Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry writes about Mayflower descendant Edward Rowe Snow recounting the time his grandparents attended President Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
Today I continue with my series “Mayflower Descendants: Who’s Who” with more family anecdotes from Edward Rowe Snow (1902-1982), author, historian, and famous “Flying Santa.” Snow was the son of Edward Sumpter Snow and Alice Rowe.
Snow is a direct descendant of Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins via his daughter Constance Hopkins, who married Nicholas Snow.
He has a double line that comes down both branches of his tree through the children born to Elisha Snow and Elizabeth “Betsy” Jordan, who nested in Maine.
When Snow’s grandparents attended the second inauguration of President Lincoln in Washington, D.C., on 4 March 1865, they experienced chaos in their transport cabbie. Snow spills the skinny in his Patriot Ledger column “Sea and Shore Gleanings” and snippets are sourced right from his ancestor.
This article reported:
One hundred years ago today my grandfather, Capt. Joshua N. Rowe, and his wife, Caroline, were in Washington, D.C., attending the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. Captain Rowe was attached to the USS Mercedita in Baltimore.
The newly-married couple had come down from Rockland, Maine, in an old-fashioned stagecoach on runners, arriving in Bath so cold that hot soapstones for the feet were a necessity most of the icy journey.
At Bath, they boarded a train for Boston, where Joshua received his orders to report within a short time to the ship in Baltimore.
Finally came the big day of Lincoln’s inauguration. The rain was pelting down in sheets. Congress was to close at noon that March 4, and President Lincoln was about to be sworn in for his second term, not necessarily to be his last, according to the betting population, many of whom predicted a third term for Lincoln in 1868.
The war was going favorably for the North with Grant closing in on Richmond, Thomas winning handily in the west, and Sherman outstandingly successful in the Carolinas.
Washington, however, was muddy and stormy. Captain Rowe and his wife hired a cab to get them to the Capitol, where Lincoln would take the oath of office on a platform built, as it is for inaugurations today, over the steps leading up to the building.
Pinned in Cab
Scores upon scores of wagons and cannons had made many of the Washington streets quagmires, and the cab suddenly dropped into a deep hole in the street.
The couple were pinned into a corner of the cab, with the door jammed against the wheel so that they could not get out.
“This is the first time that I was ever shipwrecked in the middle of a city,” exclaimed Grandfather Rowe, and it had to happen on Inauguration Day. Cheer up, for we will not drown. Perhaps I’ll be able to get the window open!”
Captain Rowe then worked at the window, and was assisted outside the cab by several onlookers and the cabbie. Soon the window began to open, and finally it was pulled down to such an extent that Captain Rowe, by squirming and wiggling, got out.
Unhappily, Grandmother Rowe was wearing the extremely wide hoopskirt of the period, and all first efforts to free her through the window failed.
The more others tried to help her, the more she became jammed against the interior of the cab. She attempted to fold the hoop only to have it bounce back and hit one of her assistants in the face.
When she had been pushed and pulled halfway through the open window, she became wedged in so firmly that it seemed she would have to stay there. By this time there was quite a crowd, a fact which certainly embarrassed this young lady from Rockland, Maine.
Then, with renewed effort, with everyone twitching, squeezing, and pulling, according to Capt. Rowe, “we dragged my poor bride out of the wrecked cab, somewhat wrinkled and her bonnet over her starboard ear, but standing safely on the muddy ground.”
Finally they reached the Capitol, and after several hours of waiting, the great man appeared. Although it had been raining all day, just as Lincoln stepped forward to take the oath, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds, and struck down on his bare head. It was like a touch of approval from heaven, and a murmur of happiness arose from the immense throng.
“We were filled with delight, said Grandfather Rowe years later, “to see at last our beloved President, and we stood anxiously awaiting his speech.”
….Then came the moment when he [Lincoln] said, what many call the supreme utterance of all inaugural addresses since 1789:
“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.”
It is safe to say Capt. Rowe and his bride braved a storm for something sacred, and the peril was all the sweeter!
Explore over 330 years of newspapers and historical records in GenealogyBank. Discover your family story! Start a 7-Day Free Trial
Note on the header image: President Abraham Lincoln delivering his second inaugural address, Washington, D.C., 4 March 1865. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.