Category Archives: Presidential Visits

On this Day in Wyoming History… 1936: FLOTUS Birthday Visit to Cheyenne

Happy Birthday to Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who was born October 11, 1884!

brammar-neg-5026-gov-leslie-miller-eleanor-roosevelt-and-ladies-by-train-oct-11-1936

Gov Leslie Miller and Eleanor Roosevelt with several local ladies in front of the president’s special train. (WSA Brammar Neg 5026)

In 1936, Eleanor and President Franklin Roosevelt stopped in Cheyenne during a campaign swing through nine western states. The 20-hour pause was the longest of the trip and the couples’ second visit to the Capitol City. The Sunday “rest” just happened to coincide with Eleanor’s birthday.

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President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor leaving St. Mark’s Episcopal Church follow the Sunday service. (WSA Brammar Neg 3911)

brammar-neg-4962-franklin-d-and-eleanor-roosevelt-in-car-st-marks-episcopal-church-1936

From St. Mark’s, the Roosevelts were drive to Fort F.E. Warren where they had an informal luncheon at the residence of Brig. General Charles F. Humphrey, Jr. Follow the meal, Roosevelt briefly addressed the crowd. Though the stop was a part of a campaign trip, Roosevelt declared the Sunday a political day of rest and did not speak about the election. (WSA Brammar Neg 4962, President, daughter-in-law Betsey (Mrs. James Roosevelt) and Eleanor Roosevelt in car in front of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church)

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A large bouquet of dahlias was presented to Eleanor by Governor Miller. There is a very good chance that the flowers were grown by Miller himself, possibly on the Capitol Building grounds. He was a dedicated dahlia enthusiast. (WSA Gov. Miller scrapbook page showing photos from the Roosevelts’ visit in 1936)

brammar-neg-4488-franklin-d-roosevelt-speaking-from-train-eleanor-on-left-oct-11-1936

President Roosevelt speaking to the crowd from the back platform of his special train car. (WSA Brammar Neg 4488)

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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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Filed under Eyewitness to History, Presidential Visits, This Day in Wyoming History..., WSA Collection Highlights

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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Presidential Trivia… and A Closure Reminder

Just a reminder that the Wyoming State Archives will be closed on Monday, February 16th to observe President’s Day.

President's Day card from teacher to student, Pleasant Hill School (WSA H90-39)

President’s Day card from teacher to student, Pleasant Hill School (WSA H90-39)

Did you know:

– Wyoming’s first First Lady, Isabella Campbell, was living in Washington, D.C., when President Lincoln was assassinated.

– President Grant was the first sitting president to visit Wyoming Territory. During his second term, he stopped in Cheyenne and spoke at a banquet before continuing on to the West Coast.

– In 1880, President Hays’ son held up the presidential train while he had his hair cut at the Inter Ocean Hotel in Cheyenne.

– President Chester A. Arthur spent most of the month of August 1883 traveling by wagon and horseback from Green River to Livingston, Montana, spending several days exploring Yellowstone National Park. This is the longest visit of a sitting president to the state.

– During his 1903 visit, President Theodore Roosevelt left his train at Laramie and rode on horseback to Cheyenne, stopping to change horses and visit ranches along the way. (Everyone wanted the honor of saying that he had ridden one of their horses.)

– In 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke at the University of Wyoming field house less than two months before he was assassinated in Dallas.

– President George H.W. Bush spoke on the Capitol Building grounds at the statehood centennial celebrations in 1990.

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JFK Visits Wyoming

51 years ago today, on September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke at the University of Wyoming.

JFK waving to the crowd with Gale McGee in back seat as the Presidential Motorcade arrives at the Field House. (WSA WY Game & Fish Neg 4695A, )

JFK waving to the crowd with Gale McGee in back seat as the Presidential Motorcade arrives at the Field House.
(WSA WY Game & Fish Neg 4695A)

His stop in Laramie was one of three that day in the Cowboy State. He first stopped in Cheyenne long enough to step off Air Force One, wave to the crowd and shake hands. He then boarded the plane again and flew to Laramie. At Laramie, the President was at greeted Brees Field by Governor Cliff Hansen and Senator Gale McGee.

President Kennedy arrived at the University of Wyoming Field House in an open convertible, very reminiscent of the one he would use in Dallas less than 2 months later. The President gave a short speech on natural resources and resource development to the nearly 13,000 people packed into the Field House and then returned to Air Force One for the final leg of his journey to the area around Jackson. The home of Governor Hansen, Jackson was considered a Republican stronghold in the state at the time and the Laramie Boomerang reported only 114 registered Democrats in all of Teton County.

The paper also mentioned that the democratic president would be “benefiting from the philanthropy of the Rockefeller Family,” pointing out that the lodge he would stay at and the National Park surrounding it was in a large part made possible by money provided by John D. Rockefeller. Jr. Rockefeller’s son, Nelson, was speculated to be a possible Republican opponent to the president in the 1964 presidential election.

Pres Kennedy speaking in Laramie on the UW Field House stage. L to R: Sen. Gale McGee, Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, unidentified, President Kennedy, Governor Cliff Hansen and Montana Senator Lee Metcalf. September 25, 1963 (WSA WY G&F Print 4705)

Pres Kennedy speaking in Laramie on the UW Field House stage on September 5, 1963. L to R: Sen. Gale McGee, Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, unidentified, President Kennedy, Governor Cliff Hansen and Montana Senator Lee Metcalf. 
(WSA WY G&F Print 4705)

His well-choreographed visit to Laramie lasted only about 45 minutes from landing to takeoff. It is interesting to note that he did not dawdle, leaving Laramie 7 minutes ahead of schedule and ended his day nearly half an hour ahead when he retired early to his room at Jackson Lake Lodge.

You can read President Kennedy’s speech and see his note cards on the JFK Presidential Library’s website. Two short videos of footage from his visit to Laramie are also available on YouTube here and here.

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