The Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Funeral Train

Abraham Lincoln is without a doubt Illinois’ favorite son.  Every possible link to his career which began in Illinois and ended in the White House has been memorialized in our state’s towns and villages.  Groveland, our own small village, has its own link to Lincoln.  Springfield Road, which runs directly through our town, was on Lincoln’s route as a circuit-riding lawyer.  Groveland lies between two of the county seats where he practiced law–Tremont and Metamora.  The Tremont county seat of Tazewell later moved to Pekin. Lincoln handled a property dispute in Groveland involving the south-west corner of Springfield Road and West Street.  According to an old article in the
Tazewell County News, he played cards at the Shurtleff farm home in Groveland, which used to stand on the bend of West Street.

LOGO of The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train Committee

LOGO of The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train Committee

The 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death by assassination is in 2015.
To commemorate the event, the funeral train that carried Lincoln’s coffin from Washington, D.C. on its way to Springfield, Illinois to be buried is being reconstructed.  The original train was destroyed in a prairie fire near Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1911.

The funeral train that left Washington on April 21, 1865, traveled through 180 cities and seven states on its way to Lincoln’s home state.  Lincoln’s funeral train was dubbed “The Lincoln Special.” In the recreation, as many as possible of the original stops along the way will be duplicated.

Erwin Towne, a local wood-carver who happens to be my father, decided to remember the anniversary by replicating the shield logo for the Funeral Train in walnut bas-relief [shown above].  The piece took 150 hours to complete.  He is 89 years of age.

My father has captured many famous events and faces in black walnut, including an earlier small portrait of Lincoln.  My favorite piece is a large panel of what Groveland might have looked like in the 1850’s when Lincoln passed through.  The lawyer is the central figure, riding past one of Groveland’s inns and the Hancock farm-house, constructed in 1835, that still stands.  It stood in the days of Lincoln and is now my father’s residence.  We know Abraham rode by; we would like to imagine the original family had reason to entertain him there.  Lincoln is pictured in the sculpture on horseback, conspicuous for his trademark black stovepipe hat.

Abraham Lincoln Rides Through Groveland

Abraham Lincoln Rides Through Groveland

To contact Mr. Towne on his carvings, comment on this post or contact Sharon by e-mail:

For more information on the Lincoln Funeral Train, visit their web site:

Ref:  Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral Train. (2013). The History Channel website. Retrieved 9:39, August 1, 2013, from


About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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