Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Citizenry Mourn Lincoln
Looking for Lincoln
When word of President Lincolnís assassination came, most of Pontiacís 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 Lincolnís 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 ĎUnited Statesí, Lincolnís 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.
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.
The train carrying Lincolnís remains left the nationís 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 presidentís 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. Lincolnís body then lay in state for seven days in the Capitol. The train reached Chicago on May 1, and Lincolnís 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.
Erected 2009 by
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Events. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1996.
Location. 40° 52.782′ N, 88° 38.156′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is on North Vermillion Street south of West Madison Street, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fell Leads The Way (here, next to this marker); Lincoln Stranded Here (approx. 0.2 miles away); An Underground Crossing (approx. ľ mile away); Lincoln Visits Strevell (approx. ľ mile away); Lincoln Slept Here (approx. 0.3 miles away); W. W. I War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (approx. 0.3 miles away); W. W. II War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (approx. 0.3 miles away); Livingston County War Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
Also see . . .
1. Visit Pontiac::. This web link has a number of links to other historic items in Pontiac, Illinois. Informative and very helpful. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S.(Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 831 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.