Category Archives: Eyewitness to History

This Day in History… Lindbergh and the “Spirit of St. Louis” Land in Cheyenne (1927)

Sub Neg 15389, Bonnie Gray and the 'Spirit of St. Louis', 9-2-1927

Bonnie Gray, champion rodeo cowgirl and trick rider, poses beside the “Spirit of St. Louis” during Col. Charles Lindbergh’s Guggenheim tour stop in Cheyenne, September 2, 1927 (WSA Richardson Print 636)

90 years ago today, Charles Lindbergh and “The Spirit of St. Louis” touched down in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His visit was part of a tour sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund to promote national interest in aviation. By all counts, the tour was a rousting success at this.

EPSON scanner image

Knights News Emporium in downtown Cheyenne festooned with bunting welcoming Lindbergh to Cheyenne (WSA Meyers Neg 3069)

The 3-month, 92 city tours of all 48 states followed Lindbergh’s solo trans-Atlantic flight in May and coincided with the release of his book “WE”, recounting the flight, that July. It is estimated that 30 million people or roughly one quarter of the United States population saw the aviator.

Ad for the Klein Music Co, Dildine Garage Company and Sam Zall Jewelers announcing ties of their products to Lindgbergh

The local papers were plastered with ads attempting to cash in on Lindbergh’s visit to Cheyenne (Wyoming State Tribune-Cheyenne State Leader 9-2-1927 p11)

Cheyenne was not immune to Lucky Lindy fever. Already a regional aviation hub, the city fathers saw this as a chance to shine and everyone wanted a piece of the action. Downtown buildings were festooned with bunting and pictures of the aviator. Significant portions of 3 days’ newspapers (September 1-3) were devoted to the stop, reporting in detail scheduled stops, meetings, tours, dinners, and speeches.

Headline "Lindbergh Arrives in Cheyenne Friday" "Spirit of St. Louis Circles then "WE" Land"

Front page of the Wyoming State Tribune-Cheyenne State Leader announcing Lindbergh’s arrival in Cheyenne. (September 2, 1927, p.1)

According to the papers, Lindbergh landed at the air field just before 2 pm. The paper took care to refute reports that the aviator was forced down by engine trouble. He was then given a tour of the business district by Governor Frank Emerson, Mayor C.W. Riner and Brigadier General Dwight E. Aultman of Fort D.A. Russell (now Warren Air Force Base). He then gave a short speech at Frontier Park which was broadcast live by local radio station KFBU. He spent sometime talking to the press at the Plains Hotel before a banquet with 600 lucky Cheyennites. The retired to his room at the Plains for the night. The next morning at 6 am, he left for Salt Lake City almost 2 hours early.

Headline "Cheyenne Honors Col. Charles A. Lindbergh", "Lindbergh, Cynosure of Millions of Eyes, Finds Things Here Like Every Place Else"

(Wyoming State Leader-Cheyenne State Tribune 9-3-1927 p1)

The press seemed to sympathize with the “Lone Eagle” and his packed schedule. They reported him looking extremely tired but remaining courteous and in good spirits despite an incessant press of people straining to get a glimpse of their hero.

P99-7_39, Spirit of St Louis and Charles Lindberg at the Cheyenne air field, Sept 2, 1927

Scrapbook page showing 4 prized photos taken shortly after the “Spirit of St. Louis” landed at the Cheyenne air field. The law enforcement officers guarding the plane can be seen in these images, along with ropes used to manage the crowd. (WSA P99-7/39)

p2017-_ _2, Charles Lindbergh and 'Spirit of St Louis' at Cheyenne Airport, 9-2-1927

Lindbergh and other men, probably mechanics or air field attendants, standing beside the “Spirit of St. Louis” with a hangar in the background. This is one of four photographs of the visit generously donated to the Wyoming State Archives in August 2017.


Additional Reading

Guggenheim Tour,” CharlesLindbergh.org. (accessed Aug 2017)

WE, by Charles Lindbergh (1927). The book was published by George P. Putnam of New York. Putnam enthusiastically promoted aviation and would later marry Amelia Earhart. 

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In the Dark of the Sun

Though Monday’s total solar eclipse will not be the first seen in Wyoming, it will be the first in nearly 100 years. Of the 5 other total solar eclipses visible in the US since Wyoming became a territory in 1869, 3 have passed through Wyoming: 1878, 1889, and 1918. These unique events were memorable for many Wyomingites.

This maps shows past and future eclipses visible in the United States since 1503. Wyoming is highlighted in yellow. (credit NASA https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/history-along-track)

1878

Eclipse viewing party with their telescopes at Battle Lake in 1878. Thomas Edison is standing 2nd from the right.
(Carbon County Museum Collection, WSA Sub Neg 5219)

The area near Rawlins drew scientists from around the country, including Thomas Edison, for the 1878 eclipse. (Unsubstantiated) legend has it that Edison was inspired to create the filament for the incandescent light bulb while camping that year. (Read more about the 1878 eclipse here)

Scanned by Scan2Net

In Cheyenne, the Weather Service observer recorded a 4 degree drop in temperature during the event (WSA H90-1, National Weather Service – Cheyenne Collection, 1878 Daily Observations)

1889

In 1889, the eclipse coincided with New Year’s Day festivities in many communities and viewing parties sprang up everywhere. In the larger towns, newspapers gave their residents some warning of the event. The Big Horn Sentinel wrote:

“If you have not prayed for a year, do not get scared and fall on your knees Tuesday afternoon when it begins to grow dark. It is not the day of judgement only an eclipse which will begin about two o’clock and become nearly total.” [1] 

But the event surprised many in rural communities. In in the Big Horn Basin near Hyattville, Gus Allen remembered a horse race being delayed by the eclipse. The race  between his brother and their horse wrangler was held at a track at Joe Adle’s ranch.

“I do not recall the day, or the month, but feel rather confident that it was in 1888[2] ; anyway, when the time came the world was there. At least all of our world was there. How vivid is the memory yet, of all the excitement among the gathering of frontiersmen. Everyone was so keyed up over the race that no one knew or had noticed that an eclipse was coming over the sun; but when all was in readiness and the two brother jockeys were getting their racers on the mark, it got so dark that everyone was appalled. The race was delayed, and we all gazed in awe at one another. I have no idea how long it lasted, but believe you me, it really got plenty dusky. Then it began to get light once more, and I can still hear those old roosters crowing, as all of Adle’s chickens had gone to roost. That must have been the shortest night those chickens had ever experienced in their lives. You can well imagine how shady it got that bright clear day, and how astonished we people were, being more familiar with cows than with astronomy.

After the sun got real bright once more, and we all had brightened up too, the two determined disciples of the turf once more lined up at the barrier and were off!…” [3]  

Many newspapers mention the use of smoked glass to view the eclipse. The Rawlins paper even reported young boys breaking windows with rocks to procure the glass. [4] (PLEASE NOTE: Smoked glass is NOT RECOMMENDED for safe viewing of eclipses. Find ideas for viewing safe viewing here)

Though the path of totality cut through only the Northeastern corner of the state, the eclipse was nearly complete in the rest of the state. Several papers mentioned  it was so dark that Venus (the morning star) was visible.

Scanned from a Xerox Multifunction Device

The Weather Service observer in Cheyenne recorded a 10 degree drop in temperature during the event (WSA H90-1, National Weather Service – Cheyenne Collection, 1889 Daily Observations)

1918 – The Last “Great American Eclipse”

On June 8, 1918, the total solar eclipse passed across the United States from coast to coast, as it will on Monday. One of the best places in Wyoming to view the eclipse was around Green River and Rock Springs. Two astronomical observatories were set up in the area by the Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago and the Carnegie Institution at Mt. Wilson, California. A small tornado narrowly missed the observatory in Green River on the 3rd, but thankfully it was operational on the 8th for the main event.[5] 

