The Lincoln Memorial Shrine

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is a museum/research facility dedicated to Abraham Lincoln & the Civil War. Free admission.
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Admission to The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is free. The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1-5 pm. History of the Shrine The Lincoln Memorial Shrine was originally designed in an octagon shape by noted Southern California architect Elmer Grey in 1932. The construction of reinforced concrete was faced with Bedford Indiana limestone plates upon which are inscribed excerpts from Lincoln's speeches. Although the original plan called for 75 foot long patio wings to extend from each side of the Shrine, complete with fountains, benches, and additional inscriptions, it was not until 1937 that these areas were added. The additions were crafted from the same material used in the octagon with the Indiana limestone selected to match before leaving the quarry. As originally planned, these patio areas featured additional excerpts from Lincoln's speeches inscribed into the walls and fountains designed by noted American sculptor Merrill Gage. Robert Watchorn had always desired to expand his facility, but the lingering effects of the Great Depression followed by the start of World War II caused him to postpone his plans. In 1944 Watchorn passed away his dreams unfulfilled. On February 12, 1998, Watchorn's desire for an enlarged facility was realized when the newly expanded Shrine was rededicated. After four and a half years of fundraising two new wings were added to the original octagon where the patio areas had been located. The design called for moving the fountain and pool areas forward. Careful removal and repositioning of the limestone panels, and the selection of new materials have created a harmonious blend of new wings with original octagon. The interior of the Shrine features bookcases from Circassian walnut in the original octagon. The woodwork in the new wings was chosen to complement the original furnishings. To learn more about Robert Watchorn and why there is a museum to Lincoln in Redlands, California, visit the Notes Tab.

Black Confederate SoldiersFebruary 20, 1865 – The Confederate House of Representatives approved a measure allowing for t...
02/20/2020

Black Confederate Soldiers
February 20, 1865 – The Confederate House of Representatives approved a measure allowing for the recruitment of slaves into the military.

The “Negro Soldier Law” passed after long, intense debate by the slim margin of 40 to 37. Approving such a bill would have been virtually unthinkable a year ago, but now the Confederacy was on the verge of defeat, and desperation pushed the measure through.

John Forsyth, editor of the Mobile Register and Advertiser, had been urging the enactment of such a law for nearly a year and a half. He had recently written an editorial calling on President Jefferson Davis and Congress to impose “a permanent levy or draft of a certain proportion of the slave population.” According to Forsyth, since the “stragglers, skulkers and absentees” would never return to the Confederate ranks, and since the Federals now had “marshaled 200,000 of our slaves against us,” the time had come to draw from this large manpower reserve in the South.

Davis assured Forsyth that his article was “a substantial expression of my own views on the subject. It is now becoming daily more evident to all reflecting persons that we are reduced to choosing whether the negroes shall fight for or against us and that all arguments as to the positive advantages or disadvantages of employing them are beside the question, which is simply one of relative advantage between having their fighting element in our ranks or in those of our enemy.”

However, many influential southerners were still vehemently opposed to such a move. The fire-eating Charleston Mercury declared: “The freemen of the Confederate States must work out their own redemption, or they must be the slaves of their own slaves.” Robert Toombs proclaimed: “The day that the army of Virginia allows a negro regiment to enter their lines as soldiers they will be degraded, ruined, and disgraced.” And Howell Cobb stated:

“The moment you resort to negro soldiers your white soldiers will be lost to you. You can’t keep white and black soldiers together and you can’t trust Negroes by themselves. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution. If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong.”

But many of the white soldiers who supposedly would not fight beside blacks had been urging their government to allow blacks into the ranks. The 56th Virginia submitted a petition stating that “slavery is the normal condition of the negro…as indispensable to (his) prosperity and happiness… as is liberty to the whites,” but even so, “if the public exigencies require that any number of our male slaves be enlisted in the military service in order to (maintain) our Government, we are willing to make concessions to their false and unenlightened notions of the blessings of liberty.”

In the end, General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee helped tipped the scales in favor of passage, as Lee had long supported slave recruitment and believed that blacks could serve as soldiers just as well as whites. Lee had privately written that “we should employ them without delay at the risk which may be produced upon our social institutions.” He then issued a public statement on the 18th, declaring that such a measure was “not only expedient but necessary. The negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. I think we could at least do as well with them as the enemy… Those who are employed should be freed. It would be neither just nor wise… to require them to serve as slaves.”

