The Washington Evening Star,  July 3, 1937, Page A-10

Page A-10

Witness to Garfield's Slaying
Seeks to Mark Historic Spot

Alexandrian 14-Year Old Newsboy at Time of Assassination.

Fifty-six years ago yesterday a 14-year-old newsboy at the old Baltimore & Potomac Railroad depot watched terror stricken as the President of the United States sank to the floor mortally wounded by an assassin's bullet.

“I shall never forget the expression on Mr. Garfield's face as he went down.” said Sylvester A. Breen, who, believes he is the only person alive who witnessed the assassination.

The ex-newsboy's eyes narrowed slightly as he told of seeing Charles J. Guiteau step from behind a “storm door” in the women's waiting room on July 2, 1881, and fire two shots from a revolver into the President's back.

“One of the shots must have gone wild,” Breen said, “for when the President's shirt was raised I saw only one wound.”

Concerning the assassin, he commented: “I saw Guiteau the day before the shooting. Little did I dream the part he was to play the next day. I saw him several times after he was jailed, and on one occasion I went to the District Jail with James Croggan, reporter for The Star, who interviewed him.”

Breen, who lives in Alexandria, was retired several years ago from the Government Printing Office and now spends most of his time seeing base ball games as the “Number One” fan of the Nationals.

For more than 15 years Breen has received the No. 1 pass to the Nats' games from Clark Griffith and has been a favorite of the players since the days when the Washington club was in the old National League.

“Yes, my boys out at the park give me the first pass every year,” he modestly admits, “but I always pay for the games anyway.”

With the co-operation of the District Engineer's Office he has located at Constitution avenue near Sixth street what he believes to be the location of Garfield's fall. (The old depot was at Sixth and D streets.)

The upper photograph shows Breen as a 14-year-old newspaper boy, an eyewitness to the shooting of President Garfield. Lower, as he is today. —Star Staff Photo.

He would like to see a marker placed at the spot he has picked out.

Garfield died on September 19—Breen's birthday anniversary.

Witness to Garfield's Slaying Seeks to Mark Historic Spot, The Washington Star, No. 34,031, July 3, 1937, Page A-10.(PDF)