Cheyenne photographer Joseph Shimitz captured this image of the solar eclipse on June 8, 1918. The eclipse is not total at this instant. The clouds, which made for a striking photograph, created less than idea viewing conditions. Several people can be seen in the foreground at the very bottom of the frame.
(WSA Meyers Neg 6162)

On the day of the eclipse, the view from Rock Springs was clear, but at Green River the sun was obscured by cloud cover. This dampened spirits a bit, but they were soon revived when Dr. E.E. Barnard, who was in charge of the Yerkes observatory, observed a new star that night which he named “Nova Aquilae”, as reported by the Rock Springs Miner.[6]


1.  Big Horn Sentinel, December 29, 1888, page 3

2. Allen was only off by a year and New Year’s Day would have been a logical date for a community celebration. WPA Bio 9, Gus Allen, page 5-7

3. ibid.

4. Carbon County Journal January 5, 1889, page 3

5. Green River Star May 17, 1918 page 1, and  Cheyenne State Leader June 4, 1918, page 3

6. Rock Springs Miner June 14, 1918, page 1. Nova Aquilae 1918 is also known as V603 Aquilae. For more information about Dr. Barnard, the 1918 eclipse and Nova Aquilae, see The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard, by William Sheehan, page 405-407.

Further Reading:

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April 23, 1865: A Sermon and A Pilgrimage

Today we conclude 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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 20

April 21

April 22

April 23, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 23, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Sunday, April 23, 1865

Mother, Uncle and I went to church this morning. Found Dr. Gurley had gone with the funeral train and we had a stranger preach for us. Heard a very good sermon however and found a good dinner when we returned home. I know not how it happened but I am always more hungry on Sunday than any other day. In the evening we went to Trinity to hear a sermon on the removal of the late President. I liked it all pretty well until he made an appeal in behalf of Virginia which was to say the least very mal a propos. He surely must have been a severe leech at the beginning of the war if he is not at present.

As Isabella mentions, Dr. Phineas Gurley of  New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C, accompanied the funeral train to Springfield, Illinois.

May 9, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

May 9, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Tuesday, May 9, 1865

Notwithstanding the dampness of the day, Aunt insisted upon going with me to the dressmakers. I had my dress fitted and after we returned I accompanied Aunt Lib to the Patent Office and several other places. Saw also the room in which President Lincoln breathed his last, where his great spirit took flight. Oh how sacred must this humble spot forever be made, where the great and good man suffered and died. How will it be remembered and handed down as a cherished spot to all the world. I cannot yet think of him as gone.

Almost as soon as President Lincoln died, his status as a tourist attraction began to grow. Crowds that had flocked to see him lying in state or to witness his funeral procession now made the pilgrimage to Ford’s Theatre and other sites associated with him. This practice has continued for 150 years and is still going strong. Many sites associated with Lincoln are now museums or historic sites, providing adoring fans a place to remember the lost president.

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April 22, 1865: Visiting the Wounded

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 20

April 21

April 22, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 22, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Saturday, April 22, 1865

After sewing a while I started for Alice and we went to the Hospital. I spent about an hour talking to the other men in the different wards and then proceeded to give my lesson in writing, my pupil did not seem very apt but I still have hope of teaching him. He appears anxious to learn though which is something in his favor. I came home and went to see Mrs. Smith. Had a pleasant little visit and got home feeling very tired. The day has been beautiful. Expected Aunt Lib and went with mother to the Depot but were doomed to disappointment. I know not what to think.

Today, Isabella returns to the hospital to help cheer wounded veterans, as she had done for some time in the previous years. Many young women had time on their hands and looking for useful occupation would visit the hospitals to talk to the men, often helping them write letters home.

