Calendar | Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County

Rare glimpse of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral coming to our community

Special event to lead into Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial

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[August 07, 2008]  Important plans for a funeral service in Lincoln were laid on Wednesday. During this funeral's planning there was no tone of mourning, but rather a spirit of respect and honor prevailed. There was also enthusiasm. You see, this funeral would be a rarity today. What is being planned is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and experience what a funeral must have been like at the time of Abraham Lincoln's death.

The funeral event is sponsored by Fricke-Calvert-Schrader Funeral Home and hosted by Chuck and Penny Fricke and Dennis and Marcia Schrader in association with the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln and the Logan Railsplitting Association, which sponsors the Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitting Festival.

"Now He Belongs to the Ages: A Presentation of Abraham Lincoln's Life, Death, and Funeral" will be a special bicentennial kickoff to the Railsplitting Festival.

The event will start on Sept. 12.

Featured on that Friday will be a presentation on "Death, Dying and the Funeral Process" by Virgil Davis, founder of the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield.

Also on Friday, the "Life and Death of Abraham Lincoln" will be presented by historians Paul Beaver and Ron Keller.

Davis, retired owner of Ellinger, Kunz and Davis Funeral Home in Springfield, has been a lifelong collector of Lincoln artifacts and other funeral memorabilia from that era. On Sept. 12 and 13 there will be many special exhibits. Davis will display his collection along with collections from James and Betty Hickey, of Elkhart, and the Lincoln College Museum. Most of these artifacts will be in an annex room of the funeral home, with some being displayed in the main area.

Included in the artifacts will be samples of mourning jewelry, which was made from the hair of a deceased family member, and many archival pictures of that era, including a rare photo of the 17th and final interment of the president in his tomb. These and other artifacts will allow visitors to gain a better perspective on the times in which our 16th president lived and died.

A very special inclusion of Mary Todd Lincoln's china that was in the White House during their stay has generously been allowed to be exhibited by the Hickey family.

There will also be photographs of the Lincoln wake, found in 1954 in the Lincoln Library. The photographs are rare, as then-Secretary of War Edwin Stanton declared that all photographs of the funeral should be destroyed. It was Stanton who is credited with the statement, "Now he belongs to the ages."

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The funeral home intends to change the look of the main room to replicate what it would have been like to have actually attended the president's funeral. In that room, one of only three commissioned replicas of Lincoln's casket will be put on display. The casket will be on loan from the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield just for this two-day event.

To add further to the return to a day long past, an authentic 1860s-era funeral carriage on loan from the Mott Henning Funeral Home will be on hand to enhance the sense of what it would have been like in 1865 as a nation mourned.

Hal Smith, director for the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, was present at Wednesday's gathering. He wanted to show support for the rare and special exhibition that will be in our community this coming September.

The linkage between our city and Lincoln are not lost on Smith. When it was mentioned that Lincoln's bicentennial will draw interest from Americans across the country, Smith expanded that comment. "I have been on all the continents," he said, "and wherever I have gone, people know who Abraham Lincoln was."

Smith believes, like most Lincolnites involved in the encompassing preparation of this local event, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of what it was like at the great president's funeral.

Smith also believes that as the bicentennial approaches, greater and greater interest will be shown toward Abraham Lincoln and the communities where he lived and worked.

The use of the Fricke-Calvert-Schrader Funeral Home for this re-creation is fitting. Being built in 1880, it would have been around the time of Mary Todd Lincoln's death. The funeral home has been recognized by the state of Illinois as being one of only three remaining in business at the same location for over 100 years.

The funeral event is a kickoff for the re-enactment of Lincoln's funeral train procession in 2009.

"Now He Belongs to the Ages: A Presentation of Abraham Lincoln's Life, Death, and Funeral" is an event sanctioned by both the local and state bicentennial commissions.

For more details on this and other Railsplitting Festival events, please call 217-732-8687 or visit

[Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County and LDN]


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