On the wind in February
Snowflakes float still
Half inclined to turn to rain
Nipping, dripping, chill
-Christina Georgina Rosetti,
“A Year's Windfalls,” 1866
I am beginning this week’s column calling to mind some of the basic facts that I learned throughout my school years to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable life on his Feb. 12 birthday.
Abraham Lincoln, American statesman and lawyer served as 16th president during the American Civil War from March 1861 until April 1865. John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln while the president was watching the performance of "Our American Cousin" in Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, five days after the surrender at Appomattox. He passed away the following morning on April 15 at the age of 56. He was born Feb. 12, 1809 in Kentucky. He served with the Illinois Militia and was a captain in the Black Hawk War. He was referred to as "Honest Abe," "The Rail Splitter," as well as "The Great Emancipator" for issuing the proclamation freeing slaves.
Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, had four sons. Only Robert Todd lived to maturity.
It is recorded that his birthday was first celebrated as a holiday in 1866.
Favorite quotes of Abraham Lincoln:
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
"My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read."
Both Washington, D.C., and Gettysburg, Pa. hold a commemorative service every year on Feb. 12, when a wreath is laid at each Lincoln Memorial. His famous address is read aloud to those attending these events.
60 YEARS AGO (1960)
The Montour County Historical Society celebrated Abraham Lincoln's birthday with an address titled "Lincoln Traveled This Way," by Leo C. Bobb, at the Montour County Court House before a “well-attended audience.”
The speaker graphically depicted the story of the Lincoln family, with the help of colored slides and narration starting with the immigration to the Massachusetts Bay Colony of Samuel Lincoln, the four "greats grandfather" of President Lincoln, up to and including the birth of Abraham. Bobb followed the life of Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents, from his birth in Hodgenville, Kentucky, in 1809 through his boyhood and political career ending with his assassination and death on April 15 in 1865 and his burial.
Bobb, an ardent student of Lincoln history, spent eight years traveling to different areas following the history of the 16th president of the United States.
Mr. and Mrs. G. Torrence Peifer of West Market Street, Danville, owned a letter which illustrated the gentleness of one of our nation’s greatest leaders.
The letter was a means of introduction for the Rev. Irvin H. Torrence, Peifer’s great-grandfather, from the governor of Pennsylvania, A.G. Curtin, to President Lincoln.
Torrence, who served as a minister to several religious denominations in the Danville area and lived and died in Riverside, was a commissioner during the Civil War.
Torrence had developed a plan to relieve the suffering of Northern prisoners in the Confederate prison camps near Richmond, Virginia. His plan, as presented to Gov. Curtin, suggested exchanging medical supplies for badly wounded Union prisoners.
The letter presented Torrence and his proposal to President Lincoln and requested that the minister be permitted to explain his idea in greater detail.
Torrence's proposal was given official blessing when Secretary of War Edwin Stanton approved it after President Lincoln wrote, “Respectfully referred by the President to the Honorable Secretary of War with, Abraham Lincoln, December 5, 1863,” across the top of the letter.
Torrence was then sent on the flagship “New York” to meet the Confederate ship “Roanoke” to discuss the proposal. Before anything further could develop, the arrangements were suddenly stopped.
The man behind the stop-order was a General Butler. The General, placed in command of Fortress Monroe, ordered all talks concerning the transfer of prisoners to be brought to an end. He did consent to permit a small amount of vaccine to be sent to relieve the small-pox prevalent among Union soldiers in Confederate prisons.
At the time, the Williamsport Gazette and Bulletin said, “Thus one of the most humane enterprises of the war was defeated and the flagship, with Mr. Torrence aboard, returned from the Errand of Mercy.” (I actually saw the letter, framed, hanging in the Peifer home on West Market Street.)
Feb. 12, 1945
Remembering Lincoln’s words from the Civil War during World War II published in the column "Thoughts for Today," by the Rev. James A. Turner, in the local newspaper.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the Nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln’s birthday is celebrated each year with the laying of a wreath and the Gettysburg Address being read at the Lincoln Memorials in Gettysburg, Pa. and Washington D.C.
Feb. 14 is celebrated as Valentine's Day across the United States and other areas of the world on this date. Candy, flowers, gifts and cards of love are exchanged between loved ones.
Valentine's Day has both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. There seem to be many legends to the history of St. Valentine's Day. It is said that St. Valentine's Day as a day of romantic celebration was first in a 1375 poem of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages. Written valentines didn’t appear until after 1400, becoming popular in the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, friends and lovers began to exchange tokens of affection or handwritten notes. In 1900, printed cards began to replace written letters.
One fact I learned in this research is that 145 million valentine cards are sent each year and women purchase about 85 percent of all valentines.
My daughters, along with one of their best friends, have a Sister Chat on their cellphones. They decided that on Feb. 1 and each day to Valentine's Day they would each post a favorite love song. I am included in the chat so I am listing a few of the favorites I posted.
"You Belong to Me" —The Duprees, 1962
"Earth Angel" — Penquins, 1954
"In the Still of the Night" — Fred Parris and The Satins, 1956
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" — Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, 1956
"I Only Have Eyes for You," — The Flamingos, 1959
"My Prayer" — The Platters, 1954
I loved all of The Platters’ recordings, but my very favorite was:
"Only You (and You Alone)," 1955.
I enjoyed listening to their favorites from the '60s forward and I'm hoping they were happy to hear again the music they grew up hearing in the Hause household.
I would suggest that all should go to YouTube, pick your favorite love song to send to your valentine tomorrow.
Sis Hause is a Danville historian. Her weekly columns run in The Danville News.