Abraham Lincoln’s stop in Clyde on his way to presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. in 1861 was commemorated 150 years later Feb. 18 as about 200 people turned out to watch a reenactment.
Although the original event lasted only about five minutes, while the train paused to take on wood and water and Lincoln stuck his head out to bid the crowd a simple “good day and farewell,” it has lived on as a well-documented piece of community history.
It is also part of the intrigue surrounding Lincoln’s harrowing trip from Illinois, in which an assassination attempt was thwarted by scouts traveling ahead of the train who discovered debris on the track.
In fact, Lincoln did not arrive in the nation’s capital on the train at all, although it continued on to Washington, D.C. without him as a diversion.
He instead was smuggled off in Maryland and continued to his destination by coach.
The details were described during the reenactment, which was observed by local residents as well as fourth-graders from Clyde Elementary School and one fifth grade class from Savannah Middle School. Members of the Yorkers History Club from the junior high school were also present and the senior high jazz band played “Hail to the Chief.”
Local Assemblyman Bob Oaks was also present. His late mother, Edna, was a teacher in the district.
Local Historian Hugh Miner, Clyde resident Rose Jeanne Strakal and nine local organizations organized the event, following the description of then newspaper editor Joseph Pain, who was so eager to shake Lincoln’s hand, he jumped on the train and reportedly did not jump off again until it started moving.
Frank Quinn of Lyons portrayed Lincoln. Galen Town Supervisor and local photographer Steve Groat portrayed his long ago counterpart, who supposedly jumped up on a pile of logs to photograph the president-elect, according to a New York Times account of the stop. No one knows what became of the photo, said Wayne Morrison, another local historian.
After the reenactment, most of the crowd went to the Clyde Fire Hall, where hot chocolate was served and there were comments from author John Fagant, who recently released “Best of the Bargain: Lincoln in Western New York.”
There was a display of Lincoln memorabilia and James Darnell also showed off the commemorative postage cancellation and stamped envelopes that the school children brought with them.