Episode 2 – The plan to steal the presidents body!

Hello everyone, welcome to the Living Fur Real and other stuff, I’m WickedCats and I’m happy you could join me.  Today, we have a slightly unbelievable and yet very true story.  I first heard about this maybe 10 years ago when I saw a documentary about it on A&E, way back when they used to show documentaries, remember that?  So what’s this hard to believe story? Just a small plot to steal the body of a dead president, that’s all. Okay. let’s get to it.

            In the 1870s, Illinois was home to one of the nation’s largest counterfeiting operations.  One of these groups was lead by a man named James “Big Jim” Kinealy.  One of the men who worked for Kinealy was named Benjamin Boyd who was one of the most talented engravers at the time, and his specialty was making dies for counterfeit money. He was so good at what he did that one gang he worked with successfully circulated over 300,000 five dollar bills made from one of his plates without anyone realizing they were counterfeit, and even the United States Treasury was so impressed that they recalled their own genuine bills from circulation and used his. Unfortunately for Big Jim though, Mr. Boyd was arrested in 1875, and worse, he was eventually sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary!  This was terrible and a major inconvenience for Jim and his operation, Although, I have a feeling Ben was probably more upset about his own incarceration than Jim,, I digress. Seeing that his best man was seeing some jail time, Jim decided he needed to come up with a plan to help bust out his biggest money-maker. See what I did there? Hmm?

Jim was not about to wait 10 years for Boyd to get out of prison, and honestly, I’d love to know how he decided that stealing the body of Lincoln would be the best way to get this guy out of jail but I guess we’ll never know.  Today we may think stealing a body from a grave is incredibly disrespectful and macabre, and they thought the same at the time, but in those days body snatching was quite the profitable industry.  Resurrectionists, as they were more politely called because calling them body snatchers is way too uncouth a term, would dig up recently deceased bodies and sell them to local medical schools.  The practice was so out of hand that family members often took to standing guard over their loved ones’ graves until such time as the body was no longer viable for profitable sale.

One evening at a local bar in Springfield, one of Jim’s conspirators had a little too much to drink and he wound up talking to some of the other patrons about the plan.  Because of this, Jim had to uproot his uh, business and move the planning to Chicago.  Once there he got together with a friend who ran another saloon, by the name of Terence Mullen and an acquaintance of his, Jack Hughes, to be part of the crew to steal the body. 

The actual plan consisted of stealing the body and transporting it, by way of a horse-drawn wagon, across state lines into Indiana and burying him, temporarily,  in the sand dunes until the government paid them the ransom of $200,000 worth of gold,  that’s about $4.6 million today, and released Boyd with a full pardon.  Did you know there were sand dunes in Indiana?  I didn’t, but there are.  They formed after the ice-age on a long stretch on the shore of Lake Michigan  in Porter County in northern Indiana. Now,  Jim thought, as plans go, this was flawless and he was even fortunate enough to find himself a man by the name of Lewis Swegles, who said he was the best grave robber around.  And, as luckwould have it, Swegles had a friend who could help transport the body from point A to point B, this was Bill Nealy. I’m sure Jim thought he was the luckiest guy on earth, unfortunately, he was far from it, because  Mr. Swegles and Nealy were actually working undercover as secret service informants.  Uh huh!

On the night of November 6, 1876 the four men boarded a train to Springfield carrying a carpetbag full of body snatching tools. Also, boarding the same train, were several other men including Chicago Secret Service chief, Patrick Tyrrell, former US Secret Service chief, Elmer Washburn, and two Pinkerton detectives, John McGinn and George Hay, along with an independent detective John McDonald and John English who was working with the Illinois Humane Society.  Just an aside here, in case you’re wondering, the Secret Service did not begin the duties of protecting the president until nearing the end of the 1890’s.  Before then their job mainly consisted of investigating counterfeiting gangs, hence why they were involved in this comical caper.

