ALTON — Historical re-enactors will present a tribute to the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.
The Alton Little Theater cast will bring to life Mary Todd Lincoln, Lyman Trumbull, Edmund Beall, Alton Daily Telegraph Editor Lawson A. Parks and others during two performances at Lincoln-Douglas Square. Additional cast members will appear in period costume throughout the event. Renowned Lincoln re-enactor Randy Duncan of Carlinville will be on hand as the president’s ghost.
The Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin, along with the replica 1860 St. Louis Lincoln Hearse, will also be on exhibition throughout the day. The coffin and the hearse were the official replicas produced for the formal 150th Funeral Reenactment Ceremonies in Springfield in May.
The tribute will open with a Civil War Honor Guard removing an 1865 flag from the coffin and raising it over the square to the sounds of “Hail to the Chief” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” Folk singer Barry Cloyd will take the stage with a tribute to the Civil War.
Re-enactors including Amy Miller as Mary Todd Lincoln, George Provensano as Frank Sands, the undertaker for Abraham Lincoln; Kerry Miller as Lyman Trumbull, Michael Cox as Edmund Beall, Telegraph Editor Warren Watson as L.A. Parks of the Alton Daily Telegraph, Tim Tomlinson as Benjamin St. James Fry, and Lief Anderson as William S. Porter, a Jerseyville man who served as brakeman on the Lincoln Funeral Train, will also reminisce about their respective memories of Lincoln.
In addition to the formal re-enactments, there will be free activities for children including a Lincoln Penny Toss, face painting and Lincoln Log building at the square. The Alton Museum of History and Art also will host a booth at the event and will have Lincoln artifacts on display.
For those interested in learning more about Lincoln’s time in the Alton area, a historical shuttle tour will be offered at noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Lincoln Trail Shuttle Tours will include stops at the Lyman Trumbull House, the Confederate Prison, Lincoln Shields/Smallpox Island and the Franklin House. Local historian and Alton Little Theater cast member Linda Nevlin will explain why the sites are significant to Abraham Lincoln’s Alton legacy. Shuttle tours are $5 per person and can be purchased in advance at the Alton Visitor Center or online at www.visitalton.com/shuttle.
Immediately preceding the tribute, a Breakfast with Mr. Lincoln will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at My Just Desserts, 31 E. Broadway. The cost is $10 per person for the buffet-style breakfast. Re-enactors will be on hand throughout the breakfast. Following the tribute, State Street Market, 208 State St., Alton, will host a “Toast to Mr. Lincoln” featuring special menu items and drinks. Guests can dine as they converse with Lincoln re-enactor Randy Duncan.
On an unseasonably hot day in May 1865, Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, was buried in his hometown of Springfield. Alton had a place at the funeral as a young Edmund Beall was called on to decorate the Lincoln home in mourning bunting. William Porter of Jerseyville served as a brakeman on the Lincoln Funeral Train from Chicago to Springfield.
Lincoln was no stranger to Alton. He traveled to the river city many times throughout his life as a young lawyer and political candidate and his last debate with Stephen A. Douglas was held 157 years ago on the funeral tribute site.
The event is presented by the Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin Coalition, which includes the Historic Elsah Foundation, The Chautauqua Historical Society and the Grafton Historical Society, the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Telegraph, the Alton-Godfrey Rotary Club and Lewis and Clark Community College.
For information, contact the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 258-6645.