Woman says photo of Lincoln on deathbed is real, sues museum director

By John O'Brien | Jun 20, 2013

MARTINSBURG – A Martinsburg woman who claims she has a photograph of Abraham Lincoln on his deathbed is suing a Maryland museum and its director for claiming she doesn’t.

Ernestine Deloris Glessner, who has been working for years to verify that it is Lincoln in the picture, is suing the Surratt House Museum and then-director Laurie Verge for a comment made on the museum’s website in 2012.

Glessner is representing herself. She filed the lawsuit June 17 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Martinsburg.

“Plaintiff has never had any dealings with Ms. Verge, she has no valid basis to make what Plaintiff feels is a defamatory statement intended to discredit and embarrass the plaintiff’s character and credibility,” the complaint says.

“In addition the Plaintiff believes Ms. Verge, representing the Surratt House Museum, as its director has no valid evidence to support her statement that the photo the plaintiff has is not an authentic photo of Abraham Lincoln, and it was also her intention to prevent and impede the possible authentication of said photo, to establish its position in history and its value.”

Glessner has a website showing the photo and offering evidence of its validity. A report on Your4State.com says she found the photo at a Harpers Ferry flea market.

Glessner’s gripe with Verge began after Glessner claimed new information proved the man in the picture is Lincoln, which she says she uncovered on July 12. Glessner sent an email to individuals in the news, historical and scientific communities to inform them, she says.

She says Verge wrote on the museum’s official website: “I have dealt with Ernestine in the past. This is no more a photo of Abe Lincoln than it is of me. Ignore her.”

The house of Mary Surratt is located in Clinton, Md. Surratt was hanged in 1865 as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Lincoln.

The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages.

“Plaintiff was subjected to embarrassment, extreme loss of credibility and ridicule as a result of her statement, and based on the fact that Plaintiff believes there is no credible proof, based on fact, not (hearsay) to back this statement, Plaintiff requests this court to compel Defendant to show documented and forensic evidence to prove her statement that this photo is not authentic that are based on facts and not hearsay and opinion,” the complaint says.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O'Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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