Losing Lincoln

James Forcum from Beavercreek, Ohio, writes,” I was born and raised in Greenfield, Indiana, and read the Daily Reporter every day. My parents lived there 47 years until their respective deaths, and my brother, John Forcum, still lives there today.

“As you know, April 14 was the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It wasn’t until last Friday that I learned about the connection between the Lincoln Funeral Train and Greenfield though an article in National Geographic.”

Yes, the Lincoln Funeral Train did pass through Greenfield and Charlottesville with both passings being recorded in the Richman History of Hancock County.

After elaborate ceremonies were conducted in Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Funeral Train departed the nation’s capital on April 21, 1865, and finally arrived in Springfield on May 3, 1865.

The actual funeral was held in Springfield on May 4. The train had traveled through seven states, 180 cities and had gone 1,654 miles, in some cases tracing Lincoln’s original route.

It passed through Greenfield on April 30, 1865, at the early morning hour of 5:55 a.m. It was traveling 20 mph for people to have the opportunity to view the casket.

On April 30, the Lincoln Funeral Train entered Richmond at 3 a.m. and stopped to pick up Gov. Oliver P. Morton and other state dignitaries. It was estimated that 12,000 to 15,000 people were at the Richmond station, and church bells all across the city rang to pay homage to the deceased president.

At 3:41 a.m., the train arrived in Centerville and went on to Germantown, Cambridge City and Knightstown. At 4:27 a.m., it arrived at Dublin, where the entire community came out to show their respects.

From there, the train entered Hancock County, journeyed to Charlottesville, where many African-Americans gathered at the tracks to grieve their slain leader.

The remains of President Lincoln passed through Greenfield on a dismal cold day. Many citizens from all parts of Hancock County were at the depot hoping to catch a glimpse of the coffin in which the martyred president lay.

But the train didn’t stop, so all people noticed was the railroad cars draped in black crepe, looking very somber. People couldn’t see the casket because of the train’s small windows, but it didn’t matter, since everyone was weeping at this point.

Lincoln was not always that popular in Hancock County. During his first presidential race, Stephen Douglas carried Hancock County.

In the 1864 presidential election, Lincoln did carry Hancock County under the Union Party banner.

Hancock County had its share of Union brothers, cousins and nephews spilling blood against their Confederate counterparts. According to the Binford History of Hancock County, 209 residents died in the Civil War.

But in the end, when the fall of Richmond, Virginia, and the surrender of Robert E. Lee were announced, an issue of the “Hancock County Democrat” gave the following description:

“Bells were ringing, bonfires were built, powder was fully used and all the business of the day was suspended for the day.”

Yes, on April 30, 1865, Lincoln really was in Hancock County.

Enough. That is all I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina@hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, IN, 46140.