Dr. James J. Humes and the Lincoln/Kennedy Assassinations Connections

From Dr. John K. Lattimer’s book Kennedy and Lincoln: Medical & Ballistic Comparisons of Their Assassinations:

Mrs. Kennedy chose Bethesda Naval Hospital for the site of President Kennedy’s autopsy. Commander James J. Humes was the Chief of Pathology at the time. He was called in to lead in the autopsy. The book notes that Dr. Humes had been making personal notations on loose sheets of paper. From those notes he would later prepare the formal report. At his home later on, he burned the soiled notes and preliminary drafts of his report in the fireplace. The soiled papers, by the way, had stains of blood on them from his surgical gloves used during JFK’s autopsy. This action was used by critics of the Warren Commission to claim intentional destruction of evidence. Dr. Lattimer mentions, concerning his action, that if  “he had tried to keep papers soiled with fat and blood in his office files, they would have become rancid and objectionably malodorous.” 

Dr. Humes had during his Navy career (before 1963), been assigned to the Detroit area. As was the case, at times, he found himself escorting visiting dignitaries to the various sights around and in Detroit. One of those places was Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village & Museum. Of course, as most people know, Abraham Lincoln’s rocker is on display there. This is the chair that Lincoln was sitting in at Ford’s Opera House on the night of his assassination, April 14, 1865. There are dark blotches on the back of the chair-right where a person’s head would be resting when seated. Dr. Humes would hear onlookers comment that the blotches were Lincoln’s blood stains-and some of them joked about it. Dr. Humes found the joking comments very disrespectful, indeed. Little did Dr. Humes know at that time that he would actually be exposed to an assassinated President’s blood in a few years.

The stains on the Lincoln chair are not bloodstains at all. The stain is from Macassar-a hair pomade that men in Lincoln’s day used to keep their hair in place. Dr. Humes may have been thinking when he destroyed the JFK blood-stain notepapers that he wouldn’t want the papers to become a basis for jokes by onlookers. Possibly, he remembered the jokes about Lincoln’s “blood” and made a decision to not risk the same thing with the JFK artifacts.

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