The following night Tyrrell, Washburn, McDonald, and English hid inside the Lincoln Tomb and waited in complete darkness in their stocking feet. John McGinn and George Hay waited outside under cover of darkness.  Jim’s gang arrived at the cemetery two hours later. They discovered that Lincoln’s sarcophagus was behind a barred door chained shut by a single padlock. 

State-of-the-art body-snatching tools!

They began to file through the lock and were able to get into the tomb and to the resting place.  Sadly, though they were met with another hurdle, the lid of the sarcophagus, proved too heavy to be lifted, so they instead began cutting away at the panel on the end section and hopefully they would be able to slide the coffin out that way.  A coffin by the way that was made from mahogany and lead lined, which itself had to weigh several hundred pounds on its own. So, they toiled away and at last, they were able to get hold of the coffin and began to drag it out of the sarcophagus.  Remember though, the secret service was hiding inside the tomb, and at this point, one of the Pinkerton agents, whose gun was already cocked, was getting nervous and his gun was accidentally discharged! As you can imagine, all hell broke loose. Mullen and Hughes hauled ass out of the tomb!  At this, Tyrell came out from his hiding spot and yelled out for the robbers to surrender.  No answer! Duh.  He ran back into the chamber where they had all been hiding and yelled to the others to bring lanterns and they all ran out of the tomb.  They ran up a small hill about 70 feet away from the terrace of the mausoleum and all started to open fire towards the outline of two men running away.  As both groups of men began shooting at each other they realized after a short time, they were shooting at each other, Tyrells group was shooting at McGinn and Hay! Mullen and Hughes in the meantime made their way back to Chicago, straight to their saloon, where they were promptly arrested about ten days later, good grief.  Interestingly enough, even though they were arrested, stealing bodies from a cemetery was not a federal crime, nor was it a state crime either.  The two men were only convicted of “attempting”  to steal the coffin, which cost $75 at the time and spent only a year in prison.

Meanwhile, back in Springfield a man by the name of John Carroll Power and a few of his friends, took it upon themselves to try and do what the Government could not, and keep the body of Lincoln safe by moving the casket to the basement of the tomb.  Yes, the tomb had a basement, and that’s where the body of Abraham Lincoln spent the next two years, in a shallow grave.  After two years though, Mr. Power and a group of other trusted confidants decided to move the body, again seeing as the basement floor was constantly wet and dirty and was not a dignified location for the body of the president.  The body was lifted on to some dryer scrap pieces of wood and wanting to ensure that Lincoln was still in his coffin opened the casket.  They confirmed that Lincoln was indeed there and left the coffin on the wood pile where the men took turns guarding the body of the president, they would call themselves the “Lincoln Guard of Honor and earned such respect from Robert Todd Lincoln, the last remaining son of Abraham Lincoln, that when his mother Mary Todd Lincoln died in 1882, he asked the men to place his mother’s casket next to his father. 

You would think that this would be it right?  That the tomb would be repaired, and Lincoln and his wife and his younger sons would be buried in the tomb again and left in peace.  But no.  Lincoln’s body was actually moved several more times, due to constant reconstruction and the fear of his body was not actually inside his coffin.  In fact, his body was moved about 18 times and his coffin opened 5 between 1865 and 1901.  The final resting place of Abraham Lincoln was in a newly reconstructed tomb within Oak Ridge Cemetery.  Robert Todd Lincoln had grown tired of the constant moving of his father’s coffin and ordered that it be placed into a steel cage and lowered down into a 10 foot chamber which was then covered with 4,000 pounds of concrete.

And there you have it, folks.

Lincoln’s final resting place.

Links you can further explore:

Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination – https://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln.html





Audiobooks and online streaming

in 2015 I moved out of the condo I was renting and wound up having to move to the only place I could find on such short notice which was an efficiency.  Actually, it’s a master bedroom which is closed off from the main house.  This wasn’t ideal, but I needed a place to live that would let me have my cats and dog.  I thought, okay this is just temporary, 6 months, maybe a year max.  3 years later, I’m still there.  Just can’t afford to move.

