|Born||Fleetwood Herndon Lindley
April 4, 1887
|Died||February 1, 1963
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.
|Resting place||Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois|
|Known for||Last surviving person to have seen the face of Abraham Lincoln|
Fleetwood Herndon Lindley (April 4, 1887 – February 1, 1963) was the last surviving person to have looked upon the face of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln before his final burial at his tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery on September 26, 1901; Lindley was fourteen years old at the time.
Lindley was born in Illinois, the son of Joseph Perry Lindley and Julia Herndon. Joseph Lindley was a member of the Lincoln Guard of Honor, assembled in February 1880 by John Carroll Power, custodian of Lincoln's tomb, in response to the attempted theft of Lincoln's remains from the tomb in November 1876. In 1900–1901, the tomb underwent a massive reconstruction, and Lincoln's body was to be placed in a steel cage which would be filled with Portland cement. To satisfy their curiosity and lay to rest rumors that his body was no longer there, the surviving members of the Guard of Honor decided to open Lincoln's coffin for a final inspection.
On the morning of September 26, Lindley's teacher gave him a note from his father, telling him to get on his bicycle and ride as fast as he could to Oak Ridge Cemetery to witness a historic occasion. In an interview on January 29, 1963, three days before his death, Lindley recalled what he had seen: "Yes, his face was chalky white. His clothes were mildewed. And I was allowed to hold one of the leather straps as we lowered the casket for the concrete to be poured. I was not scared at the time but I slept with Lincoln for the next six months." Though George Cashman, a later custodian of Lincoln's tomb, claimed to be the last person to have seen Lincoln's face that day, Cashman's wife Dorothy disputed this in a pamphlet, stating, "At the time of his death in 1963 Fleetwood Lindley was the last living person to have looked upon Mr. Lincoln's face."
Lindley eventually married and had two children, and worked as a florist; he also served as president of the board of managers for Oak Ridge Cemetery. He died in Springfield on February 1, 1963, and is buried at the Lindley family plot at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
- Fleetwood Herndon Lindley – Ancestry.com
- "Recalls Look at Lincoln's Face in Tomb". Chicago Tribune. February 4, 1962. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
"I saw his face," Fleetwood Lindley, 74, a retired florist, said. "It was September 26, 1901, in the Civil war Presidents tomb when a group of Springfield ...
- Joseph Perry Lindley (1842–1918) – Find A Grave Memorial
- Julia Herndon Lindley (1854–1940) – Find A Grave Memorial
- Thomas J. Craughwell (June 24, 2007). "A Plot to Steal Lincoln's Body". US News and World Reports. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- "...And His Face Was Chalky White". Life magazine. February 15, 1963. p. 87–88. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- "Life magazine, 1963". Rogerjnorton.com. Retrieved 2010-11-29.