The anti-administration Richmond Examiner questioned whether Lee was “a ‘good Southerner’; that is, whether he is thoroughly satisfied with the justice and beneficence of negro slavery.” However, it reluctantly acknowledged that “the country will not venture to deny to General Lee… anything he may ask for.”

The House bill did not specifically mandate that slaves who fought for the Confederacy would be freed, but it was generally understood that freedom would be given for service. Proponents of this bill asserted that it would encourage slaves to return to their southern homes after serving rather than go north to take homes and jobs assigned by Federal authorities. Moreover, offering slaves a chance for freedom could negate the Federals’ image as liberators among the world powers, and possibly even open a path to foreign recognition for the Confederacy.

Slaveholders comprised most of the bill’s opponents. They argued that slave recruitment could lead to universal abolition, thus forever ending their traditional way of life which they believed was entwined with the Confederate cause itself. However, considering that less than 250,000 people owned slaves, this “way of life” only existed for a very small minority of southerners. Other opponents doubted the loyalty and ability of slaves as soldiers.

Most southerners acknowledged that slavery was on the path to extinction, regardless of whether the Confederacy gained independence or not. Once this bill passed the House, it went to the Senate, where it failed by one vote. Senate President Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia (one of the Confederate envoys at the Hampton Roads conference) led the opposition, arguing:

“If we are right in passing this measure, we are wrong in denying to the old (U.S.) government the right to interfere with slavery and to emancipate the slaves. If we offer the slaves their freedom as a boon, we confess that we were insincere and hypocritical in saying slavery was the best state for the negroes themselves.”

Despite the Senate’s rejection, this bill would be reconsidered in March, when Confederates were becoming even more desperate.

Images: Confederate President Jefferson Davis | Confederate Gen R.E. Lee
Source: The Civil War Months - Experience the 55 Months that Made America
Link: https://civilwarmonths.com/2020/02/20/black-confederate-soldiers/

This Day in History, February 20, 1864:  The Battle of OlusteeOn February 20, 1864, at the Battle of Olustee, the larges...
02/20/2020

This Day in History, February 20, 1864: The Battle of Olustee

On February 20, 1864, at the Battle of Olustee, the largest conflict fought in Florida during the Civil War, a Confederate force under General Joseph Finegan decisively defeats an army commanded by General Truman Seymour. The victory kept the Confederates in control of Florida’s interior for the rest of the war.

Olustee was the climax to a Union invasion of Florida a few weeks before. General Quincy Gilmore, commander of the Union’s Department of the South, dispatched Seymour to Jacksonville on February 7. Seymour’s troops secured the town and began to send cavalry raiders inland to Lake City and Gainesville. Just behind the troops came John Hay, private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln. Hay began issuing loyalty oaths to residents in an effort to form a new, Republican state government in time to send delegates to the 1864 party convention. Under the president’s plan of reconstruction, a new state government could be formed when 10 percent of the state’s prewar voting population had taken a loyalty oath.

Seymour began moving towards Lake City, west of Jacksonville, to destroy a railroad bridge and secure northern Florida. Finegan possessed only 500 men at Lake City, but reinforcements were arriving. By the time the two sides began to skirmish near the Olustee railroad station, each side had about 5,000 troops. Throughout the day on February 20, a pitched battle raged. The Confederates were close to breaking the Yankee lines when they ran low on ammunition. When more cartridges arrived, the attack continued. By late afternoon, Seymour realized the fight was lost and he began to retreat.

The Yankees suffered around 1,800 killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost about 900 men. The battle did disrupt the flow of supplies from Florida to other Confederate armies, but it failed to bring about a new state government. Most of Florida remained in Confederate hands until the end of the war.

Source: History.com

The Fall of Fort AndersonFebruary 19, 1865 – The Confederate garrison guarding Wilmington, North Carolina, became one of...
02/19/2020

The Fall of Fort Anderson
February 19, 1865 – The Confederate garrison guarding Wilmington, North Carolina, became one of many to fall to overwhelming Federal numbers this month.

