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Clara Harris's Geni Profile

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Clara Hamilton Rathbone (Harris)

Birthdate: (49)
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Death: Died in Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany
Cause of death: murdered by her husband, Maj. Henry Rathbone (USA)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ira T. Harris and Louisa Harris
Wife of Maj. Henry Rathbone (USA)
Mother of Henry Riggs Rathbone; Gerald Laurence Rathbone and Clara Pauline Randolph
Sister of William Harris

Managed by: Private User
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About Clara Harris

Clara Harris Rathbone (1834[1] - December 23, 1883) was the daughter of U.S. Senator Ira Harris of New York. Clara and her fiancé, Major Henry Rathbone, accompanied Abraham Lincoln and his wife to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, and were present during his assassination.

On that day, President Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, had invited several people to attend the play Our American Cousin, including General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife. All had declined her invitation, for a variety of reasons. Mrs. Lincoln then asked the young couple to join the Presidential party, and they accepted. During the play, the famous American actor, John Wilkes Booth, surreptitiously entered the Presidential box and shot the President with a derringer. Rathbone, who tried to thwart the assassin's escape, was severely wounded by Booth, who wielded a large Rio Grande Camp dagger and attacked him. Rathbone was slashed and stabbed, primarily in his left arm, and collapsed from a loss of blood.

Major Rathbone eventually recovered from his injuries and later married Clara on July 11, 1867. By an unusual familial inter-connection she was actually Rathbone's stepsister, as her father had married his mother after the death of their respective spouses. Ira Harris was thus Rathbone's stepfather, becoming his father-in-law as well.

Rathbone and Clara had three children. In 1882, he was appointed U.S. Consul to the Province of Hanover, where the family relocated. His mental health gradually became more unstable, and he murdered her on December 23, 1883. Their children, who were also almost killed by their father, went to live with their uncle, William Harris, in the United States. Henry Rathbone spent the rest of his life in the asylum for the criminally insane in Hildesheim, Germany. He was buried in Hildesheim, next to Clara. His grave and his wife's were destroyed in 1952, as they had been abandoned and unattended since her death in 1883 and his death in 1911.

Their eldest son, Henry Riggs Rathbone (1870–1928), was a U.S. Congressman from Illinois.

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Clara Harris's Timeline

September 9, 1834
New York, New York, United States
February 12, 1870
Age 35
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
August 26, 1871
Age 36
Albany, Albany County, New York, United States
September 15, 1874
Age 40
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
December 23, 1883
Age 49
Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany