Abraham Lincoln
The earliest known picture of Abraham Lincoln. The original daguerreotype probably was made by N. H. Shepherd in Springfield in 1846, at a time when Lincoln had an active Coles County law practice. Robert Todd Lincoln believed the picture was taken in Washington in 1848.
From (Frederick Hill Meserve and Carl Sandburg: The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln. New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1944. Photograph Number One. Used by permission of Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve.)
Abraham Lincoln
and
Coles County, Illinois
by

Charles H. Coleman
Professor of Social Science,
Eastern Illinois State College
at Charleston.
Scarecrow Press
New Brunswick, New Jersey
1955
Copyright 1955, by Charles H. Coleman

Contents

Introduction vii
Genealogical tables x
From Indiana to Illinois in 18301
Across Coles County 9
Abraham’s Visit to His Folks in 1831 19
The Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point 28
The Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 35
Abraham Lincoln’s Coles County Family 50
Lincoln’s Concern for His Coles County Relatives 61
Abraham Lincoln’s Coles County Law Practice 80
The Matson Slave Case 104
Orlando B. Ficklin and Usher F. Linder 112
Was Lincoln a Swedenborgian? 125
The Death of Thomas Lincoln 125
Lincoln Protects the Interests of His Stepmother 142
Lincoln and Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 157
The Charleston Debate 173
The President-elect Visits Coles County 191
President Lincoln and His Coles County Relatives and Friends 211
President Lincoln and the Charleston Rioters 226
A Charleston Adviser to the President 234
In Conclusion 238

Appendix

Chronology: The Lincolns in Coles County, 1830-1869 240
Locations in Coles County Associated with Abraham Lincoln 245
Sources of Information 248

Illustrations

The Coles County Lawyer, 1846 Frontispiece
The Goosenest Prairie cabin of Thomas Lincoln 36
Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln 51
Photograph of Abraham Lincoln made on January 26, 1861 170

Maps

The Lincoln Party Across Coles County, March 10-12, 1830 8
Thomas Lincoln’s Homes in Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County 27
The Eighth Judicial Circuit, 1847-1853 79
Lincoln’s Last Visit to Coles County 190

Tables

Genealogical tables showing family relationships x
Real Estate transactions in Coles County involving Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and John D. Johnston 25

   
Introduction
Coles County, in east-central Illinois, does not claim Abraham Lincoln as a resident. While Lincoln was living in New Salem and in Springfield, Coles County was the home of his father and stepmother, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln.
We speak of Coles County, "Buckle on the Corn Belt," where Abraham Lincoln was known and loved while he lived as in few other communities apart from his home county of Sangamon.
We speak of Abraham Lincoln, frequent visitor, the pride of his Coles County parents, first driving an ox-team across the county when barely twenty-one years of age; then returning frequently, his maturity and his reputation growing visit by visit – the vigorous young wrestler throwing the local champion, the young lawyer trying his wings in the small brick courthouse in Charleston, the aspiring politician mingling with the crowd on the dusty square, the helpful son and stepson, sharing a growing prosperity with elderly parents and impecunious relatives.
Here lived, in addition to his parents, his stepbrother John and his stepsisters, Sarah Elizabeth and Matilda, with their families. Here lived Dennis Hanks, Abraham’s second cousin and boyhood companion, husband of Sarah Elizabeth. Dennis’ daughter Harriet lived with the Lincolns in Springfield for about a year and a half. She probably was the only Coles County rela- tive to see Lincoln in Springfield. It was at her home that Lincoln spent his last night in Charleston.
Lincoln formed lasting friendships with legal and political figures in the county. Among these were Thomas A. Marshall, lawyer, banker, and prominent Republican; Usher F. Linder, lawyer, orator, and Democrat, and Orlando B. Ficklin, lawyer and Democratic Congressman.
Charleston in 1858 was the scene of the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate. It was to Charleston that Lincoln made his last trip from Springfield before going to Washington in 1861 to assume the burden of the presidency. He came to bid his stepmother goodbye. His father had died ten years earlier at the family home at Goosenest Prairie in the southern part of the county.
With Lincoln’s parents and other relatives living in Coles County, his visits kept green his memories of his boyhood days in Kentucky and Indiana. Here, grown to manhood and woman- hood, lived the children with whom he had grown up, the playmates of his youth.
Lincoln’s affection for the humble folk of Goosenest Prairie and Charleston did not lessen as he achieved prominence as a lawyer and distinction as a statesman. His relations with them during the thirty-four years he lived apart demonstrates as much as any feature of his life the essential democracy of Abraham Lincoln.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
During the five years of investigation and writing behind the present work, the author received assistance in varied forms from some three score individuals and institutions. The references to that assistance which appear in the notes give some idea of the extent of the author’s debt to others. In the cases of twenty individuals, however, a more personal word of appreciation is in order. Their assistance and encouragement made the present work possible.

Dr. Byron K. Barton, The Eastern Illinois State College at Charleston.

Dr. Roy P. Basler, formerly, The Abraham Lincoln Association.

Mr. Clarence W. Bell, Mattoon, Illinois.

Dr. Robert L. Blair, The Eastern Illinois State College.

Mr. C. C. Burford, Urbana, Illinois.

Mr. William F. Cavins, Lansing, Illinois.

Mr. Elmer Elston, County Clerk, Coles County, Illinois.

Mrs. John H. Marshall, Charleston, Illinois.

Dr. J. Monaghan, former Illinois State Historian.

Miss Margaret C. Norton, Illinois State Archivist.

Dr. C. Percy Powell, The Library of Congress.

Dr. Harry E. Pratt, Illinois State Historian.

Mrs. Harry E. Pratt, The Abraham Lincoln Association.

Dr. James G. Randall, The University of Illinois. Deceased.

Mrs. James G. Randall, Urbana, Illinois.

Mr. George P. Rodgers, Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County.

Mr. Samuel S. Sargent, Hutton Township, Coles County.

Mr. Joseph F. Snyder, Circuit Clerk, Coles County.

Dr. S. E. Thomas, The Eastern Illinois State College, Emeritus.

Dr. Louis A. Warren, The Lincoln National Life Foundation, For Wayne, Indiana.

The following individuals and publishers generously gave permission to quote from the books indicated:

Dr. Bruce Barton. William E. Barton: The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln. New York, George HL Doran Co., 1920.

Mrs. Eleanor C. Robinson. Eleanor Atkinson: The Boyhood of Lincoln. New York, Doubleday, 1910.

Mrs. Queen Gridley Thomas. Eleanor Gridley: The Story of Abraham Lincoln. Chicago, M. A. Donahue, 1927.

Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik: Abraham Lincoln. The True Story of a Great Life. Two vols., 1928.

The Caxton Printers, Ltd. Henry C. Whitney: Life on the Circuit With Lincoln. 1940.

Dodd, Mead and Co. John W. Starr: Lincoln and the Railroads. 1927.

Harcourt, Brace and Co. Carl Sandburg: Lincoln Collector. 1950.

Harper and Brothers. Lexv Wallace: An Autobiography. Two vols., 1906.

Henry Holt and Co. L. White Busbey: Uncle Joe Cannon. 1927.

Houghton Mifflin Co. Albert J. Beveridge: Abraham Lincoln. Four vols., 1928. Also, Jesse W. Weik: The Real Lincoln, A Portrait. 1932.

Liveright Publishing Corp. Emanuel Hertz: Abraham Lincoln. A New Portrait. Two vols., 1931. Also, Herndon s Life of Lincoln. 1930.

Rutgers University Press. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Eight vols., 1953. Roy P. Basler, Marion D. Pratt and Lloyd Dunlap, editors. Copyright 1953 by The Abraham Lincoln Association.

Thanks also are due to Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve for permission to use three photographs from Frederick H. Meserve and Carl Sandburg: The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln. New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1944. Dr. Meserve kindly furnished prints for this purpose.
Footnote citations have been kept as simple as possible. Works are cited for the first time by author and title; thereafter by author only or by an abbreviated title. For full listing the reader is referred to the "Sources of Information" in the Appendix.
For quotations from Lincoln’s writings, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) have been used in preference to other printed collections.
Genealogical Tables
Table I. LINCOLN-HANKS-HALL RELATIONSHIPS, WITH NAMES MENTIONED IN THE TEXT
Joseph Hanks (1725-1793) m. Ann Lee (1724-d. after 1794).
Among their five sons and four daughters were: Lucy (c. 1765-c. 1825), Elizabeth (1771-1818), William ( ? -c. 1851) and Nancy. Lucy Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, m. (1791) Henry Sparrow (1765-1844). They had four sons and four daughters.
Lucy also was the mother of
Nancy Hanks (c. 1784-1818) m. (1806) Thomas Lincoln (1778-
1851). They had three children: Sarah (1807-1828), Abraham (1809-1865) and Thomas (1811) who died in infancy. Abraham Lincoln, son of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, m.
(1842) Mary Ann Todd (1818-1882). Their children were: Robert Todd (1843-1926), Edward Baker (1845-1850), William Wallace (1850-1862) and Thomas ("Tad") (1853-1871).
Elizabeth Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, m. (1796) Thomas Sparrow ( ? -1818). They had no children.
William Hanks, son of Joseph Hanks, m. Elizabeth Hall.
Among their children was
John Hanks (1802-1890) m. Susan Malinda Wilson. They had eight children.
Nancy Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, m. Levi Hall, brother
of Elizabeth Hall. They had four sons and three daughters, among them
Squire Hall (1805-1851) m. (1826) Matilda Johnston (1809-
?) stepsister of Abraham Lincoln (see Table II). Among their three sons and five daughters was John Johnston Hall (1829-1909) m. Elizabeth Jane Taylor.
Among their three sons and three daughters was Nancy A. Hall (1869-1949) m. (1891) John Thomas.
Their son was Clarence Hall [Thomas] (1892- ) now (1954) re- siding in Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County.
Nancy Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, also was the mother
of
Dennis Friend Hanks (1799-1892) m. Sarah Elizabeth Johnston (1807-1864) stepsister of Abraham Lincoln (see Table II).
Table II. BUSH-JOHNSTON-HALL RELATIONSHIPS, WITH NAMES MENTIONED IN THE TEXT
Christopher Bush ( ? -181 2?) m. Hannah (Davis?). They had six sons and three daughters, among them Sarah (1788-1869) and Hannah.
Sarah Bush, daughter of Christopher Bush, m. (1) Daniel Johnston (? -181 6). Their children were: Sarah Elizabeth (1807.1864), Matilda (1809- ?) and John Davis (1810-1854). Sarah Bush m. (2) Thomas Lincoln, father of Abraham Lincoln. They had no children.
Sarah Elizabeth Johnston, daughter of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (1821) Dennis Hanks. They had three sons and five daughters:
Sarah Jane (1822-1907) m. Thomas S. Dowling.
John Talbot (1823-c. 1910).
Nancy (1824- ? ) m. James Shoaff.
Harriet (1826-1915) m. Augustus H. Chapman.
Amanda (1833- ? ) m. Allison C. Poorman.
Mary m. William F. Shriver.
Charles (1841-1870).
Theophilus (1849?).

Matilda Johnston, daughter of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (1) (1826) Squire Hall. They had three sons and five daughters:
John Johston (1829-1909) m. Elizabeth Jane Taylor.
Nancy Ann (1832-?).
Elizabeth Jane (1837- ? ) m. John Berry.
Alfred L. (1839-?).
Sarah Louisa (1841-1935) m. Merrill Fox.
Joseph A.
Amanda.
Harriet.

Matilda Johnston, daughter of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (2) (1856) Reuben Moore (1797-1859). She was his second wife. They had one son,
Giles.

John Davis Johnston, son of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (1) (1834) Mary Barker (1816-1850). They had six sons and one daughter:
Thomas Lincoln Davis (1837-?).
Abraham Lincoln Barker (1838-1861).
Marietta (1840-1853).
Squire Hall (1841-?).
Richard M. (1843-?).
Dennis Friend (1845-?).
Daniel (1847-c. 1848).

John Davis Johnston, son of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (2) (1851) Nancy Jane Williams (1836- ? ). They had one son,
John Davis, Jr.

Hannah, daughter of Christopher Bush, m. Ichabod Radley. Their children were
John
Isaac
Hannah, m. John Sawyer. Among their children were
Lydia
Ann.
From Indiana to Illinois in 1830
THOMAS LINCOLN, Virginia born and Kentucky bred pioneer farmer, had lived in Spencer County, Indiana, for nearly fourteen years. He had had about enough of the hilly acres and the all-pervading forest. The dread "milk sick,& John
Isaac
Hannah, m. John Sawyer. Among their children were Lydia
Ann. rdquo; 1 common in a wooded country where cattle roamed the timber instead of green pastures, had killed his first wife Nancy. Now, a dozen years later, the dread malady was on the rise once more, threatening the forest-dwellers of southern Indiana. Tom was ready and eager to move again, to follow the wagon trails of the advancing frontier. This time his hopes were centered on Illinois, twelve years a State and rapidly growing; its fertile prairies and its free institutions acting as magnets for the yeomen farmers of Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Indiana. Tom’s destination was the banks of the Sangamon, in Macon County, near the village of Decatur.
Thus it was that on March 10, 1830, Abraham Lincoln, son of Thomas, first set foot on the soil of what soon was to become Coles County, as the small party goaded sluggish oxen toward Decatur, some fifty miles to the northwest. On February 20 Thomas Lincoln sold his eighty acre Indiana farm for $125 to his neighbor Charles Grigsby, his corn (at ten cents a bushel) and some hogs to another neighbor, and bought a stout wagon and two yoke of oxen.2 He was on his way to the Sangamon country.
John Hanks, twenty-eight-year old cousin of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, had lived with Tom and his family in Indiana for four years. After returning to Kentucky, in 1828 John had pushed on to Macon County, Illinois.3 He sent back to Thomas Lincoln a glowing report on the fertile Illinois country, and proposed that the Lincoln family join him there. Dennis Hanks, thirty- year old cousin of John and of the first Mrs. Lincoln, who had lived with the Lincolns from 1818 until his marriage in 1821 to Sarah Elizabeth Johnston, daughter of the second Mrs. Lincoln, decided to come along with his family, together with the Lincolns, and join John on the banks of the Sangamon.4

1 Caused by drinking milk from cows that had eaten a poisonous plant, the snake weed.
2 Ida M. Tarbell: In the Footsteps of the Lincolns, p. 155. Cited hereafter as Tarbell. Ward H. Lamon: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 74. Cited hereafter as Lamon. Actually written by Chauncey F. Black from material obtained by Lamon, much of it from William H. Herndon.
3 Albert J. Beveridge: Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, p. 94, cites statement by John Hanks to William H. Herndon, June 13, 1865. Cited hereafter as Beveridge. Hanks’ statement in Herndon-Weik Manuscripts, Library of Congress. Photostats in Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Nos. 156-161. Cited hereafter as Herndon-Weik photostats. Macon County was organized on January 19, 1829.
4 Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 94, 95, 95n. Dennis Hanks was the illegitimate son of Nancy Lincoln’s aunt, Nancy Hanks, and the son-in-law of the second Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, who had married Thomas Lincoln on December 2, 1819. Mrs. Nancy Hanks Lincoln had died on October 5, 1818.

In 1866 Dennis Hanks, in a letter to Herndon, claimed chief credit for the move to Illinois:
The Reson is This we war perplext By a Disease Cald Milk Sick my Self Being the oldest I was Determined to Leve and hunt a Cuntry whare the milk was not I maried his oldest Step Daughter I Sold out and they concluded to gow with me Billy I was tolerably popular at that time for I had sum mony My wifs mother could not think of parting with hir and we Riped up Stakes and Started to Illinois and landed at Decatur This this [sic.’] is the Reason for Leaving Indiana.5
Twenty-three years later, then in his ninetieth year, Dennis Hanks credited John Hanks with the original suggestion. Dennis told Eleanor Atkinson that he reckoned "it was John Hanks ’at got restless fust an’ lit out fur Illinois, an’ wrote fur us all to come, and He’d get land fur us”6 Dennis’ earlier claim that he initiated the move is not inconsistent with the traditions of the Sawyer family of Coles County. Hannah Radley, a niece of Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln, had married John Sawyer, who came to Coles County from Kentucky in 1826. As recorded by Mr. Clarence W. Bell of Mattoon, Illinois, a grandson of John Sawyer, the family tradition has it that Dennis Hanks, after his marriage, "concluded that he would have to scratch harder for a living," and decided to go back to Virginia. Mrs. Lincoln, his wife’s mother, had a niece and two nephews in Coles County and persuaded Dennis to come to Illinois instead. Dennis made a first trip to Old Paradise (in what was later to become Mattoon Township of Coles County) where Mrs. Lincoln’s relatives lived. Here two of the Radley boys joined him, as did Elisha Linder, a neighbor, and they went on to Macon County, where Dennis’ cousin John Hanks had located. They were impressed by the fertile soil, and by John’s offer to build a cabin for the Indiana folks if they would join him. Dennis accepted this offer and went back to Indiana, where he announced that he had found the "promised land" in Illinois. Thomas Lincoln, in Dennis’ absence, had started to pack up to return to his boyhood home in Rockingham County, Virginia. Dennis’ news from Macon County caused him to change his plans.7


5 Hanks to Herndon, March 7, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 658-659.
6 Eleanor Atkinson: The Boyhood of Lincoln, p. 41. Cited hereafter as Atkinson. This is an account of an interview with Dennis Hanks in Charleston in January 1889.
7 Clarence W. Bell: ’’Lincoln Unwritten History," an address delivered on February 11, 1931, at the Methodist Church, Mattoon. Leaflet in possession of Mr. Alexander Summers of Mattoon. Also "Sawyer Family Traditions," a statement prepared for the writer by Mr. Bell, October 25, 1949. Mr. Bell’s statements are based on affidavits by members of his family. The writer doubts that Thomas Lincoln ever proposed to return to Virginia.



Regardless of the details, it is clear that Thomas Lincoln decided to leave Spencer County, Indiana, because of the prevalence of the "milk sick" and that he decided upon Illinois for his future home because of the urgings of both John and Dennis Hanks.
The 1830 migration party consisted of thirteen persons:
Thomas Lincoln, age 52. Abraham Lincoln, age 21, the son of Thomas by his first wife, Nancy Hanks Lincoln.
Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, age 41, who had married Thomas Lincoln on December 2, 1819. Her first husband, Daniel Johnston, had died in 1816.
Sarah Elizabeth Johnston Hanks, age 22, oldest child of Mrs. Lincoln and the wife, since 1821, of Dennis Hanks.
Dennis Friend Hanks, age 31, the son of Nancy Hanks Hall, the great-aunt of Abraham Lincoln. With Dennis and his wife were their four children:
Sarah Jane Hanks, age 8.
John Talbot Hanks, age 7.
Nancy Hanks, age 6.
Harriet Hanks, age 4.
Matilda Johnston Hall, age 20, daughter of Mrs. Lincoln and wife of Squire Hall, whom she had married in 1826.
Squire Hall, age about 25, the son of Levi and Nancy Hanks Hall and half-brother of Dennis Hanks. With Squire Hall and his wife was their son.
John Johnston Flail, age 11 months.
John Davis Johnston, age 19, youngest child of Mrs. Lincoln.8
The members of the party were all related, by blood or marriage. Sarah Elizabeth and Matilda were Abraham’s stepsisters; John D. Johnston was his stepbrother. Dennis Hanks and Squire Hall were Abraham’s second cousins, through their mother, Nancy Hanks Hall, Abraham’s great-aunt. The Thomas Lincoln party left Spencer County, Indiana, on March 1, 1830. As Abraham Lincoln later recalled:
March 1st. 1830 – A. having just completed his 21st. year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters and sons-in-law, of his step-mother, left the old homestead in Indiana, and came to Illinois. Their mode of conveyance was waggons drawn by ox-teams, or [and] A. drove one of the teams.9
It is possible that a fourteenth person may have been with the party for a portion of the trip. This was John Hanks. Bev- eridge, citing a statement made by Dennis Hanks to Herndon in 1866, which included all of those listed above and also John Hanks, concludes that "John Hanks had probably joined the party on the road and accompanied the movers back to the place he had chosen for them in Illinois."10
Oliver R. Barrett has suggested that there may have been three other members of the migrating party: Joseph Hall, sixteen years old; Mahala Hall, about thirteen years old, and Letitia Hall, about eleven years old. A note by Mr. Barrett reads: "From the fact that Levi’s [Levi Hall, husband of Nancy Hanks Hall] administrator was acting in 1830 it is probable that Levi died shortly before his son Squire left for Illinois with the Lincolns and Squire undoubtedly took with him his brother Joseph and his two sisters.11 This is logical, but there appears to be no direct evidence to support this conclusion. Neither Dennis Hanks nor Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chapman, in their recollections of the trip, made any reference to the three additional children of Levi Hall, nor did Abraham Lincoln, in his 1860 autobiographical sketch, refer to them in his brief reference to the migrating party.


