ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin




Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

Assassinated on the 14, died on the 15th



The day of Lincoln’s assassination was also Good Friday.


Late morning

While picking up his mail at Ford’s Theater, John Wilkes Booth overhears someone saying Lincoln will attend that evening’s performance.  He spends the following eight hours gathering supplies and plotting with Powell and Atzerodt.


10:13 p.m.

At the theater, Booth shoots President Lincoln in the head during a performance of “Our American Cousin.”  Booth breaks his leg, but escapes by horseback.  Lincoln is taken to the Peterson boarding house, across the street, where a death watch begins.


10:15 p.m.

Lewis Powell attacks Secretary of State William Seward in his bed, slashing Seward’s face and inflicting a serious wound.  Powell escapes out the front door of the house.


Late evening

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton takes charge of a manhunt for the assassins.



On Saturday morning, the 15th of April, 1865, the first reports of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, reached this city.  All were startled and shocked beyond expression at the unexpected intelligence, and as the unwelcome and alarming news spread, the excitement became more intense and general.  Business pursuits ceased at once, and the greatest anxiety was it to learn the whole truth concerning the terrible tragedy – many hoping that the statements were exaggerated, and the results not so bad as the rumors represented.  But a series of telegraphic dispatches soon confirmed the worst apprehensions, and added to the prevailing consternation by the details of the brutal attempt made on the life of William H. Seward, the Secretary of State.


Lincoln.gifA kindred sentiment seemed to pervade the entire community.  Sadness and sorrow for the great and sudden national loss were written visible on every countenance.  Indignation and abhorrence of the savage crimes that had been committed, were the emotions and feelings that agitated all minds.


On Tuesday, the 18th, the Mayor issued a proclamation, recommending the observance of Wednesday, when the funeral ceremonies in honor of the late President were to take place at Washington, as a day of public mourning – a request which was cheerfully complied with by all classes and denominations.


On Wednesday, the 19th, all business was suspended, and the whole city clothed in all the dark habiliments of sorrow.  The various churches were shrouded with the sad emblems of the nation’s woe.  Every private residence and public house was draped with the weeds of mourning.  The stores were closed, and all displayed tokens of grief for the common loss the country had just sustained.  Never was such a scene witnessed here before.  All joined in paying the last tributes of respect to the goodness and greatness that the grave was about to receive in the person of Abraham Lincoln.


At St. Bernard’s (Catholic) Church, Rev. Dr. Norris delivered an eloquent and appropriate discourse to a large and crowded audience. 


At St. Paul’s (Episcopal) Church, Rev. Wm. Dafter preached a sermon suggested by the occasion, which we have heard spoken of as highly impressive and finished effort.


At the Methodist Church, Rev. L. Searles made a short and affecting address, and was followed by Hiram Barber, Jr., and J. A. Lovely, who spoke with sincerity and earnestness that well harmonized with the feelings of their audience.


At the Congregational Church, the services were deeply interesting and appropriate.  The Masonic fraternity were present in a body, having first assembled at their Lodge Room, formed a possession under the direction of J. J. Enos, as Marshal, and marched to the Text Box:  
Chapter on Watertown’s
Civil War Years
Church.  Rev. C. Boynton delivered a brief and earnest discourse, founded on the events which called the assembly together.  He was followed by Mr. D. Hall and Mr. M. B. Williams, who both spoke in a manner befitting the theme that was uppermost in every mind, and engaged the thoughts of all.  At the request of several of our citizens, we have solicited Mr. Hall to furnish us with a copy of his remarks for publication.  We cannot better conclude this imperfect sketch of the proceedings of the melancholy day, than in his well chosen and heartfelt words.




No man living has ever taken part in funeral ceremonies such as we this day commemorate.  In the great qualities of the victim, the elevation of soul with which he maintained the cause of his country and the fiendish wickedness with which his life was sought and taken, the death of Abraham Lincoln perhaps finds its nearest parallel in that of William of Orange – known as William the Silent.  He, the founder and defender of the liberties of the Netherlands, in the maturity of his strength and fullness of his fame, while surrounded by his family and friends, was slain by the hands of a bribed assassin and expired amid a nation’s tears.  But in order to find this dark parallel, you must turn back the pages of history for almost three hundred years.


It is cause for devout thankfulness to the giver of all good that our Chief Magistrate was not taken away in the darkest hour of his country’s peril.  He was permitted to live through all our darkest nights of sorrow to save our nation from the destruction prepared for it by traitor hands; and from one of the loftiest summits of human grandeur, God showed him the dawning of victory and peace upon his beloved country and permitted him to contemplate that country, reunited, redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled, entering upon a career of happiness and prosperity, to which her past history could furnish no parallel . . .


With eye undimmed and natural force unabated, while this beatific vision was enrapturing his soul, he passed from our midst, from these great scenes of his trial and labor to that land “whose outlines star-eyed science has but dimly viewed.”


