Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Most Peculiar Memorial

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

With all the whoop-dee-do last week about a ridiculous Booth bobblehead incident at the Gettysburg visitor center, I began to think about something that today strikes us as a bit perverse - well, most of us anyway. It seems that not so long ago, there were folks who probably rejoiced over the death of Abraham Lincoln. They may not have trumpeted it throughout the land - that would have been in bad taste. But regarding killing the man who had led the assault against the prospect of an independent Confederacy? I can only imagine that more than a few smiled a little on the inside. They might have even uttered a few quiet words of praise for John Wilkes Booth. Maybe, anyway.

But at least one person wasn't shy about the whole thing. Joseph Pinkney "Pink" Parker was a police officer, teacher, Baptist church member and Confederate veteran who lived in Troy, Alabama and really really hated Abraham Lincoln. He hated him so much, in fact, that each year, on the anniversary of Lincoln's death, he would don his Sunday best and parade about the town celebrating the event. But Parker was not satisfied with simple annual celebrations - in 1908 he personally commissioned a monument honoring John Wilkes Booth and commemorating Lincoln's assassination.

That was a little much for Troy residents, who had quietly put up with Parker's yearly celebrations. His request to install the monument at the town courthouse was flatly denied. So instead - he put it in his front yard, for all to see.

And there it remained until Parker's death in 1921. Over the years, the Booth tribute had made national news, and people from all over country demanded that the monument be destroyed. It still exists, sort of. Parker's son used the stone - with the inscription celebrating Booth removed - as a headstone for his father's grave. It now marks the final resting place of Troy's most notorious Lincoln hater, at Oakwood Cemetery...a former monument to John Wilkes Booth.

Thanks to fellow historian and blogger Scott MacKenzie for alerting me to this one. He comes up with some gems!


1 comment:

  1. The responses from the white citizens of Troy, Alabama to this statue intrigue me. The period in which Parker created it is renowned for being the height of Jim Crow. We have this image of the white South being solidly pro-Confederate, constantly ingesting the Lost Cause narrative as if it was the Gospel. However, the outcry against Parker's Booth monument indicates that this was not the case. It could be the rejection of a radical's view, but it proves that the "Solid South" wasn't quite so solid.