Burkholder Funeral Home welcomes presentation on Lincoln
The Lehigh County Historical Society hosted a presentation and exhibit commemorating the 153rd anniversary of 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.
Various items, including 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.
Historical society Executive Director Joseph Guerra and Burkholder 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 crept into the presidential box at Ford’s Theater, Washington, D.C.
At 10:15 p.m., Booth shot the president in the head, leaped onto the stage and escaped the theater, riding away on horseback.
Lincoln died the next day at 7:22 a.m. in a lodging house across the street from the theater.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton set out a manhunt for Booth, who was later found and killed April 26, 1865.
“[The assassination] blew the country away,” Schneider said.
“Churches had to come up with a time-appropriate sermon.”
The Union was in the midst of celebrating its victory and the end of the Civil War just a few days earlier.
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 as she was too distraught to make the journey.
Before departing, a massive precession traveled along Pennsylvania Avenue, a spectacle that would not occur again until the funeral of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.
Schneider discussed how each city expressed its sympathy and grief.
Crowds in New York City were passionate and loud. Chicago residents mourned in complete silence.
Some mourners were Lincoln’s closest friends, including former Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin.
Curtin, despite being ill at the time, rode the train from the state border to Harrisburg.
Allentown was not one of the stops on tour but the city had a procession, and local church bells rang at noon April 19, 1865.
Twenty days after the assassination, Lincoln and 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 said people still have a strong, emotional connection with Lincoln, despite the fact he died more than a century ago.
“He’s on the $5 bill and the penny. You see him everywhere,” Schneider said.
Schneider likes to think of Lincoln as an underdog who succeeded in achieving his dreams — “a country guy who ended up being president.”
While many men have served as president since Lincoln, Schneider said there will never be a leader like him again.