Fire at Samuel Mudd museum in Waldorf
In Charles County, someone tried to set fire to an exterior door at the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum in Waldorf sometime Wednesday, the Maryland state fire marshal's office reported Thursday.
The fire caused minimal damage, and had extinguished itself by the time it was discovered Wednesday night, Deputy Fire Marshal Caryn Moreland said.
Samuel Mudd was a 31-year-old country doctor who gained permanent renown when two men showed up at his door at 4 a.m. on April 15, 1865. The two men were John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, and Booth had just shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln in Washington.
In leaping from a balcony at Ford's Theatre, Booth broke his leg. In the darkness just hours after the shooting, Booth asked Mudd to splint his leg, and Mudd did.
Booth stayed in Mudd's house for more than 12 hours, then fled to Virginia, where he was shot and killed 11 days later. Mudd had delayed notifying the authorities that Booth had been in his home, and was suspected of collaborating with the assassination conspiracy. He was convicted, imprisoned for four years and later pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.
A descendant of Mudd still lives on the property, Moreland said, and discovered that the wooden door to the museum's gift shop had been burned when he returned home Wednesday night. The museum has not been open during the winter, Moreland said.
She estimated damage to the door at $100. She did not want to speculate on whether the motive involved retribution from a Lincoln supporter, or was an act of vandalism. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Maryland fire marshal at 443-550-6820.
-- Tom Jackman
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