Page images

Mr. Phillips, and now in Mr. Withers' possession, having been made for this purpose. The song is entitled


Honor to our soldiers,

Who for their country toil
And fight the Union to preserve,

With blood defend its soil.
Cheered on by leaders whom they love.

They've fought with heart and hand
To make rebellion lose its sway

In this our native land.

CHORUS—Repeat first four lines.

Honor to our soldiers,

The nation's greatest pride,
Who 'neath the starry banner's folds

Have fought, have bled and died.
They're nature's noblest handiwork,

No king so proud as they-
God help the heroes of our land

And cheer them on their way!

Honor to our soldiers,

Their victories ne'er shall cease
Until our foes surrender

And bless our land with peace.
Our navy, too, shall have its fame,

Our flag shall ne'er be furled
Until our foes at home-abroad-

Shall feel we dare the world!

Mr. Withers had understood that this song should be sung at the close of the second act, but when the curtain was rung down he saw that the programme had been changed without consulting him. His story of what followed is this: As soon as the play had proceeded he went upon the stage, and, not seeing the stage manager, went to the prompter's desk at the wing, where Mr. J. B. Wright, the prompter, was on duty. The "governor," or gas apparatus, was in close proximity to Mr. Wright's desk. The cover of this governor was open, and Edward Spangler, assistant stage carpenter, and one of the conspirators, was standing beside it. Mr. Withers said, “Spangler, step away a moment, I want to speak to Mr. Wright.”. Spangler did not move. An angry frown overspread his face, and Mr. Withers' peremptorily ordered him to go to his position as scene shifter. He started away muttering something, which Mr. Withers did not hear, and to which he paid no attention at the time. He inquired of Mr. Wright, why the song had not been sung, and Wright said that the programme had been changed so as to have the piece brought in at the close of the performance. “Go into the orchestra just before the finish,” said Mr. Wright, “and get your instruments in tune, and we will make the song the finale,” Mr. Withers said the effect would be lost by this proceeding, and, turning down the cover of the "governor," he partly sat down upon it, and suggested that the audience at the finish would begin to move and spoil the piece, winding up the matter by telling Mr. Wright that, if produced at all, the song must be sung during the play. Just then the whistle blew for change of scene, and Spangler had to attend to the shifting. Mr. Withers then started down past the wings to a stairway leading under the stage. Just as he was in the act of stepping down the first step he heard a pistol shot. Surprised at the report, knowing that there was no shooting in the play, he stopped and looked toward the proscenium.


At that instant Booth dashed into the passageway with a dagger in his hand. Withers was standing directly in line with the stage door or private entrance. His first thought was that Booth was looking for the man who had fired the shot; but the next instant the madman was upon him, thrusting at him with the dagger. The point of the weapon cut two holes in the coat worn by the musician, one on the back of the neck and the other on the right shoulder, going through all the clothing and through the skin. In the struggle Mr. Withers was knocked down and badly bruised, and Booth escaped through the private door. Before Mr. Withers could get upon his feet Harry Hawke, the actor, came rushing through the passageway after Booth, and fell over the prostrate form of Mr. Withers. It was then for the first time that the musician learned what had happened. He still has the coat he wore on that memorable occasion. It is an evening dress coat of blue-black broadcloth. He exhibited it to the reporter, put it on, and described how Booth attacked him and the exact position he was in when the thrusts were made. The only words uttered by Booth were, “Get out of my way! get out of my way, or I'll kill you!"

The flag which has a place in history was in the possession of Mr. Withers for a long time, but was subsequently given to its owner,

who resided in Memphis, and is now, Mr. Withers believes, in Washington. The flag, it will be remembered, was torn by Booth's spur, which caught in it as he jumped from the box to the stage, and it was this accident to the assassin that caused his leg to be broken.

Edward Spangler died on the 19th of February, 1874, at the residence of Dr. Mudd, of Baltimore, a co-conspirator, with whom he had suffered imprisonment. Before his death he made a confession, which has been communicated to Mr. Withers, in effect that the presence of the musician at the "governor" prevented a fearful panic. He (Spangler) was hovering around the instrument with the intention of turning off the gas in the auditorium the moment Booth landed on the stage. The cover was up to facilitate that operation, and had he not been ordered away by Mr. Withers, who turned the cover down to sit upon it, the gas would have been turned off, and nobody would have known to a certainty who assassinated the president. Booth was not recognized at the time of his leap by the audience; but Miss Keene, who stood at the wings, recognized him, and shouted to the audience, “It's John Wilkes Booth!" At that time he was struggling with Mr. Withers at the rear of the stage. The turning off of the gas at the proper time, Mr. Withers believes, would have allowed the assassin to escape unrecognized, and would have led to further tragic results.




Uncle Henry Sears, Aunt Vashti, and other "old settlers” of the Old Salem region, delight in giving their personal recollections of Abraham Lincoln, while that "rather gawkish and awkward youth was keeping store on the banks of the Sangamon," and relate some recollections that have failed to reach any of Mr. Lincoln's biographers.


