ALTON – An Abraham Lincoln Funeral Commemoration will be held at the Lincoln-Douglas Square in Alton from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.
The Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin, along with replicas of the 1860s St. Louis Lincoln Hearse and the Brooks Brothers Lincoln Greatcoat, will be on exhibition at the Lincoln-Douglas Square. A Civil War Honor Guard will ceremoniously remove an 1865 flag from the coffin and fly it from the flagpole at the square during the day.
The Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin and the St. Louis Hearse were the official replicas produced for the 150th Funeral Reenactment Ceremonies in Springfield, Illinois, May 2-3, 2015.
Civil War reenactors portraying Senator Lyman Trumbull, Lincoln Undertaker Frank Sands and Army Chaplain Benjamin St. James Fry will make brief presentations about Lincoln and the funeral in Springfield in May 1865.
Reenactors portraying Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as the “ghost” of President Lincoln, will also be present. Civil War songs will be sung by folksinger Barry Cloyd, who will act as a drummer boy from Shiloh. This portion of the program will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, and again from 1-3 p.m.
A coalition consisting of Historic Elsah Foundation, the Chautauqua Historical Society and the Grafton Historical Society produced the replica Lincoln coffin, which was constructed by Richard Mosby, of Grafton, according to specifications researched by the coalition and drafting support provided by the design staff of Federal Steel of East Alton.
Fehlig Brothers Lumber Company of St. Louis donated the wood for the coffin, and Brooks Brothers, Inc., of New York donated the black wool broadcloth that covers the coffin. The Batesville Casket Company of Batesville, Indiana, donated time and materials to complete the coffin, which included decorating the coffin interior, covering the coffin with the black cloth and attaching the large silver-plated handles, tacks and a shield. All of this was done in accordance with the specifications researched by the coalition.
“Our coffin is of the people and by the people of this part of Illinois,” said George Provenzano, Historic Elsah Foundation member. “It is a museum-quality replica of Abraham Lincoln’s coffin. Its dimensions and materials were researched based on primary sources, including newspapers and the funeral home account book.”
The event, which is free and open to the public, is being sponsored by the Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin Coalition and its partners, the Alton Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Alton Telegraph, the Alton-Godfrey Rotary Club and Lewis and Clark Community College.