The example of its great and good men are the nation’s treasures – treasures which cannot be overvalued among a people, where the most exalted positions are open to the competition of all – so signally illustrated in the humble origin, contrasted with the great fortunes of the closing years of him whose loss we now deplore.  Whatever was great and good in the character of Abraham Lincoln is now the priceless heritage of the land he loved and ruled so well . . . .    Watertown Democrat,  04 27 1865



04 20       It having been officially announced that the funeral services of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the late and lamented President of the United States, will take place at Washington, the National Capital, at noon, on Wednesday, the 19th of April, 1865, and the acting Secretary of State having recommended that the various religious denominations throughout the country assemble at their respective houses of worship at that hour and solemnize the death of the Chief Magistrate by befitting ceremonies: 


Now I, Joseph Lindon, Mayor of the city of Watertown, do earnestly urge that the above request be complied with by the people of this city on the day named, at the hour of half past 12 P.M., that all places of business be closed from 10 o’clock A.M. till 4 o’clock P.M., all residences be draped with the emblems of sorrow for our great and sudden National bereavement, the bells of the different churches be tolled, and all citizens meet at their respective places of worship and engage in such religious devotions as shall be most appropriate to the sad and mournful occasion that calls them together.


Joseph Lindon, Mayor.

Gustavus Werlich, City Clerk.    WD


Following three from Google books . . .


Yes, from the Lakes to the Gulf, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, every loyal bosom swells and heaves with sorrow.  And well we may sorrow.  This is no childish grief.  It is a rational, manly grief.  Let us give vent to it in every suitable way.  The cause demands it.  Don’t suppress it.  It would be wicked not to grieve for such a cause.  I pity the heart that is so hard or so indifferent or so perverse as not to feel emotions of deep grief over the sad event that makes our nation mourn today.  Yet more, I despise such a heart.  For such evident perverseness of soul can but be despised while we can but admire the tender flow of grief such as Jesus showed when He wept over the doomed Jerusalem at the grave of Lazarus, at the bier of the widow's only son, and over the ruined condition of a lost world.  Such expressions of such grief are magnanimous.



The greatness of President Lincoln is seen in contemplating his powerful and well balanced mind.  It is said that on a certain occasion when Dr. Watts was introduced to one who had long admired him for his celebrity but who expressed surprise at the smallness of his stature the doctor replied “Were I so great as to reach the poles, or grasp the mountains in my span, I must be measured by my soul.  It is the mind that makes the man.”  This was true of President Lincoln; his great mind made him a distinguished man.  Without the advantages of a liberal education which often makes ordinary minds brilliant and distinguished, without wealth to aid him, without family distinction to raise him, without experience or acquaintance with the skill of running the machinery of government at the capital, he rose from obscurity to one of the most conspicuous positions in life and managed the affairs of this great nation in its most critical  condition in such a masterly manner as to place him in the short space of four years among the greatest men of earth.



Many of the warmest friends of that measure had long been out of patience with the President and they said many hard things about him and some even became his political enemies because he did not make the proclamation sooner.  And some of his generals went so far as to take that power into their own hands on a small scale.  But he saw that things were not yet ripe for the measure.  The Union loyal mind of the North was not yet ready for it.  And though he himself felt that it was a measure that would do a mighty work for the Union cause and the good of the country and that it must be adopted some time, yet he waited and watched till the right time came and then he issued it.  He saw that the minds of loyal citizens would approve the act and sustain him in it whereas before that time there was great danger of division of Union men on account of it.  And the sequences show his wisdom and good judgment in waiting as he did and in striking at just the right time to do one of the most difficult and yet most important acts for our nation's good that was ever done.



M. Zirom gives a splendid musical entertainment at Cole’s Hall tomorrow evening.  He will have the assistance of the best musical talent in the west and we have no doubt that this concert will be the most brilliant and successful of any ever given in this city.  It was to have taken place last week, but was postponed on account of the great national calamity which had just occurred in Washington, the assassination of our President.   WD



A number of our citizens have gone to Chicago to be present at the impressive funeral solemnities that will take place there on the arrival of the body of Abraham Lincoln.   WD



. . . . Resolved, that we can find no words sufficiently strong to express our utter abhorrence, detestation and condemnation of the dastard, brutal and cowardly act which has deprived the people of their recently chosen Chief Magistrate and we hope that the guilty wretch who committed the cold blooded and atrocious deed will be quickly brought to some punishment adequate to the unparalleled enormity of his awful and revolting crime against mankind.


Resolved, that as an indication of our heartfelt grief we direct that the Common Council rooms of this city be appropriately draped with the weeds of mourning and so remain during the period of ninety days.  WD



The departed President has been borne to his final resting place at Springfield, Illinois, amidst a Nation’s tears of sorrow.  From the capital of the Republic to the capital of the state which was his home, the most touching demonstrations of regard and respect have everywhere attended the mournful journey, as it made its slow progress through cities, villages and hamlets.  All classes have joined in these affectionate ceremonies with the most heartfelt and sincere love and admiration for the virtues and services of the patriot and statesman who bore himself so calmly and wisely in this great office and fell so cruelly and so suddenly by the hand of violence, at a moment when his earnest desires for returning peace were about to be gloriously realized.   WD






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