Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lincoln Funeral Train in Erie PA

President Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 several hours after he was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth. A train bearing the president's remains toured the country on its way from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, IL. The Lincoln Funeral Train stopped in Erie, Pennsylvania on Friday, April 28, 1865.

The people of Erie, PA knew the train was going to travel through Erie on its way from Buffalo, NY to Cleveland, OH, but due to a mix-up, they were told that the train was not going to stop here.

Erie Mayor Fernando F. Farrar wrote a letter which was published in the Erie Weekly Observer:
"While acknowledging with profound humiliation the absence of a proper demonstration of respect on the part of this city to greet the remains of President Lincoln on their arrival here last Friday morning, justice to our citizens who have ever delighted to honor the lamented patriot while living, and who have second to none in heartfelt devotion to the memory of the distinguished dead, requires publicity of the fact that in the midst of preparations for the mournful occasion they were informed by a Superintendent of the Cleveland & Erie railroad that the funeral escort had made a special request that no public demonstration be made at his place, in order that their committee might have rest and repose. Acquiescing with this unauthorized request is therefore the true cause of the apparent national discredit attributed to this city.
(Signed) F. F. Farrar, Mayor."

Telegraphed reports in the Erie Daily Dispatch accounted for every stop made along the route of the Lincoln Funeral Train. When the train reached the New York/Pennsylvania border at 1:32 a.m. on April 28, 1865, a contingency from Erie, Pa boarded the train to escort President Lincoln's remains to the station at Erie. The escorts included: Erie Mayor F. F. Farrar; George W. Starr, the president and one of the founders of the Erie Forge Company; Bethuel B. Vincent (father of Col. Strong Vincent); businessman E. P. Bennett and Jacob F. Walther; and Lt. Commander Francis A. Roe from the U.S.S. Michigan. 

The train reached Erie, PA at 2:50 a.m. on April 28th. "There was no particular demonstration at this place. The employees running this train are the same who were on the train that brought the late president to this point."

The Erie Weekly Gazette later reported: "Under the auspices of Major Scott, a demonstration was made at the Lake Shore Depot in Erie, on the arrival of the funeral cortage of President Lincoln about 2 o'clock on Friday morning. The city bells were tolled, minute guns were fired, etc. A much larger number of persons would have been present but for a misunderstanding with prevented timely notice."

Lincoln stopped in Erie,  PA on February 16, 1861 on the way to his first inauguration in Washington, D. C.

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