Today In Western History: Fleetwood Lindley Is Born

Today, April 4, 1887, is the birthday of one Fleetwood Lindley.  Most people in the US have never ever heard of Fleetwood, and he certainly did nothing spectacular with his life, working as a florist for most of it.  He was never a hero in any sense of the word, not so far as any one knows, and there is no record of his inventing anything.  He may have served in the armed forces, we don’t really know for sure.  We do know he was married and had two children, but they were of no consequence to why you should know about Fleetwood, or why he deserves mention here.  Fleetwood is being mentioned here for one day in his life, and again for the last day of his life. 

Fleetwood Lindley,  age 13, (circa 1901)
                               Fleetwood Lindley,
                              age 13, (circa 1901)

Fleetwood’s father, Joseph, had served as a Guard of Honor for a funeral 36 year ago.  Now he was here again, at the same man’s crypt.  The plan was to open it and make sure the deceased was still there.  There had been several attempts to steal the body of the deceased and hold it for ransom, and now the son of the deceased wanted to make sure that desecration could never happen for real.  The plan was to encase the coffin on a steel cage, and then lower it into a waiting vault, which would then be filled with wet cement.  The coffin, and the body of the deceased, would never see the light of day again.  But even before this was done, the selected group of twenty-two individuals, of whom Fleetwood was one, would open the coffin – against the wishes of the son of the deceased, by the way – in order to verify that the body WAS still there.  Once the coffin was opened and everyone had an opportunity to verify the body was there, and it was who it was supposed to be, it was sealed up once more and lovingly placed back in the vault, the cage built and the cement poured.  The coffin was permanently hidden from the eyes of the world for all time.

And Fleetwood Lindley?  When Fleetwood passed away, February 1, 1963, he went to his rest knowing that he was the last person in the world to have looked at the face of The Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln.  And he did that on September 26, 1901, when he was 13 years old.


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