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He says hearse carried Lincoln

January 11, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - Jerry Sibert dreamed of developing a small Western town for children to visit and he spent a lifetime collecting Civil War-era memorabilia.

Faced with declining health and the heartbreak of being robbed five times, Sibert gave up on the dream and sold the antiques that would stock a general store.

A New Jersey man on Wednesday sent assistants to pick up many of the items, including a hearse that Sibert says was used to take Abraham Lincoln from the White House to his funeral train.

Sibert had the hearse evaluated by the late historian D.L. Allebaugh, but the black-and-gold carriage has not been registered with an agency or society.

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A representative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum said any information about the hearse used in Washington, D.C., would be found within the National Archives because Secretary of War Edwin Stanton handled funeral preparations.

Sibert found the hearse on a Chambersburg, Pa., area farm in 1990 and bought it for $2,700. One of his first tasks was to clean thick bird droppings off the roof.

Allebaugh contacted Sibert and discouraged him from doing anything with the hearse until it was researched, Sibert said.

In his findings, Allebaugh wrote that on April 15, 1865, the hearse - termed Compound Unit No. 1 - carried Lincoln from the Peterson House to the White House. The coffin was wrapped in a flag and escorted by military personnel, he wrote.

The coffin was loaded back onto the hearse April 17 and taken to the train station, according to Allebaugh's writings. The train took Lincoln to be buried in Springfield, Ill.

A Washington, D.C., mortuary bought the hearse in the late 1860s, Allebaugh reported. He said the hearse, reportedly made by William J. Tickner & Sons Carriage Co. of Baltimore, changed ownership several times in Pennsylvania.

Allebaugh and Sibert partnered to restore the hearse.

"It was completely taken down to the bare wood," Sibert said. "It was restored the original way."

The pair left the interior untouched, said Sibert, who lamented Allebaugh's sudden death several years ago.

"The hearse was originally promised to him," Sibert said.

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