8 Affidavit by Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chapman, November 2, 1912. In Charles M. Thompson: The Investigation of the Lincoln Way, p. 30. Cited hereafter as Thompson. Mrs. Chapman was 86 years old at the time of this statement. She died in 1915.
9 Autobiographical sketch written by Lincoln for campaign purposes, about June 1, 1860. Roy P. Basler (editor) : The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 1953, vol. IV, p. 63. Cited hereafter as Collected Works.
10 Beveridge, vol. 1, p. 103 n. William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik: Herndon’s Lincoln (1930 edition) , p. 59 (cited hereafter as Herndon) , states that John Hanks had met and sheltered the party in Macon County. He had preceded them a year. Dennis Hanks’ statement to Herndon is in a letter dated April 16, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 724. Dennis Hanks wrote: "You should have said they came with me to Illinois. There was 13 in the three familys." He then listed fourteen persons, including "John Hanks" and "John Talbott Hanks," the son of Dennis.
11 In Illinois State Historical Library, "Kith and Kin" material from the Barrett Collection. A note for ten dollars, with the names of the makers missing, is made out to "Luther Greathouse, Ad M of Levi Hall dec," and is dated March 26, 1830. The ages of Joseph, Mahala, and Letitia Hall are established by a Coles County Probate Court document, dated September 29, 1831, appointing their older brother Squire Hall as their guardian. Coles County Probate Court Record vol. I, pp. 18-19.


The Probate Court document of September 29, 1831, 12 proves that the three children were with their brother Squire in Coles County at that time. Did seventeen-year-old Joseph Hall bring his two sisters from Indiana to Coles County in the summer of 1831, after Squire had come to Coles County from Macon County with the Thomas Lincoln family? It is possible.
The trip was made in two, and possibly three wagons, one (or two) drawn by at least two yoke of oxen (four animals), and one drawn by four horses. 13 Traveling conditions in southwestern Indiana and east central Illinois in March of 1830, before any road improvements had been made, were such that even with four oxen hitched to each wagon it might have been necessary at times to double up the teams and pull the wagons through the worst spots one at a time. Ida Tarbell, in her In the Footsteps of the Lincolns, insists that four oxen for each wagon would have been inadequate for such a journey. She quotes a pioneer who had done business in central Illinois in the early days, Mr. John Davis of Junction City, Kansas. Davis recalled that in the 1840’s even four good horses could not draw the mail coach on the Springfield-Terre Haute route in the muddy spring time. During March and part of April it was possible to bring through only the letter mail, in a two-wheeled cart drawn by four horses, with frequent relays. On one occasion, in the spring of 1851, Davis used a team of seven yoke of oxen to haul a 1,500 pound load from Macon to Shelby and Coles counties. He observed that a team of four oxen drawing the Lincoln wagon at that time of the year would have been helpless. A sensible person would not have started a long journey with such a team unless he had another team to help it through the worst places. Miss Tarbell concludes that "this is sound sense."14
Despite this contemporary testimony, it is unlikely that the wagons of the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party had more than four animals each, for the reason that none of the party was financially able to purchase more than the minimum number of animals essential for the trip. Doubling up the teams may have been resorted to at times, but the party made good time, considering the circumstances, for they spent the night of the eleventh day after leaving Spencer County in western Coles County, Illinois, about one hundred and fifty miles from the point of departure.15
With the ground in early March not yet thawed out completely, the ox-teams were able to make better time than they would have been able to make a few weeks later. In describing the trip to his law partner William H. Herndon many years later, Lincoln recalled that the ground had not yet yielded up the frosts of winter. The surface would thaw during the day, and freeze over again at night. The freezing night temperature left a thin coating of ice on the streams each morning, which the oxen broke with each step when the route took them through a ford. 10 The fact that they were going north reduced the likelihood of a warm spell making the ground too muddy for travel, Macon County, Illinois, being about 120 miles north of Spencer County, Indiana.


12 See note above. Squire Hall as guardian, with his brother-in-law John D. Johnston, signed a bond for $150.
13 Herndon, p. 57, refers to a wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen. Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln Day-by-Day, 1809-1839, pp. xxi, 7. Cited hereafter as Pratt, 1809-1839. William E. Barton: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, pp. 139- 140. Cited hereafter as Barton. Mrs. Chapman stated 82 years later that "the party had three covered wagons, two drawn by oxen, and one by horses, and two saddle horses . . ." Thompson, p. 30. Mrs. Chapman was four years old in 1830. Her sister, Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, eight years old at the time, recalled about 1906, a year before her death, that "we had two great covered wagons and Uncle Abe drove one of them." Quoted by George E. Mason in article in undated and unnamed newspaper clipping, about 1906, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois. Benjamin P. Thomas: Abraham Lincoln, concludes that three wagons were used, one drawn by a four-horse team, and two by two yoke of oxen each (p. 20) . Cited hereafter as Thomas, Lincoln.
14 Tarbell, pp. 155-156.
15 Carl Sandburg: Abraham Lincoln, the Prairie Years, vol. I, p. 104, refers to the party using seven yoke of ox teams. Cited hereafter as Sandburg. Lamon, p. 74, states that the entire party of three families made the trip with one wagon belonging to Thomas Lincoln and drawn by four yoke of oxen, two yoke owned by Thomas and two by Dennis Hanks. Isaac N. Arnold: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, p. 28, follows Lamon in having the party travel in one wagon drawn by four yoke of oxen, "which were driven by the future president." Cited hereafter as Arnold. It is hardly likely that one wagon would have sufficed for such a large party, which included five children and three women and the household furnishings of three families.
16 Herndon, pp. 57-58. Nicolay and Hay, in their Abraham Lincoln, A History, vol. I, p. 45, refer to "the dangerous fording of streams swollen by the February thaws. . . ." Cited hereafter as Nicolay and Hay.


In January 1889, when nearly ninety years old, Dennis Hanks gave an account of the 1830 trip to Eleanor Atkinson. He recalled that:
It tuk us two weeks to get thar, raftin’ over the Wabash, cuttin’ our way through the woods, fordin’ rivers, pryin’ wagons and steers out o’ sloughs with fence rails, an’ makin’ camp. Abe cracked a joke every time he cracked a whip, an’ he found a way out o’ every tight place while the rest of us was standin’ round scratchin’ our fool heads. I reckon Abe an’ Aunty Sairy [Sarah] run that movin’, an’ good thing they did, or it’d a ben run into a swamp and sucked under. 17
In addition to his wagon and oxen, Thomas Lincoln brought with him a horse and a small amount of furniture, the minimum for a man, wife, and two adult sons. It included three beds and bedding, one bureau, one table, one clothes closet, one set of chairs, and a few cooking utensils, an axe, a rifle, etc.18 This, with a small amount of cash left over after the purchase of the wagon and oxen and supplies for the trip from the sale of his Spencer County property for $125 and a lot in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, belonging to Mrs. Lincoln, for $123,19 represented Thomas Lincoln’s material assets when he came to Illinois.


17 Atkinson, pp. 41-42. Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, daughter of Dennis Hanks, who was eight years old at the time of the trip, recalled about 1906 "the long ride through the swamps in Illinois. . . . Often the men folks had to cut down trees to get us across swamps and they shot all of our meat." Statement to George E. Mason, in undated clipping in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois.
18 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 102; Lamon, p. 74. The furniture list is almost the same as that which Mrs. Lincoln brought to Indiana from Kentucky in 1819 at the time of her marriage. Lamon, p. 30.
10 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 95.
Across Coles County
THE ROUTE FOLLOWED by the Thomas Lincoln party from Spencer County, Indiana, to Macon County, Illinois, has been the subject of much controversy. If the party went through every city that claims a place on the route, they would have been zig-zagging over eastern and central Illinois for months!
At the time of his last visit to Coles County, in January 1861, Abraham Lincoln is reported by Augustus H. Chapman (husband of Harriet Hanks, Dennis’ daughter) to have described the route. Thirty-five years later Chapman wrote to Jesse W. Weik that Lincoln told him that the party crossed the Wabash at Vincennes. They passed through Lawrenceville, Palestine, and Darwin. Here they struck out in a northwesterly direction, passing through Richwoods (about three miles east of the present village of Westfield) and continuing to a point about six miles west of Charleston, called Dead Man’s Grove; thence north through Nelsonville (or Nelson, no longer in existence. It was about three miles southeast of Sullivan) and on to Decatur.1
Another description, also by a member of the original party, is that of Mrs. Chapman. In her 1912 affidavit, previously referred to, she stated that the party crossed the Wabash the second day after leaving Vincennes. The Illinois portion of the route, is described in her affidavit as follows:
Affiant further states that the party passed through Palestine, Illinois; that she remembers said town from the fact that it had a Bible name. Affiant further states that the party finally reached the national road, and crossed the Embarras[s] river at Greenup, Illinois; passed through Paradise, located in what is now the southwestern corner of Coles County, Illinois.
Affiant states that she has often heard her father, Dennis Hanks, speak of crossing the Embarras river at Greenup, Illinois and that the cause of said Hanks speaking of this event repeatedly was that he after- wards worked on the bridge built at that point.
Affiant further states that the party did not follow the national road far west of Greenup, that it did not go to Vandalia, Illinois, and that the trip was made directly to Decatur.2

1 Letter dated Charleston, January 3, 1896. In Thompson, pp. 33-34. The lapse of time between Lincoln’s conversation and Chapman’s letter should be borne in mind. Also see Lincoln Lore, No. 480, for statement attributed to Lincoln concerning the Vincennes-Lawrenceville portion of the trip.
2 Thompson, p. 31. In speaking of Greenup the site of Greenup is intended, as that city was not in existence until 1834. Thompson, after weighing the evidence, concludes that it is not improbable that the bridge referred to by Mrs. Chapman was at McCann’s Ford in Coles County rather than at Greenup (pp. 9-10) . The testimony of a person eighty-six years of age concerning events of eighty-two years before is not to be accepted without supporting evidence. Mrs. Chapman’s original affidavit contained the statement, omitted by inadvertance from the published form, "that her knowledge of events as sworn to in this affidavit is based upon remembrance and upon hearing her parents talk after she became a young lady." Thompson, p. 30n.

Professor Charles M. Thompson of the University of Illinois, in 1911-1915 studied the "Lincoln Way," and concluded that the following points are on the "Lincoln Way" in Illinois:
(1) A point on the Illinois bank of the Wabash river opposite Vincennes, Indiana; (2) Lawrenceville; (3) Christian settlement; (4) Russellville; (5) Palestine; (6) Hutsonville; (7) York; (8) Darwin; (9) Richwoods; (10) McCann’s Ford; (11) Paradise; (12) Mattoon; (13) Dead Man’s Grove; (14) Nelson; (15) Decatur; (16) "Lincoln Farm," Macon County.3
It is evident that Professor Thompson has attempted to reconcile the conflict in the description of the route through Coles County as between Lincoln (as reported by Chapman) and Mrs. Chapman. He brings the party west from Richwoods, which means that they entered the county near the site of Westfield. Then he brings them in a southwesterly direction to McCann’s Ford (called Logan’s Ford in 1830), then westerly to Paradise (Wabash Point). Then he has them going north to the site of present-day Mattoon and east to Dead Man’s Grove, thence northwesterly to Nelson on the route to Decatur. In this way Professor Thompson has the party at both Dead Man’s Grove, mentioned by Mr. Lincoln, and at Paradise, mentioned by Mrs. Chapman, despite that fact that a party crossing Coles County from east to west, with a northwesterly objective after leaving the County, could not touch both places without a time-consuming detour.
Mr. Lincoln’s description of the route—Richwoods, Dead Man’s Grove, Nelsonville (Nelson)—gives the shortest route across the county of any of the routes we are considering. Such a route conveniently would cross the Embarrass River at Parker’s Ford (later known as Blakeman’s Ford), proceed north on the road from the ford to the hamlet which was to become Charleston, where they would reach the Paris-Shelbyville road, and proceed to Dead Man’s Grove by a route roughly following the present state road 16. Since Lincoln did not mention passing through Charleston, that suggests that the party missed that point. He mentioned places of much less importance at the time he was talking (1861), such as Richwoods and Nelson, but not Charleston, even though he was talking to a Charleston resident. If the party proceeded from Richwoods to McCann’s Ford, as Professor Thompson suggests, they could hardly have touched the site of Charleston. In this case it is difficult to see why they would have gone to Dead Man’s Grove, mentioned by Lincoln, after leaving Wabash Point (or Paradise). As far as is known, Dead Man’s Grove had no special attraction for the party, while Paradise did have, for it was near there that Ichabod Radley and John Sawyer lived. The Radley and Sawyer families were related to Mrs. Lincoln.
If the party came due west from Richwoods and crossed the Embarrass River at Parker’s (or Blakeman’s) Ford4 they would have been near the location of a mill established by John W. Parker, the first settler of Coles County, in 1829.5 In that event it is possible that they stopped at the mill to get feed for their oxen and horses and flour and meal for themselves. After leaving the ford the party may have headed north and west to the hamlet which was soon to become known as Charleston.6
Considering the fact that their next overnight stop was near Wabash Point, some thirteen miles to the west, it is probable that the party camped for the night after crossing the Embarrass, either near the ford, or possibly near the settlement about two miles to the west and north of Parker’s Ford.

3 Thompson, pp. 13-14.
4 Blakeman’s Ford, as it came to be known later, was located a short dis- tance south of the present bridge on route 130, in section 25, town 12 N., range 9 E. Except for parts of three sections east of the river, this survey township became Charleston Township when township government was adoptd by Coles County in 1859.
5 Parker entered 80 acres on December 6, 1824, on the east side of the river (now in Hutton Township) , near the ford. It was the West half of the Northeast quarter of section 25, town 12 N., range 9 E. "High Johnny" Parker was a preacher and a bee hunter as well as a farmer and a miller. Parker came to Coles County with his five sons and their families from Craw- ford County. The family had originally come from Tennessee. Mrs. Joseph C. Dole: "Pioneer Days in Coles County," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, April 1921, p. 113. Cited hereafter as Mrs. Dole. The first land entry in Coles County was made by Robert Modrell. on December 14, 1820 in what is now Ashmore Township (Wi/ 2 , NE14, Sect. 19, T. 13 N., R. 11 E.) . The writer has seen no evidence that Modrell actually settled on the land. Land entries are in the Coles County Land Entry Book in the office of the County Clerk. The entries are listed by townships and sections. The pages are not numbered. Cited hereafter as Land Entry Book.


Assuming the Parker’s Ford crossing, it would appear logical for the party to strike out for the Paris-Shelbyville road, which ran through the site of Charleston, as the best route for reaching Wabash Point. This was a pioneer trail or "trace" in 1830, which was recognized as a state road in 1831.7
The road from Paris entered Coles County in section 18 of Town 12 N., Range 14 W., about three and a half miles south of the point where the present state route 16 enters the county. It continued west past the present Little Brick School, Rocks Park, and the Church of God to enter Charleston on what is now Harrison Street. To the west of Charleston the road followed what is known today as the "old road" to Mattoon, passing the present Monroe School, and continuing south of Mattoon, past Wabash Point (Wabash School today) and leaving the County in section 31 of Town 12 N, Range 7 E.
The fact that there was a trail from McCann’s Ford to the Paradise settlement 8 supports the McCann’s Ford theory. In addition, Joseph A. Hall, son of Squire Hall of the original party, stated that he had heard his father and Dennis Hanks say that the party camped overnight at a "deer lick" near the Goosenest Prairie 9 and hence near McCann’s Ford. Hall’s statement, in a letter to Professor Thompson dated, Janesville, Illinois, January 9, 1913, gives some interesting details:
My father said that they came through Palestine and that they fol- lowed an old Indian trail northwest from there, as there were no main roads as there are today, as they had to pick their way as best they could. Dennis Hanks often visited my father here at the old cabin and stayed as long as a month at a time, and I have heard them both talk about how they came and what a time they had on the road and they both agreed that they came through Palestine in the direction I have mentioned. My father said: "Dennis, don’t you mind when we crossed Hurricane how we all like to got drowned?" I have also heard my father and Dennis Hanks both say that there was a deer lick near the farm, that night overtook them, and they camped over night. My father said that they camped at Muddy Point near the little town of Paradise and that they stopped with a family named Radley. My father said his name was Ichabod Radley. The bridge that Dennis Hanks worked on was built across the Embarrass river at McCann’s ford. I never heard my father or uncle Dennis Hanks speak of a family by the name of Harrison.
I have heard my father say that they travelled north through the western edge of what is now Mattoon, that they could have entered land where Mattoon is now for $1.25 an acre but it was so low and swampy that nobody could live there.10


6 At this time the future Charleston probably consisted of not more than a half-dozen log houses. The first house was built by William Cullom (or Collom) who kept a tavern in 1826. In 1830 a store was kept by Charles S. Morton whose farm adjoined the present north boundary of the city, on the east side of Fifth street, extended. That same spring Morton moved into the village, and became the first postmaster of "Coles Court House" on March 31, 1831, shortly after the village became the county seat. The name Charles- ton (traditionally derived from Charles Morton – Charles [Morjton) be- came official when the plat of "Charleston Coles County Illinois," which was laid out on April 23, 1831, was recorded on June 4, 1831. Coles County Deed Records, vol. A, pp. 5-7. Cited hereafter as Deed Records. The town was incorporated on March 2, 1839.
7 Illinois General Assembly, Laws of 1831, p. 142. Act approved January 28, 1831. Three commissioners were named, one each from Edgar, Coles and Shelby counties, "to view, survey, mark and locate a road from Shelbyville . . . to Paris ... to be located on the nearest and best route, doing as little damage to private property as the public good will permit." The right of way was to be "four poles wide" (a pole is the same as a rod, or I614 feet)’,, or 66 feet, and was to be "opened and kept in repair as other roads are in this state." The commissioners were to receive $1.50 a day for the time spent in locating the road, to be paid by their respective counties. Thomas Sconce was the Coles County commissioner. He was elected County Surveyor a few days later, when the first Coles County election was held on February 5, 1831. Paradise Post Office near Wabash Point was the polling place for the entire county.
8 Thompson, pp. 11, 56, 58.
9 There have been various stories to account for the name "Goosenest Prairie." It was here that Thomas Lincoln lived from 1837 until his death in 1851. About the year 1827, according to one account, a pioneer named Josiah Marshall gave the name to that section because of the richness of the soil which reminded him of the peculiar richness of a goose egg. He exclaimed "this is the very goose-nest" when he saw the rich soil. The first settlement on "Goosenest Prairie" was made by the Rev. Daniel Barham and sons John and Nathan, who with Thomas Parker erected the first cabin in the spring of 1829. Mrs. Dole, p. 113; The History of Coles County, Chicago, William LeBaron Jr. and Co., (1879) , pp. 229, 232. Cited hereafter as LeBaron.
10 Thompson, pp. 52-53.


Further evidence of doubtful value in support of the McCann’s Ford crossing comes from Lewis E. Moore, a neighbor of Thomas Lincoln (age eleven years when Thomas Lincoln died in 1851), who stated that Thomas Lincoln had told him that the party crossed at McCann’s Ford.11
The circumstantial evidence against a McCann’s Ford crossing is strong, as pointed out to the writer by Professor S. E. Thomas, emeritus head of the social science department of the Eastern Illinois State College. Professor Thomas interviewed old settlers in Pleasant Grove Township in 1908, who told him that the Goosenest Prairie area west of McCann’s Ford was nearly impassable in winter except when the ground was frozen solid, which was not likely to be the case in March. The McCann’s Ford bridge, referred to above, is purely traditional. Neither Professor Thomas nor the writer has seen any record of its existence. Furthermore, the terrain from Richwoods to Parker’s Ford, passing south of the present-day Westfield, was elevated and well-drained, and the trail from the region west of the Embarrass to Palestine, the public land office in the days of early settlement of Coles County, crossed the Embarrass at Parker’s Ford and went east and south, roughly following the present-day Lincoln National Memorial Highway. This trail was of necessity used by those "entering" public lands in the region. It also may be significant to note that there were only two land entries on or near the trail from McCann’s Ford across present Pleasant Grove Township prior to March 1, 1830. There were 720 acres entered in or within one mile of the site of Charleston by that date, in addition to two entries at Parker’s Ford (J. W. and B. Parker, 1824, and William Shaw, 1829) and 673 acres entered within three miles of Charleston to the west, along or near the Shelbyville-Paris road.
It will never be known positively just what route the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party followed in crossing Coles County in 1830.12 The writer inclines to the opinion that the party entered the county south of but near what is now Westfield, crossed at Parker’s Ford, spent the night of March 10 near the ford after crossing, proceeded via Charleston and the Paris-Shelbyville road or trail to the vicinity of Wabash Point where they spent the night of March 11, and proceeded northwesterly toward Nelson, possibly touching the western edge of what is now the city of Mattoon, 13 and probably not touching Dead Man’s Grove.14 Lincoln’s reference to Dead Man’s Grove presumably, was either a slip of memory (perhaps by Chapman who reported Lincoln’s statement to him) or a reference to some other spot than that known today by that name.
Migrating pioneer parties did not necessarily follow trails or roads. They frequently struck out across country, avoiding streams and forests as much as possible and, especially in wet seasons and when the ground was soft from melted snow, keeping to ridges where natural drainage would reduce the obstacle of wheel-gripping mud. Furthermore, even when preceding vehicles had marked a trail, the route would vary according to the season at which it was made – avoiding hills and ridges in dry seasons and seeking high ground in wet seasons. Obviously, it is impossible to be positive about the exact route followed by a pioneer party under such circumstances. We may be reasonably certain that they passed through settlements along their general route, but the path actually followed between settlements can be no more than an informed guess, based on the season at which the journey was made, the "lay of the land," the extent of forest cover, and the location of trails and roads known to have been in use at that time.


