Webmaster's Note 1: While arguably having nothing to do with glass making or with the National Register
of Historic Places Inventory, the following article is being included for its historical content, since the
subject of the interview is believed to have taken the picture on the previous page, thus making it relevant to
both. While the date of the interview and where it was originally published is lost, the story contained herein
should never be forgotten. Our thanks to Barbara Thrall Hambach, Mr. Keespies' grand-daughter, for providing it
Veteran Who Saw Lincoln Lauds Great Emancipator
by Stanley Zabroski
reprinted courtesy of Barbara Thrall Hambach
A hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln ceased to tremble and seemed to take on added strength, as
tribute was paid the Great Emancipator by Edmund Kleespies, only Civil War veteran at the Veterans Home in Rocky
"Lincoln," said Mr. Kleespies, "would have been even greater today if he were alive." He sat straighter and
emphasized his remark with a sincere nod.
"I can remember distinctly," he added, "how he shoook my hand as we were lined up at Arlington. That was
after the war, you know. And it was a big, strong hand that I held.
"And his face," he went on, "also looked strong -- just like the rest of his body. We all admired him. He
was more than a President."
Mr. Kleespies, at 98, talkative and lively, though his hearing and eyesight are somewhat impaired, saw the
greatness in Lincoln even before he became the 16th President.
Heard Douglas Debate
"It was in a park in Quincy, Ill.," he related, "that I first saw Lincoln. He was debating with Douglas." The
Civil War veteran's small body shook slightly as he chuckled. "You should have seen Lincoln. He started slow,
but you should have seen him when he got going."
And there was the second time he saw Lincoln. It was in Newark, N.J., where Lincoln stopped while enroute
to the Capitol to take his seat as president.
"I reached out to touch his hand," he said, "but someone got in front of me and my hand fell short. The best
thing I could do was touch his horse."
Mr. Kleespies, as a member of the 33rd New Jersey Volunteers, served the four years of the war without
sickness, injury, wounds, or being absent without leave. He was among the 130 of the original 1,100 men in his
regiment to return.
Saw Atlanta Burn
He gets considerable satisfaction in living over his memories. He was with Sherman in the march to the sea,
he saw the burning of Atlanta, he figured in the struggle to find enough food to live on, and was at Gettysburg.
"The last war," he said, "can't compare with our war." As for the Spanish-American War -- "It wasn't laid
Today's war? "It'll never be settled," he said. "It's got too much paperwork and no word is kept."
Webmaster's Note 2: Edmund Kleespies (1843-1944) was 97 when he and others moved to the current Veterans
Home in Rocky Hill in 1940; and he was 98 during this interview. "The last war" would therefore have referred to
World War I; and "today's war" to World War II.
Webmaster's Note 3: The image of Mr. Kleespies from the original newspaper article is frankly too faint
and indistinct to be made out. To see a much better one which was provided by his Ms. Hambach, please click the
image at right. From the text on the full picture, which tracks with information found at
www.findagrave.com, it's clear
that the newspaper article had a couple of factual errors in it. Which, however, doesn't detract from Mr.