Monday, February 20, 2012

Are you in there, Honest Abe?

Just in time for Presidents' Day...

Here's an interesting article that ran on the front page of the February 12, 1935 Lorain Journal. (Click on it for a super-sized version you can read.) 

It's the story of a tinsmith named Charles L. Willey, who had the grisly task of cutting open President Lincoln's casket in 1901 to see if he was in there or not. According to his eyewitness account in the 1935 article, Willey was the last man to look upon Lincoln's face.

Believe it or not, Willey had performed this same duty before in 1887, when rumors that Lincoln's body had been stolen necessitated the opening of the coffin

I had heard about this when I was a kid, but never knew the whole story. And here's a link to an even more detailed (and gruesome) account that ran in Yankee magazine. It turns out that Lincoln's body was moved ten different times.

Kind of reminds me of one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies: The Trouble With Harry.

Thankfully, according to the Yankee magazine article, there have been no further concerns necessitating the unearthing of Lincoln's casket. The beloved, martyred president's body has been undisturbed to this day.


Anonymous said...

Too bad they didn't take a sample for DNA testing. Even back then there were "birthers" that threw out many malicious rumors about the president's heritage.

Drew Penfield said...

There was an interesting documentary about this on the History Channel some time ago, detailing the various plots to steal Lincoln's body, the moves that were made, and what they did to finally secure it. I don't recall exactly what the show was called though.