But, on the up-side, the place is small so I really don’t have to spend too much time keeping it clean and picked up.  AND, free wi-fi.  I don’t have cable, which I thought would be torture, but I’ve actually come to appreciate not having to spend that obscene amount of money monthly for 500 channels, of which I only watch 5.

What do I watch?  I have Netflix, of course, Amazon Prime, YouTube Red, and I also have a  monthly subscription for Audible.  I’m a little late in the game, but I have discovered Podcasts. I’ve been without cable for 3 years, and I really haven’t missed it.  At first, though, I was thinking, “OMG what the hell am I going to do now?”  But really, I love not having cable.  In fact, when I finally have a normal place to live I won’t be getting cable again.  I will set myself up with a good internet plan and that’s it.

If anyone is thinking about cutting the cable cord, DO IT!!!  You won’t be sorry.

Amy’s Breakfast wrap

I haven’t been feeling well the past few days.  I know it’s because I’m not eating well. I’ll admit, I take the lazy way out in the morning.  I don’t make breakfast at home, because more often than not, I’m already running out the door late.  I usually stop at the grocery store and get a bagel and just toast it when I get to work.  Not the most healthy of morning starts.

Tired of feeling like crap, I decided I needed to find a vegetarian breakfast that I could just pop in the microwave at work.  I found Amy’s Breakfast Wrap/Burrito.  Follow the link and find out more about this company and their products:   http://www.amys.com/products/product-detail/burritos-and-wraps/000048

The instructions say to put it on high for a minute, then turn it over and put it in for 35-45 seconds.  Well, it was frozen solid, so that wasn’t going to work.  I put it in for about 4 minutes in total on one side, and then just 30 seconds on the other.  It came out hot all the way through and thankfully, none of the ends of the tortilla were the consistency of cardboard.  I was afraid I may have heated it too long, but I didn’t.

This tasted heavenly.  The tofu made in such a way that it substituted the egg very well.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and have a great alternative for that bagel.

Amy's breakfast scramble


I give this a definite 4 tuna cans!

This stuff rocks!

Never say never again.

Last year I dove into the world of animal rescue.  Head first to be exact!  After coming home and finding a flyer posted next to the elevators at my condo complex, stating all stray cats would be trapped and taken to the shelter.  The shelter here in Miami is a high kill shelter.  They recently stopped taking in cats, and any strays brought to them are killed. See what I did there? I didn’t say euthanize.  That’s because if you take the word by its meaning, they you will see that you really cannot euthanize a perfectly healthy animal. No, our shelter kills, and it kills a lot.  Sure, their numbers have gone down, but only because they now ship dogs and cats to other shelters and sometimes work with rescues.

Anyway, when I saw this I knew I couldn’t just leave those cats to that fate.  I’ve been covertly feeding them for a couple of years and really knew nothing about where to take them for help.  I took to Facebook, and began my journey.  I hooked up with some good and caring people.  These people had been in rescue for years and knew the ins and outs.  I was able to make some connections and found out there was a program in my area that would help me in getting these cats spayed and neutered.

I was able to find a home for one cat that was feline leukemia positive, as well as four others.  At one point I had ten cats in my apartment.  Yes, ten!  I have six of my own, so the additional four was quite frankly a nightmare.  Of the four, two were about five to six months old, one was shy but the other was quite feral.  At one point I was keeping them in my spare bathroom and the feral one got out.  She gave me a hell of a scratch before she got into the carrier.  The other two were about four months old.

With some help, a home was found for the two older kittens, and I kept the smaller two until a home could be found for them.  This was eight months in the making.  I have had these two girls with me and while I will tell you it has been incredibly stressful at times, I absolutely adored these girls. My journey with them ended last night.  Today they are on their way to a new life.  I can’t even express the sadness I felt knowing that I had to let them go.  It was as though part of my soul was being torn from me, and I think it was.  They took a little piece of me with them, and in turn they left a big piece of themselves with me. Their impact on me will last until I take my final breaths on this earth.  I never wanted to foster, because I knew how hard it would be to let them go.  But they taught me that as hard as it is, when your part is done, you let them go.  You let them go because it was your job to prepare them, to show them how to trust and what it means to be loved.

