Metro-East Living

Lincoln’s funeral comesto downtown Alton

The Lincoln Hearse replica has elaborate Gothic arches, massive feather plumes, etched-glass windows, heavy fringe and wood drapery.
The Lincoln Hearse replica has elaborate Gothic arches, massive feather plumes, etched-glass windows, heavy fringe and wood drapery. Provided

Abraham Lincoln will reflect on his own death Saturday, along with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and others involved in his 1865 funeral.

The re-enactments will be part of a Lincoln Funeral Commemoration, complete with replicas of the president’s coffin and hearse.

“There’s a point in the program where the undertaker, Frank Sands, will talk about making the coffin and all the details he put into it,” said Brett Stawar, president of Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The state’s official commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s funeral occurred last spring in Springfield, but officials decided to plan a second event in Alton.

“It falls on the anniversary weekend of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate, which was done by design,” Stawar said.

The Alton commemoration will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Lincoln-Douglas Square, off Broadway. Re-enactors will portray historical figures, ranging from a Civil War chaplain to a pullman on the funeral train. The program at 10:30 a.m. will be repeated at 12:45 p.m.

Several of the re-enactors come from Alton Little Theater. Public Relations Director Lee Cox helped with scripts and costuming.

“It will give people an opportunity to hear some touching details, and maybe some new details, about the funeral,” Cox said. “I didn’t know some of these things. I didn’t get them in my history classes.”

Randy Duncan, of Carlinville, will portray Lincoln, as he did for the official funeral commemoration in May.

“He does most of the events at the Lincoln presidential library,” Stawar said. “He’s one of the best in the state.”

The Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin replica was a project of several Illinois businesses and organizations, including Mosby Woodwork of Grafton. It will be draped with a replica 1865 American flag.

The Lincoln Hearse was commissioned by Staab Family Funeral Home of Springfield. It’s patterned after the original, built in Philadelphia for $6,000.

“The hearse is decorated with elaborate Gothic arches in the windows and above the roof line, eight massive feather plumes, etched-glass window decor, heavy fringe and wood drapery,” according to a press release.

Beyond replicas and re-enactments, children will be entertained Saturday with a jumbo penny toss, face and top-hat painting and Lincoln log building.

Visitors can start the day Saturday with historical re-enactors for a breakfast buffet from 8 to 10 a.m. at My Just Desserts in the Ryder Building, 31 Broadway. The cost is $10.

“In 1840, Lincoln delivered a speech (in the building) for Whig candidate William Henry Harrison,” according to the press release. “In 1844, Lincoln helped Simeon Ryder, the owner of the building, collect an old debt.”

People can join Lincoln for drinks from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at State Street Market, 208 State St. Formerly known as the Franklin House, the presidential candidate used it as his campaign headquarters in 1858.

Also available Saturday are 45-minute shuttle tours of four sites along the Lincoln Legacy Trail. They will begin at noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. To get tickets, visit www.visitalton.com.

“The whole day offers both education and entertainment for all generations,” Cox said. “I hope we’ll get younger people and older people. I hope parents will bring kids. Alton is just steeped in Lincoln history.”

At a glance

  • What: Lincoln Funeral Commemoration
  • When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Lincoln-Douglas Square, off Broadway in downtown Alton
  • Admission: Free
  • Re-enactments: Programs begin at 10:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
  • Information: Visit www.visitalton.com or call 618-465-6676
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