11 Thompson, p. 54.
12 Coles County was created by act of the legislature on Christmas Day, 1830. Illinois General Assembly, Laws of 1831 , p. 59. Prior to its creation the territory which became Coles County was divided between Clark (created 1819) and Edgar (created 1823) counties, with the southern half of the prospective Coles County a part of Clark. This included the sites of the future cities of Charleston and Mattoon.
13 But not going through the site of the present city, which at that time was low and swampy.
14 Traditionally so called because the body of a man, frozen to death, was found there in 1826.


The "official" Lincoln National Memorial Highway, as marked by the State of Illinois in Coles County, links together on one route as many Lincoln associations as is possible—the various homes of Thomas Lincoln; Charleston, where Lincoln practised law and the scene of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858; the Moore House in Farmington visited by Lincoln in 1861; the Goosenest Prairie home of Thomas Lincoln, and the Shiloh cemetery where Abraham’s father and stepmother are buried. It is manifestly impossible to do this and at the same time approximate the route followed by migrating families in 1830. The accompanying map shows the highway as marked.15
After their overnight stop in eastern Coles County, after crossing at Parker’s Ford (?), the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party may have proceeded to the home of Ichabod Radley, whose wife Hannah was Mrs. Lincoln’s older sister, where it is possible that they spent the night of March 11. The Radleys had come to Illinois in 1828 from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where he had been a schoolmaster. The exact location of the Radley cabin is uncertain although it was in the general neighborhood of the Paradise settlement. He appears to have been either a renter or a squatter, for he did not own land in the county until later. 10 Joseph Hall, in the 1913 letter quoted above, gives his father Squire Hall as the authority for the statement that the 1830 party "camped at Muddy Point near the little town of Paradise and that they stopped with a family named Radley." The region known as "Muddy Point" today centers around Muddy Point School, which is five miles east and two miles south of Wabash Point. It was near here that Thomas Lincoln had his second or "Muddy Point" home 1834-1837. William F. Cavins of Mattoon, in his pamphlet on the Lincoln family, places the Radleys more precisely as living "on Brush Creek [or Buttermilk Branch] about 40 rods east of the present Dry Grove School/’17 This places the Radleys two and a half miles farther to the west than Muddy Point, and hence that much closer to Wabash Point. Regardless of the location, it is possible that the party of thirteen persons spent the night at the Radleys.18 Since the cabin was small, and the party was large, it is probable that they camped near it, as Joseph Hall reports, rather than all sleeping indoors, although some of the women folks and "younguns" of the party may have shared the rope beds and places on the floor before the friendly cabin fireplace.


15 Mr. Adolph Sumerlin, publisher of the Lerna Weekly Eagle until his death in 1931, deserves a major part of the credit for the location and marking of the Coles County section of the Lincoln National Memorial Highway.
16 Thompson, pp. 13, 61. There were no land entries prior to March 1, 1830, closer than two miles to Paradise or Wabash Point. The Lincoln Kinsman, No. G, December 1938, p. 4, gives the names of the daughters of Christopher Bush, and those of their husbands.
17 William F. Cavins: The Lincoln Family – Neighbors of Our Fathers (Mattoon, Illinois, 1934) , p. 3. Cited hereafter as Cavins. The property is now owned by Fred Ferree.
18 S. M. Blunk: "The Lincoln Way," in Bulletin of the Abraham Lincoln Association, No. 11, June 1, 1928, pp. 7-8. Cited hereafter as Blunk. Pratt, 1809-1839, p. 8.


Also living in the Paradise settlement, but nearer to Wabash Point, was John Sawyer, whose wife was Radley’s daughter Han- nah, and therefore Mrs. Lincoln’s niece. The Sawyers, according to Mr. Cavins, lived near Magnet, which is a little over a mile east of Wabash Point.19
According to family traditions John Sawyer was the first settler at Wabash Point, and erected the first cabin in the neighborhood when he located there on October 6, 1826.20 Wabash Point was the location of Paradise Post Office, established in 1829 by George M. Hanson of Paradise, Virginia, who named the post office for his birthplace. Hanson, who came to Wabash Point in 1828, was postmaster for about two years, when the office was moved to William Langston’s "Relay House" after the opening of the "State Line Road" from Paris to Shelbyville by way of Wabash Point in 1831.21 Paradise was the first post office in Coles County.22 Shortly after the opening of Paradise post office a town was laid out near Wabash Point and called Paradise; it was soon abandoned, and in 1837 another town was laid out about two miles south, the location of the present hamlet of Paradise.23


19 Cavins, p. 3.
20 Statement by Mr. Clarence W. Bell of Mattoon, grandson of John Sawyer, in Lerna Weekly Eagle. Clipping, no date (1930) , in scrapbook in possession of Mr. George P. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township. The Lerna Weekly Eagle was published by Mr. Adolph Sumerlin until his death in 1931. His son, Mr. Earl B. Sumerlin of Mattoon, continued the paper until 1945, when it ceased publication. No file of the Eagle for the period before 1931 is known to exist. Mr. Earl Sumerlin has a file for the period since 1930, which he kindly permitted the writer to examine on July 19, 1950. The Coles County Land Entry Book shows no land entry by John Sawyer prior to March 1, 1830.
21 Langston’s Relay House later was operated by William G. Waddill. During the years that Abraham Lincoln visited Charleston to attend court, he stopped at Waddill’s Tavern and Relay House on various occasions while on his way between Charleston and Shelbyville. Mrs. Hannah Pamelia Waddill Smith, daughter of the proprietor, many years later recalled that she "saw Mr. Lincoln a great many times. . . . He always seemed in a deep study, and never spoke very much." Mrs. Smith treasured an ironstone china plate from which Lincoln ate many times. Her daughter, Mrs. W. E. Waltrip, owned the plate after her mother’s death. Lerna Weekly Eagle, June 27, 1930, quoting from an undated clipping owned by Mrs. Waltrip in which Mrs. Smith is quoted. In files of the Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
22 LeBaron, p. 349. The office was located in the home of Hiram Tremble, a relative of Hanson’s wife. The Tremble property was one-half mile south of the John Sawyer home. Hanson later moved to California, and served as an Indian agent from 1861 to 1863 by appointment of President Lincoln.
23 Blunk, pp. 7-8. This move explains why Paradise Township does not include the site of the original Paradise Post Office, which is in Mattoon Township.


If Mr. Cavins is correct in locating both the Radley and Sawyer homes, the latter lived two miles north and over one mile west of the Radleys. It is possible that some of the party may have driven on to the Sawyers with one of the wagons that evening in order that more of the party could spend the night in a warm cabin. This, however, is unlikely, as it would have involved additional driving for an hour and a half, at least, for those of the party going ahead to the Sawyers. Arriving in the "shank" of the afternoon at the home of relatives, the dominant wish of all the party must have been to "set a while" and visit, eat, and "bunk down" for the night. An hour and a half more of goading tired oxen through the chilly March evening would have had no attraction.
If, as the writer believes, the party took the northern ford at Parker’s (Blakeman’s) and came west on the Paris-Shelbyville road, they may have spent the night with the John Sawyers, for that home would have been more accessible from the road near Wabash Point than that of the Radleys, who were three miles south of the road at its nearest point if Mr. Gavins’ location for them is correct. Furthermore, John Sawyer had a four-room house.24
Whether all or part of the party went to the Sawyers for the night of March 11 or not, the entire party must have gone by the Sawyers’ house the next morning, March 12. Probably they paused for a short visit. It is clear, however, that the party did not stay longer than overnight in the Radley-Sawyer neighborhood, for three days and forty-five miles later we find them at Decatur. Fifteen miles a day was the average for the entire trip. Allowing for stops for meals, setting up and taking down camp, watering and feeding the stock, fording streams, mud-holes, and double-hitching through the worst places, this was good ox-team time.

24 Clarence W. Bell:—"Lincoln Unwritten History" (leaflet). The Sawyer family tradition is that the Lincoln party spent the night with the John Sawyers.


Mention has been made of the uncertainty of John Hanks’ presence in the party for all or part of the way. It is possible that Hanks was waiting for them at Radley’s (or Sawyer’s). He would guide them on the last part of their journey, to Decatur and the Sangamon River home seven miles beyond. The party could find their way, following the directions sent back to them, through the wooded and rolling country they had been in since leaving Indiana, but a guide would be necessary as they entered the almost level "grand prairie" to the north and west.
According to the Sawyer family tradition, two sons of Ichabod Radley, John and Isaac, went with the Lincoln party on horseback from Wabash Point to Macon County. After seeing the family settled in their new location, the Radleys returned to Wabash Point.25 If the Sawyer tradition in other respects is correct, the party needed no guide, for Dennis Hanks had made an earlier trip over the same route.
After leaving the Sawyer cabin near Wabash Point on the morning of March 12, the party headed in the direction of Nelson and Sullivan.26 They probably went north and west, coming close to the outskirts of present-day Mattoon, and leaving Coles County near the present hamlet of Coles, their route probably taking them a little to the north of that point. They reached Decatur on the evening of March 14, three days after leaving the Paradise settlement, and proceeded the next day to the spot selected for them by John Hanks on the north bank of the Sangamon, about seven miles west and two miles south of Decatur.


25 Clarence W. Bell: "Lincoln Unwritten History."
26 One tradition routes the party west to Vandalia and then north to Macon county. Mrs. Sarah Jane Hanks Dowling, eight years old when the trip was made, recalled about 1906 that "we went west to Vandalia and then up into Macon county and settled on the Sangamon River." Quoted by George E. Mason. Clipping in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois. The writer rejects this statement as being contrary to the weight of the evidence. Mrs. Dowling was 84 years old in 1906.
Abrahams Visit to His Folks in 1831
ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S only period of Illinois residence with his father and stepmother was from March 1830 to March 1831 in Macon County, at the Sangamon River home west of Decatur which John Hanks had selected for the Lincolns. Dennis Hanks and Squire Hall with their families, were located nearby.
"Ague" and fever, or malaria, was a common affliction of early settlers in Illinois, and the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall families suffered from it in the fall of 1830. This was followed by an unusually severe winter, long remembered as the "winter of the deep snow." One such fall and winter was enough for Thomas Lincoln, and he decided to return to Indiana. Late in the spring of 1831, after the snow had melted and the ground had dried sufficiently to travel, Thomas Lincoln, Squire Hall, Dennis Hanks and their wives and children started on the return journey.
Abraham Lincoln and John D. Johnston did not accompany the family group on this trip. Together with John Hanks they had contracted with Denton Offut of Sangamo Town (about seven miles northwest of Springfield on the Sangamon River) to deliver a flatboat load of produce to New Orleans. They left Macon County about the middle of March. After building the flatboat at Sangamo Town they left for New Orleans about May first,1 at about the same time that Thomas Lincoln and his other relatives were abandoning Macon County where they had suffered through the bitter winter.
Retracing their steps of the year before, the Thomas Lincoln party arrived at the Sawyers in western Coles County. Family tradition has it that John Sawyer persuaded Thomas not to continue on to Indiana, but to settle in that neighborhood.2


1 Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 105-106. John Hanks to Herndon, June 13, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 156-161.
2 Gavins, p. 3.


Perhaps persuaded by Sawyer, and certainly influenced by the presence of friends and relatives in the neighborhood, Thomas Lincoln decided to stay in Coles County. He settled on a 40- acre tract in the "Buck Grove" neighborhood about a mile north and nearly two miles east of the Ichabod Radley home as described by Mr. Cavins. The location is near the northwest corner of the present Pleasant Grove Township.3 This property was public land at the time Thomas Lincoln lived on it. He never obtained a title to it. Nearly three years after he left it the quarter section in which the land was located was purchased from the government ("entered") by one William Linn.4 Thomas Lincoln, his wife Sarah, and his stepson John D. Johnston lived there until the spring of 1834. This was the only Coles County farm of Thomas Lincoln on which he was a "squatter." The four other properties he occupied were his own or his stepson’s.
The Lincoln National Memorial Highway passes near the Buck Grove farm. A historical marker informs the passerby that "From 1831 to 1834 Thomas and Sarah Lincoln, father and stepmother of Abraham Lincoln, lived in a cabin which stood a short distance to the north. It was their first home in Coles County and their second home in Illinois."
Mr. Alexander Summers of Mattoon, a Director of the Illinois State Historical Society, accompanied by three other local history enthusiasts, on June 21, 1952, located what are possibly the corner stones of the Thomas Lincoln cabin at Buck Grove. Dr. O. W. Ferguson, born in 1859, was a member of the party. He remembered having seen the cabin before its disappearance, when he was about thirteen years old, or eighty years before. This would have been about forty-two years after its erection in 1831. Dr. Ferguson describes it as "a pole log house, the poles being about four inches in diameter." He recalled that the house had two rooms, and the door faced north. When he saw it "there were cracks between the poles, and sheep had possession of it." Mr. Summers and his friends searched for signs of a house location in the forty-acre tract where Thomas Lincoln had his home from 1831 to 1834. He reports that they "entered a wooded section north of the terminus of the lane [which runs north from the highway at the point where the marker is located]. Here, after a diligent search, we uncovered several stones which appeared to have been foundation piers." These stones, about fifteen by twenty inches across, were set in a pattern. The house was eighteen by twenty feet, as shown by the stones, and was built parallel to a small stream. Thus it faced about fifteen degrees to the north-east instead of true north.


3 Cavins, p. 3; Benjamin P. Thomas: "The Coles County Lincoln Cabin," in Bulletin of the Abraham Lincoln Association, No. 41, December 1935, p. 3. Cited hereafter as Thomas, Lincoln Cabin. The survey description of this first Coles County home of Thomas Lincoln is SW14, NW14. Sect. 5, Town 11 N., Range 8 E. Another location, near to the one given above, was stated to be the first Coles County home of the Lincolns by Mr. T. J. Diehl, whose affidavit appeared in the Lerna Weekly Eagle for May 23, 1930. Mr. Diehl stated that his father, George Diehl, about 1869 or 1870 showed him the location of the Lincoln home on the NE14, NE14, Sect. 6, T. 11 N., R. 8 E. "The foundation logs of an old place were plainly visible," he stated. In files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The quarter sec- tion in which this 40 acres is located remained public land until December 27, 1836 and January 21, 1837, when lots one and two, respectively, of the NE14 of Sect. 6, T. 11 N„ R. 8 E. were entered by George M. Hanson. Land Entry Book.
4 The date was January 23, 1837. Land Entry Book. The "Buck Grove" farm of Thomas Lincoln is now part of a farm owned by Mr. Charles W. Stephenson.


There is a difficulty in the way of accepting these stones as those used for the Thomas Lincoln cabin of 1831. The stones when examined by the writer, had half-sections of drill holes on their sides, indicating that they had been split by blasting. This method of securing stones of suitable size to use as the pier stones at the corners of a cabin would hardly have been used in Coles County in 1831, nor was there a rock quarry in the neighborhood. More likely, the stones at the Buck Grove location mark the site of a later structure, quite possibly on the same site as the original Thomas Lincoln cabin.
It is probable that Abraham Lincoln visited his father and stepmother in their Buck Grove cabin in the summer of 1831, for about a month. He had no intention of remaining, for he had accepted an offer to clerk in Denton Offut’s store in New Salem.5
The flatboat party, including Lincoln, returned from New Orleans on a river steamboat in June 1831. According to Herndon, they left the boat at St. Louis, and Lincoln, Johnston, and Hanks started out on foot to the east. They separated at Edwardsville, Hanks heading for Springfield and Lincoln and his stepbrother following the road to Coles County. Here Lincoln stayed for a few weeks before going on to New Salem, probably about the end of July 1831.6
Lincoln did not mention this Coles County visit in the sketch he wrote in 1860 for campaign purposes. Concerning this period he stated:
A’s father, with his own family & others mentioned, had, in pursuance of their intention, removed from Macon to Coles county. John D. Johnston, the step-mother’s son, went to them; and A. stopped indefinitely, and, for the first time, as it were, by himself at New Salem, before mentioned. This was in July 1831.7
Did Lincoln and Johnston reach Buck Grove in time to help in building the cabin for Thomas Lincoln? Probably not, as they arrived about July first, and Thomas Lincoln had been in the neighborhood for nearly two months. With neighbors and relatives available, Thomas hardly would have awaited their uncertain return before building his house.8 If Abraham did assist his father in building any of the Coles County homes, Buck Grove was the most likely one. It is unlikely that he was in the county during the building of any of the other Lincoln houses. According to tradition in the Sawyer family, Thomas Lincoln was assisted in the building of his house at Buck Grove by John Sawyer, Charles Sawyer, and Elisha Linder. Charles Sawyer and Linder had settled at Wabash Point in 1827, a year later than John Sawyer. The latter has been described as "the best friend that Thomas Lincoln ever had, both in Kentucky and in Illinois. "9


5 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 108; Barton, vol. I, p. 154. Lincoln spelled the name Offutt in his 1860 autobiographical sketch. Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 63.
6 Herndon, p. 64; John Hanks to Herndon, June 13, 1865, Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 159. It is possible that John Hanks did not make the New Orleans trip, but got no farther than St. Louis. Lincoln in his short auto- biography written for the campaign of 1860, recalled that "Hanks had not gone to New-Orleans, but having a family, and being likely to be detained from home longer than at first expected, had turned back from St. Louis." Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 64. Did Lincoln’s memory fail him at this point? It is possible, for John Hanks, in his letter to Herndon, stated "we both [Hanks and Lincoln] came back to St. Louis from New Orleans together, Johnson [Johnston] being with us from Decatur to New Orleans and back." Dennis Hanks in 1865 told Herndon that "Mr. L. came back to Coles County in the spring following [the New Orleans trip] – remained with his father a few days and then went to Salem." Dennis Hanks to Herndon, June 15, 1865, Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 162. Dennis was wrong on two counts: the visit took place in the summer and lasted a few weeks rather than a few days.
7 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 64. Nor did Lincoln mention visiting Coles County in a briefer autobiographical sketch written for Jesse W. Fell on December 20, 1859. He stated: "At twenty-one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year in Illinois – Macon County. Then I got to New Salem. . . ." Collected Works, vol. Ill, p. 512.
8 Strictly speaking, all of Lincoln’s homes were log houses rather than log "cabins." The difference is that a cabin was built of unhewn logs, while a log house was built of logs hewn flat on two sides with a broad axe. This probably was true of all five Coles County homes used by Lincoln. Photo- graphs of the original Goosenest Prairie house (completed in 1840) show this type of construction.
9 Statement by Mr. Clarence W. Bell, in Springfield on September 18, 1930. In Lerna Weekly Eagle, clipping, no date, in scrapbook of Mr. George P. Rodgers. But note that Mrs. Dole, p. 115, states that Charles Sawyer came to Wabash Point in 1826 and John Sawyer, his brother, in 1827.