As sat there in my car with my foster girls, Isis and Astra, and who I eventually came to call Smudge and Mochie, I said to myself, “I can never do this again.  I can’t allow myself to feel like this again.” I could very easily have been a foster failure, but my space dictates that I cannot bring any more cats into my home permanently.  Permanently being the key word here.  You see, as I was saying good-bye to my friend who is taking the girls on to their next stop in their new life, she asked me if I could foster a little kitten.  A tiny baby not even six weeks old yet, until the end of April or mid-May.  I smiled and didn’t even hesitate.   I hope to welcome my new charge this week.


Smudge and Mochie

Smudge and Mochie

Smudge Mochie

NEW Morningstar pizza – Baja Black Bean Review

I am always wary of microwave pizza.  That “crisper” rarely works well, at least for me, and many times I wind up turning it from a potentially tasty treat, to something I can make a shoe out of. But, I decided to give this a try.


I wasn’t sure about black beans and corn on a pizza, but it was either this one or the one with the garbanzo beans (Mediterranean Chickpea).  I love garbanzo beans, but on a pizza seemed more odd than the black bean combo.

So, here goes.  On the tray, for 3:45 minutes in the office microwave.


Looks like this when it’s out.


And now for the best part.  Tasting it!


It’s actually quite delicious!  A little spicy, so it’s got a bit of a kick to it. And guess what? It’s crispy!!!  I really really loved this.  Now I want to try the other one.   The price comparable to other single serving pizza’s on the market.

Here is some of the nutrition information.



I highly recommend this.  It’s vegetarian, tastes good and the price won’t kill you so you can buy a couple and have them for lunch at work, or dinner at home.

I’ll give this a resounding 4 tuna cans!

small tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna can


Bookshelf 3 of 6

Another section of the bookshelf.  This is the middle section of the bookshelf on the left of the television.   Lots of books here and some DVD’s.  The small little pinkish box on the bottom left is a cardboard jewelry box.  I haven’t looked in there in a while.  It’s always nice to go through an old box full of interesting little things.  You managed to find things you often forgot you had and loved.


Bookshelf 3 of 6

Bookshelf project, 2 of 6.

Bookshelf 2 of 6

This is another section of my bookshelf.  It’s amazing to me that I never really noticed before just how much of “me” is in these little sections of my bookshelf.

From left to right, here we go:

The wood object you see there is an incense holder.  I found that, if I remember correctly, at a flea market over 15 years ago!  Wow, that’s a long time now that I think back. I hadn’t realized I’ve had it that long.  I particularly love this because when you open the top, you have the actual holder for the incense to stand and burn down.  The ashes fall down into this sort of basin.  You can see that there is a line going across.  That’s actually a small compartment, where the incense is kept.

The two statuettes:   The first, St. Therese, referred to as “The Little Flower”.  I bought her several years ago, when I was still living with my aunt.  I thought she was pretty, and now and then I go to the church named for here near where I work.  The second statuettte, is my Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba, La Cardidad de el Cobre.  The national shrine for her is here in Miami.  My mother was a devotee to her, and to the day she died her faith never wavered.

At the front, a small round container with little plastic bands, for Sofie’s hair.  Next to it a ceramic box, a wonderful old woman gave me back in the late 90’s when I was living in some apartment building after I’d moved from my aunts home.  Inside there are some incense cones, and a hand from a statue of a goddess in Japanese Geisha clothing.  Her name eludes me, but the superstition goes, if you take her hand and wish for something, she will grant you your wish, in return for her hand.  And as you see, she’s never gotten her hand back, so my wish has never been granted.  Perhaps it’s time to ask for something else.

