It was not generally known at the time that he had a wife and daughter.

        In June I returned to Brookville and spent the summer busy with the chores which were to be done in a home with no mother. My mother had died two years before in August. At this time I missed my mother for I needed someone to talk to and confide in for I was deeply troubled. But I had no one, no one at all.

        In the fall my cousins, who were sea captains came in to port, one in Baltimore and the other in New York. They came to Brookville for the hunting of birds and deer and I was so very glad to see them. They also had brought Mr. Booth with them and I was not so sure that I was glad to see Mr. Booth. He and I had seen too much of each other when I was in Washington and I had come to decide that I could not capture the heart of Mr. Booth for I did not believe that he really had a heart. He was such a gentleman and such a scoundrel at the same time. I really cared for him but I knew that I could never receive from him the love that I longed so for. Mr. Booth was investing in oil speculations with Winston Weaver in Oil City and Meadeville [sic] and Mr. Booth spent much of time in those places but he returned by way of Brookville. He had business with my cousins also.

        My two cousins whom I dearly loved, both of them, were quite dashing gentlemen and so handsome in their uniforms. They were both captains of ships of Canadian registry. John Evan Scott of Manchester, England was captain of a ship for a Canadian firm, the same one for which his father had worked. John was with his father in 1832 when they had put into Havana, Cuba in distress with the crew sick and several, including the elder John Scott, dead of the fever. John Evan had been on the ship also but did not get the fever. The other cousin, John Celestina, had also been on that voyage and had been near death. Both were now masters of their own commands and doing quite well. Both were involved with blockade running but we did not know it at the time. They spent two weeks at our home and had splendid luck at hunting. The last week that they were there Robby Bernard, a boy from Brookville who was now a government detective came to Brookville and dropped in for a visit. We went to a church social together and he asked me many questions about my cousins and was very suspicious of them. I thought at the time that he seemed a sligh [sic] amount jelous [sic] but I now realize that it was official curiosity.

        From time to time during the next year Booth would drop by to see me on his trip to or from Meadeville [sic] and he would spend the night with us. I soon came to look on these visits with great expectations and I soon found that I was much too fond of Mr. Booth than I should be for my own good. Soon the word got to my friend in the service of his country and he wrote to me a scourching [sic] letter with a set of questions to be answered. I was not sure of my feelings so I answered his questions with too many evasions. The result was that he married another woman and I regretted it all my life for he soon there[after] died in battle and neither of us had him.

        The snows of winter were giving way to the showers of spring when a man who I had considered my own true love turned to another and married her, and with no warning to me at all. We had quarrelled [sic] by mail but I did not think the rift to be serious. But now he had turned from me to another. He had accused me of malignant conduct with John Wilkes Booth and had said that only if that were true would Booth have kept coming to see me. I was to this point a virtuous maiden and the accusation hurt me deeply for I had always conducted myself as a lady. I wrote a stinging letter to him telling him that I considered him no gentleman and that I did not wish to see him again. On his next visit North he married another.

        It was the sixth of February, a Saturday, that I heard of his marriage. I read it in the paper. That night John Wilkes Booth came to our house and planned to spend the night, continuing on his way to Meadeville [sic] the next day. I can only say that it was a reaction to my terrible hurt and disappointment that caused me to do the things that I did but I went with him to Meadeville [sic] and returned to Washington with him. I was to spend the next month with the Weavers in Washington and returned to Brookville the middle of March.

        As you know, I have a daughter who was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 8, 1865. To this day I have never told anyone who the father was nor the circumstances of her birth. While you may know some of the facts you do not know them all nor shall you, nor shall anyone else. Some things are so sacred as to be unmentionable.

        As for the payments made to me and my daughter by the law firm of Weaver and Weaver, payments to me stopped a number of years ago and in 1886 when my daughter reached her majority, she received the residue of the annuity. She is happily married and is fully aware of all there is to know. I will not reveal her identity.

        Rebecca Vallileo was one of the girls that I met in wartime Washington at the boarding house. She was an actress and dancer and in later years worked with Professor McQuires [sic] horse act. She danced on the backs of running horses.