The only remembered incident of Abraham’s July 1831 visit to Buck Grove was his wrestling match with Daniel Needham at Wabash Point. According to Herndon, Abraham did not tarry long at his father’s house, but was there long enough to dispose of Needham, who challenged him to a bout, which took place at Wabash Point. Young Lincoln threw Needham twice with comparative ease. This demonstration of strength and agility made him "forever popular with the boys of that neighborhood."10 Lamon tells the story in greater detail. Needham looked upon Abraham as a rival, and "had a fancy to try him a fall or two/’ He greeted Lincoln in a friendly and hearty manner, but his challenge was "rough and peremptory. " Valuing his standing among "the boys," Abraham accepted the challenge, and they met at Wabash Point. Needham was thrown twice with so much ease that his pride was stung. He told Lincoln that although he had thrown him twice, Lincoln could not whip him. Lincoln replied, "Needham, are you satisfied that I can throw you? If you are not, and must be convinced through a threshing, I will do that too, for your sake." Finding Lincoln ready to whip him for his own good, Needham decided that a bloody nose and a black eye would not soothe his feelings, "and therefore surrendered the field with such grace as he could command."11
Local tradition has it that Needham and Lincoln, who were about the same height, six feet three or four, wrestled at a "house raising" or "log-rolling." Needham was thrown four times (instead of twice) in succession. Angry at first, Lincoln’s good nature overcame Needham’s irritation and the two men shook hands and became lasting friends. This account was recorded in 1892 by Alonzo Hilton Davis, who clerked for four years in a dry-goods store in Charleston after the Civil War.12 Davis’ account is inaccurate at a number of points. It has Abraham living at the time in the first of the two Goosenest Prairie homes, to which Thomas Lincoln did not move until 1837. Needham is described as the champion wrestler of Cumberland County, which was not created until 1843, and the match is described as taking place on the Embarrass River rather than at Wabash Point.


10 Herndon, p. 64.
11 Lamon, pp. 83-84.
12 "Lincoln’s Goose Nest Home," in Century Magazine, September 1892, pp. 798-799.


Probably near the end of July 1831, Abraham Lincoln left Coles County for New Salem, which was his home until he moved to Springfield in April 1837. Did Abraham return to Coles County for one or more visits during the period of his residence in New Salem? Agustus H. Chapman, husband of Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln’s granddaughter Harriet Hanks, told Herndon in 1865 that Abraham visited his father’s family in Coles County after the Black Hawk War.13
If Abraham did visit his folks after the Black Hawk War, it was because he accompanied his stepbrother John D. Johnston home after their discharge on July 10, 1832, at Burnt River, near the present city of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. They were messmates in the same company during the period of John’s service, from June 16 until their discharge. This was in Captain Jacob M. Early’s independent spy, or ranger company in which Lincoln had reenlisted from Captain Elijah Ile’s company. Captain Early’s men had difficulty keeping their horses, for the Adjutant General’s report shows nine members of the company, including Johnston, as "hunting horses." Lincoln is not listed as a horse hunter, but on the day of his discharge he lost his horse to a thief (or to a soldier "hunting horses").
It is very unlikely that Lincoln went to Coles County with Johnston following their discharge. By July 17 Lincoln had reached Havana on his way to New Salem. The Sangamo Journal of Springfield for July 19 carried a notice, at Lincoln’s request, about those candidates for the legislature, including Lincoln, who had served in the Black Hawk War. During the remainder of July, and to August 4, Lincoln was campaigning. There seems to have been no time unaccounted for during this period when Lincoln could have been in Coles County.14
Elected to the legislature on August 4, 1834, Lincoln served four terms, or until early in 1841. Five legislative sessions were held at Vandalia while he was a member: December 1, 1834–February 13, 1835; December 7, 1835–February 7, 1836; December 5, 1836–March 6, 1837; July 10-22, 1837, and December 3, 1838–January 15, 1839. It is possible that Lincoln may have visited his parents in Coles County before or after at least one of these sessions. Vandalia is sixty miles or more by road from the three Thomas Lincoln homes in Coles County of this period. Harry E. Pratt, in his "day-by-day" study of Lincoln for the period ending in 1839, finds no evidence placing Lincoln in Coles County during the periods before or after these sessions.15 However, Usher F. Linder, Charleston lawyer and friend of Lincoln, (writing in 1876), reported that he first met Lincoln at Charleston in the fall of 1835. Lincoln, as Linder correctly noted, had not yet been admitted to the bar, and was in Charleston for a visit with his relatives who lived nearby. This would have been shortly before the session of the legislature which opened on December 7, 1835. Linder recalled that "The impression that Mr. Lincoln made upon me when I first saw him at the hotel in Charleston was very slight. He had the appearance of a good-natured, easy unambitious man, of plain good sense, and unobtrusive in his manners. At that time he told me no stories and perpetrated no jokes."16


13 Chapman to Herndon, September 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik Photostats, Nos. 301-324. Lincoln served in the Black Hawk War from April 21 to July 10, 1832. Illinois Adjutant General’s Report, 1902, vol. IX, pp. 100, 174, 176. Cited hereafter as A. G. R. Pratt, 1809-1839, pp. 11-21.
14 A. G. P. vol. TX, p. 176: Pratt, 1809-1839, p. 21.
15 Pratt, 1809-1839, pp. 42-45, 51-52, 61-62, 71-72. There are no entries for the period from November 12 to December 5, 1835, both inclusive (p. 44).
16 Usher F. Linder: Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois, 1879, pp. 37-40. Cited hereafter as Linder. The meeting with Lincoln probably occurred in the latter part of November or early in December. Lincoln was in Vandalia on December 7, 1835, and possibly a day or two earlier.


The first legal controversy in Coles County involving the Thomas Lincoln family of which the writer has seen a record occurred while the family was living at Buck Grove. On December 21, 1831, John D. Johnston, Thomas’ stepson, sued George M. Hanson for twelve dollars before Justice of the Peace James T. Cunningham and received a judgment of seven dollars and costs of 92½ cents. The suit was over money due for breaking seven acres of wheat land. Hanson appealed the decision to the Coles County Circuit Court, presided over at that time by Judge William Wilson. The writer has seen no record of the final disposition of the case.17
The following table should be helpful to the reader in fol- lowing the various land transactions described in the next two chapters:
Real estate transactions involving Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and John D. Johnston, Coles County, 1833-1851.
The descriptions refer to quarters of quarter sections, halves of quarter sections, quarter sections, sections, townships North, and ranges East, of the Third Principal Meridian. All of the property described is located within the limits of the present Pleasant Grove Township of Coles County. See map on page (27).


17 Records of case in justice’s court, and of appeal action, in lower vault of office of Coles County Circuit Clerk. The first volume of the Circuit Court records for Coles County begins with the April 1835 term, Justin Harlan, judge. Hanson’s appeal bond for $75, signed by him and by Nathan Ellington, was filed with Circuit Clerk J. P. Jones on January 10, 1832. Summons to appear as witnesses were served on Thomas Lincoln, Squire Hall, his stepson- in-law, and Samuel Radley, on April 19, 1832.


Date Description Transaction Price Coles County
    Sect. T. R.     Deed Records
May 23, ’33 NW, SW, 10 11 8 USA to John D. Johnston Public land entry, 40 acres. $50 Entry Book
Mar. 14, ’34 The same Johnston to Thomas Lincoln. The "Muddy Point" farm. 75 Vol. A, p. 304
Nov. 25, ’34 SE, NE;
NE, SE,
16 11 8 USA to Thomas Lincoln Public land entry, 80 a. The "Plummer Place." 100 Entry book
The same The same Mortgage, $102, Thomas Lincoln to Charles S. Morton, School Commissioner. Vol. B, p. 55
Jan. 14, ’37 S½, NE, 21 11 9 USA to Thomas LincolnPublic land entry, 80 a. 100 Entry Book
May 3, ’37 NW, SW, 10 11 8 Thomas Lincoln to Alexander Montgomery. Sale of “Muddy Point” farm. 140 Vol. H, p. 116
Aug. 4, ’37 NE, SE, 21 11 9 USA to Johnston. Public land entry. The “Abraham Forty.” 40 a. 50 Entry book
Dec. 27, ’37 SE, NE;
NE, SE,
16 11 8 Thomas Lincoln to Daniel P. Needham. Sale of the “Plummer Place” 80 a. 222.50 Vol. C, p. 6
Feb. 23, ’38 The same Mortgage of Nov. 25, ’34 satisfied. Vol. B, p. 55
Mar. 5, ’40 S½, NE, 21 11 9 Thomas Lincoln to Reuben Moore. 80a. Entered by T. Lincoln, Jan. 14, ’37 400 Vol. E, pp. 361-2
The same NW, SE;
NE, SW,
21 11 9 Reuben Moore to Thomas Lincoln. 80a. The “Goosenest Prairie” farm. 400 Vol. G p. 7
Dec. 31, ’40 NE, SE, 21 11 9 Johnston to Thomas Lincoln 40a. The “Abraham Forty.” 50 Vol. G, p. 6
Oct. 25, ’41 The same Thomas Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln 40 a. 200 Vol. G, p. 5
The same The same Bond A. Lincoln to Johnston to sell for $200 after deaths of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. Vol. I, p. 43
Recorded 12-3-51
Mar. 13, ’42 NW, SE, 21 11 9 Mortgage, $50. Thomas Lincoln to School Trustees T. 11 N., R. 9 E. 40a. The eastern halfof the “Goosenest Prairie” farm Vol. G, p. 243
Jan. 17, ’51 NW, SE,
NE, SW,
21 11 9 Abraham Lincoln inhereted on death of Thomas Lincoln 80 a.
Aug. 12, ’51 The same Abraham Lincoln to Johnston, 80 a. $1 Vol. O, p. 215
Nov. 28, ’51 The same Johnston to John J. Hall 80 a. 250 Vol. Q, p. 122
Platt map of the area
The Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point
WHILE ABRAHAM WAS starting his political career at New Salem his father was making a series of moves, all within the limits of the present Pleasant Grove Township of Coles County. On May 23, 1833, his stepson John D. Johnston had purchased 40 acres of public land in section 10 of the same survey township as the Buck Grove home.1 On March 14, 1834, Johnston sold this property to his stepfather for $75.00.2 It is located in the "Muddy Point" neighborhood about two miles southeast of the Buck Grove farm, about one mile southwest of the present village of Lerna, and one mile east of the Muddy Point school. It is probable that the Thomas Lincoln family moved from Buck Grove to Muddy Point at about the time Thomas Lincoln purchased the land.
A few months after moving to Muddy Point, on November 25, 1834, Thomas Lincoln purchased an additional 80 acres of public land, in section 16 of the same township.3 This land was purchased by Thomas Lincoln on credit. Since section 16 was "school land" the mortgage, for $102, was entered into with Charles S. Morton, the School Commissioner of Coles County. It was to be repaid in three years, at the rate of $34 a year.4
This period of residence at Muddy Point was at a time of expanding land ownership by Thomas Lincoln. On January 14, 1837, a few months before leaving Muddy Point, he purchased 80 acres of public land, presumably paying cash, since there is no mortgage record. 5 This land is about five and a half miles east of the Muddy Point farm. Thomas Lincoln exchanged this land in 1840 with Reuben Moore for the adjoining "Goosenest Prairie" farm.


1 Entry on record in Land Entry Book. NW¼, SW¼, Sect. 10, T. 11 N., R. 8 E.
2 Coles County Deed Records, vol. A, p. 304.
3 Entry on record in Land Entry Book. SE¼, NE¼ and NE¼, SE¼, Sect. 16, T. 11 N., R. 8 E. This is the property which later became known as the "Plummer Place." It is now owned by Mr. Edgar Riley.
4 Deed Records, vol. B, p. 55. The mortgage was satisfied on February 23, 1838. Morton was the man for whom Charleston was named, as explained earlier. He was school Commissioner until 1841.
5 Land Entry Book. S½, NE¼, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E.


Thomas Lincoln and Johnston probably erected a log house on the Muddy Point farm, which was their residence for three years, or until May 1837. It was during this period, on October 16, 1834, that Johnston married eighteen-year-old Mary Barker. The first of Johnston’s eight children, Thomas Lincoln Davis Johnston, was born here on January 10, 1837.6
Did Abraham Lincoln visit his folks at the Muddy Point farm? If Usher F. Linder is correct in his recollection that he first met Lincoln in Charleston in the fall of 1835, then Lincoln did make such a visit. Linder was elected to the legislature in 1836, and hence saw Lincoln at Vandalia in December of that year. Certainly he would have known if he had not met him before. If their first meeting had been at Vandalia, Linder would have said so.
The Linder story gives some credence to an otherwise highly circumstantial story told to Mr. William F. Cavins by Mrs. Susan D. Baker, life-long Coles County resident who was born in 1851, the daughter of Isaac W. Rodgers, a neighbor of Thomas Lincoln. Mrs. Baker recalled that in 1860, when she was nine years old, two well-dressed strangers asked her father if he knew where they could find some rails split by Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Rodgers took them to a fence the rails of which, he said, were split by Lincoln and Dennis Hanks. They took some of the rails away. Mrs. Baker described the place as being the approximate location of the Muddy Point farm.7
In 1835 Thomas Lincoln’s stepson, John D. Johnston, was very active in the courts. On three occasions during that year (April 4, November 5, and December 28) he was summoned as a grand jury witness or as a witness in circuit court.8 The November 5 summons caused complications, for on that date Johnston and his brother-in-law Squire Hall were arrested for "assaulting an officer in attempting to execute process," and for "gaming." Bail for each was fixed at $100 on the first charge and at $50 on the second. The assault case was tried before a jury on the following April 6 and Johnston was acquitted and Hall was found guilty. The court, "not being sufficiently advised what judgment to give took time ..." and postponed imposing sentence until the October term. On October 8, 1836, Hall received a sentence of a five dollar fine and twenty-four hours confinement in the county jail. That same day Johnston and Hall were found not guilty on the gaming charge.9


6 Marriage date in Coles County Marriage Records, 1831-1842, p. 24. The entry in the "family record" of Thomas Lincoln’s family Bible, in the hand of Abraham Lincoln, gives the Johnston marriage date as October 13, 1834. Mrs. Mary Barker Johnston was born on July 22, 1816, and died on September 21, 1850. She had seven children: Thomas (1837), Abraham (1838), Marietta (1840), Squire (1841), Richard (1843), Dennis (1845), and Daniel (1847) . On March 5, 1851, John D. Johnston married Nancy Jane Williams (born March 18, 1836) . They had one son, John D., Jr. (1854) . Facsimile of family record page in Sandburg; Lincoln Collector, p. 108. Cited hereafter as Sandburg, Collector. Bible entries in Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 94-95.
7 Cavins, p. 4. Mrs. Baker died December 25, 1927.
8 Johnston and Daniel P. Needham summoned before Coles County grand jury, April 4; Johnston and Squire Hall summoned to circuit court to testify in behalf of John M. Eastin and N. L. Killin, indicted for "gaming," November 5; and Johnston summoned to testify against Robert Lake, indicted for assault with intent to commit murder, on December 28, for April 1836 term of the Coles County Circuit Court. Summons on file in lower vault of Circuit Clerk’s office.
9 Coles County Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 58, 63, 83. Cited hereafter as Circuit Court Record.


On the same day, October 8, 1836, that the assault and gaming cases against Johnston and Hall were settled, Thomas Lincoln, Dennis F. Hanks, Johnston, and Hall lost a suit brought against them by Noel M. Jones and Benjamin F. Norton. A year and a half previously, on March 4, 1835, the four defendants, together with one William Moffett, had signed a one-year lease on a saw and grist mill for which they were to pay $220.12½ at the end of the year. Total payments made amounted to $85.25 leaving a balance of $134,87½ On June 6, 1836, when the unpaid balance was two months overdue, Jones and Norton filed a complaint against the five lessors, and asked for damages of $220.12½ the full amount of the original lease agreement. On September 19, 1836, the four defendants were admitted to bail as a result of a bond for $440.25 (twice the amount of the damages claimed), signed by them and by Thomas Barker and John Mills. Moffett the fifth signer of the lease was not found when the four defendants, Lincoln, Johnston, Hall, and Hanks, were served with a capias writ and placed under bond. Jones and Norton filed a bill of particulars on September 22, 1836, in which they alleged that the defendants had neglected and refused to pay the amount stipulated in the mill lease despite repeated requests. On October 7, 1836, Thomas Lincoln, John D. Johnston, Squire Hall and Dennis F. Hanks confessed a judgment against them for $138.67. The next day in circuit court this agreement by the defendants formed the basis for the settlement, of the case.10 The papers on this case do not give the location of the mill leased by Thomas Lincoln and the four other men. Many years later a daughter of Dennis Hanks, Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, stated that Thomas Lincoln and her father had operated a grist mill on the Embarrass River for two years.11 It is not clear from the record whether or not the 1835 mill lease was the first entered into by Lincoln, Hanks, Hall, Johnston, and Moffett, or by one or more of them. It may have been a renewal for a second year of operation, possibly with additional partners brought into the venture.
Thomas Lincoln sold his Muddy Point farm on May 3, 1837, to one Alexander Montgomery for $140.12 The size of the judgment in the mill suit suggests the possibility that this sale in May following the October judgment may have had some relationship to this liability. In October 1836 Thomas Lincoln owned free of debt only the Muddy Point property. The property purchased in November 1834 was still encumbered by the mortgage to the School Commissioner.
An historical marker is on the Memorial Highway at a point nearest to the Muddy Point home of the Thomas Lincoln family. It reads: "In 1834 Thomas Lincoln purchased forty acres situated about 400 yards north and east of this point. Here, with his wife, Sarah, he lived until 1837, when he sold the land. It was his second home in Coles County."


10 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 84. The papers in this case were filed in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office. They are now in the Illinois State Historical Library. Jones and Norton were bringing suit as the guardians of Lucinda and Millis R. Shaw, the infant heirs of James Shaw, deceased. The 1835 mill lease has Thomas Lincoln signing by mark, but the 1836 confession of judgment bears Thomas Lincoln’s signature, with the word "his" appearing above and between "Thomas" and "Lincoln." This looks as though the person drawing up the document expected Lincoln to sign by mark, but was interrupted by Lincoln before completing the usual "his mark" with a space for the cross or mark. The bond of September 19, 1836, was signed by Lincoln – "Thos. Lincoln." Thomas Lincoln was able to sign his name, but judging from the 1835 document he also was willing to make his mark instead.
11 Quoted in Rexford Newcomb: In the Lincoln Country, p. 83. Augustus H. Chapman stated to William H. Herndon on September 8, 1865, that Thomas Lincoln rented How’s Mill on the Embarrass River for one year, and that "while there his son Abe spent some time with him." Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 305. This may have been the visit in November or December 1835 mentioned by Linder.
12 Deed Records, vol. H, p. 116. Text of deed instrument in Sandburg, Collector, pp. 138-140. From Barrett Collection. Signed "Thomas Lincoln" and "Sarah Lincoln (her mark) ." The present owner of the land is Mr. J. Will Walker.


Following the sale of the Muddy Point farm it is probable that the Lincoln and Johnston families moved for a few months to the 80-acre farm Thomas Lincoln had purchased on November 25, 1834. This farm was only about half a mile south of the Muddy Point farm. It has become known, misleadingly, as the "Plummer Place" after a later owner. The fact that he had purchased this property, and that probably the next move to the land in the "Goosenest Prairie" region a few miles to the east did not take place until August 1837 would make it seem that the tradition that Thomas Lincoln lived here in 1837 is correct. 13 Benjamin P. Thomas, who in 1935 made a study of the Coles County homes of the Lincolns, states that the Plummer Place purchase and residence has a basis only in tradition, and is contradicted by another tradition, that the Thomas Lincoln family moved directly in August 1837 from Muddy Point to Goosenest Prairie. 14 The leaflet describing the "Lincoln Log Cabin State Park," issued by the Illinois Department of Public Works and Buildings, and which gives the various Coles County homes of Thomas Lincoln, does not refer to the Plummer Place, but states that he moved from his 1834-1837 home southwest of Lerna to Goosenest Prairie. 15 There is no "Plummer Place" marker on the Memorial Highway, which passes close to the location. The writer believes that there is a strong probability that Thomas Lincoln did occupy this property for a few months in 1837.
If Thomas Lincoln did live at the Plummer Place from May to August of 1837 it is almost certain that his son Abraham did not visit them there. This was the period immediately following Abraham’s admission to the bar (March 1) and his move from New Salem to Springfield (April 15). He was busy getting himself established in his profession and in his new location. Abraham Lincoln attended the session of the legislature at Vandalia, July 10-22, 1837, and it is possible that he visited Coles County before or after those dates, but there is no acceptable evidence that he did. Mr. Cavins reports that George Balch of Pleasant Grove Township had stated that Abraham Lincoln was seen by his Counsin George B. Balch, the poet, "making his way, walking in the woods to his father’s, when living here [the Plummer Place]." George B. Balch was a child living at the time in a cabin on the same property.16 This report can not be accepted by itself as conclusive evidence. Since George B. Balch was born in November 1828, he would have been less than nine years old in the summer of 1837.


13 Gavins, p. 4, accepts the move to this property as a fact, as did Mr. Adolf Summerlin of Lerna, Illinois, in a speech at Springfield on February 27, 1929, on the occasion of the organization of "The Lincoln National Memorial Highway of Illinois." Printed copy of the speech in the possession of the writer.
14 Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 3.
15 Illinois Department of Public Works and Buildings: Lincoln Log Cabin State Park, leaflet.
16 Cavins, p. 4.


