It was a procession of sorrow and shock.
Now, the public journey of the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln through Western New York 150 years ago this month will be marked with a series of displays, performances and programs in locations around the city.
“Lincoln in Buffalo: 150 Years,” a remembrance of Lincoln and his travels through and connections to the city, will begin this weekend with a look at Lincoln’s life as captured on film. The film-themed talk will take place starting at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Central Library of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. It will feature writer Gary Earl Ross, and is free.
The Lincoln programs this month are a cooperative effort of some area historical and cultural organizations, including the Buffalo History Museum, the public library, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site and the Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center, organizers said.
“I think it shows that Buffalo has been an integral part of national and presidential politics,” said Maryann Saccomando Freedman, president of the Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center, of the Lincoln events. “Not to mention, he’s a great man, and we should pay homage to his memory.”
The local tributes will occur alongside and, in some cases, in connection with the National Park Service’s initiative to mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death.
Stanton Hudson, the executive director of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, said the upcoming appearances in Buffalo by performer Fritz Klein will mark a high point of the month’s anniversary events. Klein is traveling to Buffalo and 11 other cities to deliver a performance as Lincoln himself, through the efforts of the National Park Service, Hudson said.
“He’s basically the person who portrays Lincoln at Lincoln’s hometown,” said Hudson, of Klein.
Klein will appear in Buffalo on April 26 and 27.
The last time he was here, Klein attracted hundreds of people to his portrayal of Lincoln in a downtown church, Hudson said.
At the public library, Anne Conable, manager of community engagement and one of those involved in planning the Lincoln events, said that the series of activities is a way to bring back to the public eye an important phase in Western New York’s history.
It is sad history. When Lincoln’s body arrived in Buffalo, following his assassination, and then lay here in St. James Hall for a day, it drew thousands of people to downtown Buffalo to pay their respects to the president, Conable said.
That sort of storied past of Buffalo and its people can be brought back to life, she said.
“There are so many stories about Buffalo that people have forgotten,” said Conable. “All it takes is to bring it back up to the surface.”