Primary Source: Lewisville Mourns the President's Death
As part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death and funeral train journey, IHB asked for submissions of primary sources showing the reactions of Hoosiers from across the state to the events of April and May 1865.
Today’s “Primary Source,” comes courtesy of Indiana State Representative Tom Saunders, District 54: all of Henry County, a large portion of Rush County and parts of northwestern Wayne County in central Indiana. He recently located a newspaper article on the mourning of Lincoln’s death in Saunder’s home town of Lewisville in Henry County, Indiana. The reaction of its residents was similar to that of Hoosiers throughout the state.
Lewisville received the news of Lincoln’s death “early in the morning of the 15th” of April, 1865, according to the New Castle Courier. The town draped its homes in mourning and closed its businesses, flew its flags at half mast, and gathered at the Methodist Church. The next day, community members gathered again, and among other papers, they read “the resolutions drawn by Governor Morton and adopted at Indianapolis,” which probably included his resolution for a statewide day of mourning.
What follows is the transcription of this article describing Lewisville’s reaction to Lincoln’s death on April 15 as reported to the New Castle Courier by a Lewisville resident who signed his name only “Mac.”
“Reception of News of President’s Death at Lewisville
Lewisville, Indiana, April 17, 1865.
When the news of the President’s death was received here early in the morning of the 15th, a general gloom and sorrow spread over the village rapidly communicating itself to the surrounding country. All the places of business were closed and the insignia of mourning displayed at almost every door. The large flag used in the recent demonstrations of joy was draped across the street in mourning, swaying upon the wind the very emblem of sadness. Other flags were displayed in mourning, and the banners at the post office were at half mast. The streets were soon filled with solemn faces. The most intense indignation at the horrible deed of murder and all those who sympathize with it prevailed among the people of all parties. At two o’clock P. M. a meeting was held at the M. E. Church. The building was crowded. J. C. Howe was called to the chair. Capt. J. W. Fellows, J. R. Morris, and John Ball, Sen., were appointed Vice-Presidents, and John T. Hedrick and B. S. Parker, Secretaries. A psalm was read and hymns sung, after which a committee consisting of B. S. Parker, Wm. Bartlett and J. A. Windsor to reported [sic] a paper and resolutions expressive of the sense of the people on this great bereavement.
At eight o’clock in the evening the church was again crowded, when by good fortune, Rev. Mr. Shockley of New Castle arrived and was at once pressed into service and after a most fervent prayer for the perpetuity of our government, made a fine, patriotic discourse – eliciting the strongest approval from all the friends of the Country who had heard him.
B. S. Parker, from the committee on resolutions, then read a paper on the great bereavement to the nation and reported a series of resolutions, expressing great grief for the loss of the President, indignation against his murderers and those who sympathize with them, and pledging unqualified support to the government in future. They were unanimously adopted.
A meeting was held again on Sabbath morning and the paper and resolutions read and adopted as on the previous evening, also the resolutions drawn by Governor Morton and adopted at Indianapolis. We feel here that all the people are united, except those whose hearts are so full of the bitterness of secession and treason, that they are wholly given over by the Good Being above to reap the fruits of their wickedness.
Two weeks later, early in the morning of April 30, the Lincoln funeral train passed through Lewisville. The Indianapolis Daily Journal reported: “The depots at Lewisville, Coffin’s Station, Ogden’s and Raysville, were all appropriately dressed, but at Lewisville each person on the train was given a circular, containing the sentiments of the people, as follows:
We Mingle Our Tears with Yours.
The Savior of his Country; the Emancipator of a Race, and the Friend of
Triumphs over Death, and mounts Victoriously upward, with his old familiar tread.”