If we accept the Plummer Place residence from May to August, 1837, the question arises, why did Thomas Lincoln sell his Muddy Point property before he was ready to move to a permanent location? It is possible that Thomas Lincoln sold his Muddy Point farm before he was ready to move in order to take advantage of a chance to nearly double his money, since he paid $75 and sold for $140. Also it is possible that a shortage of money (the cost of the 80 acres he had bought from the government in January 1837, was $100) induced him to sell. Another possible explanation, as was suggested above, is the unsettled mill lease judgment against Lincoln, Johnston, Hanks, and Hall, going back to the preceding October.
Again, if we accept the Plummer Place residence, the question arises, why did he not move to the land he had purchased the preceding January 14? There appears to be no satisfactory answer. On August 4, 1837, his stepson John D. Johnston purchased 40 acres of public land17 to which both families probably moved shortly after the purchase. This land lay on the south boundary of the land Thomas Lincoln had purchased in January of that year. Tradition has it that there was a house on this Johnston property, probably built by a squatter in 1835. 18 This in itself would have been a reason for Thomas Lincoln moving to this property instead of his own 80 acres. Also, he may have preferred the location of the Johnston tract, and may have planned on purchasing it, as he did in 1840. If there was no cabin on the Johnston property it is probable that Thomas Lincoln and Jornston erected one prior to moving to the land. Presumably this would have been either immediately before or after Johnston’s purchase of the property on August 4, 1837. If they built the cabin in the spring of 1837, in anticipation of the purchase, this would provide an explanation for the Plummer Place residence from May to August, while the cabin was being completed. We must assume that there was a cabin on the Plummer Place, perhaps built by Thomas Lincoln and Johnston following the purchase by Thomas Lincoln in 1834, or possibly immediately prior to May 1837.


17 Record of entry in Land Entry Book. NE14, SE14, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9E.
18 Charleston Plaindealer, no date, probably some time in February 1892. Photostats of original in the files of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, and in the possession of the writer. Thomas, p. 4, quotes from this article a description of the cabin as it stood prior to its removal to Chicago early in 1892. He points out. that if it was erected in 1835 it hardly could have been built by Lincoln and Johnston.
The Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns
The Goosenest Prairie Cabin of Thomas Lincoln

Picture probably taken in 1891, about the time of its
sale by John J. Hall to James W. Craig on May 8,
1891 (Print from the Library of Congress.))
IT IS PROBABLE that in August 1837 the Thomas Lincoln and Johnston families moved to the 40 acres Johnston had purchased on the fourth of that month, and lived in the house on that property. The house either had just been completed by Thomas Lincoln and Johnston, or had been built as early as 1835, presumably by a squatter.
There is a remote possibility that Thomas Lincoln and Johnston may have built the cabin themselves as early as 1835, in anticipation of the move they made in 1837, but this is unlikely. Numerous entries of public land in this neighborhood were made in the 1830’s. The existence of an empty cabin on unentered public land would have attracted a purchaser. It is difficult to believe that the land Johnston purchased in August 1837 would have remained unentered for two years with a completed cabin on it.
Before leaving the question of the date of the erection of the cabin on the property Johnston purchased in 1837, one bit of evidence tending to support the theory that it was erected by a squatter in 1835, should be given. There are three structural differences between the two parts of the Goosenest Prairie cabin. After the second part was erected in 1840, the first structure was moved to join it and form a double cabin. Taken individually these differences would have no significance. But three – ? The earlier cabin was 16 feet by 18 feet in size. The second was 16 feet square. The beams or rafters supporting the floor of the loft or attic went through the walls and showed on the outside of the first cabin, but not the second cabin. The inside ladder to the loft was fixed in the first cabin; but was hinged in the second and could be kept out of the way, attached to the ceiling beams. Were the two structures built by different hands? It is possible.1
Did Abraham Lincoln have any part in the erection of the cabin occupied by the Thomas Lincoln and Johnston families from 1837 to 1840? If we make the improbable assumption that the cabin was erected by his father and stepbrother in 1835, Abraham may have had a hand in its erection. As we have seen, Lincoln was in Coles County in the late fall of 1835, when Usher F. Linder saw him in Charleston. However, if the cabin was erected in 1837, Abraham almost certainly had no part in its construction, there being no evidence that Abraham was in Coles County then. Benjamin P. Thomas gives it as his opinion that "there is only the remotest possibility that Lincoln could have had any part in building this cabin. And there is no doubt whatever that he never lived in it."2 The writer agrees.
On December 27, 1837, a few months after leaving the 80-acre Plummer Place, Thomas Lincoln sold that property to one Daniel P. Needham (the wrestler of 1831?) for $222.503 The mortgage against this land was unsatisfied at the time of the sale, so presumably Needham assumed the balance due. The mortgage was satisfied on February 23, 1838, whether by Needham or Thomas Lincoln the record does not state.4
Near the close of 1837, Thomas Lincoln was sued for a debt of $9.00 for a bedstead, by "Hazlett and Miller." It appears that he lost, for a summons was served on him by Constable J. Barham (?) on January 24, 1838. The total amount owed by Thomas was $10.25, including costs, and mileage for the constable.5 What was this debt? A store account? The writer does not know, and has seen no reference to the case other than the writ of execution. The name "Miller" suggests that this suit may have been related to a suit brought against Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston two years later, involving Stephen and James M. Miller. Was Johnston a party to the Hazlett and Miller suit? The incomplete record leaves that question unanswered.


1 Size and beam differences show in photographs of the original. The differences in the interior ladders are found in the replica cabin, erected by the State of Illinois. The replica is unusually accurate, and was based on descriptions of old residents who were familiar with the original, as well as photographs.
2 Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 7.
3 Deed Records, vol. C, p. 456. The original deed of sale from Thomas and Sarah Lincoln is owned by Mr. Henry Engbring of Effingham, Illinois, who kindly showed it to the writer. It is signed by Thomas Lincoln. Sarah Lincoln made her "mark," with her name written in Thomas Lincoln’s handwriting. The signatures, and Mrs. Lincoln’s acknowledgment, both were witnessed by Justice of the Peace David Dryden. The land conveyed was the SE¼, NE¼ and NE¼, SE¼, Sect. 16, T. 11 N., R. 8 E. The deed was filed on Feb. 23, 1838 and recorded on Feb. 28, 1838 by Nathan Ellington, Recorder.
4 Deed Records, vol. B, p. 55. A notation on the side of the entry in the Deed Records reads: "satisfied Feb. 23, 1838. C. S. Morton, School Com."
5 Photostat of writ of execution in files of Illinois State Historical Library. Courtesy of Dr. H. E. Pratt.


On January 11, 1840, near the end of the residence on Johnston’s forty acres, Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston lost a suit before Justice of the Peace Stephen B. Shelledy to one Isaac Sears, suing for the use of Stephen and James M. Miller. The suit was based on a note for $26.82½ dated April 18, 1839, bearing twelve percent interest, and due December 25, 1839, signed by Johnston and Lincoln. The note represented two judgments Sears held against Johnston. The award to Sears by a jury in the court of Justice Shelledy was $30.77 and costs. On March 21, 1840 Lincoln and Johnston appealed to the Circuit Court, where on September 30, 1840, the judgment was reversed and Lincoln and Johnston received their "costs and charges" from the plaintiff. The successful appeal was based on the fact that Johnston and Lincoln had paid the note in question, as evidenced by a receipt signed by Sears and dated May 19, 1839.6
Did Abraham Lincoln act in this case for his father and stepbrother? The records seen do not give the names of the lawyers in the case, but two factors suggest that possibility. One of the documents in the case is a witness attendance certificate dated March 21, 1840, the date of the appeal, and filled in by one M. B. Ross who had testified for Thomas Lincoln and Johnston. The certificate as filled in by Ross, and signed by him and Nathan Ellington, clerk of the Circuit Court, is for attendance at the suit of "S. & J. M. Miller vs. Jn. D. Johnston & Abram Lincoln." Why "Abram" rather than "Thomas?" Could it have been that Abraham’s name occurred to Ross because he had assisted his father in preparing his appeal? Another factor suggesting Abraham’s connection with the case was that Lincoln may have been in Charleston about the time (September 30, 1840) the case came up in the Circuit Court. He was campaigning for the Whig ticket, on which he was an elector. There is a tradition that Abraham Lincoln spoke in Charleston during the 1840 campaign. The traditional site of the speech was just north of the Big Four tracks at about Fourteenth street.7 One bit of evidence which points away from Lincoln’s being in Charleston on September 30 is the fact that a case, in which he was an attorney at Tremont, Illinois (25 miles west of Bloomington), came up for consideration, was reinstated and continued on September 30. Was Lincoln in Tremont on that day? Or was the continuance granted because of the absence of Lincoln, an attorney in the case?8


6 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 288, 339. The papers in the case are in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office, box "1840." The costs in the case amounted to $29.43, Coles County Cost Bill Docket, 1837-1844, n.p. A mutilated note, dated August 15, 1839, in the Illinois State Historical Library, reads: "Loned to T Lincoln & Johnston 16 Dollar in silver." The signature is missing. Prom Barrett Collection. Why did Lincoln and Johnston borrow this money? Who loaned it to them? When was it repaid? The writer does not know.
7 "Lincoln Pilgrimage," Charleston, July 11, 1932, leaflet in the possession of the writer, marks spot "where Lincoln delivered an address in 1840." The Sangamo Journal for September 25, 1840, states that "Mr. Lincoln is still in the lower part of the state, addressing the People." Microfilm in Illinois State Historical Library.
8 Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln Day-by-Day, 1840-1846, p. 40. Cited hereafter as Pratt, 1840-1846. Pratt places Lincoln in Springfield on March 21, 1840, the date of Thomas Lincoln and Johnston’s appeal (p. 12) .


From August 1837 until March 1840 Thomas and Sarah Lincoln lived with John D. Johnston, his wife Mary, and their two boys in the one-room cabin on Johnston’s forty acres. Of course the cabin was crowded.
In March 1840 Thomas Lincoln exchanged the land he had purchased in January 1837 for eighty acres that Reuben Moore owned immediately to the west of Johnston’s land. This latter had been purchased by Moore from the government on May 21, 1839.9 The exchange of the two eighty acre plots was recorded as two separate sales, both on March 5, 1840, and both involving a consideration of $400.10 Both Lincoln and Moore signed the deeds, and both Sarah Lincoln and Mary Moore made their marks. David Dryden, Justice of the Peace, witnessed both documents. Since it was an even exchange, there was no actual cash outlay on either side. The $400 was for the record.11 Actually, five dollars an acre was an excessive valuation for the land at that time.
Lincoln and Johnston decided to enlarge the crowded cabin. They did not build an addition to it where it stood, but rather erected another log house on the land recently acquired from Reuben Moore, and moved the old cabin to the new one, joining them together.12


9 Land Entry Book. Moore’s two Land Office receipts, for $50 each, Pales- tine, Illinois, May 21, 1839, in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection. Moore is described as of "Butler County, Ohio."
10 Deed Records, vol. E, pp. 361-362 (Lincoln to Moore) ; vol. G, p. 7 (Moore to Lincoln) Moore thus secured the S½, NE¼, and Lincoln the NW¼, SE¼, and the NE¼. SW¼, all in Section 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E.
11 The original deed from Reuben and Mary Moore to Thomas Lincoln, witnessed March 5, 1840, is in the Illinois State Historical Library. From the Barrett Collection. In mutilated condition.
12 John J. Hall, grandson of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, told Mrs. Eleanor Gridley in 1891 that "Grandpap and Uncle Abe and Uncle John D. Johnston just cleared away a little spot right over there," pointing to the cornfield a few rods to the east of the double cabin, "and purty soon they hed up a right smart house which is the east room of this yere cabin. It stood over there alone for a while, then grandpap and the boys built the west room and moved the other house over here and jined it on to the new part." Eleanor Gridley: The Story of Abraham Lincoln, p. 25. Cited hereafter as Gridley. Mrs. Gridley lived in the home of John J. Hall, adjoining the Lincoln farm, for over two weeks, collecting Lincoln stories from Hall and others in the neighborhood. She repeats Hall’s statements without questioning their accuracy. Hall was almost certainly wrong in giving Abraham Lincoln a part in the building of the two parts of the cabin.


Why did Lincoln make this exchange of eighty acres with Reuben Moore? Both plots adjoined Johnston’s forty acres. In an effort to discover whether or not the nature of the soil was a factor, the writer enlisted the aid of his colleague, Dr. Byron K. Barton, Head of the Geography Department of the Eastern Illinois State College. Dr. Barton made an examination of the soil on both plots, including numerous soil borings. His conclusions attest to Thomas Lincoln’s good judgment as a farmer:
A comparison of the land in these two tracts indicates that Thomas Lincoln not only was ambitious to obtain an estate but also desired a farm which would produce an adequate living for himself and his family. The 80 acres which he had obtained by public land entry was largely upland prairie land. Numerous swales are found which even with modern methods of land drainage are difficult to farm in "rainy" years. Thomas Lincoln undoubtedly found farming this wet prairie land a very trying task.
Immediately to the south and west Reuben Moore owned 80 acres of land which was a well-drained forest soil and contained only three small areas of wet prairie. It is not inconceivable that Thomas Lincoln viewed this more rolling, well-drained and more easily worked land with an envious eye and when the opportunity presented itself traded with Moore for a farm which Lincoln considered more desirable.
Developments of the past one hundred years on this farm land have altered the picture. The prairie soils through adequate farm management have been improved and their productive capacity increased while the rolling forest soil shows the ravages of erosion, but Thomas Lincoln, as many farmers of today, was considering the present and the immediate future and like his contemporaries could not see that agricultural techniques would some day make his decision appear erroneous.13

13 Report on soil examination of S½, NE¼, and NW¼, SE¼; NE¼, SW¼, Section 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. to the writer by Dr. Byron K. Barton, September 28, 1949.


As we have seen, it is probable that Abraham Lincoln was in Charleston sometime in the fall of 1840. This raises the question: could he have assisted his father and stepbrother in the construction of the second (or western) half of the Goosenest Prairie double cabin? We do not know the exact time of the year this second half of the Goosenest Prairie home was built. It probably was put up shortly after Thomas Lincoln’s land exchange with Moore, or in the spring of 1840. If it was under construction in September or October 1840, at the time Abraham Lincoln visited Charleston during the campaign that fall, it is possible that Abraham may have assisted in its erection. It may be assumed that if Abraham was in Charleston for more than a day, he rode the seven miles to Goosenest Prairie to see his father and stepmother. If a house raising was in progress at that time (which is improbable) we can be sure that Abraham lent a hand.14
One tradition has it that Thomas Lincoln did not build the cabin on the land he acquired from Moore, but that it had been built by Moore prior to his deal with Lincoln.15 If this account is correct, obviously Abraham Lincoln had no part in erecting a cabin on Reuben Moore’s land.
Thomas Lincoln completed the acquisition of the 120-acre Goosenest Prairie farm on December 31, 1840, when he paid his stepson Johnston $50 for Johnston’s adjoining 40 acres.16 This had been the cost of the land to Johnston.



14 John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley that Abraham Lincoln insisted that another room be added to the original cabin. Mrs. Gridley reports, citing Hall as her authority, that "Abraham Lincoln upon the occasion of his visit at this time announced his intention ’of cutting entirely adrift from the old life,’ and insisted that the ’new room’ should be erected at once. He remained long enough to assist his father in building and completing the west room of the old log cabin, and also succeeded in putting his mother into more comfortable quarters." Gridley, p. 84. Hall’s unreliability as a witness should be kept in mind. He was eleven years old in 1840.
15 Statement to the writer by Mr. William T. Phipps of Pleasant Grove Township, March 19, 1950, who had heard this account from John J. Hall. One circumstance which casts doubt on this story is that Moore had secured the property only ten months before his exchange of land with Thomas Lincoln. Would he have "swapped even" for an adjoining 80 acres when a new cabin was located on his land, and there was none (so far as is known) on the 80 acres he received in exchange?
16 Deed Records, vol. G, p. 6. Johnston signed and Mary Johnston made her mark. The land was the NE¼, SE¼, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. This became the "Abraham forty" when less than a year later the title passed to Abraham Lincoln, as is described later.

Thomas Lincoln had been planning these land deals—the 80 acre exchange with Moore, and the 40-acre purchase from Johnston—for more than a year before they were made. This is the logical explanation of the fact that on July 10, 1839, Joseph Fowler, Coles County surveyor, surveyed for Thomas Lincoln both the 80 acres Lincoln had bought from the government in January 1837, and the 40 acres Johnston had acquired in August 1837. The survey showed that together they amounted to 121 acres.17
William E. Barton, in The Lineage of Lincoln, expresses the opinion that the double cabin at Goosenest Prairie was erected shortly before Thomas Lincoln’s death in January 1851, and consequently that both halves of the cabin were built at the same time, or about 1850. Barton visited Coles County in 1923 and 1924 and interviewed old residents, who told him that Thomas Lincoln had lived in the double cabin he built for only two days and a night. Until the day before his death he lived in a round-log house on the same farm. This type of cabin was the first home of nearly all of the pioneers. Like other settlers, Thomas Lincoln wanted to live in a hewn-log house, but “not being an ambitious or excessively energetic man” he did not hurry about it. When at last the hewn-log house of two rooms was completed, Thomas was a sick man. His stepdaughter Matilda (wife of Squire Hall) set up a loom in the newly completed cabin, but Thomas lay ill in his old cabin nearby. The day before he died Thomas insisted on being moved to his new house. He was carried there by his stepson John D. Johnston and a neighbor, Beniah Wright. Thomas "looked around him in content," seeing the smooth walls he had made with his own hands and he was rested by the sight." The next day he was dead.18
The writer is unable to accept this account. Apart from the fact that there is no other account placing the erection of either of the two halves of the double cabin later than 1840, the following considerations make Barton’s account improbable.
(1) Round-log houses, or cabins, were not the first homes of the pioneer settlers of Coles County. Hewn logs were used, as is shown by all surviving log structures in the county seen by the writer. This is true even of those old log buildings which have declined to the status of corn-cribs or pig sties.
(2) Thomas Lincoln had been ill for over a year and a half prior to his death in 1851. Barton’s account has Thomas Lincoln a sick man "by the time it was finished," and the new house standing idle, except for a loom, until the day before his death. This is improbable.


17 "Thomas Lincoln’s Survey. 121 acres." Document signed by Joseph Fowler, C.S., July 10, 1839, in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection. The land involved was NE¼, SE¼ and S½, NE14, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E.
18 Barton: The Lineage of Lincoln, p. 85. Cited hereafter as Barton, Line- age.


(3) Thomas Lincoln was a carpenter and cabinet-maker. Would a man with such interests and skills and with an energetic wife live in a log shanty for eleven years, with his neighbors living in well built hewn-log houses?
(4) Thomas Lincoln’s Macon County cabin (1830-1831) was a hewn-log house, as is shown by pictures of the cabin.
(5) The differences in the construction of the two halves of the cabin, already noted, would hardly have existed if they were built at the same time.
A local tradition which is similar to Barton’s account of the erection of the double cabin, is that Thomas Lincoln continued to reside in the Johnston cabin of the "East 40" after 1840, and that the joining of the two cabins (from the "East 40" to that on the land acquired by Thomas Lincoln in 1840) did not take place until about a year and a half before Thomas Lincoln died, or in 1849. John J. Hall in telling this story to his neighbor, William T. Phipps, added that the joining of the two cabins was done only after it had been urged by Abraham Lincoln.19 If this story is correct, Thomas Lincoln and his wife lived in the Johnston cabin, also occupied by the rapidly increasing Johnston family, from 1840 to 1849 while an empty cabin stood on his own land, the adjacent eighty acres. This is very unlikely.
The double cabin or two-room log house which probably was completed in 1840 on the mid-forty of the 120 acre farm consisted of two structurally separate buildings united by a double fireplace and chimney. This arrangement had the advantage of placing the warm chimney in the center, thus aiding in heating the house. The gap between the two buildings, corresponding to the thickness of the chimney, was closed on each side by vertical planking. This left a passage-way on the south side of the chimney and a closet on the north side. Each cabin had its own loft, reached by a ladder leading to a trapdoor in the ceiling.
As will be explained later, the "east forty" became the property of Abraham Lincoln on October 25, 1841. He retained title to this property until his death.20 John J. Hall, son of Squire Hall and grandson of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, cultivated the "Abraham forty" as a part of his [arm, he having purchased the adjoining "west eighty" from John D. Johnston in 1851. On May 7, 1888, Hall acquired title to the "Abraham forty" by filing an affidavit stating that he had entered into possession of the land in 1851, "under claim of ownership/’ and had held "the actual, open, continued, uninterrupted, unquestioned, undisturbed and peaceable possession" of the land since that date, and that he had paid regularly all taxes and assessments levied against the property.21



19 Statement to the writer by Mr. William T. Phipps, Pleasant Grove Township, March 19, 1950. Mr. Phipps was born in 1873. Mr. Hall died in 1909.
20 H. E. Pratt: "Administration of Estate of Abraham Lincoln," in Bulletin of the Abraham Lincoln Association, No. 45, December 1936, p. 7.
21 Deed Records, vol. 73, p. 104.


