IALBC celebrates Lincoln's birthday; explores assassination issues
Cedar Rapids doctor discusses Lincoln myths and mysteries; "blood relics" on display
For Immediate Release February 5, 2010
(DES MOINES, Iowa) –The Iowa Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission will mark President Lincoln’s 201st birthday and explore myths and mysteries surrounding his assassination during an event next week in Des Moines.
“Fun to be 201” will be 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. The event is free and open to the public. Call 515-281-5111 for more information.
“President Lincoln had numerous ties to Iowa, and I continue to be inspired by his life and legacy,” said Mary Cownie, Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and acting chair of IALBC. “I encourage anybody with an interest in Abraham Lincoln to come and honor his birthday and learn more about the issues that surrounded his death.”
“Fun to be 201” will feature:
- Live music
- Civil War re-enactors
- Tours of the “Lincoln and Iowa” History on the Move mobile exhibit
- Lincoln impersonator Stan DeHaan
- Lincoln assassination-related artifacts on display (one day only)
- “Myths and Mysteries of the Lincoln Assassination” presentation by Blaine Houmes, M.D., of Cedar Rapids
- Display of a Civil War-era red palmetto flag
- Light refreshments, or bring a brown bag lunch or order from Café Baratta’s
Ever since President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, questions, rumors and speculation have surrounded the medical aspects of his death and those connected with it.
If the president had been rushed to a modern-day emergency room, would he have survived? Why wasn’t he returned to the White House to die in his own bed? Did John Wilkes Booth actually escape and live on for many years?
In “Myths and Mysteries of the Lincoln Assassination,” Houmes draws upon his background in emergency medicine and his studies of the Lincoln assassination from a medical point of view.
“My interest in Lincoln’s assassination is largely by default,” Houmes said. “The medical aspects of Lincoln’s life and health have always intrigued me, as he had typical backwoods pioneer origins and life risks. The assassination interest evolved from frequent requests for information and opinions.”
Fueling his interest in the topic is his collection of Lincoln assassination artifacts, some of which will be on display for one day only. Visitors will see Lincoln “blood relics,” such as a blood-stained shirt cuff worn by Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre where he was shot, part of the farmhouse porch on which John Wilkes Booth lay dying, the veil Mary Todd Lincoln wore to the theatre that evening and more.
“Like most collectors, these items were obtained from a variety of sources: dealers, auctions, eBay, family collections and ‘finds’ in antique shops,” Houmes said. “They pop up in some really strange places.”
In addition, the State Historical Museum will have on display a “red palmetto” flag believed to be used by Citadel cadets who fired on a U.S. supply ship headed to Fort Sumter on Jan. 9, 1861 – three months before Confederate forces bombarded the fort in the Charleston Harbor.
The flag was donated to the State Historical Museum in 1919 by a Civil War veteran from Iowa who obtained it as the war ended in 1865. The Citadel Alumni Association and the State Historical Society of Iowa are discussing a loan agreement that would send the flag to The Citadel for display.
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The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.