henrietta lacks family compensation


Anna Surratt (Above) was the loving, innocent, and dedicated
daughter of convicted Lincoln assassination co-conspirator Mary Surratt.

After the assassination of Abe Lincoln, Mary Surratt was
arrested and convicted of being part of the conspiracy to kill the President,
and was sentenced to be hung by the neck as a result of her part in the
plot.  Essentially, Surratt had allowed
boardinghouse in downtown Washington (Where it still stands today)
to be used as a meeting place for Booth and the others conspirators. How much
deeper her involvement went beyond that is still a matter of debate.

After the guilty verdict, Anna Surratt pleaded repeatedly for her mother’s life
with Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, but he refused to consider clemency.  

She then tried to see President Andrew Johnson at the White House to plead
for her mother’s life but was pushed off the grounds by Senator James Lane and
Preston King.
Later, Mrs. Stephen Douglas, widow of the late
senator, arrived by carriage to the White to convince President Andrew Johnson
not to execute
Mary Surratt, but to no avail.

But there was hope until the end.  General Winfield Scott Hancock was in command
at the Washington Penitentiary, where Mary Hancock was being held. On the day
of the execution, he stationed cavalry riders from the jail to the White House
in the event President Johnson changed his mind and granted a last-minute

After her mother was executed, Anna’s younger
brother John was on the run as an accused member of the conspiracy and another
brother, Isaac, was in the Confederate army and would not return home for
another several months.

Eventually, in 1867, John was put on trial but
the government was unable to convict him, and he was released.  He became a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic
School in Emmitsburg, Maryland and later joined the Baltimore Steam Packet
Company. He rose to be treasurer of the Company and married Mary Victorine
Hunter a relative of Francis Scott Key.  He
died of pneumonia at the age of 72.

Mary was ostracized from society in general and for a while
lived in poverty. 
On March 10, 1869, Surratt tavern in Surrattsville (now Clinton
Md.) was sold to Robert W. Hunter who purchased the building and 6 acres around
it for $3,500.  After that, Annie married
Professor William P. Tonry ina private ceremony at St. Patrick’s Church, just a
short walk from Fords Theater. 

Tonry was a chemist working for the surgeon
general’s office. Strangely enough, he worked at Ford’s Theatre during the
civil war when the theater been converted into government offices shortly after
the assassination. Four days after her marriage was made public fired Tonry
from his job at the War Department.

The couple eventually moved to Baltimore and Tonry
went back to work as a chemist and the couple had four children and overall,
became somewhat well off if not rich. 
But the strain of the Lincoln assassination and her mother execution
left mentally unbalanced and she often suffered from bouts of anxiety,
depression, and fear.  Anna died of
kidney disease on Oct. 24, 1904.  She was
buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, in an unmarked grave next to

To this day, some members of the White House
staff claim
that Anna’s ghost returns to the White House every July 6,
silently banging on the front door to plea for her mother’s life. Residents of
the H Street NW apartments where she lived for a while report deep moaning and
sobbing sounds in the hallways.

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