As February began, Major General John Schofield’s Federal XXIII Corps was moving from Tennessee to Washington. From there, the troops boarded transports that took them down the Potomac River, into the Chesapeake Bay, and then down the Atlantic coast to Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

Schofield’s Federals were to join forces with Major General Alfred H. Terry’s X Corps, which had occupied Fisher ever since its capture in January. The combined force would then work with Rear Admiral David D. Porter’s massive Federal naval fleet to capture Wilmington, north of Fort Fisher. Wilmington was once a vital Confederate seaport, but the fall of Fisher closed it down. From Wilmington, the Federals hoped to open a supply line to Goldsboro, where they would join forces with Major General William T. Sherman’s Federals marching up from South Carolina.

To get to Wilmington from Fort Fisher, the Federals would have to move north up the Cape Fear River. A peninsula to the east featured the Sugar Loaf Line, which was a few miles north of Fisher and manned by Major General Robert F. Hoke’s Confederates. One of Hoke’s brigades under Brigadier General Johnson Hagood held Fort Anderson, across the river to the west. The river was laden with hundreds of torpedoes to block Federal efforts to pass.

On the 8th, elements of XXIII Corps began joining Terry’s troops at Fort Fisher aboard transports escorted by Porter’s warships. Schofield arrived the next day and, as the ranking commander, assumed command of this new Department of North Carolina. Major General Jacob D. Cox took over Schofield’s XXIII Corps. The combined X and XXIII corps totaled about 12,000 men.

Schofield planned for XXIII Corps to outflank Hagood’s Confederates at Fort Anderson while Terry’s X Corps demonstrated against the Sugar Loaf Line to keep Hoke from reinforcing Hagood. Porter’s warships, led by the ironclad U.S.S. Montauk, would support XXIII Corps by neutralizing Fort Anderson’s guns. Porter instructed his officers:

“The object will be to get the gunboats in the rear of their intrenchments and cover the advance of our troops… As the army comes up, your fire will have to be very rapid, taking care not to fire into our own men… Put yourself in full communication with the general commanding on the shore, and conform in all things to his wishes.”

The plan changed when Schofield received intelligence that Hoke’s left flank was weak. If true, then Schofield could shuttle Federal troops across Myrtle Sound and land them behind Hoke’s line, thus forcing him to retreat. This new operation began on the 11th when Federal gunboats on the Atlantic side of the Sugar Loaf Line began bombarding Hoke’s Confederates.

When the barrage ended a half-hour later, Terry’s Federals advanced. They broke the Confederate skirmish line, but the men on the left got bogged down in a swamp, and Terry concluded that the enemy’s defenses could not be taken by frontal assault. A nor’easter swept in to remove any doubt, and this plan was canceled. As the storms raged for several days, Schofield reverted to his original plan, which was for Terry to hold Hoke in place while Cox captured Fort Anderson.

The movement began on the 16th as Cox’s men, reinforced by Brigadier General Adelbert Ames’s division from X Corps, were ferried across the Cape Fear River to Smithville. From there, they began advancing north toward the fort. Meanwhile, Federal gunboats moved upriver and opened a massive bombardment on Hagood’s Confederates.

By the next day, the gunboats had silenced all 12 of the fort’s guns. Lieutenant Commander William B. Cushing directed his sailors to tow a fake ironclad to the front of the gunboat line to draw Confederate fire. This hulk, called “Old Bogey,” was made from a scow, timber, and canvas. Porter had used this ploy successfully on the Mississippi River, and it drew heavy fire from the Confederates this time as well.

Meanwhile, Cox’s Federals continued moving up the west bank of the Cape Fear River. Cox reported, “About three miles from Smithville, we encountered the enemy’s cavalry outposts, which retired skirmishing. The country, being an almost continuous swamp, the march was slow.”

As they came to a fork in the Wilmington Road, Cox sent part of his force up each prong, staying with the prong on the right–closest to the river–where he could maintain communications with Schofield and Porter. Ames’s men moved down the left prong. The Federals struggled to cover just 10 miles on the 17th.

The next day, Cox’s Federals approached the defenses outside Fort Anderson. Cox wrote, “The ground in front of the works was entirely open for 200 or 300 yards, and the breast-works themselves were well made, covered with abatis, and commanded by the artillery fire of the fort.”