        After the assassination of President Lincoln I could not believe that Booth had been involved and yet, I realized that he had been. He was such a calm and loving person but he believed so deeply in the cause of peace and freedom. Then there was the story of his death and I felt so sorry that so great a talent had been wasted. But then in July I received a letter in handwriting that was most unmistakeably [sic] his, asking me to see Winston Weaver and get from him an envelope which had been left with him a number of months before. He said that I should have it at our farm on September 15th and he would call for it. It was signed "John Byron Wilkes". I did as he asked and waited in anticipation, fearing that it was a cruel hoax being perpetrated on me but when the time came, he appeared. He was without his moustache and his appearance was otherwise changed so that he looked completely different. When I expressed concern for his safety he srugged [sic] it off saying that he was to the entire world, dead and buried and that no one would recognize him. But to be further safe, since he knew that government detectives were following somewhere, he had sent his valet and another man from Harrisburg on to New York while he made his way to Brookville from where he would go on to Niagra [sic] Falls, and cross into Canada. His leg was almost well and he walked with only a slight favoring of the left foot. He rode a horse quite well with no problems of mounting or dismounting.

        We spent the rest of the week at the farm and I begged him to take me with him. He said he could not but that he would send for me later. I wanted to believe this and I told myself that he would but deep down in my heart I knew that he wouldn't. But I did not hesitate to make myself believe him for otherwise I would have wasted the few days that we would have together. He told me that he had made arrangements to go to India where he could live in peace. He told me that he had ample funds in the Bank of England and that his financial future was assured. I do not know what was in the envelope that I got for him from Winston Weaver but I know that it was important. He told me that he would meet Captain John Scott in Canada and that he would go to India on his ship. John Celestina had been arrested as having taken part in the conspiracy but he had been released in July and had left the country. Both John Scott and John Celestina had stood by with their ships to take Booth and his party out of the country. My lifelong friend, Robby Bernard[,] had arranged for the arrest of my cousin, John Celestina. Such were the days.

        I received several letters from Booth after he got to England and after he was in India. He died in the early 1880s, but try as I have, I have not been able to find what became of my cousin John Scott. I have written to several members of his crew but to no avail. I would like to know if he is still alive and where he is, or if he is dead, the details of his death.

        When I visited my daughter in October of 1906 I found that she had talked with cousin John Celestina when she and her husband were in New Orleans. He was health[y] and had a family and was living the life of a gentleman. He had given up the sea after his release and had bought a country home and settled down to the quiet country life.

        Lewis Pence lived in Virginia in Rockingham County on a farm along Smith's Creek. When Booth had escaped from Washington he had made his way to a cavern in Green County and had spent a week or so there. They had then gone to the home of Lewis Pence and Booth had recovered further there. He had then been taken by Pence to his farm in Harper's Ferry where he had stayed for some time before heading for Canada. Pence had been handsomely paid for his service and he used the money to rebuild the barn which had been burned by Union troops when they moved down the valley. I do not think that Pence was any part of the conspiracy.

        I was never a believer in war and killing. I have all my life opposed [to] organized warfare as criminal folly. I to this day believe that the War of the Rebellion was fought for purely political purposes and for the financial gain of persons who found it good for business. Ways of peacefully settling the dispute could have been found. I was a member of that organization known as the Order of the Tear, an organization devoted to the ending of war and fighting and orderly resistance to the draft. I went as a nurse purely for humanitarian reasons and left because of the attitude of the men with whom I was forced to associate. I am I suppose, as one very near to me at the time accused of being, "a woman's rights man", one who believes in equality for women in every way. I do not believe that women exist for the pleasure of men but rather that men and women exist for the mutual pleasure of them both. I find the overbearing and self-justifying attitude of most men disgusting and crude. If that makes me a woman's rights man then so be it. The day must surely come when women will vote, hold political office, and enjoy all the freedoms which men today enjoy. No longer will she be looked upon as a child-bearing machine produced for the service and pleasure of men.

        We who resisted the draft did not do it as traitors to our country but rather as patriots to a new and peaceful country. The government looked upon us, even though they did not know who we were in most instances, as "Copperhead traitors" but we were nothing of the sort. The draft resistance was in both the North and the South and was based on good humanitarian motives. Is it so glorious to give birth to sons who then go out to battle and are killed, or just as tragic, dismembered in body or mind? When are we going to become civilized and act like it?

        My life is almost over and if there is an epitaph which I would like to have placed on my headstone it would be:

        "She was a women's rights man"

        But since I know that my family would never allow it, let there be no epitaph at all.

Kate M. Scott   

(Born Mary Katherine Scott)   

Subscribed and sworn before me, a justice of the peace, this twenty-seventh day of October, nineteen hundred and ten

O. M. Neal   

top of page Special Collections Home Neff-Guttridge Collection Home