The history of the "west eighty" after 1840 is more involved. On March 13, 1842 (less than six months after Abraham Lincoln gave his father $200 and took title to the "Abraham forty"), Thomas Lincoln mortgaged the eastern 40 acres of his 80-acre property for $50.00 to the School Trustees of Town 11, Range 9. John D. Johnston was surety for Thomas Lincoln.22 The records seen by the writer do not show when this mortgage was satisfied, as it certainly must have been before Thomas Lincoln’s death in 1851. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, we may assume that Thomas Lincoln owned his 80-acre farm free of encumbrance at the time of his death on January 17, 1851.
His son Abraham Lincoln inherited these 80 acres, and sold it on August 12, 1851, to his stepbrother John D. Johnston for one dollar.23 Johnston resold the property on November 27, 1851, to his nephew John J. Hall for $250.24
Hall sold the site of the cabin and it’s immediate surroundings, consisting of 36/100 of an acre located on the eastern half of the 80 acres, to the "Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association" for $200 on August 15, 189 1.25 The "Association" was not to get the cabin itself at a bargain rate, for on May 8, 1891, Hall had sold the cabin to James W. Craig of Mattoon for $1,000.26 On January 12, 1892, Craig resold the cabin to the "Association" for $10,000.27 Thus did the Thomas Lincoln cabin at Goosenest Prairie come into the hands of a group of Chicago promoters who removed the cabin from its original site and took it to Chicago for exhibition at the World’s Fair of 1893.


22 Deed Records, vol. G, p. 243. It was to be repaid at the rate of $12.50 every six months.
23 Deed Records, vol. O, p. 215. Original deed in Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Document no. HM 3101. Thomas Lincoln left no will to be probated.
24 Deed Records, vol. Q, p. 122. Squire Hall, John J. Hall’s father, had purchased 80 acres of public land in the same section in two 40-acre lots on January 5, 1837, and December 27, 1838. This land (SW14, SE\£; SE14, SW14, Sect. 21) joined the Thomas Lincoln farm on the south. Entries in Coles County Land Entry Book.
25 Deed Records, vol. 83, p. 460.
26 Deed Records, vol. 83, p. 293. Hall and his family lived in the cabin until 1890, when they moved to the property adjoining the Lincoln farm on the north (Gridley, p. 21) where Clarence Hall, grandson of John J. Hall now lives (1953).
27 Deed Records, vol. 84, p. 361.


Colonel F. R. Southmayd of Chicago, a member of the "Association," was later credited by one of the group with having originated the scheme.28 The members of this "Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association," most of them residents of Chicago, were: George M. Bogue, E. F. Getchell, Willard F. Block, Jason H. Shepard, William B. Pettit, F. R. Southmayd, John Barton Payne, Mrs. Norah [Eleanor] Gridley, and Nelson Stelle. It was Mrs. Gridley who persuaded John J. Hall to part with the property, according to a description of the Association and its activities which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1892. This account states that when Mrs. Gridley went to Coles County in June 1891 and visited the cabin, she persuaded Hall to sell it. If this statement is correct there must have been some red faces in the Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association when it was discovered that Hall had sold the cabin to Craig the preceding May for $1000, and that Craig was holding it for a mere $10,000! It was the original intention of the Association, according to the Tribune account, to enclose the ground upon which the cabin stood with a neat fence, and to erect a monument to mark its location. The kitchen garden, which Sarah Bush Lincoln had tended in earlier years, also was to be preserved.29
Nothing came of this alleged project. On January 18, 1892, the Association sold the cabin site to M. E. Dunlap for $1,000.30
Thus the cabin and the site eventually sold for a total of $1 1,000, of which John J. Hall received only $1,200. In retrospect, the various transactions appear to form the pattern of a money-making promotional venture. As shown by the deed records, John J. Hall was bought out early in the game. James W. Craig cleared $9,000 on the deal, at the expense of the Chicago promoters.


28 Statement by George M. Bogue in Chicago Tribune. Photostat of clipping (no date, probably 1895 or 1896) in the possession of the writer. From Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Courtesy of Dr. Roy P. Basler.
29 Chicago Tribune, no date (1892) . Clipping in the possession of the writer. From Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Courtesy of Dr. Louis A. Warren.
30 Deed Records, vol. 85, p. 10. Colonel M. E. Dunlap of Washington, D. C. appears to have been a collector of historic buildings and sites. He became the owner of the McLean House at Appommattox Court House, Virginia, where Lee surrendered to Grant (Washington Post, August 16, 1896) . As far as the writer knows Colonel Dunlap did not develop either the Lincoln cabin site or the McLean House.


Many years later Mrs. Eleanor Gridley told of her activities with the Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association. At the time of the interview with her (1937) Mrs. Gridley was ninety-one years old, and her memory played a lew tricks with her. Mrs. Gridley recalled that:
A group of Chicago business men formed the Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association in 1891. They asked me to go down to Coles County, Illinois, and write a book about a cabin there that Abe Lincoln, at the age of 22, helped his father build. Well, I lived in the cabin for two months. I took notes, interviewed neighbors and worked on the book. Upon my return to Chicago I suggested that the cabin be taken apart and set up in the Exposition building on the lake front. This was done. The cabin was visited by thousands.31

The Association took the cabin to Chicago in February 1892, and re-erected it for exhibition at the Fair. A description of the cabin as it stood at Goosenest Prairie immediately before its removal appeared in the Charleston Plaindealer shortly after it was taken to Chicago:
The cabin stood on a little rise of ground about fifty yards from the roadside facing the south ... it was old and battered. The winds and the rains of full fifty years had beaten upon it. The roofs that now cover it are not the original ones, these having been placed there within the last twenty years.32

At Chicago the cabin was set up close to the Fair, but was not officially a part of it.33 As Mrs. Gridley stated, the cabin was visited by thousands of people. After the Fair it was dismantled. At first it was proposed to place the cabin in a suitable permanent building, thus making it, in the words of the Chicago Tribune, "one of the permanent attractions in Chicago."34 This project was not carried out, and the cabin was stored in the yard of the Libby Prison War Museum on Wabash Avenue.35 It remained there for a few years, and about 1895 or 1896 the War Museum managers inserted a notice in the Chicago papers calling upon the owners of the cabin to remove it or it would be sold to pay charges or donated to some historical or other society.36 About this same time there was a project on foot to bring the cabin to Washington, D. C. for permanent exhibition. The Washington Post for August 16, 1896, reported that "The Lincoln cabin is now in Chicago, but it is but the question of a short time before it will be brought on and erected in Washington."37


31 Chicago Daily News, June 19, 1937. Mrs. Gridley was at the home of John J. Hall from June 19 to July 6, 1891. Gridley, pp. 21, 280.
32 Clipping, Charleston Plaindealer, no date, probably in February 1892. Photostats of the original in files of Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, and in possession of the writer.
33 A clipping from the Boston Advertiser, (no date) stated that "President Lincoln’s Log-Cabin, on exhibition at the Chicago Fair ... is a quadrangular building about 16 by 16, as nearly as its measurement can be guessed. . . ." If this statement is correct it raises the question, "What happened to the other half of the double cabin?" The west half was 16 by 16, the east half was 16 by 18. Clipping in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
34 Clipping, Chicago Tribune, no date, (1893) in possession of the writer. 35 Mrs. Eleanor Gridley, in a letter to Dr. Louis A. Warren, Fort Wayne, Indiana, October 2, 1936, wrote "Under my direction it was stored in the enclosure about the Libby Prison exhibit. . . ." In files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. A Chicago dispatch to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, dated February 24, 1894, stated that the cabin logs were piled in the alley between Michigan and Wabash Avenues, near 14th street, uncared for and unprotected. Clipping in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation.
36 Clipping, Chicago Tribune, no date. Photostat of the original in files of Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, and in the possession of the writer.
37 Washington Post, August 16, 1896. Photostat of dated clipping in the possession of the writer. From Lincoln National Life Foundation.


This project, with which M. E. Dunlap, owner of the cabin site in Coles County, was associated, was never carried out, and some time after the appearance of the items in the Tribune and the Post the cabin disappeared. There is some reason to think that it was used for firewood.38
Following the death of M. E. Dunlap the 36/100-acre cabin site became the property of Erskin S. Dunlap of Pennsylvania, who, on January 1, 1929, conveyed a quit-claim deed to the property to Mrs. Eleanor Gridley for one dollar "and other good and valuable considerations."39 In a letter to Dr. Louis A. Warren, dated October 2, 1936, Mrs. Gridley wrote that in September 1929 she conveyed her interest in the cabin site to the State of Illinois, "without money or price." She mentioned that her part in securing the cabin site for the State of Illinois was not referred to at the dedication exercises of the Lincoln Log Cabin State Park on August 27, 1936.40 A search of the Coles County deed records fails to disclose any record of the gift which Mrs. Gridley told Dr. Warren she made to the State.
The eighty acres of the "Goosenest Prairie farm" (NE¼, SW¼ and NW¼, SE¼) and six acres from the western side of the "Abraham Forty" (NE¼, SE¼) were acquired by the State of Illinois in 1929 and 1930, as follows: With the death of John J. Hall in 1909 the three "forties" concerned went to his heirs. Squire Hall obtained 34 acres on the west side of NE¼, SW¼. On March 20, 1928, he sold it to Mr. Benjamin Weir, who was acting for the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Weir, in turn, acting for the Chamber, sold it to the State of Illinois on June 28, 1929.41


38 Lincoln Lore, No. 386, August 31, 1936; Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 6, states that the fate of the cabin has never been determined. Mrs. Cridley, in her 1936 letter to Dr. Warren, wrote that the cabin logs were "never used as firewood, that is also an incorrect statement."
39 Deed Records, vol. 172, p. 563.
40 Letter in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
41 Deed Records, vol. 203, p. 25, and statement to the writer by Mr. Weir, July 5, 1950.


The remaining six acres of NE¼, SW¼, and twenty-eight acres on the west side of the NW¼, SE¼, went to Abraham Lincoln Hall, who sold this 34 acres to William T. Phipps. Following its transfer to Emma W. Phipps the property was sold to the State on June 28, 1929.42 Harriet Hall Martin obtained the remaining twelve acres of NW¼, SE¼ (in which the cabin site is located) and the "Abraham Forty" (NE¼, SE¼). Following her death her husband, John D. Martin, sold the twelve acres and the six acres on the west side of the Abraham Forty to the State on December 17, 1930.43 The record of the conveyance of the Martin property to the State does not include any reference to the cabin site which Mrs. Gridley obtained from E. S. Dunlap in January 1929. Seemingly, there was some question about the validity of the Dunlap title to the cabin site, for while M. E. Dunlap obtained a warranty deed from the Log Cabin Association in 1892, E. S. Dunlap gave only a quit-claim deed to Mrs. Gridley in 1929.
Following the acquisition of the eighty-six acres by the State, the property became the "Lincoln Log Cabin State Park." A Civilian Conservation Corps was established at the Park and the camp enrollees erected a replica of the original cabin on the same site, constructed an "ash hopper" of the type used by pioneer households in making soap, provided a "root cellar" on the side of the hill near the east end of the cabin, and also built a pioneer type round-log barn, which has since been removed. Rail fences have been put up, adding to the authentic "backwoodsy" air of the park. The Park with the completed replica cabin was dedicated on August 27, 1936, at a ceremony presided over by Mr. Benjamin Weir of Charleston. Governor Henry Horner made the dedicatory address.
The replica cabin was designed by the National Park Service, with the research work involved being done by Mr. Edward A. H. Ryan, later with the State Division of Architecture and Engineering at Springfield. Among those supervising the actual erection of the cabin was Mr. Arnold R. Kugler, later in charge of the Oak Ridge Cemetery at Springfield.44


42 Deed Records, vol. 198, p. 94; vol. 203, p. 24.
43 Deed Records, vol. 205, p. 271.
44 Letter to the writer from Superintendent Ray Hubbs, Division of Parks and Memorials, Springfield, November 15, 1949.


The cabin conforms closely to the original, as shown by photographs and as described in affidavits by those who remember it before its removal in 1892. The overall size of the double cabin is 16 by 38 feet. It is made of logs hewn flat on two sides and six inches thick. The "chinking" between the logs in the replica is concrete, instead of the less permanent “wattle and daub” or clay and dry grass used in the original. The eastern cabin is 16 by 18 feet and the western cabin is 16 feet square. The two structures are four feet apart, with the chimney in between, and joined by vertical planking. The furnishing of the two rooms of the double cabin was undertaken by the two Coles County chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The east cabin has been furnished as an open-hearth kitchen and dining room by the Sally Lincoln chapter of Charleston. The west cabin has been furnished as a bedroom by the Governor Edward Coles chapter of Mattoon. In both cases much care was exercised to secure articles of the period of Thomas Lincoln’s occupancy. This patriotic project had been completed by the two chapters in 1940.
The Memorial Highway goes to the park. An historical marker erected in 1934 states:
"In 1837 Thomas Lincoln erected a cabin on a tract of land situated one-half mile to the east. Here he resided until his death in 1851. Abraham Lincoln visited here frequently, and after 1841 held title to forty acres of land on which his parents lived. The State of Illinois now owns most of the Lincoln farm."
Abraham Lincoln s Coles County Family
ALTHOUGH ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S career had removed him completely from the interests and the environment of his Coles County relatives, he remained concerned with their welfare. As Jesse W. Weik has pointed out, it would be incorrect "to leave the impression that Lincoln was selfish and indifferent to the wants of his family. He never sought to evade the obligation to care for his father and stepmother. . . " Nicolay and Hay, in their ten-volume life of Lincoln, state that "Abraham never lost sight of his parents. He continued to aid and befriend them in every way, even when he could ill afford it, and when his benefactions were imprudently used. He . . . comforted their declining years with every aid his affection could suggest. . . ."1
Thomas Lincoln was sober, honest, friendly, peaceful and devout. He was not ambitious. His education was meager. Abraham wrote of his father that he “grew up litterally [sic] without education. He never did more in the way of writing than to bunglingly sign his own name” His widow told William H. Herndon in 1865 that "Mr. Lincoln could read a little, and could scarcely write his name."2 No letters or other documents in his handwriting, other than his signature on a few legal documents, have been preserved for the period of his life spent in Coles County, probably for the simple reason that none ever existed. A neighbor, George B. Balch, of Lerna, Coles County, has recorded that:
Thomas Lincoln was a large, bulky man, six feet tall and weighing about two hundred pounds. He was large-boned, coarse-featured, had a large blunt nose, florid complexion, light sandy hair and whiskers. He was slow in speech and slow in gait. His whole appearance denoted a man of small intellect and less ambition. It is generally supposed that he was a farmer; and such he was, if one who tilled so little land by such primitive modes could be so called. He never planted more than a few acres, and instead of gathering and hauling his crop in a wagon he usually carried it in baskets or large trays. He was uneducated, illiterate, content with living from hand to mouth.



1 Jesse W. Weik: The Real Lincoln, a Portrait, p. 50. Cited hereafter as Weik; Nicolay and Hay, Vol. I. pp. 74-75.
2 Collected Works, Vol. IV, p. 61. In Abraham Lincoln’s autobiographical sketch, written on June 1, 1860. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 335-342. Interview with Mrs. Sarah Lincoln, Sept. 8, 1865. Benjamin P. Thomas is of the opinion that Thomas Lincoln never learned to read. Thomas, Lincoln, p. 6.


Balch stated that Thomas Lincoln was called "Uncle Tommy" by his friends, which speaks well for his disposition.3 A more charitable description is that by Dennis Hanks. Thomas Lincoln, according to Hanks, was a "good, clean, social, truthful and honest man . . . who took the world easy—did not possess much energy." Augustus H. Chapman of Charleston, who married Dennis Hanks’ daughter Harriet, told Herndon in like vein that Thomas Lincoln was "remarkable peaceable . . . and good natured."4
William E. Barton made a careful study of the appearance and character of Thomas Lincoln, which he recorded in two books on the Lincoln family The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln, published in 1920, and The Lineage of Lincoln, published in 1929, the year before his death. Barton stated that Thomas Lincoln was about five feet, nine inches in height, muscular and compactly built, with a slight stoop. He weighed about 185 pounds. He had deep gray eyes, a well rounded face, smoothly shaven. His hair was black and coarse, and he wore it out round on a level with the bottom of his ears. As for his character and personality, Barton described him as slow of thought and movement; jovial, inoffensive, and quiet, but capable of strong anger – "a dangerous man when angry" He was neither a drunkard nor a gambler, nor is he known to have had any vicious habit. In his early book, Barton described Thomas Lincoln as naturally indolent and lacking in ambition, and as disinclined to constant hard labor, although capable of it when he chose. He was content with simple things, and preferred to get along with few conveniences rather than to exert himself to obtain the things he did not greatly need. "With sufficient hoecake and bacon he was reasonably content." Thomas Lincoln was a religious person. In Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois he had been a Baptist, but near the close of his life he became a "New Light."



3 Quoted in Francis F. Browne: The Every-Day Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 21-22. Cited hereafter as Browne. Mr. Balch was born in Tennessee on November 1, 1828, and hence was 22 years old at the time of the death of Thomas Lincoln. Mr. Balch died in 1886. There is no authenticated picture of Thomas Lincoln.
4 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 140-141, 301-324. Hanks’ letter to Herndon was dated June 13, 1865. Chapman’s statement was dated Sept. 8, 1865.


Barton modified his appraisal of Thomas Lincoln in his last book, written in 1929. He then wrote that, although Thomas Lincoln "was not educated or learned or ambitious" nor "brilliant or of extraordinary ability," he did have "good sense, sound judgment, a kind heart and moderate ability." He "was reliable and worthy of respect." Barton noted that Thomas Lincoln paid his taxes regularly, and left no unpaid debts behind him when he left Kentucky, Indiana, and Macon County, Illinois. He was "a good neighbor, a good father, a good husband." But despite this kinder estimate, Barton continued to describe Thomas Lincoln as "thriftless, improvident, and quite lacking in qualities that appeal to the imagination."5
The writer disagrees with Barton’s statement that Thomas Lincoln was thriftless and improvident, as well as the earlier opinion that he was naturally indolent and disinclined to constant hard labor.
Benjamin P. Thomas, in his biography of Lincoln, refers to "steady retrogression" marking Thomas Lincoln’s later years. "Whatever energy and ambition Thomas displayed in early manhood soon abated, and eventually he seems even to have forgotten how to write his name," Thomas concludes.6 The writer is unable to accept this estimate. The record of Thomas Lincoln’s land transactions in Coles County, 1834-1840, previously described, hardly bears out this conclusion. Thomas was fifty-six years old in 1834, well past "early manhood." A number of documents signed by Thomas Lincoln during this period have been preserved, as we have seen.
During his residence in Coles County Thomas Lincoln’s occupation was primarily that of a farmer, but there are local traditions that he engaged in other occupations as well, especially when farming operations slackened off.
David Dryden lived a mile north of the Lincoln farm. Family tradition describes Thomas Lincoln as helping Dryden in his blacksmith shop during the winter months, and in addition doing carpentry and cabinet work in Dryden’s shop. Lincoln also is supposed to have helped Dryden in the erection of a building.7 Thomas Lincoln had been a carpenter and cabinet maker as well as a farmer in Kentucky and Indiana. This gives us some grounds for accepting the family tradition.


5 Barton: The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln, p. 265. Cited hereafter as Barton, Paternity. Barton, Lineage, pp. 83, 86.
6 Thomas, Lincoln, p. 6.
7 Statement to the writer by Mr. Andrew B. Allison of Charleston, September 19, 1949. Mr. Allison, who died in 1952, age 88, was a grandson of David Dryden. Mr. Allison told the writer that his mother, Mrs. Andrew H. Allison, knew Thomas Lincoln, and said of him "A harder working man than Tom Lincoln never lived, but he was a poor manager." Mrs. Allison lived from 1822 to 1923. She came to Coles County from Tennessee with her family in 1834.


