SPRINGFIELD – Proving that family treasures can also be historical treasures, an Indiana couple has given the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum documents in which Lincoln permitted a mother and two sisters to visit prisoners of war.
Each pass is about the size of a business card and allowed the bearer to visit a relative at Fort Delaware, which held about 33,000 Confederates over the course of the war.
“Allow Mrs. D.R. Burbank to visit her brother Capt J. N. Taylor, now a prisoner of War at Fort Delaware. June 13, 1864 A. Lincoln,” said the first of the two passes. Research suggests the note was written for Mary Burbank of Hendersonville, Ky. Her brother, James N. Taylor, arrived at Fort Delaware on March 27, 1864.
The second pass says, “Allow the bearer, Mrs. Settle, with her daughter to visit her son, at Fort Delaware, Nov. 12, 1864 A. Lincoln.” With no hints except the surname, it’s not yet clear who Mrs. Settle or her son were.
The passes have been in the family of Hank and Anna Dowler since the end of the Civil War. An ancestor named Henry Warner served at Fort Delaware, located on an island between Delaware and New Jersey.
“We felt these passes were too important to simply keep them locked up in a safe deposit box,” said Anna Dowler, who lives in Greenwood, Ind., with her husband. “We decided they should be given to history, and the Lincoln Presidential Library seemed like the best place.”
Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, thanked the Dowlers for their donation.
“Their generosity ensures everyone can share in this piece of Lincoln’s legacy,” Lowe said. “The passes will be protected for generations to come and eventually will be added to our Papers of Abraham Lincoln project so that anyone in the world can examine them.”
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is dedicated to tracking down every document written by or to Lincoln, and then posting high-resolution copies online along with full transcriptions and annotations. Documents from Lincoln’s first 33 years are available already at www.PapersofAbrahamLincoln.org.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. Visitors can see ghosts come to life on stage, watch TV coverage of the 1860 Presidential election, roam through the Lincoln White House, experience booming cannons in a Civil War battle and come face to face with priceless original Lincoln artifacts.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.