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Author Topic: John "Peanut" Borrows  (Read 460 times)
Joe Gleason
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« on: September 30, 2017, 11:18:48 AM »


Examination of Joseph Burrough;  4;135-37,PW,Poore I;225 Pitman 74-75

"My name is Joseph Burrough I am attached to Ford's Theatre. I attend the back stage door at night and in the daytime I carry bills. I know J. Wilkes Booth and have known him for two months. I took care of the horse and buggy that he kept in a stable (Mr. Davis) back of Ford's Theatre."

"I believe the best Lincoln assassination researchers in the world tried to find out what became of him, but nobody could succeed. The trail ends with his appearance at the trial. Mike Kauffman has suggested that his name was actually Borrows (sp?). Nobody knows his exact age in 1865 as far as I know, but "teens" is a logical assumption."

                                                                                                         Roger Norton

When John Wilkes Booth asked Ned Spangler to hold his horse in the alley behind Ford's Theater, Spangler called for stagehand and former peanut vendor, Joseph Borrows to hold the horse until Booth came out of the theatre. One enduring mystery is why Borrows disappeared after giving his testimony to authorities regarding the assassination. Another issue is his actual name. He never gave an interview, and not a friend or relative ever said a word about him, yet he lived, according to his statement, with his father at 511 Tenth Street. Ford's Theatre now occupies 511 Tenth Street, which means he lived in very close proximity. In 1865 the street address numbers in Washington City were slightly different than they are today. It may turn out that he lived near the corner of Tenth and E.

It also seems strange that from the two statements given by Peanut, we get five or six different names for this one individual, all of which have left historians and researchers guessing at his true identity. The names given are John Peanut, John Burroughs, John Bohran, Joseph Borrows, Joseph Burrough and Joseph X Burrough.

Here is another guess...maybe he was a member of a very prominent family that also lived on E Street, just a few doors from the house were the Booth's stable was located. And, maybe he was deliberately kept out of sight to avoid any embarrassment to the family.       ....remember it's just a guess.

"Washington in the Past"  by Jeanne Rives

 On the west side of Ninth Street stood the old McCloud School,now the residence of William Galt. Over the door was a large sign, " John McLeod", and under it the motto, " Order is Heaven's first Law. " The children were expected to be in school by 6 a.m., and the afternoon session closed at 5p.m. They had to walk to school, no matter what the weather, carrying lunch to last all day. My mother and my uncle, Dr. Borrows. were both pupils at this school.

The Borrows family being identified with the early days in Washington, it may not be out of place to mention them in this paper. John Borrows and his son, Joseph Borrows, came to Washington when the seat of government was moved here from Philadelphia, they being in the employ of the Government. John Borrows was an old Revolutionary officer. It is a singular fact that not only had he five sons in the struggle for independence, but that in the Civil War he had six great grandsons; in the Cuban War he had two great great grandsons, and three great great great grandsons, making a total of seventeen in a direct line who drew their swords in their service of their country.

Joseph Borrows, my grand-father, lived for a few years in an old cottage next to David Burn's old cottage on Seventeenth Street where my mother was born on July 4, 1804. My grandfather later put up a house on the north side of E Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets, where his son, Dr. Joseph Borrows was born in 1806 or 1807, and lived for seventy-five years. Dr. Borrows was a well-known physician here, and it has not been so many years
ago since he passed away. Joseph Borrows, sr., was one of the founders of the first Baptist Church in this District, and my mother used to say one of the earliest contributors toward the founding of Columbian College, now the Columbian University. I have heard Dr. Borrows state that he was the first surgeon of the old " Washington's Light Infantry," our oldest military organization. Three swords are still in the possession of the family. two of these are a little curious. one has a handle of wood, possibly lignum vitae, as it seems very hard. Another is inlaid with pearl, the hilt being an eagle's head. The third is a more modern, looking somewhat like a cavalry sword and bearing the date 1849. We concluded that it (one) was used by Dr. Borrows while surgeon of the Light Infantry.

The old "John Borrows Bible" is now in the possession of my sister, Miss Tree. The earliest records however, date back only to 1750, though the family left England on account of religious persecution, and sought refuge in America in 1640. It is a family tradition that the father of John Borrows was one of the founders of Rahway N.J  They are identified with the history of New Jersey and Connecticut. Three of John Borrows' sons died in the service, one on battle field of Camden fighting under DeKalb, another perished on the ill-fated Randolph with Commodore Nicholas Biddle, and a third died a prisoner at Fort Washington. A fourth son, John, was a light rider to General Washington and with him at Valley Forge. He was the General John Borrows so identified later with Lycoming co, Pa.  Read more here;

One great grandson was a prisoner at Libby during the Civil War.

At the time the( Washington DC) post office burned down, Dec. 15, 1836, my grandfather, Joseph Borrows, belonged to it's clerical force. His residence being very near ,the papers of the Department were hastily packed into large baskets and sent to his house for safe keeping. I have heard my mother say that during the War of 1812, when the British burned Washington, General Abraham Bradley invited my grandfather to send all of his children to his farm, now Glenwood Cemetery, where they remained until all danger was past.

At the corner of Tenth and E streets, just beyond my grandfathers stood the old Columbia Medical College. Looking at our streets now, it is hard to realize their condition during the Civil War, when the streets ran with liquid mud that reached into the hubs of the wagon wheels, so cut up were they by the vast number of army wagons and ambulances. We had an army of street- sweepers, newsboys and boot-blacks. It was impossible to cross the street until the sweeper had swept a clean spot to rest the sole of your foot. I might speak of Washington at the time of the first Bull Run, but feel I have taxed your patients. If so, I must ask you to forgive the fault.

Old memories have crowded thick upon me, until the streets have seemed alive with the old forms and faces, gone, alas!  

Jeanne Tree Rives
November 7, 1898

Ms. Rives was the sister of Lambert Tree. If anyone should attempt to place Peanut in this particular family through genealogy, you might start here.

Doctor Joseph Borrows lived on the north side of E Street between Ninth and Tenth. He lived on the same side of the street and just a few or more doors from the house where Booths Stable may have stood. I'm guessing that Peanut was somehow related to this family, but like I said, It's just a guess.;topic=1714.0


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