Behind the statuettes, is a box I bought at Pier One may many years ago.  It’s I believe Indian, and I keep old jewelry I never really wear anymore in there.  Next to that are very old photos I was given a little over 20 years ago.  They are photos from Cuba.  Many of family, that I admittedly don’t even know by name.  The photos are propped up against an old mirror I never got around to hanging.

Sometimes a picture can say a lot. Bookshelf project 1 of 6.

A picture can often say a lot about not just the subject, but the person behind the camera. Especially if it’s a photograph that reflects that person. I have a two bookshelves, that once were part of an entertainment center. Several moves over the years broke off the already flimsy middle section of the entertainment center, and since I can always use more storage space, I have kept the two bookshelf/sides.

Currently they hold a plethora of “stuff” I have collected through the years. As I sat watching some television yesterday afternoon, I looked at all of my stuff and realized that my bookshelves reflect me in a very visual way. I decided it would be interesting to take a picture of each section and show you all.

This is 1 of 6:

Bookshelf 1 of 6

So as you can see, my reading material is eclectic, as you will see with the next photo posts I make.

Vampires: Yes, they have always fascinated me.  Although I hate to admit this, but lately, I’m over it.  Maybe it’s just the total saturation of vampires both in movies, books and television.  I also don’t really go for the way they are portrayed these days.  Some sparkly, some sex obsessed, and some just dumb.

The Strange: I’m always up for reading about oddities!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Loved the show!  I really was very disappointed when it was cancelled.  I thought there was still one more good season there.

Pink ribbon bear:  I bought this many years ago, through Avon.  It was during a Breast Cancer awarreness campaign, and it caught my eye.  Proceeds of the purchase of the bear went to research.  My mother died of this horrible disease, and whenever I can monetarily, I try to support.

Nefertiti:  Another fascination for me. Not just her, but all things ancient, be they Egyptian, Roman or Greek. But, mainly it’s the ancient Egyptians that have always for some reason attracted me.

CD’s:  Not that they attract me but I have a lot of files saved on these.  I recently purchased a new laptop and have been in the process of downloading some saved files.  I’ve also lost many things over the years and have been searching through these files to see if perhaps I have them saved here.

Incense:  No explanation here.  I simply love the smell of incense burning. I am however particular with the scents I burn. I like the earthy scents.

The dark fidurine:  That is a figurine of Professor Severus Snape that a very good friend of mine sent me.  I love it!

That tiny bottle:  My boss got that a couple of years ago.  I have no idea where he acquired that odd little bottle with the leprechaun, but he was going to throw it away and I thought it was cute, so I kept it.

A few new things to try from Trader Joes’

On Friday October 18th, a new  Trader Joe’s near my home.  I was so excited that I rushed after work to not only get my free reusable bag, but to look around at all the goodies I’m always hearing about!  When I got there it was insanity!!!  I guess I wasn’t the only one who’d been waiting for Trader Joe’s.  

I couldn’t take the crowd, but I did manage to get a couple of things that I wanted to try.  First being this:

Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Latte Mix

Now, I LOVE Chai tea, so this just sang to me.  I tried it that very night.  What impressed me most was, many times you buy these mixes and they say to use water or milk.  If you use water it usually tastes horrible, but this didn’t!  It tasted amazing just with water alone.  I can only imagine what it tastes like with soy milk!

This deserves:

4 tuna cans – This stuff rocks!

small tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna can

The next thing I tried is Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack

Crunchy, a little salty, a little fishy and you can eat the entire package and only take in 60 calories!  I’m thinking about making a mock tuna salad spread with this.  Some experimenting is definitely in order.

I give this:

3 tuna cans – You have my attention.
small tuna cansmall tuna cansmall tuna can

So far, Trader Joe’s hasn’t disappointed me.  Sadly, it’s still incredibly crowded to go into. I’ll have to wait a few weeks until the novelty has died down a bit, so that I can go in and fully and calmly investigate things.