Lincoln Funeral Train Remembrances of Henry and Joanna Lane

Guest post by Heather Kuzma

One of the members of the Lincoln funeral party was Indiana’s own Henry S. Lane. Lane was born in Kentucky in 1811. He settled in Crawfordsville, Indiana in the 1830s. By 1845, he was living in a Greek Revival mansion known as Lane Place on the outskirts of town with his young wife, Joanna. He was a politician who served in the Indiana Legislature, U.S. House of Representatives, and as Indiana’s Governor for only a few days before being appointed as U.S. Senator for the State of Indiana during the U.S. Civil War. One of the founders of the People’s Party (later the Republican Party) in Indiana, Lane was a strong supporter of President Lincoln and a close colleague. Lane lived in Crawfordsville until his death in 1881.
 

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Photograph of Henry S. Lane, c. 1860, Whitehurst Gallery, Washington, D.C. Courtesy of the Montgomery County Historical Society, Crawfordsville, Indiana.

The Lanes learned of Lincoln’s assassination while at home in Crawfordsville. Lane’s wife, Joanna, discussed their reaction in a series of notes which were found on scraps of paper in their home. The documents were not dated, so we can only assume that Joanna either wrote them, or told them to her niece, Helen Elston Smith, before her death in 1914.

In her reminisces, Joanna recalls the assassination: “We were not in Washington when Lincoln was assassinated. We were at home. There was the greatest excitement and the greatest grief. Mr. Lane joined the funeral party at Indianapolis and proceeded with it to Springfield. Mr. Lincoln was a good man. We shall not see his likes again.” It is hard to imagine the nervous excitement and shock that permeated the entire nation due to this unprecedented act. Having personally known the President, the assassination must have been more than an act of treason to the Lanes, but the death of a highly revered friend.
 

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Artifacts relating to the funeral of President Lincoln on display in the Library at Lane Place. Courtesy of the Montgomery County Historical Society, Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Lane Place now functions as a historic house museum and is located at 212 South Water Street in Crawfordsville. Along with artifacts from Lane’s life in Crawfordsville, the museum displays many artifacts relating to the connection between Lane and Lincoln and Lane’s involvement in the funeral party. One such artifact is a photograph of the entire funeral party in front of President Lincoln’s Springfield home. In the sea of famous faces, Lane is easily identified in the back row of the photograph due to his tall stature and long white beard. Lane’s pallbearer ribbon and a wreath from Lincoln’s casket are also displayed near the photograph. A handwritten note inside the wreath reads: “Wreath from the coffin of Abraham Lincoln with the badge worn at his funeral by Senator Lane and other members of the Congressional Committee April 1865.” The pallbearer ribbon and wreath will be on display at the Indiana State House during the month of April as part of the Lincoln Funeral Train exhibit.

If you are interested in visiting Lane Place, the home is open for tours Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday at 10 a.m. with the last tour leaving at 4:30 p.m. Please call the Montgomery County Historical Society at (765)362-3416 or email info@lane-mchs.org for more information.