Sikes, Thomas. Papers, 1961-1965 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of items belonging to Thomas Sikes, including a letter describing the reaction of Portsmouth, Ohio, residents to the news of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and a military discharge certificate.
Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, a city on the state's southern border with Kentucky, Thomas Sikes (1836-1908) served as a private in Company G, First Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and then as a first lieutenant in Company E, 33rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, during the Civil War. He was later made major, then lieutenant-colonel, and finally colonel. After the war, Sikes moved to Huntington, West Virginia, where he was appointed chief of police in 1886, and elected to the office of city treasurer in 1901 and 1903.
The collection consists of a letter describing reactions to the news of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, written to Thomas Sikes by his niece, Emma, of Portsmouth, Ohio, and dated April 17, 1865. It contrasts the jubilant atmosphere of Portsmouth after recent Civil War victories with widespread mourning following the news of Lincoln's death. It incorrectly reports the death of William Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state, who survived an assassination attempt on the same day as Lincoln's assassination, April 14, 1865. The letter expresses admiration for Lincoln and his accomplishments, and commends his humble, pious disposition. It goes on to encourage Sikes to seek a leave of absence to visit Portsmouth. The collection also contains a military discharge certificate for Thomas Sikes following three months of service in the 33rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry of the United States, dated September 1, 1861. The certificate spells Sikes's name as Sykes. Also included is a photographic copy of an undated photograph of Thomas Sikes and an obituary for Thomas Sikes from an unknown newspaper.
Lynne Lichtenstein of Marana, Arizona, the great-granddaughter of Thomas Sikes, donated this collection to the Library in 2018.