The Elusive Booths of Burrillville (Rhode Island): an investigation of John Wilkes Booth's alleged wife and daughter


While compiling and recording the history of Burrillville, a casual remark by an interviewee sent the authors of this landmark work onto the trail of John Wilkes Booth in an effort to capture the elusive Booths of Burrillville. Booth, actor and assassin, plays a peripheral role in this investigation, however, as the authors center on two strangers who came to town, mother and daughter, claiming to be his wife and daughter. Was Izola Martha Mills really Booth’s wife as she claimed to be?, was she his mistress?, a casual liaison? Was Izola’s daughter, Ogarita Rosalie, Booth’s daughter as she claimed to be, or someone else’s? The unusual names of Izola and Ogarita appear repeatedly, tantalizingly, in several families over the generations in this small town in the northwest corner of Rhode Island. And the claim Izola Martha Mills made about being Booth’s wife and having his daughter is a rumor that long ago passed beyond doubt in the minds of local residents and became accepted tradition. Using a combination of primary and secondary sources, including the journals of Alonzo Abram Standish Mills, half-brother to Izola Martha Mills, the authors seek to establish the identity of Booth’s alleged wife and daughter, and to verify or disprove their claim. In the process they undertake a massive genealogical man-hunt into a remarkably complex and convoluted family with strong theatrical connections which continue down to the present generation. The authors present their findings in chronological fashion, providing the reader with a vivid sense of the puzzles, frustrations, and successes inherent in genealogical and historical research. Information is well-documented and complemented with genealogical charts, maps, samples of original documents, and illustrations of people and places. A fascinating read, on a little-discussed subject, for Booth aficionados, Civil War buffs, intrepid historians, and anyone fascinated by genealogical puzzles.


Joyce G. Knibb and Patricia A. Mehrtens


(1991), 2015, 5½x8½, paper, index, 332 pp.

ISBN: 9781556134791