Schofield arrived on the scene and concluded that the fort could not be taken by frontal assault. He, therefore, held two brigades in the fort’s front while sending two other brigades around to link with Ames and outflank the Confederates. The roundabout route they were supposed to take would presumably lead them into the Confederate rear.

The Federals drove a small Confederate force away from Governor’s Creek, built a bridge and crossed the waterway after 9 p.m. on the 18th. The next morning, the Federals in front of Fort Anderson reported that the fort had been abandoned. Colonel Thomas Henderson, commanding one of the Federal brigades facing Anderson, reported:

“During the night the fort was evacuated, and on the morning of the 19th, about 5 o’clock, the skirmishers entered the fort without opposition. The evacuation was no doubt induced by the movement of the column under the command of Major-General Cox, which otherwise would have got in rear of the fort and cut off the retreat of the garrison.”

Henderson and the rest of the Federals pursued, as did Cox’s Federals, all moving north toward Wilmington. Cox wrote:

“Pushing on rapidly, the enemy’s rearguard was reached about three miles above Fort Anderson, but it made no attempt to stand until it reached Town Creek, a very deep, unfordable stream, eight miles above the fort and where a heavy line of field fortifications had been prepared for some time before the evacuation of Fort Anderson.”

Cox formed a plan of attack, set to begin the next morning.

Image: Federal Maj Gen John M. Schofield
Source: The Civil War Months -- Experience the 55 Months that Made America
Link: https://civilwarmonths.com/2020/02/19/the-fall-of-fort-anderson/

The Fall of CharlestonFebruary 18, 1865 – City officials surrendered Charleston, South Carolina, to Federal forces this ...
02/18/2020

The Fall of Charleston
February 18, 1865 – City officials surrendered Charleston, South Carolina, to Federal forces this morning.

Charleston was the Confederacy’s prized port city, having defied a Federal naval siege for nearly two years. But the fall of Columbia, the destruction of the South Carolina Railroad, and the Federal threat to Wilmington had left Charleston isolated, so Lieutenant General William Hardee reluctantly ordered his Confederate troops to abandon the city that had symbolized their cause throughout the war.

Federal troops from Major General John G. Foster’s Department of the South began landing at Bull’s Bay on the 17th to divert Confederate attention from Major General William T. Sherman’s advance through central South Carolina. That night, the Confederates began moving north toward Florence and Cheraw to join forces with General P.G.T. Beauregard’s troops opposing Sherman’s march.

Before withdrawing, Commodore John R. Tucker directed his men to scuttle the ironclads in Charleston Harbor and nearby shipyards. The Confederates burned cotton in buildings and warehouses to avoid Federal confiscation. They also destroyed quartermasters’ stores, arsenals, and railroad bridges. Forts Moultrie, Johnson, Beauregard, and Castle Pinckney were evacuated. Confederates finally abandoned Fort Sumter, site of the engagement that had begun the war. Sumter had long symbolized Confederate defiance to Federal subjugation, having survived two years of heavy naval bombardment.

At 9 a.m. on the 18th (the fourth anniversary of Jefferson Davis’s presidential inauguration), Federal Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfennig accepted Charleston’s surrender from the mayor. The 21st U.S. Colored Troops, made up mostly of former slaves from the Charleston area, proudly entered the city first. Lieutenant Colonel Augustus G. Bennett of the 21st reported:

“On the morning of February 18, I received information that led me to believe the defenses and lines guarding the city of Charleston had been deserted by the enemy. I immediately proceeded to Cumming’s Point, from whence I sent a small boat, in the direction of Fort Moultrie, which boat when forty yards cast from Fort Sumter, was met by a boat from Sullivan’s Island containing a full corps of band musicians abandoned by the enemy. These confirmed my belief of an evacuation.”

