submitted by Ronna Thuman, December 12, 2007

In Days Gone By
How the People of Muscatine Paid Homage to Lincoln and Garfield


The Reporter Gathers Up Some Reminiscences About the Memorial Exercises Held
At the Time of Other Assassinations.

From Saturday’s Daily.

At a time like the one passed through by the citizens of this county the past two weeks the minds of the people naturally turn back to the assassinations in history. The Journal has taken the occasion to look up some of the accounts of the demonstrations that were made when President Lincoln was laid away in his last resting place, and the exercises occasioned by the death of President Garfield.

In 1865

A Journal reporter called on Col. J. Dougherty, an old settler, who gave him some idea of the exercises at the time of Lincoln’s death. He said that he could not help but notice the difference of feeling that existed at the time as compared with the one prominent today. When Lincoln died people were in a measure panic stricken. They thought the end of the republic at hand and did not know which way to turn. Today, it is different. The country has not passed through the crisis it did at the time and the people have limitless faith in the president that succeeds McKinley, which they did not have in President Johnson. He said that a few days after Lincoln’s death a parade formed, consisting of a fife and drum corps which marched at the head of the procession and a number of citizens and paraded through the principal streets of the city. It was hard to form such a parade in those days because nearly all of the men were at the front. The line was formed in column of twos and carried a flag appropriately draped and the drum corps played the Dead March. There were only two secret organizations in the city at that time, the Masons and the Odd Fellows, so that there were no distinct organizations represented as in Thursday’s demonstration. After this parade of sorrowing citizens had covered the principal thoroughfares, they halted at the corner of Iowa Avenue and Second street. No minister being present, the late R. M. Burnett stepped from the ranks, removed his hat and offered up a prayer. “The scene was a most impressive one,” said the Colonel, “and there was not a person present, but what was moved to tears by what was said and seen on that afternoon.” Such was the manner in which Muscatine paid its tribute to President Lincoln.

In 1881

In looking over the files of the Muscatine Journal the reporter found a account of the exercises which took place at the time of Garfield’s …….. The president died on the ………… and on the ……………..prominent cit….... the City Cornet band, whose massive dirge was heard afar and still mingles its sad defrain with the knell of belfry and the resonant cannon.

“Company C, second regiment I. N. G., commanded by Col. Welker performed escort duty and marched by in platoons with draped colors and arms reversed. The city companies of the Muscatine county regiment of Veterans headed by the regiment music, Becke’s Marshal band, continued the procession in double file, their flag in mourning and arms reversed.

“The mayor, city council and officers appeared on foot wearing appropriate badges of mourning.”

Then follows a list of the fraternal orders taking part in the procession, which were as follows: DeMolay Commandery Knight Templars, Two Masonic Lodges, Odd Fellows, A. O. U. W., Mechanic’s Aid Society, St. Joseph Benevolent German Catholic Society, and the City Fire Department composed of four hose companies.

The exercises were held at Court Square and it is estimated that at least 6,000 were in attendance. Mayor Dillaway was president of the day and the program opened with the singing of “Nearer My God to Thee.” Prayer was offered and the address of the day was delivered by Hon. D. C. Richman. The address is published in full in the paper and from reading it, one would get the idea it was a masterly one and a fitting tribute to the life of President Garfield.

After looking over the accounts of these exercises in times past, one can compare them with the demonstration of Thursday and see that the same grief and feeling of loss existed the as it does today.

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