Saturday, April 19, 2014

Witness to Assassination - 52 Ancestors #10

Octavius K. Yates was my first cousin, 4 times removed. He was the son of James & Emma (Cole) Yates and the grandson of William & Martha (Morgan) Yates (my 4th great-grandparents). The Yates Book relates that Octavius was born on September 25, 1833 and after graduating from high school in Bethel, Maine, he enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. Octavius was at Ford's Theater on the night of April 15, 1865 when Abraham Lincoln was shot.

The following information comes from the web site

Ford's Theater was transformed from a church to a theater in 1861. The theater benefited from the influx of population as thousands of soldiers and wartime visitors passed through the city. The sloping ground level had about 600 wooden chairs. These could be removed for dances. The second floor balcony held 420 people in the same type of wooden chairs. The upper balcony seated 600-700 on wooden benches. There were four private boxes, two on either side of the stage.

It's hard to imagine what it was like for those in the theater on that night. The country was celebrating the end of the Civil War. They must have felt that the worst of the hard times was behind them.

After the Civil War, Octavius moved to Canada and was engaged in the oil business before returning to Maine and studying medicine. He became a respected physician in West Paris.

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