Montana’s reaction to news of Lincoln’s death

I was on the fence about this link, as the article it leads to is rife with ads, and won’t let anyone with an adblocker access it before the adblocker is disabled. But it’s beautifully designed, and I like that the newspaper is making use of its archives to give citizens a glimpse of their state’s past.

The accounts of the assassination hit The Montana Post in its Saturday, April 29, 1865 edition…

The Montana Post, squarely Republican in its leaning, was doleful and respectful in tone, chronicling the reaction of the community. Yet, the Post and its politics were almost certainly in the minority. Virginia City had originally been named “Varina” after Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ wife. Vigilante, tax assessor and first superintendent of Yellowstone National Park Nathaniel Pitt Langford recalled that most people around Virginia City were secessionists, “more disloyal as a whole than Tennessee or Kentucky ever was.”

Source: ‘Our hearts bleed as we write’: Montana’s reaction to news of Abraham Lincoln’s death | State & Regional |

Civil War Commemorations

Some special events to consider, for those in the area or willing to travel to partake!

In Dearborn, MI, the Henry Ford Museum is having an assassination commemoration, with Doris Kearns Goodwin speaking.  I got a laugh out of the pricing tiers, which include balcony seats and general floor admission, but no options for participants travelling from the balcony to the floor. Bit of an oversight given the topic on hand 😉

On April 13, as we mark the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, we will host Lincoln’s Legacy: An Evening with Doris Kearns Goodwin…

More than a commemoration of Lincoln’s death, her talk will show how the experiences faced by Lincoln, one of our most unlikely presidents, carry so much relevance to Americans in 2015.


And New Jersey locals, take note! There is a Thomas Nast exhibition on this year at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, with a special presentation on the 22nd of February.  From this sounds of it, this venue is the premier collection of Nast’s work, so I’m sure they have some excellent art (and history) on display.

Mounted to commemorate the final year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011-2015), this second floor exhibit at Macculloch includes a number of these images. “The Civil War through the Eyes of Thomas Nast” is on exhibit through December 2015.

On Sunday Feb. 22 Macculloch Hall Historical Museum (MHHM) F.M Kirby Curator of Collections Ryan Hyman presents “The Work of Thomas Nast.” During this presentation Hyman will highlight Nast’s most popular political cartoons and a few interesting but lesser known images. During the program Ryan will also discuss some of Nast’s political cartoon work about the Civil War, some of which is currently on display.

via Thomas Nast’s Civil War at Macculloch Hall in Morristown – New Jersey Hills: Morris NewsBee News.

Commemorative Events

Readers in or near Caroline County, Virginia (or buffs who might want to make a trip out of it) should note this nifty little program, which features receptions, talks, bus tours, and even a dinner with an author, all on the subject of John Wilkes Booth’s flight, capture and death in Virginia.

Caroline County is getting ready to commemorate perhaps the county’s most historic event: the capture of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth…

The county will have events on April 24, 25 and 26 to remember the 150th anniversary of the capture and to honor Lincoln.

via Caroline will commemorate anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s capture – Caroline.

Lincolniana Auction

There was an important auction this week of Lincoln and assassination memorabilia. I was surprised by this discrepancy:

The lock of hair, taken by Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes shortly after Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, sold for $25,000.

An 1861 letter written by Booth to a friend boasting about his career and value as an actor sold for $30,000.

You’d have thought anything of Lincoln’s, much less his actual hair clipped by the doctor on site for his autopsy would be worth more than a simple letter by JWB. Thankfully, the article followed up with a handy explanation:

"The public was so disgusted by Booth’s atrocity that most all letters, signatures and documents mentioning him were destroyed after Lincoln’s death, making any that survive 150 years later exceedingly rare and valuable," said Don Ackerman, Consignment Director for Historical Americana at Heritage Auctions.

via Lock of Lincoln’s hair among items auctioned in Dallas – Yahoo News.

Replica of Lincoln’s Coffin on Tour

I’m posting this too late for it to be of use to Indiana buffs, but there are enough interesting facts to merit mentioning it anyway.  If you ever wanted to know the difference between a coffin and a casket, for instance – I’d never given it much thought before.  I’d also not given much thought to the size of a coffin needed to bury a 6’4″ President.  It says here that Lincoln’s coffin was only 2″ taller that the big man himself, which is a surprise.  Was he buried shoeless and after a haircut?

April 14, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. In remembrance of this historic date, a replica of the well-loved president’s coffin will be on display for public viewing at Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory in January. 