The late Jesse Baker said: “The new clerk in the Salem store drew much attention from the very first. His striking, awkward and generally peculiar appearance advertised the store round about, and drew many customers, who never quit trading there as long as young Abe Lincoln clerked in the establishment. He gave good weight; he was chock full of accommodation, and he wasn't a 'smart Aleck'. A large majority of the people, after making his acquaintance, said: 'He has a heart as big as a flour barrel and a head full of the best kind of brains. All liked him excepting the few rowdies of Clary's Grove and the boss bully, Hickey. Hickey was attracted to the store about four days after the new clerk's arrival. Boss Hickey took his measure and forthwith bantered him for a wrestle. Lincoln pleasantly informed the intruding ruffian that he would rather be excused, as he didn't feel like dirtying his fine clothes. Hickey, however, harped away on his single-tuned lyre until young Abe consented to 'wrestle in a playful way.' Mr. Baker watched the store and viewed the conflict. The performers shook hands, clinched, and fell among a luxuriant growth of dog-fennel and smart-weeds. Hickey foamed and tried to choke Lincoln, who repelled that charge by rubbing the under fellow's face with a bunch of smart-weeds. It made him howl; the smarting quite vanquished him; he cried ‘Enough,' and Lincoln calmly arose from his game, and that was the only fight he ever fought while in the Sangamon country. Hickey quit drinking, joined the church, and solemnly confessed his many sins at the prayer meetings.”

LINCOLN'S DOG. Uncle Baker said that he subsequently, when Lincoln had become a surveyor, sometimes carried the chain for him, and distinctly remembered being along with him on Quiver creek in Mason county during the presidential race between Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. Lincoln was a strong Whig, while the other surveyor was a fierce Democrat. Each owned a dog. Lincoln's dog was named Clay, while the other's title was Jackson. While camping near Simmons' mill the dogs treed a coon. The surveyors betted $5 on their respective curs. Lincoln hastily climbed the tree on a rude "Indian ladder,” and crawling on the coon limb he shook it with such force that it broke, throwing the varmint and himself among the dogs. Young Abe sprained his ankle, but Clay mopped the ground with the coon and rejoiced all over with his tail, for his master had won the $5.

ANN RUTLEDGE. Uncle Henry Sears and his wife, Aunt Vashti, say that they were well acquainted with storekeeper Lincoln and his lady-love, Ann Rutledge. They attended her funeral, and think that such a nice girl as Ann was deserves a handsome tombstone. "Young Lincoln took her death awful hard,” they say. He strolled moodily around the neighborhood for the next three or four weeks, humming sad songs, and writing them with chalk on fences and barns. It was generally feared that the death of Ann Rutledge would drive him insane.


About six of the distressed youth's sympathizing friends coaxed him to accompany them to Springtield, where other events chased away much of his grief and turned him towards the study and practice of law. There was one “dressy” man among the six jovial Salemites. He purchased a broadcloth coat before leaving Springfield for home, which was the first coat of that cloth seen in old Salem. While fooling with a group around a burning candle the dandy's broadcloth coat came in contact with the flame, burning quite a hole in the much-talkedabout garment. The belligerent applejack and other aggravating circumstances would have caused a lively fist fight then and there if young Lincoln hadn't effected a satisfactory compromise. It was agreed to run the dispute through the Salem justice mill, that Lincoln should plead the coat-owner's and coat-burners' sides of the case, and that the winner should pay the costs and drinks for all present in court. The mock court opened twenty minutes after the interested parties reached Salem. The mill was crowded with eager spectators before the case was prosecuted and defended by the lawyer for each side. The rustics marveled much at Lincoln's knowledge of law, his common sense, his impregnable logic, and his serio-comic stories. He gained the case for both his clients, applejack was supplied the lot, and everybody present wondered and asked young Lincoln: "Why don't you become a lawyer?" He answered their question by becoming one.


For the thirteenth time the body of Abraham Lincoln was removed at Springfield, Illinois, September 26, 1901. The casket containing the remains now lies imbedded in an iron cage within a solid block of cement beneath the monument in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

The casket was opened and eighteen persons were permitted to look upon the features of the great emancipator before the body was lowered to what is now believed to be its last resting place. Governor Yates, who was out of the State, was represented on the Board of Trustees of the National Lincoln Monument by Acting Governor John J. Brenholt, of Alton.

Those who were permitted to look upon the features of the dead were Adjutant General J. N. Reece, Major E. S. Johnson, custodian of the monument; Joseph P. Lindley, Clinton L. Conkling, George N. Black, secretary of the National Lincoln Monument Association; Acting Governor Brenholt, Captain J. H. Freeman, M. O. Williamson, Colonel T. S. Culver, the contractor who reconstructed the monument; F. K.

« PreviousContinue »