Columbia Man Makes Potential Discovery About Abraham Lincoln's Funeral
The retired government worker identified photos raising questions nationwide.
Paul Taylor, 60, a Columbia resident and retired federal government accountant, was looking through hundreds of images that the National Archives released on Flickr in January, when four shots got his attention, according to The Washington Post .
The pictures, taken by well-known Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, show hundreds of people lining the streets in front of a church, with a black blur of movement in the left part of the picture.
"That is not your normal scene in front of church. There’s just people everywhere—the streets, the sidewalks, the roof. They’re in the trees. This is not your normal Sunday," Taylor told The Washington Post, which reported Taylor determined based on research that the pictures showed Lincoln's funeral procession in front of Grace Church on Broadway in New York.
Lincoln's funeral procession in New York attracted more than 100,000 marchers, according to the Smithsonian.
In fact, there was such a demand to see Lincoln during the procession from 2 to 4 p.m. on April 25, 1865, that rooms along the route were rented out for $100, according to a Lincoln research portal archived by the Library of Congress.
During the event, mourners were instructed to wear proper attire, non-processional horses and carriages were barred from the streets and even storefronts got decked out, displaying mourning banners and black and white flowers, according to reports.
Drawn by more than a dozen horses, Lincoln's funeral car reportedly traveled from Broadway to 14th Street to Fifth Avenue to 34th Street to Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River Railway Depot.
New York was one of 181 cities in the procession, which included stops from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, IL, according to The History Channel. The more than 1,500-mile trek spanned April 21 to May 1, 1865, The History Channel reported.
The jury is still out as to whether the pictures Taylor identified depict a scene from Lincoln's funeral; the photos are posted to the National Archives online with the descriptor "Scene in front of church, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865."
An archivist at the National Archives told The Washington Post: "I don't think it's possible to establish [that this is Lincoln's funeral procession] without any doubt," noting it was "odd" that the caption did not mention the "monumental nature of the event."
Even so, national news outlets from NBC to Fox to About.com have picked up the story of the Columbia man's photographic findings, which could have brought to light some esoteric images from the historic funeral procession nearly 150 years ago.
As the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination nears, interest in Lincoln's death is growing. A coalition has formed that is reenacting the funeral in 2015. Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, was killed April 14, 1865, in Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.