Local funeral home remembers Former President Lincoln
The Lehigh County Historical Society hosted a presentation and exhibit commemorating the 153rd anniversary of former President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14 at J.S. Burkholder Funeral Home, Allentown.
The focus of the event was about the train that transported Lincoln’s remains to his final resting place in Springfield, Ill.
Artifacts such as a replica of Lincoln’s casket were on display.
Guests dined on gingerbread cake, Lincoln’s favorite dessert and received a replica of the program from a memorial procession held in Allentown after Lincoln’s death.
The historical society’s Executive Director Joseph Guerra and Burkholder’s supervisor Sonia Siegfred introduced Lincoln scholar Stuart Schneider.
Schneider dedicates his life and career to collecting and writing about rare Lincoln photography and artifacts.
He is also a prominent member of the Lincoln Group of New York and the Lincoln Forum.
Schneider began by covering the details about Lincoln’s death.
On April 14, 1865, well-known stage actor and staunch supporter of the Confederacy John Wilkes Booth sneaked into the presidential box at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C.
At 10:15 p.m., Booth shot the president in the head, leaped down to the stage and escaped out of the theater, riding away from the premises on horseback.
Lincoln died the next morning at 7:22 a.m. in a lodging house across the street from the theater.
Edwin Stanton, secretary of war, set out a manhunt for Booth, who was later found and killed on sight on April 26, 1865.
“Blew the country away. Churches had to come up with a time-appropriate sermon,” Schneider stated.
The Union was in the midst of celebrating their victory and the end of the Civil War just a few days earlier.
It was decided that Lincoln’s remains would be transported to Springfield, Ill. where he lived and began his political career years before.
The train stopped at several cities along the way so citizens could pay their respects.
The body of his late son Willie, who died of typhoid fever in 1862, was also on the train and would be buried alongside his father.
Other passengers on the train included 300 delegates.
Former First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln stayed behind because she was too distraught to make the journey.
Before departing, a massive precession traveled along Pennsylvania Avenue, a spectacle that wouldn’t occur again until the funeral of former President Kennedy in November 1963.
Schneider discussed how each city expressed their sympathy and grief in different ways.
While New York City crowds were passionate and loud, Chicago mourned in complete silence.
Some mourners were Lincoln’s closest friends, including former Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew Gregg Curtin.
Curtin boarded and rode the train from the state border to Harrisburg, despite being ill at the time.
Allentown was not one of the stops on tour, but the city had a precession, and local church bells rang at noon on April 19, 1865.
Twenty days after the assassination, Lincoln and his son Willie were finally laid to rest.
Unfortunately, the train car that carried the casket fell into ruin and burned in a fire in 1911.
Schneider believes that people still have a strong, emotional connection with Lincoln, despite the fact that he died well over a century ago.
“He’s on the $5 bill and the penny…you see him everywhere,” Schneider stated.
Plus Schneider likes to think of him as an underdog who succeeded in achieving his dreams, “a country guy who ended up being President.”
While many men served as President since Lincoln, Schneider thinks that there will never be a leader like him ever again.