Who were Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone?

— Photo by Mathew Brady, Brady National Photographic Art Gallery (Washington, D.C.)

Henry Reed Rathbone, from Albany, a Union captain in the Civil War, was sitting with his fiancée, Clara Harris, next to President Abraham Lincoln in the president’s box at Ford’s Theater when Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth.

To the Editor:

Hear the tragic story of John Wilkes Booth’s last victims — the Rathbones of Albany.

On Wednesday, May 1, at 7 p.m., at the Clarksville Community Church, Mark Bodnar will tell us the story of Clara Harris and Henry Reed Rathbone, both from prominent families in Albany. Each had wealth, education and a bright future.

However, a series of misfortunes added to the trials and tribulations of these two young people: the death of a parent, the Civil War, and witnessing the assassination of the president of the United States all combined to incur a devastating blow to their once-happy lives.

Who were Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone? Why were they invited guests of the Lincolns that night?  What happened to them after the war?

Mark will delve into the details of the Harris and Rathbone families to unfold this story of love and tragedy. This is a true story of two local people who witnessed the first presidential assassination in our country. Mark will also inform you of the cottage in Loudonville where ghostly apparitions have been reported.

Mark Bodnar is a past president of the Historical Society of the Town of Colonie and a trustee of the Albany Cemetery Association. He has done research of Albany-area history for more than 25 years.

All of our programs are open to the public; we invite you to join us for an enjoyable evening.  Refreshments are served following the program. The church is located at 1997 Delaware Turnpike in Clarksville. For more information, call 518-768-2870.

Sandy Slingerland


Clarksville Historical Society

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