APRIL 2001

Now, although technically this is an expansion of a previous column, it is mostly new. I enjoyed returning to the spectral side of Lincoln's era, expanding and adding a bit of color to the proceedings.

You stand by the side of the lonely tracks, hopping up and down to stave off the bitter chill of this dark and lonely night. The wind howls, and in this desolate place that is the only sound you hear. The night seems unnaturally dark, and of course the fact that it is a New Moon doesn't help the situation any. The tracks stretch on into infinity before you and behind you, and it seems impossible that any train ever passes this way. It seems impossible that any living thing ever passes this way.

You are alone, somewhere to the West of Washington D.C. and to the East of Illinois, standing beside a lonely railroad track in the dead of a late April night.

And waiting.

You realize that the chills you are experiencing are not entirely due to the unseasonable arctic winds, and then, all at once, something has changed.

The winds have stopped. All is silence now. It is not a particularly comfortable silence.

You peer eastward, gazing down the long tracks (insofar as you can make them out), and you wonder if -

Yes! Something is out there - a shape, darker still than the night, growing rapidly as it winds its way down the tracks toward you.

And makes no sound.

You back away in spite of yourself, fight the urge to run, and as you stand there it comes into clearer view. It is a train, a very old train, black streamers trailing from it as it glides past in horrible silence. It pulls a single open car, and in that car . . .

A casket.


Good evening.

I trust you'll forgive that little teaser, but I must have my fun, after all . . .

After all, it is April, and we're approaching a Good Friday that falls right in the middle of the month, and I thought it might be appropriate to think back to a previous Good Friday, some 136 years ago, when Good Friday fell on the 14th of April, and a fellow we all know went to see the wrong play.

Truth be told, there are several columns we could do on this guy. One or two could be devoted to his anecdotes alone, and then of course -

But I digress. We've met him briefly back in the Tecumseh's Curse column, and it seemed high time to bring him back, to take a look at his darker side, perhaps.

Heh heh heh . . .

Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:

Grim Moments With Mr. Lincoln


Now, the tragedies of his life and death are fairly well known, as are the circumstances he was plunged into upon winning the presidency that drove him to remake the Nation, earning the "Great Emancipator" title along the way. Rather than dwell on any of that, let us instead delve into a little known honor held by the man.

For Abraham Lincoln remains the foremost link between the White House and . . . the Spirit World.

Lincoln was fascinated by Spiritualism his whole life, and remained a steadfast believer in the supernatural to his dying day. As early as 1840, a full twenty years before his election, he was attending meetings held by noted spiritualists of the day. One such paranormal mentor was Peter Akers, who on one such meeting predicted the freeing of the slaves "between 1860 and 1870", going further to say that "the man who will lead us through that turmoil may be here among us."

Lincoln, as you've probably guessed, was indeed in attendance. He was, however, at that time only a beginning Law Clerk, his political days ahead of him and probably not yet contemplated. Hardly presidential material.

His wife Mary was also an avid fan of Spiritualism (it should be noted here that Spiritualism had only really gotten going around the mid 1850's, and was thus something of a current fad), and this may actually have helped bring them together in the first place. In any case, Lincoln's ascension to the Presidency was quickly followed by a steady stream of mediums flocking to the White House, and a seemingly endless number of seances.

A year after he took office, his eleven year old son Willie died, an event which certainly weighed as heavy on his mind as the darkest tidings from the Civil War. The Lincolns consulted many mediums in an effort to reestablish contact with their beloved son. Apparently, one of these mediums actually caused a piano to levitate inside the White House.

Lincoln seems to have possessed a degree of psychic power on his own, as there are on record many accounts of warnings he personally made to the front lines of the Union Army - warnings that saved said army from a great many casualties. These warnings, as it turns out, were based entirely on visions he'd had while sleeping!

Dreams and premonitions . . . from the time of his nomination Abraham Lincoln had had vague premonitions of doom, and an inescapable feeling that his life work was destined to remain unfinished.

One night, as he sat with friends, he decided to share with them a nightmare he had just endured the night before. In his dream he was asleep, and then suddenly awakened by the sound of a multitude of people sobbing, followed by a deathly silence. He arose and wandered downstairs, and the sobbing began anew. It was the sound of a great many people in obvious mourning - yet not a soul could be seen.

From room to room he walked, and each room was brightly lit - yet each was empty, and still the voices continued. At length he arrived in the East Room, where he saw a shrouded form guarded by soldiers.

"Who is dead in the White House?" he asked. The answer was, "The President - he was killed by an assassin." This was punctuated by a loud burst of grief from the crowd, at which point Lincoln awoke.

Ten days later, on Good Friday, he was assassinated. His body subsequently would be taken to the East Room, where it would lay in state . . .

Lincoln's remains were eventually taken by a special funeral train to Springfield, Illinois, and it was soon after that a phenomenon began to be reported - a phenomenon which was reported so often that it found its way into several major newspapers of the time.

It seems that, during the month of April, on certain nights around midnight, the air would become very still, and a silent train trailing black streamers and carrying a single coffin would glide in spectral majesty through the night.

Another widely reported phenomenon was that, all along the original train route from D.C. to Illinois, around April 27, watches and clocks were found to be a bit behind the actual time.

The first person of note to actually admit seeing Lincoln's ghost in the White House was none other than Teddy Roosevelt. His claim was given weight by subsequent reports of sightings from Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, and Jackie Kennedy - who reportedly felt the late President's presence just before accompanying her husband on a trip to Dallas, late in 1963 . . .