Tuesday, February 12, 2013

They Both Saw Lincoln

The 1959 Lorain Journal article yesterday about the Lorain woman who had seen the Great Emancipator mentioned a newspaper interview with her that took place in 1930. Naturally, I decided to hit the library microfilm to find it.

I guessed correctly that the article with the interview appeared in the newspaper around Lincoln's birthday that year. And – believe it or not – next to the article about the Lorain woman on the front page was an article about an Amherst man who also saw Lincoln.

Both articles (below) from the February 11, 1930 Lorain Times-Herald appeared under the heading "They Saw Lincoln, in Life and in Death."

Lorain Woman Helped Drape Funeral Train in Cleveland

MRS. MARGARET HARVEY, 78, 1152 6th-st. is one of the few remaining persons who has personal recollections of the Abraham Lincoln whose 131st birthday anniversary will be observed tomorrow.

Mrs. Harvey saw Lincoln twice in Cleveland, once when he was enroute to Washington to be inaugurated president, and then again after he had been killed, when they brought his body to Cleveland to rest in state in the Public Square before taking it to Springfield, Ill., for burial.

On the latter occasion her father, William Simmons, a railway engineer, drove the train that carried the martyred president's body from the Cleveland union depot to the Euclid-av station, and the Lorain woman, then a 13-year-old girl living in Cleveland, helped to drape the mourning on old engine No. 40, she recalls vividly.

"Mother and I spend much of the time the day before making rosettes," she said, "for father's engine."

She was a girl of nine when Lincoln stopped in Cleveland enroute to Washington late in February, 1861, to be inaugurated president.

"They let us out of school for the occasion. I thought I had never seen such a tall man," she said. "The thing that stands out in my mind is how he reached down, right after he had gotten in his carriage behind large white horses, picked up a small child, kissed her and then gave her back to her mother. He smiled as he did this, but his face seemed quite sad when he wasn't smiling."

When they brought the Great Emancipator's body to Cleveland April 28, 1865, and set it on a platform on the Public Square, she was one of the thousands who filed past his casket.

"It was raining quietly, just as tho the skies were weeping for him," she said.

Mrs. Harvey is the mother of Dr. W. S. Baldwin, Lorain physician, Mrs. Walter Mahia and Mrs. Nellie Albaugh. Her nephew, Bruce Baldwin, was born on Lincoln's birthday anniversary and will be 17 years old tomorrow. She has a sister, Mrs. George Horsley, in Lorain.

Mrs. Harvey was past 50 when she moved to Lorain. Lowell H. Eddy, Lorain, who once carried another president, William B. McKinley, was once fireman for Mrs. Harvey's father.

Amherst Man Recalls Columbus Speech of Martyred President

AMHERST, Feb. 11 – Not many Amherstites have had the distinction of having seen Abraham Lincoln personally but there remains one, John J. Gregory, 78, of 193 Lincoln-st. who, when a small lad of 12 years remembers the visit of the Great Emancipator to Columbus, O.

"This visit, if I recall correctly, was when he came to the capital city campaigning for the presidency for the second election," he said. At that time Gregory was living in Columbus.

"I was a small lad and when we boys heard that he was going to make a visit there we were on hand to see the man we had heard so much about. In those days, boys were seen and not heard, so we had to satisfy our curiosity by seeing him walking along the sidewalk on High-st between Broad and State-sts.

"There was no great fuss made over him, no big parade, no band – just two body guards walking along, one on each side of Lincoln. He wore a stove pipe hat and was so tall – sort of gangling looking man."

In later years Gregory says he has regretted many times that he did not take more interest in Lincoln that day.

He went on to say that he had seen President Grant and President Hayes and that they were both better looking than Lincoln – but – he was good, tho not good looking. All the folks in Columbus and the countryside around he remembers, mourned when they learned of the martyred president's death.

Gregory told me that he migrated with his parents when a child of three years to Columbus from New York state and spent nearly a quarter of a century there. He remembers many of the folks of Monroeville, O., for he lived there around a half century.

This Gregory who saw Lincoln lives with his only daughter Mrs. John Fritz. Their home is in Lincoln-st., incidentally. For about three years he has made his home in "The Sandstone Center of the World" going occasionally to visit his sister and son who reside in Detroit and also to Monroeville to chat with old friends.

It was Gregory's granddaughter Miss Algegert Fritz, who brought this story to light. She told me the other day "Grandpa saw Lincoln."

Thinking about all this, I remembered that while I was a student at Ohio State both President Carter and Governor Ronald Reagan were campaigning in Columbus on the same day in May 1980. I remember my buddies and I made it out to Port Columbus to see Air Force One land, but then went to the Reagan campaign rally in Downtown Columbus.
Gee, if I live long enough maybe I can be "The Guy That Saw a President and a Future President the Same Day!"


Bob Kovach said...

Dan,Thanks for the really interesting piece on Abraham Lincoln!

Dan Brady said...

Glad you liked it, Bob! Just an interesting look at when vastly different historical eras overlap!

Joaneologist said...

The following article concerning Amherst Mayor Anton E. Stiwald is from the Amherst News Times - February 11, 1959

Fifty years ago, at a dinner marking the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the mayor of Amherst arose to make a few remarks. What he had to say took many of listeners by surprise for he told them that he had known Lincoln in life and death. Mayor Anton E. Stiwald related that, while he was serving as a soldier in the Army of the Potomac, Lincoln sometimes visited the troops. One such visit was on the eve of an engagement. “I will never forget the day,” Stiwald said. “He placed his left hand on my shoulder and taking my right hand in his, urged me to apply all my force to winning the battle..he said this to every soldier he talked with that day.

Stiwald told his audience in 1909 that he was in Washington with Lincoln when he died. He said he remembered the day of the assassination more vividly than any other day of his life. Washington was decorated in celebration of the victory that had resulted in Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Stiwald said he had planned to attend “Our American Cousin” at Ford Theater on the fateful night of April 14, 1865. Had it not been for a young lady’s preference for another place of amusement, he would have been in the theater when Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln died at 7:22 the following morning. “I was at his bedside when he died,” Stiwald said. “ I joined other members of the little group as we knelt by our beloved President in prayer.”

Anton E. Stiwald died in 1922 in Amherst and is buried in the Cleveland Street Cemetery.