Approximately 100 people heard a lecture about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and death during a Presidents Day program hosted by Williamson Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation Services and held at Franklin Synergy Bank’s Musgrove auditorium.
Todd Van Beck, director of continuing education at John A. Gupton College in Nashville, was the keynote speaker.
“My quest is to instill a love of history to people,” Van Beck said.
He does not claim to be a scholar or professional historian; he describes himself as having a passion and love for Lincoln, something he could spend many hours researching, and “diving into.”
He still remembers the first Lincoln presentation he gave back in the 1970s, reminiscing on how various theories have changed over 40 years related to some of the conspirators that carried out not only Lincoln’s assassination plot, but others in the president’s administration. Van Beck is always compiling and uncovering new information for his Lincoln presentation.
Van beck only mentioned a few key dates throughout the two-hour presentation, because he wanted to tell the story “that fires their imaginations,” he said. He humbly says that it is all about Lincoln’s story, not himself.
For roughly a month, Lincoln’s funeral procession made its way through many cities to give mourners a chance to grieve and honor the 16th president of the U.S.
“April of 1865 had to be one of the most monumental months in American history,” Van Beck said.
From his appearance to his personality, every aspect of Lincoln was meticulously covered by Van Beck, who detailed the assassination timeline, the conspirators involved, and the journey Lincoln’s body made before he was laid to rest.
Lincoln’s family was also covered, including the impact his death had on his children and wife.
Two attendees that are related to the Lincoln and Todd families were there to learn more about their family heritage.
Donna Choate, who is related to the Todd family, was emotionally moved when she heard Van Beck present Mary Todd Lincoln in a different light then she had previous heard before.
“She was a woman of character, knowledgeable, and smart,” Choate said. “It was more than outstanding, he took a personal interest, and it wasn’t just an educational seminar, far more to it than that.”
Beverly Fox, also in attendance, said her great-grandmother was a Lincoln.
“I’ve been told my whole life that I was related to President Lincoln, so I’ve always been interested in his life,” Fox said.
Attendees had the opportunity to sample Lincoln’s favorite dessert, white almond cake.
Future educational programs may be in the works, according to Pam Stephens, owner & funeral director of Williamson Memorial.
“Williamson Memorial is always trying to give back to the community,” Stephens said.
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