Anna/Annie Surratt by Mathew Brady, 1860-1865
Via:Civil War Women Blog:
Anna was only 22 years old when her mother Mary Surratt was sentenced to death as a conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Despite Anna’s heartbreaking efforts to save her mother, Mary Surratt was hanged not quite three months after the assassination.
Anna never recovered from the traumatic events. Both of her parents were dead, one of her brothers was on the run and the other had not returned from serving in the Confederate army. Unable to bear living in the boarding house on H street, for the next few years Anna lived with various friends. Her mother had mortgaged the boarding house to pay her legal counsel. The house was sold in November 1867, and the property in Surrattsville was sold in March 1869.
On June 17, 1869, Anna married William P. Tonry, a chemist working in the laboratory of the Army Surgeorn General. Ironically, his workplace was at Ford’s Theatre, which had been converted into government offices shortly after the assassination. The couple were married at St. Patrick’s Church a few blocks from Ford’s.
The ceremony was kept private, and there were no bridesmaids. Her brother Isaac was at Anna’s side, and John sat in a front pew. Just a few close friends were invited. This strict attention to privacy was to characterize Anna’s later years. The War Department fired Tonry five days after the wedding. Some believe he was dismissed for marrying Anna.
For a while the couple lived in poverty, but they eventually moved to Baltimore, where Tonry became a highly respected chemist. Their improving financial and social position relieved some of the strain in Anna’s life, but she continued to suffer emotionally and physically. Her hair turned white in her early thirties, and she remained subject to fits of extreme nervousness. Her brothers John and Isaac lived nearby, they gradually let the conspiracy issue rest.
Anna and her family finally dropped out of the news, and Anna eventually had two more children. She was bedridden in her later years and died of kidney disease on October 24, 1904, at age 61. She was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, in an unmarked grave next to her mother.
Debate continues to this day as to whether Mary Surratt was actually involved in the assassination plot. Historical opinion is divided on the subject. It seems at least possible that Surratt knew about the plot to kidnap the president, but may not have known about the plan to assassinate him. Several good arguments for Mary’s innocence are made by Elizabeth Steger Trindal in her July 2003 article entitled The Two Men Who Held The Noose.