We continue this month’s series of diary entries from Isabella Wunderly Campbell, who became Wyoming’s first lady in 1872. Isabella was a 19-year-old living in Washington, D.C., during the eventful April of 1865. Her daily diary entries give insight into her experiences during the final days of the Civil War, which ended 150 years ago this month.
Sunday, April 16, 1865
Such a Sabbath has never before dawned on this nation. Grief pervades every heart. Our whole city is clad in mourning. The shock to the whole community, the whole country, has been fearful. It seems greater than we are able to bear. Dr. Gurley spoke most beautifully of the departed. The church was draped in the deepest black also the President’s pew. Oh how can I realize the truths which for the past day have been crowding upon us. Another has taken his place, everything accomplished in the twinkling of an eye. Oh Father in Heaven, wilt thou not kindly temper this severe affliction for the dear ones upon whose hearts if falls so heavily. A nation mourns. Lord help us for the faithful fails from among the children of men.
Easter Sunday must have looked more like Good Friday at the church. Though the Lincolns were not members, they did hold a pew at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. At the time, pews were rented and reserved for families. Rev. Dr. Phineas Gurley was well acquainted with President Lincoln. In addition to his post as chaplain of the US Senate, Gurley was Lincoln’s spiritual adviser and often visited the White House. Dr. Gurley was also present at the president’s death bed the morning of the 15th and would give the funeral sermon on the 19th.