As we have seen, there is reason to believe that in 1835-1836, and possibly for a longer period, Thomas Lincoln was a partner in the operation of a saw and grist mill. The mill venture was not a success, and resulted in a successful suit against the partners in 1836 for the unpaid balance of their lease agreement.8 Why did the venture fail? The 1835 lease provided that not to exceed fifty dollars of the rental on the mill might be paid by repairs to the mill. The record shows that fifty of the eighty-five dollars paid on the lease represented repairs to the mill. Thomas Lincoln was a carpenter, and hence was the partner most likely to have done this work. If the other four partners had each paid in cash an amount equal to Thomas Lincoln’s contribution in repair work, the rental ($220.12½) would have been paid without difficulty. Of the other partners, John D. Johnston we know was indolent, and so probably was Dennis Hanks. About Squire Hall’s habits of industry we know little, and the fifth partner, William Moffett, is an unknown figure, except that we do know that he managed to evade the law suit, although named as a defendant in the original bill of complaint. The writer is inclined to believe that the failure of the mill venture resulted from Thomas Lincoln finding himself burdened with loafers for partners, and unable to carry the whole burden himself.
One reason why Thomas Lincoln made relatively little financial progress was that he was held back by his association with his stepson, John D. Johnston. Thomas Lincoln was a defendant in five law suits, four of which he lost. In four of the five cases and possibly in all five, John D. Johnston was involved. It is clear from Abraham Lincoln’s correspondence with Johnston, to be quoted in the next chapter, that Johnston was a man given to projects which failed to turn out as expected, due primarily to his poor judgment and indolence. Thomas Lincoln stood by his stepson loyally in his legal difficulties, even though he was left "holding the sack" for John.


8 This case, Jones and Norton vs. Thomas Lincoln et al, has been described in the chapter on the Muddy Point residence.


After an examination of the Coles County property records for the period of Thomas Lincoln’s residence in the county, the writer concludes that Thomas Lincoln was a more "substantial" citizen than most writers make him out to be. He was certainly no landless "squatter." From the time of his first land purchase in 1834 to his death in 1851 he was the owner of real estate in Coles County. The following table summarizes his real estate transactions, as already described in detail:
Date Transaction Areage Total Acreage
in Thomas
Lincoln’s possession.
March 14, 1834 Purchase 40 40
November 25, 1834 Purchase 80 120
January 14, 1837 Purchase 80 200
May 3, 1837 Sale 40 160
December 27, 1837 Sale 80 80
March 5, 1840 Exchange 80 80
December 31, 1840 Purchase 40 120
October 25, 1841 Sale 40 80

These land transactions were neither speculative nor highly profitable. He was attempting to secure an estate for his old age, and in this he succeeded. At the time of his death and for the eleven years preceding, he owned the land upon which he lived.
Louis E. Warren has incorporated the results of an intensive examination of Thomas Lincoln’s thirty-four years of Kentucky residence in his Lincoln’s Parentage and Childhood. Warren cocludes that Thomas was not "the worthless vagabond" of tradition. During his residence in Kentucky, Thomas Lincoln "has not one black mark against his good name."9 The same may be said for the twenty years Thomas Lincoln lived in Coles County.
The writer is inclined to agree with an estimate of Thomas Lincoln made by Sarah Bush Lincoln’s granddaughter, Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, in 1889. Then sixty-seven years old, she told Eleanor Atkinson that Thomas Lincoln:
. . . made a good living, and I reckon he would have got something ahead if he hadn’t been so generous. He had the old Virginia notion of hospitality – liked to see people sit up at the table and eat hearty, and there were always plenty of his relations and grandmother’s willing to live on him. Uncle Abe got his honesty, and his clean notions of living and his kind heart from his father. Maybe the Hanks family was smarter, but some of them couldn’t hold a candle to Grandfather Lincoln, when it came to morals. I’ve heard Grandmother Lincoln say, many a time, that he was kind and loving, and always paid his way, and never turned a dog from his door.10


9 Pp. 122-123. Published in 1926.
10 Atkinson, pp. 44-45. Mrs. Dowling died on March 20, 1907, age 84 years. Charleston Daily Courier, March 23, 1907.


Although Thomas Lincoln served on numerous juries while a Kentucky resident, a search of the Coles County Circuit Court records fails to show that he served on any jury of that court. During the period 1835-1850, John D. Johnston served on two juries (October 1835 and October 1836) and Dennis Hanks served on nine (four in September 1840 and five in May 1844.)11 Did Thomas Lincoln sympathize with his son’s desire for an education? According to Leonard Swett, Abraham Lincoln told him that his father "determined at an early day" that Abraham should be well educated. "We had an old dog-eared arithmetic in our house, and father determined that somehow, or somehow else, I should cipher clear through that book."12 In like vein, Mrs. Sarah Lincoln told Herndon in 1865 that her husband, feeling the lack of education, encouraged Abraham to learn in every way possible. "As a usual thing," Mrs. Lincoln stated, "Mr. Lincoln never made Abe quit reading to do anything if he could avoid it. He would do it himself first."13
With this testimony from the son and the widow, the contrary notion that Thomas Lincoln did not sympathize with Abraham’s interest in "book-larnin" can hardly be accepted. Henry C. Whitney is responsible for an account of a visit to Thomas Lincoln in Coles County by William G. Greene, who had clerked with Abraham in Denton Offut’s store at New Salem. Abraham had asked Greene to deliver a letter to his father, as Greene would pass near Thomas Lincoln’s home on a trip to Kentucky. Thomas is quoted as speaking disparagingly of Abraham’s interest in obtaining an education. Whitney, giving Greene as the source of his information, described Thomas Lincoln’s cordial welcome to the friend of his son, and quoted Thomas as telling Greene:
’I suppose that Abe is still fooling hisself with eddication. I tried to stop it, but he has got that fool idea in his head, and it can’t be got out. Now I hain’t got no eddication, but I get along far better than ef I had. Take bookkeepin’ – why, I’m the best bookkeeper in the world! Look up at that rafter thar. Thar’s three straight lines made with a firebrand; ef I sell a peck of meal I draw a black line across, and when they pay, I take the dishcloth and jest rub it out; and that thar’s a heap better’n yer eddication,’ etc. (In point of fact, a part of his business was to superintend a small neighborhood mill.)14


11 Circuit Court Records, vol. I, pp. 46, 80, 310, 311, 313, 314; vol. II, pp. 2, 4, 16, 23. Volume One starts with 1835. Thomas Lincoln may have had jury service between 1831 and 1835, or he may have served on juries in justice of the peace courts, the records of which have not been preserved. Thomas Lincoln was sixty years old in 1838 and therefore unlikely to be called for jury service after that date.
12 A. T. Rice: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, p. 458.
13 Statement of Sept. 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 335-342.
14 Henry C. Whitney: Life of Lincoln, vol. I, pp. 74-75. Cited hereafter as Whitney, Life.


The reference to Thomas Lincoln’s milling activities puts the date of this visit about 1835. In assessing the accuracy of this story it should be noted that Whitney did not come to Illinois until 1854, or nineteen years after this incident and three years after Thomas Lincoln’s death. Thus Whitney did not get the story from Greene until about twenty years after Greene had visited at the Thomas Lincoln home. A direct quotation of Thomas Lincoln’s words under those circumstances is manifestly absurd. Furthermore it should be noted that Whitney gives a very unfavorable picture of Thomas Lincoln elsewhere in his biography of Lincoln. He uses such phrases as "no incentive to exertion," "his squalor," and "the dim surroundings of his rude abode."
In his later years Thomas Lincoln was not given to travel. Although his son Abraham was living in Springfield, hardly more than a hundred miles away, during the last fourteen years of his life, Thomas never visited his son there, nor, so far as is known, did he ever get to Springfild. Neither Thomas nor any other member of Abraham’s Coles County connections were present at his marriage to Mary Todd in Springfield on November 4, 1842. It is not known whether they were invited. John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that the family did not know that Abraham was married until he told them on his first visit to Coles County after the wedding. Mrs. Abraham Lincoln never visited her father-in-law’s home.15
Thomas Lincoln and his family are listed in the 1840 and 1850 census returns for Coles County. The 1840 return gave only the name of the head of each household. The Thomas Lincoln family is given as one male between 60 and 70 years of age, and one female between 50 and 60. John D. Johnston’s family (the name is spelled "Johnson"), is given as two males less than five years of age, one male between 30 and 40, one female less than five, and one female between 30 and 40. Squire Hall’s family is listed as four males (less than 5, between 10 and 15, between 20 and 30, between 30 and 40) and three females (less than 5, between 5 and 10, between 20 and 30).
The 1850 census returns were by precincts, and the name, age, and state of birth of each person listed were given. Thomas "Lincon" is listed as a resident of Muddy Precinct, age 72, a farmer, possessing real estate worth $100, and a native of Virginia. Sarah, his wife, is listed as age 62 and a native of Kentucky. The family of John D. Johnston ("Johnson") is given as himself (age 40, a farmer and a native of Kentucky) and his six children: Thomas, age 13; Abraham, 12; Mary June, 10 (the family Bible record gives her name as Marietta); Esquire, 9 (Squire); Richard, 7, and Dennis, 5. Mary Barker Johnston, John’s wife and the mother of the six surviving children, died on September 21, 1850. The Squire Hall family is not listed in the 1850 return for Muddy Precinct.16


15 Weik, p. 50; Gridley, pp. 116-117.
16 Microfilm of U.S. Census Returns in Illinois State Archives. 1840 Coles County, p. 201; 1850 Coles County, p. 81B.


Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, Thomas’s second wife and Abraham’s stepmother, was a more positive personality than her husband. She was energetic and sensible, "a good housekeeper, prudent and systematic, and with a passion for cleanliness."17 Her granddaughter Harriet Hanks Chapman described her to Herndon on December 17, 1865, as "a very tall woman, straight as an Indian, of fair complexion, and was, when I first remember her, very handsome, sprightly, talkative, and proud. She wore her hair curled till gray; is kindhearted and very charitable, and also very industrious."18 Living at a time and in a region where "book larnin" for women was held to be of little account, she never learned to read and write. But what she lacked in education she made up in spirit.19
Both Mrs. Lincoln and Abraham testified to the affectionate and understanding nature of their relationship with each other. Abraham Lincoln in later years told A. H. Chapman of the encouragement he had always received from her, and declared that "she had been his best friend in this world and that no son could love a mother more than he loved her." Mrs. Lincoln, on her part, declared that "Abe was a good boy, and I can say what scarcely one woman, a mother can say in a thousand . . . Abe never gave me a cross word or look and never refused in fact, or even in appearance, to do anything I requested him. I never gave him a cross word in all my life. . . . His mind and mine, what little I had seemed to run together – move in the same channel."20


17 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 59.
18 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 458-459. It will be remembered that Harriet, the daughter of Dennis and Sarah Elizabeth Hanks, was a member of the original party of 1830, as a child of four. The accompanying picture of Mrs. Lincoln also appears in Stefan Lorant: Lincoln, His Life in Photographs, p. 15. Concerning this picture Mr. Lorant wrote to the author on August 26, 1950: "I do not know who took the Sarah Bush photograph – I only know that the picture was cherished by the Lincoln family and was loaned to authors to illustrate early books on Lincoln." Dennis Hanks Dowling, in an affidavit dated July 10, 1929, stated that a photograph of Mrs. Lincoln was taken in Charleston in 1864 by her grandson Thomas L. D. Johnston. Illinois State Historical Library. Folder "Affidavits, etc. Coles County." On Oct. 25, 1865 Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chapman, in a letter to Herndon concerning Thomas and Sarah Lincoln, referred to "one of her photographs taken about one year ago." On Jan. 6, 1867, Mrs. Chapman wrote to Herndon enclosing "two pictures of Grandma Lincoln. ... I am sorry that I could not have a better one for your friend as these do not do the original justice. But we have no hope of ever getting a better one as Grandma is getting very feeble." Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 459, 1363.
19 Illiteracy was common among the women of her circle. The deed records show that the first Mrs. John D. Johnston (Mary Barker Johnston) and Mrs. Reuben Moore (Mrs. Lincoln’s daughter Matilda) , as well as Mrs. Lincoln, "made their marks" to legal papers.
20 Chapman’s letter to Herndon, Oct. 8, 1865; Mrs. Lincoln’s statement to Herndon, Sept. 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 335-342, 422.


Despite the differences in their characters, Abraham was very fond of his stepbrother, John Davis Johnston. Henry C. Whitney has recorded that Lincoln once told him that he loved Johnston as if he had been his own brother.21 Improvidence and indolence were Johnston’s most unfortunate traits. Dennis Hanks wrote of Johnston that "a kinder harted man never was in Coles County 111 nor an honester man. I don't say this because he was my brother in law. I say it noing it. John did not love to work any of the best. I plaged him for not working."22
Ward Hill Lamon has described Johnston as a man who "had no positive vice, except idleness, and no special virtue but good temper. He was not a fortunate man; never made money, was always needy, and always clamoring for the aid of his friends." Abraham Lincoln, Lamon observed, "all through John’s life, had much trouble to keep him on his legs, and succeeded in- differently in all his attempts."23 The accuracy of this observation will be apparent as we read the correspondence between John and Abraham.


21 Whitney, Life, vol. I, p. 37. The conversation took place in 1856.
22 Letter to Herndon, January 26, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 521. There is reason to believe that Johnston was a heavy drinker. An account book of whiskey sales kept by Michael Hufman shows that from March 8 to July 2, 1851, Johnston purchased ten gallons of whiskey. This would be at the rate of nearly two and a half quarts a week. In Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection.
23 Lamon, p. 46. Johnston was a little over a year younger than Abraham Lincoln. There is reason to believe that some time after his father’s death in January 1851, Abraham Lincoln visited his stepmother at Goosenest Prairie, and at that time made entries in the family Bible. The Lincoln Kinsman, No. 31, January 1941, p. 6. The latest entry in his hand is dated March 5, 1851. Lincoln may have visited Goosenest Prairie on May 17 and 18, 1851. A facsimile of the page with the entries in Lincoln’s hand is given in Sandburg, Collector, p. 108. This page was removed, after Abraham Lincoln’s death, by Dennis Hanks. After passing through the hands of Jesse Weik, the page reached the Barrett Collection. Sandburg, p. 106. A copy of the page had been made by John J. Hall before it was removed from the Bible. A. A. Graham made a copy of Hall’s copy in 1879, and sent it to the Chicago Historical Society. Letter, Graham to A. D. Hagar, secretary, C.H.S., March 3, 1879. In Manuscript Division, Chicago Historical Society, Autograph Letters, vol. 24, pp. 219-220. John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that "Uncle Dennis took it [the missing page] long enough to have it copied and never returned it, fur he sold it to a relic hunter and got a right smart price fur it." Gridley, p. 110. See Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 94-95.


John Cunningham of Mattoon, who was born in 1828, and hence was about twenty-three years old when John D. Johnston left Coles County for Arkansas in 1852, many years later wrote of Johnston:
He was the Beau Brummel of Goosenest Prairie, and would sport the best clothes to be had, regardless of whether they were ever paid for or not . . . the term shiftless fitted him in respect of his having no particular occupation. He was always prepared to make a pleasing address, and was smart for a young man of those days, but without other education than that acquired by contact with others. Some per- sons thought him a blighter man than the immortal Lincoln. Had Johnston lived in this age, he would have filled the niche of the dude to perfection.24

The Lincoln-Hanks-Hall-Johnston connections were complicated by intermarriage. The complication arises from the fact that Dennis Hanks and Squire Hall, half-brothers (and nephews of Abraham Lincoln’s grandmother, Lucy Hanks) married sisters, the daughters of Abraham’s stepmother. John J. Hall, who acquired the Thomas Lincoln Goosenest Prairie farm, was (1) the grandson of Abraham Lincoln’s great-aunt Nancy, and (2) the son of Abraham Lincoln’s stepsister Matilda Johnston Hall. John J. Hall’s grandson, Clarence Hall, now (1954) living on the Hall farm adjoining the Lincoln Log Cabin State Park, is, therefore, the great-great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln’s great-aunt Nancy; or to put the relationship in a more direct line, the great-great-great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln’s great-grandfather, Joseph Hanks.25


24 Clipping in Barrett Collection, printed in Sandburg, Collector, p. 88. Johnston served as a constable from June 1834 to March 1842, Coles County Commissioners Court Record, vol. I, p. 96, vol. II, p. 217.
25 Nancy A. Hall (1869-1949), daughter of John J. Hall, married John Thomas of Janesville, Illinois, on June 17, 1891, (Coles County Marriage Records, vol. II, p. 58) . Their son Clarence was born in 1892. The birth was not recorded in the county records. Nancy was married a total of three times. Following her divorce from John Thomas, Mrs. Thomas resumed her maiden name of Hall, which she also applied to her son Clarence. Her other marriages (both ending in divorce) , were to James Higgenbotham of Diona, Illinois (Marriage Records, vol. II, p. 161, June 17, 1895) and to Albert Moore. After each divorce she resumed her maiden name. Statement to the writer by Mr. William T. Phipps, Pleasant Grove Township, March 19, 1950. Nancy Hall died in Charleston on November 12, 1949 (Charleston Daily Courier, November 14, 1949) . The most complete study of the family relationships involving Abraham Lincoln is Barton, Lineage. See genealogical tables following the introduction.
Lincoln’s Concern for His Coles County Relatives
THOMAS LINCOLN appears to have been in financial difficulties in the fall of 1841. This is the logical explanation of the action of his son Abraham on October 25, 1841, in paying him $200 for the "east forty" of the 120-acre farm.1 This was the land Thomas Lincoln had purchased from John D. Johnston on December 31, 1840, for fifty dollars and on which both families had lived from 1837 to 1840.
That Abraham’s action was really a gift is indicated by the fact that the agreement allowed Thomas and Sarah Lincoln to retain "use and entire control" of the property "during both and each of their natural lives."2 Lincoln did not think of this forty-acre transaction as making him the actual owner of a farm. On March 27, 1842, in a letter to his friend Joshua F. Speed, Lincoln wrote: "I have no farm, nor ever expect to have, . . ."3 Nor did he acquire the property with the hope of reselling it at a profit after the deaths of Thomas and Sarah, for at the time of the purchase he agreed to sell the land to his stepbrother Johnston for $200, the price he paid his father, within one year after the deaths of Thomas and Sarah, without interest except "after the death of the survivor as aforesaid."4


1 NE¼, SE¼, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. Deed Records, vol. G, p. 5. The "west eighty," it will be recalled, was acquired by Thomas Lincoln on March 5, 1840, from Reuben Moore by an even exchange. This did not increase his financial indebtedness.
2 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 262.
3 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 282
4 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 263. Bond dated Charleston, October 25, 1841. Recorded in Coles County Mortgage Records, vol. I, p. 43, December 3, 1851. Cited hereafter as Mortgage Records. Certified copy made on August 29, 1866, in Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 560-562.


Dennis Hanks told Herndon in 1865 about the $200 transaction. He confused the 1834 mortgage of the "Plummer place" with the 1841 "sale" to Abraham. According to Hanks, Abraham paid a debt of $200, contracted in 1834, and in return Thomas conveyed the farm to him, reserving a life interest for himself and wife. Hanks correctly described Abraham’s agreement with John- ston.5
It would appear that Lincoln took this means of helping his father and stepmother, letting them have $200 and at the same time preserving 40 acres of the farm that could not be sold or mortgaged at a later date. The reservation of a life interest insured that Thomas and Sarah would have the use of the land as long as they each should live. Thomas signed the indenture and Sarah Lincoln made her mark.
The artist, F. B. Carpenter, in his "Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln," relates an incident which, if authentic, shows that Lincoln was thinking of purchasing land for his stepmother’s use about the time of the $200 transaction in 1841. As given by Carpenter, Lincoln said to a legal friend after receiving a fee of $500 in a legal case6 soon after he "entered upon the practice of his profession at Springfield" (which was in 1837): "If it was only seven hundred and fifty, I would go directly and purchase a quarter section of land, and settle it upon my old step-mother." His friend offered to lend him the $250 extra, and suggested that the property be for her use, to revert to Lincoln upon her death. Lincoln replied: "I shall do no such thing. It is a poor return, at the best, for all the good woman’s devotion and fidelity to me, and there is not going to be any half-way business about it."7 Nothing came of this plan, if indeed it ever existed, which the writer doubts.
The financial relief from the sale to Abraham did not end Thomas Lincoln’s money troubles. Within three months Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston were defendants in a suit brought against them in the court of Justice of the Peace F. W. Trower by J. R. Mount and James Alexander, for the use of F. Patterson. A judgment of $17.17 and costs of $2.30 were found against them. The judgment was to bear interest from January 29, 1841. A writ of execution was issued by Justice Trower on January 24, 1842. It was served the next day by Constable J. Wells, who reported that no property was found and therefore no levy had been made.8 What had happened, probably, was that Thomas Lincoln had "gone on Johnston’s note," and, Johnston failing to pay, Thomas had become with him a codefendant when suit was brought to collect.


