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Published June 01, 2012, 06:59 PM

Fargo cemetery holds connection to Abraham Lincoln

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There is a fascinating piece of history in Fargo's Riverside Cemetery. There is a man buried there who was assigned to protect President Abraham Lincoln.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There is a fascinating piece of history in Fargo's Riverside Cemetery. There is a man buried there who was assigned to protect President Abraham Lincoln.

Smack dab in the heart of Fargo's Riverside Cemetery, a very plain, simple average grave marker. The name? Smith Stimmel; married and buried in Fargo, years after guarding the President of the United States.

Tom Shafer – Riverside Cemetery: “I think it said in there that he used to run into Lincoln when Lincoln was out for a walk in the evening and how they would greet each other then. I find it fascinating. I am very interested in this; Things like this just get my attention.”

Tom Shafer of Riverside Cemetery stumbled upon a book which details the life of Smith Stimmel, including his years as part of President Lincoln's Security detail. It was a small, tight knit group of men whose job was to protect Lincoln.

Tom Shafer: “Lincoln did not like to have security detail in the box with him, so they were sitting down on the main floor of Ford’s Theater when he was shot.”

In a book he authored Stimmel writes about the pain and the loss of that night at Ford’s Theatre. He writes, “We were ordered to clear the street for one block in front of the house where Lincoln lay. It was an awful night.”

Tom Shafer: “We have other Civil War vets here but none that were connected with Abraham Lincoln like Smith Stimmel was. Every one of these has a story, maybe not as prominent as this.”

Following Lincoln’s death and the end of the Civil War, Smith Stimmel would move to Fargo, then the Dakota Territory. He would get married at United Methodist Church in Fargo and manage a Bonanza farm near Casselton.

Stimmel would go on to speak around the world about Lincoln, even traveling to Norway, where he and North Dakota's Governor dedicated a bust of Lincoln, the man he met, protected and later mourned.

Smith Stimmel was just 21 when he was part of Lincoln's mounted escort. He was with Lincoln at Fort Stewart in 1864, when the President came under Confederate fire.

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