While researching the Abraham Lincoln burial site for this post, the first in our ‘Weird Facts: US Presidents’ series, we were astonished by the multiple exhumations and inspections of Abraham Lincoln’s remains subsequent to his burial service in Springfield, Illinois. As the information we gathered seemed to be macabre and exaggerated, we consulted several sources to verify the details as best we could.
The sad fact is that the earthly remains of President Lincoln – most often regarded as America’s greatest president – were disturbed many times and treated with very little dignity over many decades.
Those involved were, for the most part, well intended. Yet, there seems to have been an element of morbid curiosity at times, particularly surrounding the 1901 exhumation and some of the people permitted to inspect the president’s remains.
The First Interment
April 18 – May 3, 1865: after embalmment, the president’s body was placed into a coffin that was opened for viewing at the White House; the Rotunda of the United States Capitol; Merchant’s Exchange Building, Baltimore, Maryland; Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; City Hall, New York City; Old Capital, Albany, New York; St James Hall, Buffalo, New York; Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio; Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio; Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis, Indiana; Michigan City, Indiana, Old Chicago Courthouse, Chicago, Illinois; Old State Capital, Springfield, Illinois. 
May 4, 1865: following the torturous journey from Washington to Springfield, Illinois, the coffins of President Lincoln and his son Willie arrived at Oakridge Cemetery for temporary interment in the public receiving vault. 
The Funeral Train at Harrisburg
The Second Interment
December 21, 1865: the bodies of Lincoln and his son, Willie, were moved to a recently created temporary vault. Lincoln’s coffin was opened and his remains identified.  
The Third Interment
September 19, 1871: the bodies of President Lincoln and his sons, Edward and Willie were moved into the partially completed, Lincoln Tomb. The remains of Tad Lincoln, (the president’s youngest son who died in July 1971) had already been interred within the tomb. Lincoln’s coffin was opened and his remains identified.  
The Fourth Interment
October 9, 1874: the Lincoln Tomb now complete, the president’s remains were removed from his coffin, placed into a lead-lined, cedar coffin and interred in a marble sarcophagus. 
The Fifth Interment
November 13, 1876: following an attempt by counterfeiters to steal the president’s body on 7th November 1876, President Lincoln’s coffin was transferred (after a number of secret movements) to a location within the basement and hidden beneath a woodpile.    Resealed, the sarcophagus was left empty.
The Sixth Interment
November 18, 1878: after spending more than two years hidden in the basement, President Lincoln is secretly reburied in a shallow grave nearby. 
The Seventh Interment
November 21, 1878: following anonymous threats, President Lincoln’s coffin was exhumed to make certain it was still there and intact . It was reburied. 
July 19, 1882: Mary Todd Lincoln was buried in the Lincoln Tomb. Shortly thereafter, her remains were exhumed and secretly buried beside her husband.  
The Eighth Interment
April 14, 1887: the remains of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were exhumed. Lincoln’s coffin was opened and his remains identified. Both coffins were reinterred within a new brick burial vault.  
The Ninth Interment
March 10, 1900: all Lincoln family coffins were exhumed and reinterred in an underground vault close to the Lincoln Tomb during its reconstruction.  
The Tenth Interment
April 24, 1901: President Lincoln’s coffin was exhumed and placed within a sarcophagus in the reconstructed Lincoln Tomb. This created immediate security concerns due to the ease with which the counterfeiters had accessed and opened the sarcophagus in 1876.  
The Eleventh Interment
July 10, 1901: President Lincoln’s coffin was removed from the sarcophagus and reinterred in an empty crypt within the burial vault of the Lincoln Tomb. Plans were made to construct a secure, permanent crypt beneath the floor of the Lincoln Tomb.  
The Twelfth Interment
September 26, 1901, 1901: President Lincoln’s coffin was removed from its crypt. The coffin was opened and twenty-three people, including a child, identified the remains.   
The coffin was placed into a steel cage and encased in concrete (to a depth of three metres) beneath the burial vault of the Lincoln Tomb.
Lincoln’s Coffin Exhumed -September 26, 1901
The Lincoln Tomb underwent major reconstruction from 1930 to 1931 during which there was no further need to disturb the remains of the slain president.
1. En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Funeral and burial of Abraham Lincoln. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funeral_and_burial_of_Abraham_Lincoln [Accessed 31 Mar. 2019].
2. Abrahamlincolnonline.org. (2019). Abraham Lincoln Tomb Highlights. [online] Available at: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/tombtimeline.htm [Accessed 31 Mar. 2019].
3. Turner, T. (2019). Stealing Lincoln’s Body, by Thomas J. Craughwell. [online] Quod.lib.umich.edu. Available at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jala/2629860.0029.107/–stealing-lincolns-body?rgn=main;view=fulltext;q1=corpse [Accessed 31 Mar. 2019].