Page 13 - Abraham Lincoln Hearse Narrative
P. 13

The Springfield Lincoln Hearse

                    In 1865, twelve large cities of the North  that  were  fortunate  enough  to  find
             themselves located on the rail path from Washington, D.C. to Lincoln’s home, chose
             to construct massive, richly-draped funeral cars to transport Lincoln’s elevated coffin
             through their streets to venues for public viewing. However, Springfield undertakers
             lacked a suitably grand vehicle to transport the remains of Abraham Lincoln on the final
             leg of the journey from their arrival by railroad to Oak Ridge Cemetery for entombment,
             and the financial resources of both the city and state were strained by the other costs of
             draping, décor, and public mourning. Springfield city officials received and gratefully

             accepted an offer from the Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri to lend a suitable hearse for the
             occasion. The proposed vehicle was owned by livery operators Lynch and Arnot of St.
             Louis. The vehicle arrived in Springfield via the Chicago, Alton, & St. Louis Railroad
             on May 2, 1865, along with the six matched black horses to pull it. One of the principal
             owners, Jesse Arnot, chose to drive the team and vehicle in the funeral procession himself.
                    Period media reports and sources reveal that the vehicle was built in Philadelphia
             for  Lynch  & Arnot  at  a  cost  of  approximately  $6,000.  Reports  also  indicate  that  the

             hearse  was  larger  and  longer  than  typical  vehicles  of  the  period.  A  photograph  of
             the hearse was taken in May 1865, and the hearse also appears in a woodcut of the
             entombment ceremony at Oak Ridge Cemetery. The hearse is decorated with elaborate
             Gothic arches in the windows and above the roof line, eight massive feather plumes,
             etched-glass window decor, heavy fringe, and wool drapery. Additional details such
             as inverted silver torches, pleated fabric, and a silver nameplate were also added for
             Lincoln’s funeral. The vehicle came to Springfield with a bit of additional history in that
             it had been used in St. Louis for the 1858 funeral procession of Missouri Senator Thomas
             Hart Benton as well as other St. Louis notables including General Nathaniel Lyon and

             Missouri Governor Hamilton Rowan Gamble.
                    Following the Lincoln funeral, the hearse returned to St. Louis where, no doubt,
             it became a treasured vehicle in Lynch & Arnot’s inventory. A disastrous fire struck
             the livery firm on the evening of February 9, 1887. Newspapers from across the nation
             reported sadly that three human lives were lost along with 200 horses. Several of the
             news stories specifically mentioned that the elaborate hearse with its Lincoln association
             was also destroyed.

                    Staab Family Livery of Springfield, IL, has gathered together historians, expert
             craftsmen and a combat Veterans build team to reverse engineer and recreate this historic
             vehicle, which will become a centerpiece of the 150  Anniversary commemoration of
             Abraham Lincoln’s entombment as well as a celebration of his life and legacy. Their plan
             is to host a private, formal unveiling and dedication ceremony prior to the weekend of
             May 1 – 3, 2015. ~ Historian Jon Austin, Independent

   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18