Rarely surviving to be seen today, at least one other Frank T. Sands business card is known to be housed in National Archives files where it is accompanied by the May 5, 1862 contract securing Sands as Government Undertaker. Active throughout the Civil War, Frank T. Sands was available for hire by loved ones and authorized by the Government to recover the interned remains of fallen Union soldiers for return and burial at home. While most active in the District of Columbia, Sands traveled to such locations as the Wilderness and other battlefield burial grounds plying his trade which took him to Andersonville at the close of the War. Largely lost in time, the legacy of Frank T. Sands is most frequently recorded in relation to his place in history as Undertaker to the Lincolns when he was responsible for the preparation and service for young Willie Lincoln and finally as Undertaker to the fallen President. [Undertaker was defined in the period as a person in charge of (i.e. someone who undertakes) the responsibility for the body and burial service in February 1862.] As Chief Undertaker, Sands would direct the placement of Lincoln’ s remains in a temporary coffin with removal from the boarding house across from Ford’s Theater and transportation to the White House. He would contract with the U. S. Government to supply the final ornate coffin, the bill for which, inclusive fabrics, fringes, tassels, threads, lining etc. was $7,459. As Chief Undertaker Frank Sands was to aid of the embalmer and held primary responsibility for proper viewing of the remains during the long train trek back to Illinois. No small challenge when one considers the train rattled through 180 cities and seven states on its way back to Springfield. The many scheduled stops for the funeral train were published with a viewing opportunity provided as at each stop, Lincoln’s coffin was taken off the train, placed on an elaborately decorated horse-drawn hearse and led by solemn processions to a public building for public viewing.
Most usually first used as a coffin plate to be removed and displayed by loved ones as a lasting memorial, this inscribed patriotic plate was clearly, used first and last as a memorial in the home of Pvt. Anson Verrill’s family back in Yarmouth, Maine. A late entry into the War, eighteen year old Anson Verrill mustered in at Portland, Maine on February 20, 1865 as a Private of Co. D of the hard fought 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. Pvt. Verrill quickly became one of the vast number of Maine Volunteers who fell, not to shot or shell, but by virtue of infection and disease. Per period medical records Pvt. Verrill died of chronic bronchitis on April 6, 1865 and is interred in the City Point National Cemetery, Virginia. The memorial plate holds a tintype portrait of Pvt. Verrill and on the back, retains the period label SOLDIER’S MEMORIAL PLATE – Patented July 4th, 1865 – By J. C. ANDREWS, South Paris ,Maine . The son of a Clergyman, John C. Andrews was a mere twenty-five years old when granted a U. S. Patent for his soldier’s memorial plate. Having served as a Sergeant in the 30th Co. Maine Unassigned Infantry at the close of the War. The young country entrepreneur would be listed as a Sash & Door Manufacturer in the 1870 census and by 1880 had returned to his roots serving as a country preacher in Wales, Maine.