Most white residents had already fled the city. According to a northern scribe, Charleston was a “city of ruins–silent, mournful, in deepest humiliation… The band was playing ‘Hail, Columbia,’ and the strains floated through the desolate city, awakening wild enthusiasm in the hearts of the colored people…” Reporter Charles C. Coffin later wrote that fleeing Confederates had set numerous fires as they hurried out of town that morning:

“The citizens sprang to the fire-engines and succeeded in extinguishing the flames in several places; but in other parts of the city, the fire had its own way, burning till there was nothing more to devour… At the Northeastern Railroad depot, there was an immense amount of cotton which was fired. The depot was full of commissary supplies and ammunition, powder in kegs, shells, and cartridges. The people rushed in to obtain the supplies. Several hundred men, women, and children were in the building when the flames reached the ammunition and the fearful explosion took place, lifting up the roof and bursting out the walls, and scattering bricks, timbers, tiles, beams, through the air; shells crashed through the panic-stricken crowd, followed by the shrieks and groans of the mangled victims lying helpless in the flames, burning to cinders in the all-devouring element.”

Colonel Bennett reported:
“While awaiting the arrival of my troops at Mills’ Wharf a number of explosions took place. The rebel commissary depot was blown up, and with it, it is estimated, that not less than 200 human beings, most of whom were women and children, were blown to atoms. These people were engaged in procuring food for themselves and families, by permission from the rebel military authorities. The rebel ram Charleston was blown up while lying at her anchorage opposite Mount Pleasant ferry wharf, in the Cooper River.”

According to a northern correspondent:
“Not a building for blocks here that is exempt from the marks of shot and shell… Ruin within and without, and its neighbor in no better plight. The churches, St. Michael’s and St. Philip’s, have not escaped the storms of our projectiles. Their roofs are perforated, their walls wounded, their pillars demolished, and with the pews filled with plastering. From Bay-street, studded with batteries, to Calhoun-street, our shells have carried destruction and desolation, and often death with them.”

Since the Federals belonged to the Department of the South, they went to work extinguishing fires and restoring order more diligently than Sherman’s bummers may have done had they captured Charleston. The Federals seized 250 guns and salvaged the ironclad C.S.S. Columbia, which had been run aground but not destroyed. The Federals also captured several “David”-type semi-submersibles that had been used to attack Federal vessels in the harbor.

Federal naval crews left the signal lights burning in the harbor to lure in Confederate blockade-runners, and two were captured. Rear Admiral John A.B. Dahlgren, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, wrote, “You see by the date of this (the 18th) that the Navy’s occupation has given this pride of rebeldom to the Union flag, and thus the rebellion is shut out from the ocean and foreign sympathy.”

U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered “a national salute” fired from “every fort arsenal and army headquarters of the United States, in honor of the restoration of the flag of the Union upon Fort Sumter.” Northerners especially rejoiced at the fall of this hated city. Most black residents welcomed the Federal occupation troops, especially the 55th Massachusetts, a black regiment.

The simultaneous falls of Columbia, Charleston, and Fort Sumter devastated the South. Lieutenant John Wilkinson, commanding the blockade runner C.S.S. Chameleon (formerly the Tallahassee), learned about the fall of Charleston while in the Bahamas and lamented, “This sad intelligence put an end to all our hopes…” President Davis acknowledged, “This disappointment to me is extremely bitter.”

Image: The Fall of Charleston
Source: The Civil War Months - Experience the 55 Months that Made America
Link: https://civilwarmonths.com/2020/02/18/the-fall-of-charleston/

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125 W Vine St
Redlands, CA
92373

General information

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is a unit of the Special Collections Division of A.K. Smiley Public Library. Admission is free. The Watchorm Lincoln Memorial Association, a 501 (c)3 tax deductible organization oversees the WLMA endowment. Contact Us E-MAIL: [email protected] PHONE: 909-798-7632 PHONE: 909-798-7636 FAX: 909-798-7566 Curator: Nathan D. Gonzales, PhD Private tours can be arranged for groups of 12 or more people for your organization or school group between the hours of 9:00 am and noon by contacting the Heritage Room at 909-798-7632

Opening Hours

Tuesday 13:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 13:00 - 17:00
Thursday 13:00 - 17:00
Friday 13:00 - 17:00
Saturday 13:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

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The Lincoln Memorial Shrine

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine 125 W. Vine Street Redlands, CA 92373 Admission to The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is free. The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1-5 pm.

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is located in historic downtown Redlands, CA., behind the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Smiley Park.

