The 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865 is being commemorated at Springfield’s Elijah Iles House, which will be draped in period mourning decorations from his death date on April 15 to the anniversary of his final funeral service on May 4.
“Mourning Days at the Elijah Iles House” is sponsored by The Elijah Iles House Foundation, which has established a tradition of draping the Iles House for the Lincoln death and funeral anniversary dates. As was the custom at the time of Lincoln’s death, the front porch of the house is draped in black and purple bunting.
President Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 funeral procession in Springfield passed the Lincoln Home, proceeded along Cook Street from Eighth to Fourth streets, and passed on the north side of the Iles House, then the Robert Irwin residence, when it was located at its original site. Elijah Iles served as one of the pall bearers, and the 69-year-old Iles walked the route to Oak Ridge Cemetery with the other mourners on what was a very warm May day.
From the History of Sangamon County, Illinois, published in 1881 -
“Amid all the rejoicing over the evacuation of Richmond, the capture of Lee, and the other Union victories, the startling intelligence was flashed across the continent that President Lincoln was assassinated. . . The news was received in Springfield at a very early hour on the morning of the 15th of April, and spread rapidly across the city. Citizens began to gather upon the streets, listening to the dispatches, or discussing the horrible details. . . . Before 8 o’clock the news had spread generally through the city. The business houses which had been opened were, by common consent, closed almost immediately . . .
“Soon after the death of President Lincoln became known, the principal business houses were draped in mourning. Flags were draped and placed at half mast, and various other emblems of the general sorrow were displayed. Among the buildings draped were the State House, and offices of the different State officers; the headquarters of General Cook, commanding the district, of General Oakes, Assistant Provost Marshall of the District; the hall of the Fenian Brotherhood and Union League; the Postoffice, the chambers of the City Council, all the business houses on the public square and the principal streets, the principal hotels, churches, the houses of the different fire companies, newspaper offices and the Soldiers’ Home. In many cases black was gracefully intertwined with white or the National colors. Much the larger portion of private houses were similarly draped, or bore some emblem of mourning. The bells of the different churches and engine houses were tolled during the morning. At the State Arsenal the cannon were tastefully draped with the American flag, and over the entrance the stars and stripes were artistically arranged and draped in mourning, whilst from the flagstaff floated a dark colored pennant at half mast. The whole city presented a funeral aspect, as if the Death Angel had taken a member from every family. . . .
“A meeting of the City Council was held in the morning, and in response to a call issued in the course of the forenoon, a very large and solemn meeting of citizens assembled at the State House to take into consideration the terrible calamity that had befallen the city and Nation. At 12 o’clock, m., the meeting was called to order by Hon. S.M. Cullom, who said:
“’ Fellow Citizens: -- We are met together to mourn over a great calamity. Abraham Lincoln, your fellow citizen, who went out from this city four years ago, called by the American people to preside over the Nation, is no more. He has been stricken down by the hands of a dastardly, bloody assassin. In view of the long acquaintance, and the sympathy existing between that great and good man and our fellow citizen, J. K. Dubois, I nominate him to preside over our meeting.’
“The nomination was unanimously confirmed by the meeting, and upon assuming the chair, Mr. Dubois spoke briefly and pertinently, alluding to the long and friendly intercourse between himself and the lamented dead.
“The following named were chosen Vice Presidents of the meeting: Stephen T. Logan, John Williams, William F. Elkin, Elijah Iles, N. H. Ridgely, E. B. Hawley, Thomas Condell, James L. Lamb, Gershom Jayne, Richard Latham, A. G. Herndon, Rev. Albert Hale, and Rev. J. G. Bergen. For Secretaries, were chosen James C. Conkling, E. L. Baker, and E. L. Merritt."