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Hanover Junction, Free Press 1973, Part 3

Portion of photograph as published in 1973 Free Press article
Portion of photograph as published in 1973 Free Press article

Here is the third of three installments transcribing an article from the Free Press community newspaper, Southern York County edition, of November 22, 1973. The extensive article was written by Doris B. Miller. It commemorates President Abraham Lincoln passing through Hanover Junction on his way to dedicate Gettysburg National Cemetery 110 years before.

Even since about half a dozen photos, some of which had been misidentified as Hanover Junction, Virginia, were discovered, the controversy has continued. Do they show President Lincoln’s train? Is one of the several tall-hatted tall men on several of the photos the president?

There has been much speculation, as well as solid research, done over the years. I think enough stories have been passed down to show that there was excitement about the president passing through, and local people did go to the station to try and get a glimpse of him. Also, I think there was something important going on for the photographers to be there at all. Photography was a fairly new and very involved process. I haven’t personally seen enough evidence to convince me that the photographs in question actually show the president, but I still have an open mind about it.

Over the years, as stories about November 18, 1863 have come to light, they have been written up in local newspapers. I hope to make comparisons easier by transcribing them here as they come to my attention. Please let me know (ycpa89@msn.com) if you know of any accounts, such as those that I have been sharing here.

Click here for part one of the Free Press article. And click here for part two. Part three is below:

Frank G. McKinney, late of Carlisle Street, Hanover, served as conduction of the runs of a combination freight and passenger train from Hanover Junction through Hanover to Littlestown where the road then ended. On the afternoon of November 18, 1863, he had to run his train on the switch at Porters when he got word that a train carrying President Lincoln and others would pass his train at Porters. He reported that this Presidential train was composed of engine, combination car, and four coaches. Every car was filled with passengers.

On the way to Hanover, Eichelberger told the conductor to take the train into the station and get enough water to take the same train back to Hanover Junction the next day. At 6:30 p.m., November 19, the Lincoln train left for Washington from Gettysburg. Mr. Lincoln was quite tired and did little talking. It is said that he “stretched out on one of the side seats in the drawing room and had a wet towel laid across his eyes and forehead.”

In 1953, an historical marker was erected in Hanover Junction indicating to all the importance of the village in 1863. The late Helen Nicolay, Washington, D.C., daughter of President Lincoln’s secretary John George Nicolay, was present for the ceremony.

Since the erection of the marker twenty years ago, Walter Shaffer, R.D.2, Seven Valleys, has performed the duties of caretaker. The area surrounding the market provides a “pull-off” space for drivers who wish to read the information, and Mr. Shaffer has faithfully kept this area mowed and trimmed. Conversation with Mr. Shaffer reveals his knowledge of historical facts about the once busy village of Hanover Junction.

Today, driving through this quiet countryside, if one pauses to reflect, he can almost picture in his mind’s eye the Hanover Junction of 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln stopped here.

Sources: 1. Encounter at Hanover: Prelude to Gettysburg, by the Historical Publication Committee of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, 1963.
2.” Lincoln’s Trip to Gettysburg” by Frederick S. Weiser, in Lincoln Herald, summer, 1953, Vol. 55, No. 2.
3. Walter Shaffer, R.D. 2, Seven Valleys.
4. Russell Bowman, Seven Valleys

You can read more about Hanover Junction’s role in the Civil War, including the Lincoln train in Scott Mingus’s recent book, Soldiers, Spies & Steam: A History of the Northern Central Railway in the Civil War. It is available at the York County History Center bookstore and other outlets.