Lincoln’s funeral train passed through York County
The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln stunned the residents of York County, Pennsylvania, despite the fact that most voters had twice cast their ballots for the Democratic opposition candidate in the elections of 1860 and 1864. Political differences were set aside in the national outpouring of grief and shock that swept through the county in the wake of the death of the controversial Chief Executive.
Lumberman and businessman John Stoner Beidler of Wrightsville was among those who expressed their opinions in their diaries and journals. A dedicated Republican, the 27-year-old father of two had twice previously voted for Lincoln, as well as for Governor Andrew G. Curtin.
Saturday, April 15, 1865
News came early this morning that Lincoln was shot last night, Seward badly stabbed. I have still some hope it is not so. 9½ P.M. It is only too true that Lincoln was shot. As soon as the news was confirmed, all the stores in town were closed and business suspended. All or nearly all business places throughout U.S. are closed and many a downcast countenance can be seen and even tears. Seward is reported still alive but his son is dead. Copperheads are as silent as the grave. They dare not open their mouth.
Beidler would later be in York on April 21, the day that Lincoln’s funeral train passed through town, but for some reason, he decided to head home before it arrived shortly after 6:30 PM. His diary entry would show his regret at missing the historic passage of the steam train carrying the Railsplitter back to Springfield, Illinois for burial.
Here is a detailed newspaper account of the passage of the funeral train through York County.
Philadelphia Press, April 22, 1865. Courtesy of Newsinhistory.com. The Philly newsman obviously was not familiar with York’s high society. The three mentions of the name “Smalley” should instead be “Small.”
Here is John Stoner Beidler’s diary entry for that emotional day… and the following day when he missed a second chance to see the funeral train.
Friday, April 21, 1865
Was in York today. Went up with Theo. and wife. Mary was along up. Cloudy and drisling (sic) all day. Was at Thomas’ for dinner, all of us. Bot a carpet, paid $46 for 25 yds. Also a pair of shoes for Mary. Paid for all I got. Came home in eve. Lincoln went through York about six o’clock. I did not stay to see him, am sorry that I did not. Bahn & wife stayed up, will stay till latter part of next week. All well. Apple trees & peach trees are in full bloom but we will have few apples this year.
Saturday, April 22, 1865
Was in town [Wrightsville] all day. Mary has toothache. Many from town went up to Harrisburg this morning to see remains of president. Cloudy most all day. Was reading Duvall novel most all day. We have bought no lumber yet, are not selling any.
Diary entries courtesy of the library of York County Heritage Trust.