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is a unit of the Special Collections Division of the A.K. Smiley Public Library. The Watchorn Lincoln Memorial Association, a 501 (c)3 tax deductible organization oversees the WLMA endowment. E-MAIL: [email protected] PHONE: 909-798-7632 or 909-798-7636 FAX: 909-798-7566 Curator: Nathan D. Gonzales, PhD

The History of the Lincoln Memorial Shrine

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine was originally designed in an octagon shape by noted Southern California architect Elmer Grey in 1932. The construction of reinforced concrete was faced with Bedford Indiana limestone plates upon which are inscribed excerpts from Lincoln's speeches.

Private tours can be arranged for groups of 12 or more people for your organization or school group between the hours of 9:00 am and noon by contacting the Heritage Room at 909-798-7632

Although the original plan called for 75-foot long patio wings to extend from each side of the Shrine, complete with fountains, benches, and additional inscriptions, it was not until 1937 that these areas were added. The additions were crafted from the same material used in the octagon with the Indiana limestone selected to match before leaving the quarry. As originally planned, these patio areas featured additional excerpts from Lincoln's speeches inscribed into the walls and fountains designed by noted American sculptor Merrill Gage. Robert Watchorn had always desired to expand his facility, but the lingering effects of the Great Depression followed by the start of World War II caused him to postpone his plans. In 1944 Watchorn passed away his dreams unfulfilled.

On February 12, 1998, Watchorn's desire for an enlarged facility was realized when the newly expanded Shrine was rededicated. After four and a half years of fundraising two new wings were added to the original octagon where the patio areas had been located. The design called for moving the fountain and pool areas forward. Careful removal and repositioning of the limestone panels and the selection of new materials have created a harmonious blend of new wings with the original octagon.

The interior of the Shrine features bookcases from Circassian walnut in the original octagon. The woodwork in the new wings was chosen to complement the original furnishings.

A Lincoln Museum in Redlands

Perhaps the most frequently asked question by visitors to the Lincoln Memorial Shrine is “Why is there a Lincoln museum in Redlands, California?” The answer lies in the remarkable life of part-time Redlands resident, Robert Watchorn. Born into the working class of Alfreton, England in 1858, Robert Watchorn was forced by his family’s poverty to begin work in the region’s coal mines at the tender age of 11. Watchorn endured eighteen-hour shifts in dangerous conditions for the meager wage of 27 cents a day. In 1880, Watchorn immigrated to America, where he found work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. As a new American, Watchorn quickly became fascinated with the dramatic story of Abraham Lincoln, who had been martyred at the moment of his greatest triumph, just 15 years before. Watchorn saw in Lincoln the personification of the “American dream,” the ability to improve your circumstances if you are willing to study hard, work diligently, and apply yourself. Lincoln himself labeled this phenomenon “the right to rise.”

Like Lincoln, Watchorn knew education was the key to advancement. He organized a night school for miners and became involved in the early American labor movement, culminating with his election as the first secretary of the United Mine Workers union. His efforts caught the attention of Pennsylvania’s governor, Robert Pattison, who appointed him the Inspector of Factories and Mines in 1891. Among Watchorn’s achievements was successfully ending the scourge of child labor in the state.

Careers in Immigration and Oil

Governor Pattison was then able to secure Watchorn a position in the United States Immigration Service. In 1905, President Roosevelt appointed him Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island in New York City’s harbor. Watchorn worked to ease the burden of those awaiting processing into America. In 1909, newly elected president William Howard Taft dismissed Watchorn for his pro-immigration stance. Watchorn joined the Union Oil Company as its treasurer. His own wildcatting attempts proved highly successful and he amassed a fortune with the Watchorn Oil and Gas Company. When Watchorn acquired the financial resources, he began purchasing books, artifacts, and manuscripts associated with Lincoln’s life and times. An admirer of the community of Redlands, he chose the town for his winter home. A highly devout man, Mr. Watchorn gave freely of his wealth: chimes for churches in Redlands, Los Angeles, and La Crescenta; housing and a park in his hometown of Alfreton; and Watchorn Hall at the University of Redlands.