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April 21, 1865: “He Has Now Left Washington For The Last Time”

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 20

April 21, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 21, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Friday, April 21, 1865

The mortal remains of Abraham Lincoln were this morning taken from the rotunda of the Capitol and the sad company began with him their homeward journey. He has now left Washington for the last time, never to return again. Can I think of it as real? Oh it is too fearful. Never was the loss of any one felt as this. God make his successor all that he should be. Remind him continually of the terrible tragedy which has thus invested him with the power of government, may he follow on the footsteps of the great departed and like him enjoy our confidence and love.

The railroad car that carried Lincoln's body from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.  (Library of Congress image)

The railroad car that carried Lincoln’s body from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.
(Library of Congress image)

The Lincoln Special carried President Lincoln home to Springfield, Illinois, for burial. Over the next two weeks, it traveled nearly 1,700 miles making stops for funeral processions and viewings in several cities along the way. The train carried 300 mourners, an honor guard and Willie’s coffin. Mrs. Lincoln remained in Washington, D.C. and Robert Lincoln only rode as far as Baltimore before returning to Washington.

Though the original train car was lost to fire in 1911, a replica of the train was built and will recreate the journey this year.

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April 20, 1865: Interment Plans

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 20, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 20, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Thursday, April 20, 1865

The rain has been coming down in torrents part of the day and still through it all, people have been pouring into the Capitol grounds to gaze for the last time on the features of their loved dead, having seen him yesterday I did not go again but regret very much that Aunt has not been able to go out at all and therefore has not seen him. The remains of little Willie are to be taken with those of his honored father to their home. Oh how can we school our hearts to this great affliction. Every moment brings it more vividly to our minds and makes the atrocious thing more heinous. I trust no early spot may be deemed secure enough to conceal the base assassin from the hand of justice.

Following the funeral procession from the Executive Mansion (White House) to the Capitol Building, Lincoln once again lay in state. As Isabella mentions, thousands filed by the coffin. It is no wonder that she declined to brave the rain and crowds to view the body for a second time.

Mrs. Lincoln agreed to bury her husband in Springfield, Illinois, after a promise was made to take the body of their son Willie along to be buried with him. 11 year old Willie had died in 1862. His coffin was removed from the Washington, D.C., cemetery to be re-interred in Springfield. As Isabella mentions, Booth was still at large. He was finally cornered and killed on April 26.

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April 19, 1865: “The Most Solemnly Grand Imposing Display “

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 19, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Wednesday, April 19, 1865

The funeral of our late Chief Magistrate took place this morning. It would be impossible to describe the scenes which surrounded it, at an early hour the throng on the streets was immense. [Pennsylvania] Ave being lined on either side with crowds of people. Aunt and Mother and myself went to a good point in the avenue to have a view of the procession. It was the most solemnly grand imposing display that could be conceived of and must have been several miles in length. The body was conducted to the Capitol where it will remain in state tomorrow and then be conducted through the principal cities of he Union to his last resting place, Lexingfield, Ill.

Lincoln's funeral down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress image)

Lincoln’s funeral down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
(Library of Congress image)

There are a couple of inaccuracies in today’s diary entry. Lincoln was not technically our Chief Magistrate as that title is usually reserved for judges and he was to be buried in Springfield, Illinois.

Isabella was not the only person with Wyoming connections to watch the funeral, Alonzo Richards was there too. Richards was a 2nd lieutenant stationed with the U.S. Signal Corps in the Washington, D.C., area and would later help survey Wyoming Territory’s southern and western borders. His brother, William A., who was also part of the survey party, would be elected governor of Wyoming in 1894. Following the funeral, Alonzo wrote a lengthy letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Truman P. Richards, who were living in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. According to the letter, he enclosed a piece of crepe torn from the funeral carriage to “deposit with our other relics.”

H82-61_65-1, Alonzo V Richards letter 4-20-1865

First page of the letter from Alonzo V. Richards to his parents describing President Lincoln’s funeral. There are 3 pages, written front and back.
(WSA H82-61/65-1)

Signal Station
Ft. Sumner, Md.
April 20th, 1865

Dear Parents,

With varied emotions of joy and sorrow I seat myself again to write you – Truly the Poet says, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform” – Sad and unexpected as was the awful message I referred to in my last letter, it was true in part – Our good President whom we all loved so well is now numbered among the cold and silent sleepers that only the Angels trump can call back to life.

