The Rev. Henry E. Niles of York, Pa.’s First Presbyterian Church preached a sermon on the national day of mourning – April 19, 1865 – after the death of Abraham Lincoln. It was reprinted and has become part of the canon of remembrances of Lincoln in York County. Not as well known was this reprinted sermon, preached on the same day in southeastern York County. Although sorrow wasn’t universal at this time of great division, most people in the three corners of York County mourned the passing of the 16th president. Also of interest: Check out all these ‘Abraham Lincoln was here’ posts from the start.
On this day 150 years ago, York countians were preparing for the visit of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train – on its long, winding way to his final resting place in Illinois.
They were also aware that John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, was still at large.
Here are 10 links from recent York Daily Record/YorkTownSquare coverage of Lincoln 150 telling about those days of mourning, fear and uncertainty:
1. The Civil War’s end came shortly before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. This quiz checks out how well you know event happenings at Appomattox, Va. on April 9, 1865.
2. When word reached York County of the assassination and the identity of the assassin, the people of York County were aware that John Wilkes Booth spent time in school there in 1853.
3. A nervous York County native, Associated Press writer Lawrence Gobright reported on Lincoln’s assassination.
4. York countians have a habit throughout history of being in or near major world happenings. One former York resident sat in Ford’s Theater the night the president was shot. He wrote a friend in York County that Booth might be headed that way.
5. Another example of a former York countian in the middle of things: Ned Spangler landed in prison for holding the reins of John Wilkes Booth’s horse.
6. Easter 1865, two days after the Good Friday slaying of Lincoln, became known as Black Easter, reflecting the profound mourning for the nation’s loss.
7. York countians, overwhelmingly Democrats in those days, were far from fans of Abraham Lincoln, voting in the majority for his opponents in both the 1860 and 1864 election. Between the 1860 election and his inauguration, he was a no-show in planned appearances in York County. His train was rerouted because of security threats. The York crowd was disappointed – and angry. Lincoln did pass through the county on his way to dedicate the national cemetery in Gettysburg in 1863. So his train – counting his funeral train in 1865 – rolled through York County three times.
8. His funeral train, pulled by a steam locomotive, stopped in New Freedom to pick up Pennsylvania’s Gov. Andrew Curtin and paused in York to take on water for its engine.
9. Even though photography was in it infancy, Lincoln’s life and death widely attracted the attention of photographers.
10. John Wilkes Booth had headed south, not north, and was tracked down in Northern Virginia. He was shot by a Union soldier on April 26, 1865. York County artist Lewis Miller captured the scene, based on accounts of people who were there.
Two events of note:
Marking the day: On April 21, 150 years ago, Lincoln’s funeral train rolled through York County. Harrisburg plans events today. Steam into History has set an observance April 25 -26. (Click on the date if the photo does not load).
*Top photo, courtesy of York County Heritage Trust; Lincoln train photo, Library of Congress.