This replica, known as the Lincoln Replica, was made by the Batesville Casket Company in Batesville, Indiana. According to a Batesville representative, it is one of four replicas touring the country. A fifth coffin is on permanent display in Springfield, Missouri, Lincoln’s birthplace. The coffin, authentic down to the smallest details, measures 6 feet 6 inches long and is constructed of solid walnut. It is completely covered in black broadcloth and has a white satin interior.

via Replica of Lincoln’s coffin to visit the Suncoast – Sarasota News | and ABC 7: Featured.

On Stage at Ford’s

Someone has posted this amazing letter written by Harry Hawk, one of the actors performing at the play when Booth shot Lincoln. In fact, he was the only actor onstage when Booth jumped out of the box.

My Dear Parents,

This is the first time I have had to write to you since the assassination of our dear President on Friday night, as I have been in custody nearly ever since, I was one of the principal witnesses of that sad affair, being the only one on the stage at the time of the fatal shot. I was playing Asa Trenchard, in the “American Cousin,” The “old lady” of the theatre had just gone off the stage, and I was answering her exit speech when I heard the shot fired. I turned, looked up at the President’s box, heard the man exclaim, “Sic semper tyrannis,” saw him jump from the box, seize the flag on the staff and drop to the stage; he slipped when he gained the stage, but got upon his feet in a moment, brandished a large knife, saying, “The South shall be free!” turned his face in the direction I stood, and I recognized him as John Wilkes Booth. He ran toward me, and I, seeing the knife, thought I was the one he was after, ran off the stage and up a flight of stairs. He made his escape out of a door, directly in the rear of the theatre, mounted a horse and rode off…

The whole letter can be read after the click.

via How did Lincoln’s assassination affect ticket sales of “Our American Cousin” : AskHistorians.

Tennis Swings

Some literal gallows humor in the title, there:  If you zoom in on the embedded map, you’ll be able to see the tennis courts at Fort Lesley J. McNair, in Washington.  At the time of the Civil War, these courts were the site of the Washington Arsenal, and it was on this exact ground in 1865 that the Lincoln conspirators were hanged.

From funeral black to tennis whites.


View Larger Map

38.86654,-77.017433 – Google Maps.

Lincoln Kennedy Coincidence

No, not the spurious set of “coincidences” (some of which are blatant lies) that was promulgated in the ’60s, but some interesting history on the Kennedy funeral.  Turns out JFK laid in state on the same catafalque that held Lincoln’s body, and the caisson that transported his coffin was also used in the Lincoln ceremonies.

That’s it for the Civil War history in this article, but it’s an interesting read regardless. This week has been a reminder that the 1960s were as tumultuous for America as the 1860s, and as a direct result of what happened during that decade.

JFK Funeral Arrangement – Business Insider.

The Nooses

A Florida columnist has been writing articles drawn from an ancestor’s Civil War diaries.  The pieces are too overdramatic for my tastes – shuddering to learn his horse had taken part in Sherman’s March, for instance – but if the details below are to be believed, Charlie Tinker was charged with the disposal of some very unusual items.

“At 12 p.m.,” Charlie recorded, “all was ready and at a special signal from the officer in command, the props were removed and the drops fell, launching all four into eternity with hardly a struggle. The closing scene was horrible, but it was an end of justice fully warranted. I was anxious to see this execution and am satisfied. I never want to witness another.”

It was perhaps Charlie’s obvious seriousness and complete devotion to Lincoln that brought to the 28-year-old an unexpected assignment. For reasons he doesn’t detail, and quite probably didn’t know, Charlie was given the nooses that strangled the co-conspirators and asked to dispose of them.

Imagine that? Perhaps no one in history has ever asked: What happened to the death-rending nooses? Yet, now we know. Charlie Tinker, in his matter-of-fact manner took them home, chopped them into tiny pieces and burned them for kindling in his fireplace.

via Dixie Divas: Charlie Tinker witnessed the execution of Lincolns assassins.

The Death of John Wilkes Booth, 1865

Happy deathday, John Wilkes Booth!  I can’t think of anyone who deserved a bullet in the neck more than you.

After riding and searching continuously for over 24 hours, the men of the 16th New York Cavalry arrive at the Garrett farm at 2 oclock on the morning of April 26 and quickly discover Herold and Booth hiding in the barn. Ordered to give up, Herold flees the barn proclaiming his innocence. Booth defiantly remains inside, ignoring the threat to burn the barn if he does not surrender. As the officer in charge of the cavalry tries to negotiate with Booth, someone at the back of the barn lights some straw and fire spreads throughout the structure. Booth at first moves towards the fire, then turns and hops towards the door. A shot rings out fired by Sergeant Boston Corbett. Booth falls, paralyzed. Carried to the porch of the farmhouse, Lincolns assassin lingers between life and death finally succumbing around seven in the morning.

via The Death of John Wilkes Booth, 1865.