Just as he was bringing this terrible war to a speedy close and in his leniency, was ready to pardon almost any and all of the vile factions that caused it, he is cowardly murdered in cold blood by a man not having courage enough to go into the rebel ranks and fight with his brothers. Well may our nation say “Ours is a greater loss than ever was felt by a country before.” But while we mourn his loss, we must remember that “God’s will must be done” and that all men must die. We must try to think it all for the best, though this seems hard to believe indeed. One good, will or has resulted from it already. Every spark of sympathy that was felt for the rebel cause will by this dastardly act be extinguished except in the breasts of such men as the one who did the deed.

They have slain their best friend, and in his stead have got a man who has felt the horrors of this war and will no doubt show them sooner than they desire, that he has not forgotten the treatment he as well as thousands of others have rec’d and they will learn I think also that men with such large hearts and forgiving dispositions as President Lincoln had, are not to be found in such stations very often. The country at large have as much faith in Johnson as we did in Lincoln when he was elected the first time. If he proves as true to his trust – Which may God grant – we may still hope for an early peace. But Oh!

If they had only spared him, how easily would every thing have been adjusted. A kind feeling was growing up north and south. The north were ready to take their late enemies by the hand and overlook their past deeds – i.e. all but the leaders – and they in turn saw plainly that they were in the wrong and were glad of a chance to stop. Now, though the fighting is about over, there never can be that good feeling between the North and south that there would have been. For their own sakes, I hope the Rebel authorities can clear their skirts of this foul deed but am afraid they can not.

The funeral ceremonies took place yesterday and were very imposing indeed. The procession was the largest I ever witnessed and in addition the pavements, housetops, windows, doorways, and every accessible place from 17th Street to the Capitol were literally packed with people. I do not hesitate to say there was 100,000 people on the Avenue beside the procession.

The military display was grand indeed. And all the different orders, associations, societies, etc. were out in their respective uniforms and regalias. Everything was orderly and still hardly a word spoken as the cortège moved up the avenue to the slow time of the solemn dirge.

The funeral car was a magnificent affair and towered far above everything else so that all could see the coffin. The car was surmounted by a beautiful eagle in bronze, with wings extended and draped in solemn mourning. Every house and tenement of every kind – negro shanties and all – exhibited something to show their respect. It was the most solemn looking city I ever saw and I never wish to see another such sight. The bells were all slowly tolling and three different batteries were firing minute guns. As soon as we arrived at the Capitol we dispersed and I came home. The whole nation was ample in its exhibitions of respect as every state was represented. I hope I may never have to attend at another such occasion.

As the funeral car passed Gen. Angus Hd. Qrs. a limb of one of those trees in front caught and tore the crape off the eagle. This was when it passed in the grounds to receive the coffin. I had a great desire to possess that piece of crape. While I was trying to think of some way to get it, an officer sent a cavalryman with a whip and he got a part of it – a piece still remained. I found a piece of board 2 in. wide and long enough to reach – drove a nail in the end for a hook, rode out in the Avenue and stopped under the limb. There were thousands of people looking at me and it was still as a church. I reached several times and at last succeeded in getting the coveted relic. Several voices behind me said as it came down “he’s got it.” I shall send you a piece of it to deposit with our other relics. Take good care of it and under no considerations divide it with anyone. I will keep a piece and to those that want it who are worthy I will send a piece but do not promise anyone certain that you will give them a piece.

Friday. 11 o.c. PM

Rec’d your good letters of the 17th. The sad news had reached you when you wrote. I do not think President Lincoln was to be blamed for being at the Theatre since he went wholly on account of it being advertised and because the people wanted to see him. He went to gratify the public. You will be glad to learn that no fears are being entertained of Mr. Seward’s recovery. The other members of the Cabinet keep very close. President Johnson and Gen. Grant were on the Avenue yesterday on food, and unattended by any one, which I think is wrong.

