Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thomas H. Harbin (b. 1833- d. 1885)
MSA SC 5496-018954
Property owner, Piscataway, Prince George's County, Maryland


    Thomas H. Harbin was a slave owner in Prince George’s County during the antebellum period. Thomas Henry Harbin was born in Bryantown, Charles County on August 25, 1833 to Walter and Catherine Harbin. During the 1850's Harbin moved from Charles County to Prince GeorgesCounty. Tom Harbin married his cousin Mary Stewart in Washington on October 2, 1855. Together they had one son named James T. Harbin. Mary Stewart died sometime before 1860, leaving Harbin a single parent.

    Thomas Harbin was commissioned to be the postmaster for Bryantown on December 27, 1854. Harbin lived in Piscataway Village, where he was the proprietor of a hotel, Harbin House which later became the Piscataway Tavern. In 1859, Harbin placed a runaway ad for his slave Joe Thomas. The 1860 slave schedule list Harbin as having only two slaves. In 1861, Thomas Harbin sold his hotel to George H. Hunter and Walter P. Griffin.

    Thomas Harbin was a Confederate Spy who was involved in the plot to kidnap President Lincoln. Harbin reported directly to Jefferson Davis and used the alias Thomas Wilson during his time as a spy for the Confederates. The Baltimore American published the confession of George Atzerodt on July 9, 1865. Atzerodt admitted to Tom Harbin's involvement in the conspiracy to kidnap the president. In 1869 the newspaper published a more in depth version of Atzerodt's confession, listing Harbin as a co-conspirator. Harbin was never charged with the crime.

    Harbin returned to Washington, DC during the late 1860's where he worked as a desk clerk at the National Hotel. He married Ella Creed and together they had two children Mary Blanche, and George.  In 1885 George Alfred Townsend (GATH), had an interview with Harbin which was published in the Cincinatti Enquirer on April 18, 1892. In the interview, Harbin admits to his involvement with the Lincoln Assassination plot and how he came to meet John Wilkes Booth. Thomas Harbin died in Washington on November 18, 1885 and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Return to Thomas Harbin's Introductory Page

© Copyright Maryland State Archives