After an assassin’s bullet took the life of President Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president and arguably its most important, he was buried in an ornately designed coffin that included silver plating and was lined with lead. It also was 6 feet 6 inches long and weighed close to 500 pounds.
In fact, it is thought that the weight of the coffin helped deter those who tried to steal his body after he was laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.
Curious for more?
That’s just part of the story that Clair Ferris, president and co-owner of Funeral Alternatives of Washington, will tell this week at the Lacey branch of his funeral home and crematory.
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Why? Well, a replica of Lincoln’s coffin, one of four traveling displays built by the Batesville Casket Co., will spend Thursday, Friday and Sunday in Lacey.
Similar in many ways, the replica will not include lead, silver plating or the president’s remains.
The free coffin exhibit, which will be set up in the Lacey chapel, is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Sunday.
Ferris, who also happens to be a history buff, is set to give a 45-minute presentation on Lincoln’s assassination and funeral as part of the exhibit. He will speak three times Thursday and once each on Friday and Sunday.
The presentation on Lincoln is not new for Ferris; for the past couple of years he has given the same presentation throughout the community, adding uncommon facts about the president’s death and funeral.
• Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his wife originally were invited to share the president’s box the night he was shot at Ford’s Theatre, but Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Lincoln did not get along, so they declined the invitation. Maj. Henry Rathbone and his fiancée replaced the Grants in the president’s box.
• The original coffin cost $1,500 and the total cost of the funeral was $13,000, Ferris said. The average wage in 1865 was $25 per month, he said.
• The man who guarded Lincoln’s box left early to have a drink at a nearby tavern.
• Assassin John Wilkes Booth fired one shot into the back of the president’s head. The bullet did not emerge but remained lodged behind Lincoln’s right eye. Rathbone was stabbed as Booth made his escape.
Ferris acknowledged that the exhibit is designed to expose his funeral service to the community but that no selling takes place during his presentation.
Still, he hopes they come away with the right impression.
“They might think of us if they need us,” he said.