NEW MADISON — As part of its Independence Day celebrations July 4, citizens of New Madison, Ohio, witnessed the installation of a marker commemorating an important event in the village’s history.
At the front entrance of the New Madison Public Library, a sign was erected, marking the passage of President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train through the village in 1865, on its way to Lincoln’s final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.
Scott Trostel, of Fletcher, Ohio, author of The Lincoln Funeral Train: The Final Journey and National Funeral for Abraham Lincoln, the definitive work on the subject, was on hand to speak on the significance of the event and the design of the commemorative marker.
Before passing through New Madison, the train made brief stops in Bradford (then called Richmond Junction) then Greenville, he said.
The train passed through New Madison on the morning of April 30, 1865, at approximately 2 a.m., with hundreds of mourners gathering to see the train slowly pass by. Mourners knelt with their heads bowed, some prayed, and others sang hymns.
“They probably took on water, but I cannot prove it,” Trostel said.
The train then continued on to New Paris in Preble County before crossing over into Indiana on its way to Indianapolis.
In addition to being a nationally recognized expert on the story of Lincoln’s funeral train, Trostel was also involved in the fabrication of the marker.
It took about five months to complete, and all the letters on the marker are hand-cut. Three people were needed to pour the molten metal into the mold. The sign itself weighs 84 pounds and it took roughly 40 hours to hand-paint.
The marker depicts a representation of Lincoln’s funeral car, which was named UNITED STATES.
“I tried to paint it as close as I could to how it looked,” he said. “Think of this as Air Force One with 16 wheels under it.”
Trostel said the actual location of the train’s passage through New Madison is about a block west of the library.
Matt Staugler, Darke County Visitors Bureau Director, said the Visitors Bureau was the “facilitator” of having the marker built and placed.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “This is an oft-forgotten piece of history in the fabric of our American story and it’s really special it took place here in Darke County. So for us to be able to commemorate it is special.”
“Truly, we couldn’t have done this project without the help of the New Madison Kiwanis Club and all those donors and the citizens of New Madison, the businesses here, who recognized the value of this project. We really thank them,” Staugler added.
The marker includes two signs listing the many donors who made the project possible.
It is the first of three Lincoln funeral train markers Staugler hopes will be installed in Darke County. The two others would be located in Greenville and Bradford. Three markers are also being planned for Miami County.
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