As we celebrate Presidents’ Day, we remember President Abraham Lincoln and his service and sacrifice to our country.
On the evening of April 14, 1865, only five days after the Confederate surrender that would end the Civil War, an assassin shot President Abraham Lincoln. He died the next day at 7:22 a.m. While Union soldiers hunted the conspirators, the nation went into mourning. The funeral for the assassinated president took place April 19, 1865 at the White House. The New York Times reported that “thousands wended their way up the capitol steps, into the grand rotunds, by the bier and coffin of the President… their homage was silent and tearful.” On the morning of April 21, a military guard placed Lincoln’s casket in the ninth car of a funeral train which was draped in black. The casket of Lincoln’s son William who had died in 1862 was also aboard for the trip back to the Midwest.
The train, which also carried friends, family, high ranking officials, and a military guard, left Washington D.C. destined for Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois, on April 21. (Indiana Historical Society)
On May 1, 1865, President Lincoln’s Funeral Train passed through LaPorte County and stopped in Michigan City, Indiana. The Michigan City community rallied together to organize an honorary funeral for President Lincoln. The Monon train station was decorated with a magnificent arch of roses and evergreens 25 feet wide and 30 feet high, resting on nine arches. A delegation of 16 women presented a beautiful cross made of solid flowers which they placed on the coffin that remained on the train.
A breakfast was served and a funeral service was held with many dignitaries in attendance during the one-hour train stop. Around 9:15 a.m. the train whistle sounded and the train departed the crowded depot. Michigan City Community members lined the track for a long distance until the train had left the suburbs of the city on its way to the President’s last resting place, Springfield, IL.