One of the fun parts about researching the history of Rich Hill is discovering new images of the historic home that very few have ever seen before. For a relatively unassuming house in Southern Maryland, Rich Hill has been photographed fairly often over the years. This is mainly due to the home’s association with Lincoln’s assassination and the escape of John Wilkes Booth. Since the 1865 crime itself, countless people have journeyed over Booth’s escape route and viewed Rich Hill in person, picturing the fugitive and his accomplice, David Herold, knocking on Samuel Cox’s door on the morning of April 16th.
The following photographs follow this idea and come from a scrapbook that was created of John Wilkes Booth’s escape route in the early 1920’s. The small handmade scrapbook, which has never before been published, was recently sold at auction in January of 2015. The new owner of the scrapbook was kind enough to share these two images of Rich Hill that were contained within it.
These images show the house looking much the same way as it looked when Samuel Cox owned it. The single story addition (which is no longer present on the home) contained the dining room and the bedroom of Col. and Mrs. Cox. John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, who were given a meal at Rich Hill, likely dined in this addition.
Also at the time these photographs were taken (determined to be between 1920 and 1922), there was still a member of the Cox family living there. Ann Robertson Cox, the second wife of Samuel Cox, Jr., lived at Rich Hill until her death in 1930. Perhaps the people who created this scrapbook got to hear from Mrs. Cox herself about how her late husband was sent to fetch Thomas Jones the morning about John Wilkes Booth came to his door.
Interestingly, in the caption accompanying one of these pictures in the scrapbook a unique claim against Dr. Mudd is made. The caption states:
The residence of Col. Cox, who protected Booth and Herrold [sic] from April 16th to 21st, 1865. Booth was sent to Col. Cox by Dr. Mudd. He left Dr. Mudd’s residence about 4:00 P.M. April 15th. Dr. Mudd was a personal friend of Col. Cox and both were interested in the South.
While it is likely that Dr. Mudd knew Col. Cox and it is well established that both men were “interested in the South” as stated, the idea that Dr. Mudd recommended or sent Booth and Herold to Rich Hill is unique. Though we are not sure where the creator of this scrapbook (identified only as Bessie Burns) received her information, if this was something told to her by those living at the Mudd house or Rich Hill during the trek across Booth’s escape, there may be some truth to it. We don’t believe Booth knew Cox or had met him prior to April 16, 1865, so perhaps Cox’s name was given to him by Dr. Mudd either after the assassination, or earlier when Booth was planning to abduct Lincoln and had Dr. Mudd’s support.
Regardless of the caption’s accuracy, these circa 1920 photographs give us two additional glimpses into the past of Rich Hill and helps us create a visual timeline of this valuable and historic home.