One 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.
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.