A Family and The Great War

Watchorn was a devoted family man. He married Alma Jessica Simpson in Ohio in 1891. They had two sons, Robert Jr., who died in infancy, and Emory Ewart, who was born in New York City in 1895. Emory Ewart graduated from Hollywood High School in Hollywood, CA in 1913. Watchorn shared his admiration for Lincoln with his only surviving child. A frequent visitor with his parents to Europe, Emory was trapped in Germany for a brief period of time in 1914 when the conflict that would become known as the Great War broke out. Sharing his father’s affinity for Great Britain, the young Watchorn looked forward to American involvement in the war. In the summer of 1916, he completed officers’ training at Monterey, CA. When President Woodrow Wilson convinced Congress to declare war on Germany in April of 1917 “in order to make the world safe for democracy,” Emory Ewart volunteered for the US Army Air Service. After completing ground training at Berkeley, CA, he sailed aboard the SS Aquitania for Europe. Before entraining for his final destination in Italy, he was able to enjoy a ten-day leave in Paris. In a letter later published in the LA Times, he wrote, “Paris is like the smile on the face of the badly wounded.”

The Italian Front in World War I witnessed incredible suffering. After three years of bloody trench warfare with Germany and Austria, Italy was on the verge of suing for peace. Italy’s allies, Great Britain, France, and the United States, rushed in reinforcements to bolster Italian morale. Included among these reinforcements was a contingent of several hundred American pilot trainees, under the command of then congressman, later New York mayor, Fiorello La Guardia. Although her army was not enjoying much success, Italy’s strategic aviation was widely regarded as being the best in the world in 1917. In particular, the tri-motor Caproni biplane bomber was highly respected. The United States, by comparison, had no military aviation and despite expending millions of dollars, not a single American-produced aircraft would see service in the war. What America did have was tens of thousands of eager volunteers, including twenty-one-year-old Emory Ewart Watchorn.

Heroic Deeds

After months of flight training in Foggia, Lt. Watchorn received his gold Royal Italian Air Force wings in the summer of 1918 and was assigned to the 13th Aero Squadron. Based in Padua, Lt. Watchorn and his Italian comrades flew day and night bombing missions against Austrian airfields, railroad yards, and troop concentrations. On a night mission, Lt. Watchorn’s center engine was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He would receive a commendation for coolly executing a perfect emergency landing, saving his crew and the plane. The arduous flying conditions, open cockpits, and extreme cold took a toll on his health. Soon after Armistice Day, he contracted a severe case of pneumonia. He recovered, however, and returned to California in triumph. Two years later, a recurrence of his health problems developed into blood-poisoning. After a two month struggle, Emory Ewart died at the age of 25 on July 10, 1921. Robert and Alma were devastated by the loss of their only surviving child and always felt that his death was a direct result of his service to his country.

Memorial for a Fallen Son

Seeking a way to memorialize their fallen son, the Watchorns eventually settled on the concept of building the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in their winter home of Redlands. That vision became reality in 1932 when the one-room octagonal building opened. In 1937, fountains and limestone walls bearing Lincoln quotations were added to the octagon. Over the following decades, an ever-increasing wealth of acquisitions required additional space. Thanks to the generosity of Lincoln and Civil War enthusiasts throughout Southern California, more than one million dollars was raised and in 1998, two beautiful wings were added to the original octagon.

It is a unique facility – the only such museum and archive west of the Mississippi River dedicated solely to the study of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. By placing the Shrine in his adopted home of Redlands, Watchorn knew this monument of ideals would be available to the increasing number of people moving into Southern California. It was “accessible yet secluded,” he said.

A Lasting Gift

Robert Watchorn desired that his Lincoln Memorial Shrine serve as a place where visitors would be inspired by the life and accomplishments of the man judged by many to be the greatest of all Americans. It is an institution that caters to visitors ranging from the average elementary school student to the nationally recognized historian. The great Lincoln scholar Jay Monaghan said, upon his visit to the Shrine in 1940, that “Lincoln is all things to all men.” Each of us approaches the memory of Lincoln in our own singular way. Lincoln is the “common property of each individual,” another biographer wrote. For the community of Redlands and for the greater region of Southern California, that “property” is a gift from Robert Watchorn.

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“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Lincoln Great quote, Vaudville is city of Waldo and the first tradesmen of the reform before the reformers of Calvin and Besze and his links to US have not always been friendly.