Historians know that Wooster was born in Tuscaloosa in 1842 and was the second of four girls. After her parents’ deaths, her older sister became a prostitute, and Louise cared for her two younger sisters while living with a man with whom she had an intimate relationship. Several years later, she joined a brothel and eventually made her way to Birmingham where she bought a home and established her own “high-class” brothel. Another intriguing detail about her life is that during this time she also told many newspaper reporters that John Wilkes Booth was still alive, and that she had been his lover at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. She kept every article about Booth and strongly believed he had escaped death. Her book of clippings is currently held in the Birmingham History Center, along with a sofa she once had in her home.
It’s amazing how one little piece of history can unveil a large piece of history. Though Alabama Heritage has published an article about her and there are wonderful resources concerning her life, there seems to be so much more to discover about Louise Wooster…and doesn’t it make you wonder, just the slightest bit, if she was right about John Wilkes Booth?
Encyclopedia of Alabama: Louise Wooster. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.
James L. Baggett. "Louise Wooster: Birmingham's Magdalen." Alabama Heritage 78 (Fall 2005): 24-29.
James L. Baggett, ed. A Woman of the Town: Louise Wooster, Birmingham's Magdalen. Birmingham: Birmingham Public Library Press, 2005. Copies available from the Birmingham Public Library.
Ellin Sterne [Jimmerson]. "Prostitution in Birmingham, Alabama 1890-1925." M.A. thesis, Samford University, 1977.