THE Chicago Historical Society's collection includes garments allegedly worn by Mary and Abraham Lincoln to Ford's Theatre on the night of the April 1865 assassination.

Additional crime scene evidence includes purportedly bloody dress fragments from Ford's Theatre and stained bed linens from the Petersen's boarding house where the president died. Several alleged Lincoln hair samples and a comb he may have used are also under analysis. Determining the authenticity of this blood and hair evidence is an important corollary of the Chicago Historical Society's investigation, as it may ultimately provide a comparative record for analyzing Mary Todd Lincoln's cloak.

Detail of sheet attributed to Lincoln's deathbed at the Petersen's house (CHS 1920.253).

Charles Gunther (ICHi 10584); Gunther's confectionery on Wabash Street, Chicago (CHS 1465.3H); mummy from Gunther's confectionery (Field Museum Accession #1553, Catalog #11517), courtesy of Field Museum of Natural History.

Historians search backwards in time to establish the provenance, or ownership history, of artifacts.

For many of the assassination relics, this search begins with Charles Gunther, a Chicago candy maker who began displaying curios in his State Street factory in the 1880s. Gunther's confectionery featured his popular caramels, which he claimed to have introduced to America.

Who collected this evidence, and why is it in Chicago?

When Gunther's collection outgrew his candy emporium, he planned a Civil War museum with a consortium of Chicago businessmen.

They purchased Libby Prison, a notorious Confederate prisoner-of-war camp in Richmond, Virginia, dismantled the building, and shipped it to Chicago via 132 railroad cars. The prison was rebuilt on Wabash Avenue in 1889:

Libby Prison War Museum advertising card, c. 1890

No transformation wrought by the fabled lamp of Aladdin was more astounding than the rape of this famous old war relic from the banks of the placid James, and its journey to the commercial capital of the undivided republic. Men said it was impossible, but the feat has been accomplished without the aid of any genii, save those who occupy the stores and offices of the world's fair metropolis.
(CHICAGO HERALD September 21, 1889)

On the second floor, visitors could see an Egyptian mummy amid Civil War guns, uniforms, and flags. The mummy's label read:

Pharaoh's daughter
who discovered

in the bulrushes

The Lincoln Assassination Artifacts

The Story of Libby Prison  
Charles Gunther's Civil War Museum
The Lincoln Assassination Artifacts The Chicago Historical Society's Lincoln Relics