A weather-worn, white monument about 4 feet tall in section F, lot 26, of Lexington Cemetery marks the grave of Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd.
It describes "a life that was a constant inspiration to truth and honor."
There is no mention of Todd's eyewitness account to one of history's most tragic and significant events, which the nation is recalling this month.
Todd, a prominent Lexington resident, was at the bedside of President Abraham Lincoln in his final hours, at the Petersen House across from Ford's Theatre in Washington, in April 1865.
Todd was a cousin of Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, of Lexington. He considered her a dear friend and was an admirer of her tall, lanky husband, also a native Kentuckian.
Todd also participated in the autopsy at the White House of the man many consider the greatest president of the United States of America.
Tuesday will mark the 150th anniversary of the night Lincoln was shot behind his left ear by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth during a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre.
After the shooting, the president was carried across the street to a plain, red-brick, three-story townhouse owned by German tailor William A. Petersen.
Because of his 6-foot-4 frame, Lincoln was placed diagonally across a bedroom in the back of the house. He died at 7:22 the next morning.
In honor of the anniversary, several books on the subject are being released and Ford's Theatre will host a commemorative tribute to Lincoln at 9 p.m. Tuesday, with luminaries of stage and screen participating.
In downtown Lexington, the Mary Todd Lincoln House will hold a special tour at 5 and 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Titled "Death, Mourning and Mrs. Lincoln," it will explore how Mary Todd Lincoln's experiences reflected the ways in which 19th-century Americans coped with death. The girlhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln, which Abraham Lincoln visited, is at 578 West Main Street, just a few blocks from the cemetery where Lyman Beecher Todd lies.
Who was Lyman Beecher Todd?
Not that much has been written about Dr. Todd, Gwen Thompson, director of the Mary Todd Lincoln House, said during a recent visit to his grave.
According to History of Fayette County, Kentucky, published in 1882 by O.L. Baskin and Co. of Chicago, Todd was a grandson of Levi Todd of Pennsylvania, one of the originators of Fayette County and its first clerk. Levi Todd's government office was on what is now Richmond Road.
Levi Todd had six sons and six daughters. One of his sons, Robert S. Todd, was a merchant, cotton manufacturer and clerk of the Kentucky Senate. He was the father of Mary Todd, who married lawyer Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 4, 1842, at her sister's home in Springfield, Ill.
Another son of Levi Todd was James C. Todd. He was a deputy sheriff of Fayette County and an elder in the city's Second Presbyterian Church. His son Lyman Beecher Todd was born April 16, 1832, in Lexington.
It is thought that Lyman Beecher Todd was named in honor of Lyman Beecher, a nationally known Presbyterian minister and co-founder of the American Temperance Society. One of Lyman Beecher's 13 children was author Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin depicted the horrors of slavery and stirred anti-slavery sentiments.
Lyman Beecher Todd graduated in 1851 from Centre College in Danville and studied medicine under Dr. John Phythin of Frankfort.
He later attended Ohio Medical College and graduated from Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia in 1854. He practiced in Shelby, Union and Woodford counties before relocating to Lexington with his wife, Mary Kelly of Lexington.
His medical office was at No. 20 Short Street. He was elected city physician in 1877 and 1881.
Assassination of a friend
In 1895, Lyman Beecher Todd, then 63, wrote a 12-page account of his two Washington trips to visit President Lincoln.
In the manuscript, now in the Ida Tarbell collection of Lincoln papers at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., Todd wrote that his "slightest addition to the world's history of Abraham Lincoln will no doubt be welcomed."
Todd said he visited Lincoln twice in Washington — on April 14, 1861, and on April 14, 1865 — "a coincidence of dates as remarkable as it was undesigned."
During the first visit, Lincoln named Todd postmaster of Lexington. Todd described the visit as "pleasant" and said Lincoln "received me with the cordial greeting and the genial manner so characteristic of his loving and gentle nature."
On his second visit, wrote Todd, he met Lincoln on the morning of April 14, 1865. It was Good Friday. Five days earlier, on Palm Sunday, Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, commanding general of the Union Army.
The four-year Civil War was ending.
Lincoln "was bright and cheerful at the prospect of peace, and when I left him he kindly invited me to call again the next day at noon — a noon alas! that for him in this world never came," Todd wrote.
Todd was staying at the National Hotel that Friday night. At half past 10, he said, a man rushed into the hotel and exclaimed, "My God, sir, I wonder if it can be true?"
The man later said a newsboy out front had cried out "Lincoln is assassinated."
Todd said he immediately ran to the White House and verified that Lincoln had been shot at Ford's Theatre and had been moved to the house across the street.
Todd went to the Petersen House and found it guarded by triple lines of infantry and cavalry. He was allowed inside and found Mary Todd Lincoln, her son Robert Todd Lincoln, and the wife of the owner of the house.
"Through a door at the end of the hall I entered the little room where lay the slowly dying president," wrote Todd.
"Perfect paralysis had instantly followed the fatal shot: he uttered not a word, was entirely insensible and not a muscle of his body moved."
More than 90 people came and went through the Petersen House that night and morning to pay their last respects to the dying president, according to the National Park Service.
Todd stayed at the house until early morning, when a doctor "silently indicated by uplifted hand that Abraham Lincoln was no more."
The body was removed to the White House, and Todd attended the post-mortem examination. It began at noon.
When the autopsy was over, Todd, with a pair of scissors, cut a lock of Lincoln's hair to give to Mary Todd Lincoln.
He "then secured one for myself which I have preserved as a sacred relic."
The next day, on Easter Sunday, Todd turned 33.
Todd again "looked upon Mr. Lincoln's face in Washington — on the day of the funeral" and "finally at Springfield (Ill.) his home and the resting place of his mortal remains."
He played an instrumental role in Lincoln's cortege across the country.
Todd then returned to Lexington, where many years later, at the age of 64, he encountered another tragedy.
On May 13, 1896, Todd's youngest daughter, Masie Todd, 28, was riding a bicycle on South Broadway in Lexington when an electric street car struck and killed her. News accounts said she had been riding a bicycle only a week.
Lyman Beecher Todd died six years later, on the evening of May 18, 1902, in his home at 355 East Main Street. Todd, 71, had been ill for only a few weeks.
The Lexington Leader reported that "a touching tribute of love and respect was paid to Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd in the beautiful ser vices held Thursday evening at the Campbell Memorial Chapel" on Maxwell Street.
It added: "This little mission church represents the work of Dr. Todd in the last nine years of his life."
Todd was buried in the family plot at Lexington Cemetery. It is covered this April with spring beauty flowers.