Chesterton Tribune

Local historians hear program on Lincoln funeral train

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A plaque at Westville commemorates the day in 1865 when the Abraham Lincoln funeral train passed through northern Indiana on its way to Springfield, Illinois. The train traveled 1666 miles from Washington, D. C., through seven states and many cities and towns before reaching its destination.

Bill Warrick, of Ogden Dunes, well known retired radio and television personality showed his video about the Lincoln Funeral Train for the Duneland Historical Society at the Library Service Center on Thursday, November 19.

He told how he used still black and white photos from such places as the National Archives and the Library of Congress, some of them by Matthew Brady, along with film of reenactments to tell the story.

For his video, Warrick used music by the First Brigade Band and narration by Lincoln scholar Dr. Wayne Wesolowski of Benedictine University.

By coincidence, the program was presented on the anniversary of the day Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

It was Good Friday, April 14, 1865 when John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at the Ford Theater in Washington. Lincoln died the next morning and Mrs. Lincoln decided that he should be buried in their home city of  Springfield, Illinois.

A private railroad car which had been made for Lincoln but never used carried the coffin. The military controlled the timetable and locomotives were changed along the way. Eight other cars started the trip but only the private car and a car for the honor guard made the entire trip.

The train began its journey at 8 a.m. on April 21 and reached Springfield on May 3 just one hour late. Cities along the way included Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus and Indianapolis. Each city had its own ceremony and tried to outdo other cities.

Huge crowds came out in spite of many rain storms. The train reached Michigan City the morning of  May 1, 1865 and a committee of dignitaries from Chicago came to meet it. A whitefish breakfast was served and because of the military timetable, the train left some of the people behind. Someone in the audience said a story is told that they caught another train and caught up with the funeral train in Porter.

In Chicago a triple arch had been constructed and 36 girls dressed in white represented the 36 states. The crowd was so large that wooden sidewalks collapsed,

On arrival in Springfield, the body was placed in the Illinois House of Representatives and both black and white citizens paid their respects.

Duneland Historical Society officers were elected for 2010. They are: president, Joan Costello; vice president, Eva Hopkins; vice president, Jane Walsh-Brown; treasurer, Marilyn Cook; recording secretary; Dorothy Meyers; corresponding secretary, Audrey Lipinski; directors, Betty Canright, Tory Duhamell, Nancy Hokanson, Ken Keller, Bill Meyer, Rita Newman and Nancy Vaillancourt.

The next meeting of the society will be February 18, 2010.



Posted 11/20/2009