One more Lincoln at Hanover Junction encounter

This photo, one of six taken at the same time, shows a camera with its black cloth in the center of the photo. (Library of Congress photo)

President Lincoln at Hanover Junction was a hot topic during the 1950s after some previously misidentified photos taken at Hanover Junction were discovered. Below is still another second generation account of Lincoln at Hanover Junction, taken from the October 25, 1952 York Gazette and Daily. It reads:

Clayton Strickhouser, 89-year-old son of a late Hanover Junction, Pa., hotel owner, says his father often told of shaking hands with Abraham Lincoln on the town’s railroad station platform when the president was en route to Gettysburg to deliver his famous address.

The recollection adds a bit of authenticity to the currently-debated premise that Lincoln appears in an 1863 photograph taken at the station, although the location shown in the picture also is controversial. Strickhouser says his father’s hotel is shown in the picture.

The historical debate began when Russell Bowman of Seven Valleys, convinced officials of the National Archives in Washington, D.C., that the photo was snapped at the York county Hanover Junction and not in Hanover Junction, Virginia, as the Archives’ files indicated. Bowman also is trying to prove that a tall, stove-pipe hatted figure pictured in front of the station is Lincoln.

Strickhouser, who lives at 204 South Duke Street, said his father, Peter Strickhouser, although elected a county commissioner on the Democratic ticket in 1872, was politically broad-minded, and was one of the few prominent men of the area allowed to know Lincoln would be stopping at the station for a short time. This explains the fact that no crowds are pictured at the station to see the president, he feels. Opposition to “Abe’s” Republican administration was strong in the area and the president was heavily protected, he continued.

Historians have believed heretofore that Lincoln was not photographed during his Gettysburg trip, and a letter sent to the New York Herald Tribune this week by a Lincolnian author supports the opinion.

Stefan Lorant of Lenox, Mass., pointed out in the letter that Matthew Brady, famous Civil War photographer who, according the National Archives, took the picture never tried to sell any prints of the picture. He also emphasized that the beard of the figure in the debated photo is thin, but fully grown in a picture taken by Alexander Gardner three days before the Gettysburg address.

Lorant also doubts that the cumbersome dark room equipment necessary in those days, when wet photographic plates were used, could have been at the station; that the sun was bright enough at 5 p.m. when Lincoln would have arrived to produce a clear picture, and that the people photographed at such a distance could have stayed still for the one minute necessary for an exposure under those condition. Lorant is author of “Lincoln, a Picture Story of His Life.”

Elected recorder of deeds for York County in 1895 and chairman of the county’s Democratic party in 1896, the younger Strickhouser also was a delegate to the party’s national convention in Chicago which nominated Williams Jennings Bryan for president in 1896. He left the post of minority registrar in the county courthouse four years ago after serving for eight years.

The controversy still continues. Check out Scott Mingus’s Soldiers, Spies & Steam: A History of the Northern Central Railway in the Civil War for some of the latest research, available at the York County History Center bookstore and other retail outlets.

Click here for my previous Hanover Junction posts.

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