|Born in North Stoneham, Maine in 1839 William Warren Durgin
lived for the majority of his 89 years there in the rugged hill
country of Western Maine. His mortal remains lie marked by a
simple headstone nestled among the tough hardwood, fragrant fir
trees and rough cut granite. Woodcutter and sometime spool maker
in the local turning mill, Durgin’s mark in life is all but forgotten
save for a his headstone inscription:
|One of Abraham Lincoln’s bearers and escort to Springfield, Ill.
Helped place Remains in tomb.
|An early 1900s clipping offers proclamation of
Durgin’s position as the last living Abraham
Lincoln pallbearer and offers an image of the old
man with flowing beard and Civil War musket. A
crutch visible through the door serves as a reminder
of an old war injury that plagued the veteran in his
later years. A later clipping serves as a twentieth
century reminder of a Mainer’s place in history and
offers a photo of Durgin’s Lincoln Honor Guard
Congressional Medal of Honor. Superimposed
over a news clipping image of a similarly posed 1st
Sgt. William W. Durgin is the Hayes collection
Durgin tintype photograph. Per a 1913 published
interview of the aging veteran, the photograph was
taken during the 1st Sergeant’s stay in Springfield,
Illinois for the Lincoln internment.
|William Warren Durgin was 21 years old when the Civil War broke and he enlisted as a Pvt. of the 1st
Maine Infantry. Upon his mustering out of the early war nine month Regiment the N. Stoneham
native re-enlisted into Co, K of the newly formed 9th Maine Volunteer Infantry. In May of 1863 then
Sgt. Durgin was transferred to the 10th Veteran Reserve Corps serving in and around Washington.
Quickly pressed into service upon the assassination of President Lincoln, Durgin was among
troops ordered to surround the Mary Surratt house as it was believed to be the rendezvous
location of the conspirators.
One of the early military bearers to escort the body of the president to the Capitol rotunda, 1st
Sgt. Durgin was the first of eight VRC noncommissioned officers appointed as pallbearers to
accompany the Presidents remains back to Springfield, Illinois.
The eight bearers would carry the Presidents remains as the coffin was removed from the mourning
car to briefly lay in state during stops along the long trip from Washington. They would bear the coffin
to the tomb in Springfield. The eight pallbearers were augmented by a number of Veteran Reserve
Corps NCOs designated as Guards of Honor.
|Durgin is identifiable above in a period stereo view
image by virtue of the 1st Sgt. device on his sleeve.