One Hundred Fifty Years Ago

Lincoln funeral-trainOne hun­dred fifty years ago the coun­try was in mourn­ing. The pres­i­dent, Abra­ham Lin­coln, had been assas­si­nat­ed. His body was tak­en by train from Wash­ing­ton, D.C. to his home state. There were stops along the way at var­i­ous large cities to accom­mo­date the mourn­ers. The train mere­ly passed through small­er cities.

One such city was Lan­cast­er, Penn­syl­va­nia. On April 22, 1865, at 2:19 p.m. the train arrived in Lan­cast­er. In a tes­ta­ment to the uni­ver­sal grief, with only a total city pop­u­la­tion of 17,000 peo­ple, 20,000 peo­ple crowd­ed beside the tracks for a final farewell. On April 21, 2015, my local news­pa­per’s front page was cov­ered with the sto­ry, A NATION MOURNS. A sec­ond arti­cle told the sto­ry of the 15-year old boy who was at the the­ater with his father the night Lin­coln was killed.

Route of Lincoln Funeral Train

Route of Lin­coln Funer­al Train

Besides that eye-wit­ness report, I learned what local dig­ni­taries were watch­ing, the descrip­tion of the train, and that Lin­col­n’s son, Cap­tain Robert Lin­coln, was in one of the cars. The cas­ket of Willie, the son who died in 1862, had been dis­in­terred and was in the final car with Lin­col­n’s cas­ket. He would be buried beside his father.

There were no tweets, no instant mes­sag­ing, no ring­ing cell phones, but the nation heard the news.