Civil War Photo Contest
Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
I recently returned from a trip to a place I'd heard about for a long time, Henry Ford's Greenfield Village and Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Now familiarly known only as The Henry Ford, this is a huge complex consisting of his large collection of original and reproduction historic structures and all the things that furnish them. The adjoining museum contains thousands of additional items, both small ( clocks and watches ) and HUGE ( a ca. 1940 Allegheny locomotive ), humble ( farm implements ) and heroic ( George Washington's camp bed ), all divided into appropriate collections or galleries. Among the various oddities, I was taken aback at this, which I instantly recognized and is one of the prized items in the museum.
Ford was fascinated by relics of the famous and powerful among America's heroes like Washington and his own contemporaries like Thomas Edison and Henry and Orville Wright. Of course, Abraham Lincoln should be represented in such a collection, and how better than by the rocking chair he was sitting in at Ford's Theater? A young docent was stationed nearby to tell visitors the story of the chair and how it came to be here. It seems the chair had been borrowed for the evening, so unlike other items in the theater that night was considered private property and was eventually returned to its owner, else Edwin Stanton might've ordered it destroyed. I remarked on the apparant bloodstain and was assured that was mainly from the hair tonic of the day and not the President's blood. ( He had fallen forward and into Mary's lap as I remember. ) The chair was acquired by the museum when it eventually came up for auction.
The other framed item displayed along with the chair is said to be a fragment of the costume dress worn onstage the night of the assassination by Laura Keene, star of the play Our American Cousin. ( Sorry for the poor quality of the accompanying photographs; my camera was having more than the usual trouble in the indirect lighting of the museum. )