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William T. Clark to Ida Clark, Washington D.C., April 19, 1865

Petersen's Boarding House, Washington, D.C., circa 1909
Private William T. Clark was a Massachusetts soldier assigned to the Quartermaster's Department in Washington. He had roomed at the Petersen House, in the very room in which President Lincoln had died the previous Saturday morning. On the day of the president's funeral, he wrote to his sister Ida Clarke recounting his own movements over the past few days. Much of the time, he wrote, had been taken up with company of an artist from Frank Leslie's Newspaper, giving him as much detail of boarding house room as possible. Noting that he now slept on the same mattress and under the same cover where Abraham Lincoln died, he observes that such is the search for souvenirs he must watch anyone who comes into the house closely "for fear they will steal something." Meanwhile, he says, he is securing his own mementos, including a lock of the murdered president's hair. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "William T. Clark to Ida Clark, Washington D.C., April 19, 1865," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,