I am sorry – ashamed to hear that the loyal citizens of the Green would allow any such creatures to live – or at least to remain in town, after exalting over this awful calamity – as Frank Chandler – A man on 6th St. made about the same remark to a sentry and the next instant an ounce of cold lead crashed through his brain from the sentry’s musket and his soul winged its way – straight to Hell. It was right, too. Serve them all so. If a man tells me in earnest that it is a “good job” that Booth done, I’ll do a better one the next minute. Not only is it a great calamity, but henceforth and forever, as long as an American lives on the Earth, he has to remember that he had a President murdered! Just think of it – Talk about Mexicans and barbarians. They are no worse than we are – Abraham Lincoln – the best President we ever had, murdered. I can’t help thinking of it. Moreover, the assassin is still at large, and when we do catch him, we are not able to punish him according to his deserts.

But it is late and I will close for tonight – Good night.

Saturday – Beautiful day – Well Pa! I am agreeable in regard to the 7.30 Bonds. Expect we will be paid again in ten days or two weeks and then I will forward by express what I can spare. No Mother I was not at the Theatre that night, because I did not see the notice that the distinguished party was to be there. If I had I should have gone there to see them. Now I would like to have been there and had it in my power to stop that miserable demon. Kerr is ready to start so will bid you adieu for this time. As ever Love

P.S. I shall send you some papers – preserve them – Enclosed find crape above mentioned A.V.R.

Much obliged for your letters Autie [brother Austin C.?] I can not answer them separately. Am always glad to hear from you. So Willie [brother William A.] likes it at O.M.’s. OK. Every one to their taste. Suppose he does not care for the way Orson has used the rest of us.

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April 18, 1865: A Leader Lies in State

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16
April 17

April 18, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 18, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Tuesday, April 18, 1865

Today the remains of the lamented dead have been lying in state in the Executive Mansion. The crowd has been terrific. Mother, Mrs. Bonsall, and myself started to see him and strange to say succeeded in getting in. Never in my life shall I forget the awful solemnity which enshrouded the place the moment you crossed the threshold it came upon you. The most solemn stillness reigned throughout the house. The soft and shadowy light falling so gently on the placid features of the dead while the habiliment of mourning which invested the various apartments lately so radiant with bright and festive throngs caused me to think as I have never before.

Lincoln's funeral in the White House on April 19, 1865, illustration in Harper's Weekly newspaper. (Library of Congress image)

Lincoln’s funeral in the White House on April 19, 1865, illustration in Harper’s Weekly newspaper.
(Library of Congress image)

Isabella, her mother and their friend, Mrs. Bonsall, were three of the thousands of people filing through the East Room of the White House on April 18th.

 

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This Day in US History… 1865: The Search for Booth

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16

April 17, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 17, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Monday, April 17, 1865

All is excitement. I feel unable to do anything but read the dispatches and reports as they are brought in to us. The papers hum with the dreadful news. We are well nigh paralyzed by the awful accounts which force themselves in upon our minds – Every moment brings out new and more startling developments. We know the man whom we so much loved and whom the nation loved is dead. This bitter cup is ours God holds it to our lips and bids us drink it up. Arrangements are being perfected for the burial of the President and I suppose the whole affair will be one of much grandeur and solemnity.

By this time, the newspapers and dispatches were saturated with sensational accounts of the events at Ford’s Theatre, the president’s last moments, and the continued search for John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices. Add to that the gossip swirling around Washington, D.C., and preparations for the grand funeral for Lincoln and  you can imagine the city was nearly bursting with drama, excitement and anticipation.

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This Day in US History… 1865: A Somber Easter Sunday

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.

April 2-9
April 10
April 11
April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15

April 16, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 16, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

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.

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