— Looking for Lincoln —
Left Section When word of President Lincoln's assassination came, most
of Pontiac's male population had not yet returned from the Civil War. But their wives and children remained, and when word was received that the special train bearing his body would pass through Pontiac the afternoon of May 2, 1865, business was suspended, schools were dismissed, and the entire population of the village and surrounding country made its way to the Chicago and Alton depot to pay their last respects. The news of Lincoln's death had been received in Pontiac with feelings of abject horror, and as the people waited and mourned the loss of the man who had walked their streets and mingled among them, they recalled with affection his wit and wisdom, his ideas and his ideals. Although the train did not leave Chicago until 9 P. M., a large crowd remained to see the train when it arrived in Pontiac at midnight. The ?United States', Lincoln's private coach, with tufted upholstery, fine woodwork and etched windows, was the most opulent car on the railroads in 1865. Strangely, Lincoln never used the car in life; it only served him as a funeral coach.
Middle Section Livingston County had
loyally supported Lincoln before he called for troops, sending its best and bravest. Many of its eligible male citizens, like Lt. N. J. Murphy (pictured left), went to the front to support him in his successful effort to save the union and to banish slavery. Thus it was the women, the very young, and the very elderly who gathered in sorrow at the depot to pay final respects to their beloved martyred president.
Right Section The train carrying
Lincoln's remains left the nation's Capitol on April 21, taking a circuitous route through fifteen states and some 180 communities Lincoln had visited. With the exception of the car carrying the president's body, the other cars changed frequently as the train moved from one railroad line to another. The assassination took place on Good Friday, April 14. Lincoln's body then lay in state for seven days in the Capitol. The train reached Chicago on May 1, and Lincoln's coffin was lifted off the train to lie in state at the Cook County Courthouse. The following evening, the train, now led by C & A engine, pulled out of downtown Chicago. A pilot engine running five to ten minutes ahead of the funeral train observed torches and bonfires at crossroads as people gathered to express their respect and sorrow.