5 Hanks’ statement to Herndon, Sept. 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 329-330. Lamon, p. 75, followed the Dennis Hanks account when he wrote that Thomas had mortgaged the 40 acres purchased from Johnston to the school commissioner for $200 and that Abraham paid the debt and took title to the land. There was no mortgage involved in the 1841 transaction between Thomas Lincoln and his son. Lamon, like Hanks, confused the 1834 and 1841 transactions. A. H. Chapman, similarly, told Herndon on Sept. 8, 1865, that Thomas Lincoln bought 40 acres, but that Abraham had to advance $200 to pay for it and to prevent his father from losing it. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 324.
6 On April 6, 1841, Lincoln’s client in Kellogg vs. Grain , at Tremont, Illinois, secured a judgment of $16,000. This was the largest judgment obtained by Lincoln up to that time. Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 68. This could account for the $500 fee.
7 F. B. Carpenter: Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln, pp. 237-238. Cited hereafter as Carpenter.
8 Writ of execution owned by Mr. C. B. Mitchell of Charleston, Illinois. Mr. Mitchell reports that this document was found in the court house yard when the Coles County Courthouse was being rebuilt in 1898. The writer has seen no other document relating to this suit.


This unpaid judgment is a likely explanation of the fact that on March 13, 1842, less than two months after the writ of execution was issued, Thomas Lincoln mortgaged the eastern half of his remaining 80 acres (NW¼, SE¼, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E.) to the School Trustees of that township for $50. John D. Johnston appears as surety. The debt was to be repaid in two years, at the rate of $12.50 every six months.9
Did Abraham Lincoln assist his father in paying this mortgage? According to John J. Hall, after Thomas had borrowed from the school funds, "Uncle Abe use to come down every six months and pay off the interest. . . . He done that until he had money enough to pay the hull debt, and kept up the in- terest, tu."10
The sequence of events from October 1841, to March 1842, suggests that Thomas Lincoln’s financial affairs were in a state of confusion at this time. On October 28, 1841, he received $200 from his son Abraham. In January 1842, he failed to pay a judgment against him and his stepson Johnston for less than twenty dollars. On March 13, 1842, Thomas Lincoln mortgaged his remaining acres for $50. Why were Thomas’ affairs in such a mess? The answer probably was in the financial irresponsibilities of his stepson, John D. Johnston. The writer has seen no suit involving Johnston during this period other than the one mentioned. But this does not mean that none existed. The Justice of the Peace records are incomplete, due in part to the fact that the records were disturbed when the courthouse was reconstructed in 1898. The Mount and Alexander document, as has been noted, was picked up at that time on the courthouse lawn. Many others may have been lost.



9 Deed Records, vol. G, p. 243. The records do not show when the mortgage was paid off. Mortgage instrument, drawn by Justice of the Peace David Dryden, March 14, 1842, in Barrett Collection. Described in Sales Catalogue (1952) p. 37.
10 Gridley, p. 38. There is a family tradition that on one occasion Abraham Lincoln accompanied his father when the latter paid to Joseph Allison, School Township Treasurer, the interest due on the loan. Statement to the writer by Andrew B. Allison, grandson of Joseph Allison, September 19, 1949. An unpaid portion of this debt may have been the reason for Thomas Lincoln asking his son for $20 in December 1848. See below, p. 73.


Abraham Lincoln continued to regard the "Abraham forty" as property for the benefit of his stepmother after his father’s death, for on November 4, 1851, he wrote to Johnston, from Shelbyville, "The Eastern forty acres I intend to keep for Mother while she lives – if you will not cultivate it; it will rent for enough to support her – at least it will rent for something."11
The land never left Lincoln’s possession. The death of Johnston, prior to 1861,12 and that of Lincoln in 1865 resulted in the 1841 agreement being ignored. Legally, the heirs of Johnston could have secured the "Abraham forty" from the heirs of Lincoln by paying $200 following the death of Sarah Lincoln in 1869. This was not done, and as we have noted, John J. Hall came into legal possession in 1888. However, Thomas L. D. Johnston, one of the sons of John D. Johnston, asserted a claim to the property in 1868, before the death of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln. Young Johnston was in jail in Springfield, lacking $600 bail, when he wrote on May 22, 1868, to his cousin John J. Hall, who was using the property. He offered to transfer his claim to Hall if Hall would go on his bond. On August 31, 1866, for $500 Thomas Johnston had obtained from his brothers a quit claim deed to their interest in the property as the heirs of John D. Johnston.13 Actually, what Thomas Johnston’s claim amounted to at best was a right to purchase the land for $200 from the Lincoln heirs following the death of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln.



11 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 111.
12 ". . . John D. Johnston who had died a short time previous. . . ." From A. H. Chapman’s account of conversation with Abraham Lincoln, January, 1861. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 422.
13 Text of the letter in Sandburg, Collector, p. 100. Quit claim, Dennis F. Johnston, Squire H. Johnston and Richard M. Johnston to Thomas L. D. Johnston, signed August 31, 1866, Vigo County, Indiana; recorded, December 24, 1867, Coles County, Illinois. Thomas L. D. Johnston is described as a resident of Cumberland County, Illinois, at this time. The names of the parties are spelled "Johnson" instead of Johnston. Deed Records, vol. 21, p. 102. Hall’s low opinion of Tom Johnston was stated to Mrs. Gridley in 1891. Hall stated that he supported Johnston for the last two years of his life. Gridley, pp. 22-23.


As far as the writer knows, Hall made no effort to acquire Thomas Johnston’s claim to the "Abraham forty," perhaps for the reason that he already possessed an assignment of the original claim of John D. Johnston. After the death of Abraham Lincoln, Dennis Hanks sent to William H. Herndon a copy in his handwriting of Lincoln’s bond to John D. Johnston of October 25, 1841, with the following assignment, also in Hanks’ hand, added after Lincoln’s name: "for Value Received I assigned [assign] the within title Bond to John J. Hall for the Sum of fifty [dollars] to me paid in hand, the Rest [receipt] of which is herby Acknowlede. J. D. Johnston."14
Abraham was in Coles County at the time of his purchase of the forty acres for $200 from his father, for the bond to Johnston, made at the time of the sale, is dated Charleston, October 25, 1841, and is signed by Abraham Lincoln. That Lincoln had intended coming to Charleston about this time is shown by a letter to Miss Mary Speed of Louisville, Kentucky (he had recently returned to Springfield from a visit to Kentucky), written on September 27, 1841, telling her that if she cared to write to him, she should address the letter to Charleston, "as I shall be there about the time to receive it."15 As we shall see, Lincoln had cases in the May 1841 and May 1842 terms of the Coles County circuit court. Probably he also had cases in the October 1841 term which have not come to the attention of the writer.16
The significance of this transaction in 1841, apart from showing Abraham’s interest in the welfare of his father and stepmother, is that it is evidence that he was getting established financially. He had been living and practicing law in Springfield for four and a half years. On November 4, 1842, a year after this assistance to his father, Lincoln married Mary Todd.



14 Herndon-Weik Collection, Library of Congress, Group II. Johnston’s assignment to Hall is not included in the Lincoln bond document recorded on December 3, 1851, Mortgage Records, vol. I, p. 43. Hall made no reference to this assignment from John D. Johnston when he filed an affidavit to acquire title to the property in 1888.
15 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 261.
16 Such Circuit Court Records at Charleston as give the names of counsel in cases for the period before the Civil War are incomplete. The "Judge’s Dockets" are missing for most of the period covered by this study.
It may be significant that the $200 which Abraham virtually gave to his father in 1841 is the largest single cash gift from him to his Coles County family of which we have any record. It is likely that after his marriage in 1842 the demands of a growing family precluded any additional cash assistance of a major nature to his relatives. Even in the 1850’s, when his legal practice was most lucrative, we have no record of his having given any substantial cash aid to his relatives. On August 12, 1851, he gave Johnston the 80 acres of the Goosenest Prairie farm he had inherited from his father, for the nominal consideration of one dollar, subject to Sarah Lincoln’s dower right.17 This gift involved no cash outlay on Lincoln’s part.
The recorded instances of Lincoln assisting his father financially during the period 1841-1847, following the $200 "Abraham Forty" land deal of 1841, were when he shared with Thomas his income from his Coles County legal practice. In May 1845 he assigned a $35 legal fee to his father, and he also turned over to Thomas, to collect for his own use, four notes signed by clients in payment of fees for cases he conducted before leaving Illinois to take his seat in Congress in December 1847. These four notes are mentioned in a letter from Thomas to his son on December 7, 1848, quoted later in this chapter. The amounts involved are not stated.
It is probable that Lincoln gave his father small cash gifts on a number of occasions during the years 1841-1847. This Was when he was most frequently in Charleston, attending the May and October terms of the Coles County Circuit Court with a frequency approaching regularity. Help given to his father or other relatives on these occasions would not have involved correspondence or other written records. The 1879 history of Coles County describes Lincoln’s practice when he visited Charleston during this period. ". . . he never failed to visit his father in Pleasant Grove, and, it is said, always purchased as many presents (generally of a substantial character) as he could stow in his buggy, and conveyed them to the family, who were in indigent circumstances."18
We may picture Abraham in a hired two-horse buggy19 making the seven mile drive to Goosenest Prairie, the floor at his feet piled with groceries – a sack of flour, a bag of sugar, a bag of coffee beans, and probably a twist of tobacco for Thomas and a few bags of rock candy for the Johnston children, who with their parents lived with Thomas and Sarah. It will not stretch the imagination to include a bolt of cloth for his stepmother, and even a bright shawl or a warm "comforter" for the old lady.


17 Deed Records, Book O, p. 215; Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 5.
18 LeBaron, p. 286.
19 The road from Charleston to Goosenest Prairie was (and is) hilly and involved fording Kickapoo and Indian creeks, both now bridged.


"Land sakes, Abe," she would say with pretended dismay, "why did you bring me such fol-der-ols? Does that high-toned lady in Springfield know how you throw your money away on your old mother?" "Don’t you fret, Mama,"20 he would reply, "the comforter was Mary’s idea."
One incident on a trip by Lincoln from Charleston to his father’s home was recalled over half a century later by Mrs. Amanda Hanks Poorman, daughter of Dennis Hanks. After describing Lincoln’s visits to her father’s house when in Charleston to attend court, Mrs. Poorman recalled that:
Sometimes Uncle Abe would take our horses and wagon and drive over to his father’s place. When he did this he took some of the children with him. ... I remember one trip I made when Uncle Abe stopped the horse in Kickapoo Creek to give it a drink. I stood up in the rear of the rig, and Uncle Abe gave the horse a little cut and started out of the creek with a rush. I plunged out into the water at the first jump, and in a moment I was . . . floating and sinking and choking with water as I tried to scream. I shall never forget how Uncle Abe jumped from the buggy [sic] and came back after me. He ran with such great, long strides, and came plunging into the creek with his long arms reaching out toward me. The water which was so deep to me was easy wading for Uncle Abe, and he came to me as fast as he could run, his long legs making him remind me of some great wading bird. He fished me out hurriedly and called that "Mandy’s ducking." . . . He was very generous with us, and was also to his father and stepmother, giving them $10 or $15 every time we went down there with him.21

Peter Furry, a neighbor of Thomas Lincoln, told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that when Abraham Lincoln came to see his folks at Goosenest Prairie that he always walked from Charleston, in order to save the cost of hiring a "rig," because he wanted to give his father "some money to pay off the debt on the old home and a little besides" so that both Thomas and Sarah would feel a little independent. Furry also said that on nearly every visit Abraham would give his folks ten dollars. Once, Furry recalled, "I see him give ’em two hundred dollars."22


20 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 66, states that Lincoln always called his stepmother "mama," He referred to her as "mother" in his letters to his stepbrother John D. Johnston.
21 In St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 1901. In Joseph Wallace scrapbook, pp. 508-512, in Horner Library, Illinois State Historical Library. Article by Mrs. Amanda Hanks Pooman, age 68. The incident probably took place during the period 1841-1845, when Amanda was 8 to 12 years old.
22 Gridley, pp. 139-140. Lincoln may have walked the seven miles from Charleston to his father’s place on a few occasions, although the writer doubts it. The $200 gift reported by Furry may have been the 1841 land deal. This would have been fifty years before the conversation with Mrs. Gridley. Note that both Mrs. Poorman and Mr. Furry refer to cash gifts on the occasion of Abraham’s visits.


Many details, probably imaginative, of Lincoln’s visits to his father’s house were given to Mrs. Gridley by John J. Hall in 1891. She was looking for colorful and intimate personal de- tails about Lincoln, and Hall obviously gave his imagination free rein. He told of Lincoln sleeping in the loft of the cabin on his earlier visits. After he became a lawyer he was promoted to a "bunk" in the west half of the double cabin. Hall claimed to remember Abraham making shingles for the cabin, tanning hides for buckskin britches, going barefoot (even after he was forty years old), and taking part in a "taffy pull" in 1833 when actually he was in New Salem.23
A reference to a visit to his father’s home in Coles County was made by Lincoln on March 10, 1860, to Rev. J. P. Gulliver of Norwich, Connecticut, according to the latter. They were on the train together going from Norwich to Bridgeport. Lincoln told Gulliver that while "a lawyer’s clerk in Springfield," he found that he did not understand the meaning of the word "demonstrate," and that such an understanding was essential if he ever was to be a success as a lawyer. "I left my situation in Springfield," Lincoln told Gulliver, "and stayed there until I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what ’demonstrate’ means, and went back to my law studies."24 If true, this incident would have taken place after Lincoln’s removal to Springfield in April 1837. He never was a "lawyer’s clerk" in Springfield. He was admitted to the bar on March 1, 1837. This account by Gulliver can not be accepted as evidence of a visit to Coles County in or about the year 1837. There is no other evidence of such a visit by Lincoln between December 1837 and the fall of 1840.
The road Lincoln followed to Goosenest Prairie is today (with minor variations) a part of the Memorial Highway. As the original road left Charleston it crossed what is now the campus of the Eastern Illinois State College, probably passing over the location of the western end of the Main Building.


23 Gridley, pp. 23, 26, 106, 136.
24 New York Independent, September 1, 1864, quoted in Carpenter, p. 314.


Lincoln’s help for his relatives included providing a chance for some schooling in Springfield for a daughter of Dennis Hanks, as soon as the Lincolns had some extra room. They moved into their Eighth and Jackson streets house in May 1844. It is likely that Lincoln brought Harriet Hanks to Springfield from her father’s home in Charleston25 following his presence in Charleston to attend court in October 1844. Harriet was about eighteen years old. Jesse W. Weik, who met Harriet in later years, records that after the adjournment of court Lincoln and Harriet rode to Springfield in a buggy drawn by "Belle," a bay mare. The trip took parts of two days.26
Mrs. Lincoln, who had both a kind heart and a sense of duty, may have suggested this arrangement. Her first son, Robert, had been born on August 1, 1843. Lamon quotes Harriet as referring to Lincoln "correcting" his child.27 If Robert was old enough to "correct" at the time of Harriet’s visit, he must have been at least one year old. The October 1844 date fits. If Harriet remained in Springfield for a year and a half, as Weik has recorded,28 it is likely that she returned to Charleston with Lincoln in May 1846, when he attended court there. This was about two months after the birth of the second Lincoln child, Edward, on March 10. Thus it is reasonable to suppose that Harriet remained with Mrs. Lincoln through her confinement. In any event, Harriet was in Charleston in 1847, where she married Augustus H. Chapman on September 9 of that year.29
How did Mary Lincoln and Harriet Hanks get along? Herndon, who was prejudiced against Mrs. Lincoln, and who from first hand observation actually knew very little of the home life of the Lincolns, stated in 1885, after Mrs. Lincoln’s death, that Mrs. Lincoln tried to make a servant out of Harriet, and that this caused a fuss between Lincoln and his wife.30 Probably there was some lack of mutual appreciation, at least at first, between Mrs. Lincoln, the daughter of an aristocratic and cultured family, and the daughter of that tangy son of the back-woods, Dennis Hanks. But this difference in background did not deter Mrs. Lincoln from inviting Harriet in the first place, and in permitting her to stay for over a year. It is likely that they got along well on the whole. Mr. Lincoln was away "on circuit" for much of the time Harriet lived at Springfield. With a small child as the only third person present, the situation would have been intolerable if they had not been well disposed toward each other. In 1866 Harriet wrote to Herndon describing her stay in Springfield. She referred to Mrs. Lincoln’s sense of economy, and also her fondness for putting on "style," but she made no reference to mistreatment or to any conflict between them.31 That the Springfield visit, with its accompanying "schooling," was of benefit to Harriet is shown by her letters, much better written than those of her father, her uncle John D. Johnston, or her cousin John J. Hall. The principal object of Harriet’s stay in Springfield was her own education, and any assistance she gave Mrs. Lincoln in her household tasks was incidental, although doubtless very welcome. If May 1846 is the time of her return to Charleston, as seems likely, then Harriet showed her appreciation by staying on at a time when her help would be most needed, the period immediately before and after the birth of Edward. Herndon’s account of their relationship is badly distorted.
Did another daughter of Dennis Hanks live with the Lincolns in Springfield? In 1891 Mrs. Eleanor Gridley was told by a Mrs. Tom "Darling," a daughter of Dennis, that she lived with the Lincolns for a year to help with the children. Mrs. "Darling" is described as "Cousin Sarah," a cousin of Lincoln.32 Mrs. Gridley got her notes mixed up. She must have been talking to Mrs. Chapman. Obviously, Mrs. Tom "Darling" was actually Sarah Jane Hanks (1822-1907) who married Thomas S. Dowling in 1839, or four years before the birth of the first Lincoln child. She had at least one child of her own older than Robert Lincoln.


25 Dennis Hanks lived in Charleston as early as 1834, when he built a house on what is now Jackson street, west of Fourth street. He lived there for about ten years. Hanks also purchased two lots on May 10, 1837, at what is now Fourth and Monroe streets. Deed Records, vol. C, p. 161. Jackson street was known as Lafayette, and Monroe street was known as Washington.
26 Weik, p. 53.
27 Ruth P. Randall: Mary Lincoln, p. 134. Cited hereafter as Randall, Mary Lincoln. Lamon, p. 472.
28 Weik, p. 53.
29 Coles County Marriage Records. Chapman was born at Paoli, Indiana, on August 4, 1822. He died in Charleston on September 4, 1898. Dates from gravestone in "Old Cemetery," Charleston. Where did Augustus and Harriet Chapman live in Charleston? Local tradition places the Chapman home, where Lincoln was a guest on a number of occasions and where he spent his last night in Charleston (January 31, 1861), on the north side of what is now Jackson street, between Fourth and Fifth streets. Chapman did not own property at this location. From August 16, 1852, to March 14, 1857, Chapman owned two lots at the southeast corner of Eighth and Monroe streets. He purchased them for $700 and sold them for $800. Deed Records, vol. P, pp. 284-285; vol. W, p. 611. The Deed Records show no other property owner- ship in Charleston by Chapman prior to the Civil War.
30 Quoted in Beveridge, vol. I, p. 509n.
31 Randall, Mary Lincoln, pp. 134-135.
32 Gridley, pp. 135, 204.


In 1851 Lincoln’s stepbrother John D. Johnston proposed that his son Abraham L. B. Johnston (1838-1861) go to Spring- field to live with the Lincolns. The suggestion was made when Lincoln was in Charleston to attend the October 1851 term of court. Lincoln told his stepbrother that he would think it over, and on November 9, writing from Shelbyville, he told Johnston: "As to Abram, I do not want him on my own account; but I understand he wants to live with me so that he can go to school, and get a fair start in the world, which I very much wish him to have. When I reach home, if I can make it con- venient to take him, I will take him, provided there is no mistake between us as to the object and terms of my taking him/’33
This letter makes it clear that Abraham Johnston’s older brother Thomas was mistaken when he told Herndon in 1865 that Lincoln "took a fancy" to Abraham and proposed that the boy come to Springfield to live with the Lincolns and go to school, but that Mrs. Lincoln "objected so bitterly her husband was obliged to write to my brother and tell him the plan could not be carried out because of domestic opposition." The idea originated with John D. Johnston. Instead of rejecting the proposal outright, Lincoln appears to have been guilty of a very common husbandly failing: he "passed the buck" to his wife! Thomas Johnston went on to say that Lincoln offered to give young Abraham the money to pay for the books and the schooling he received in Charleston.34
If Mrs. Lincoln objected to the Abraham Johnston proposal, as she very well might have done, she can hardly be blamed. The Lincolns had two boys at this time Robert, age eight and William, age eleven months. Mary had her hands full without worrying about a thirteen year old boy about whom she knew little (except that his father was an impecunious loafer), and whose influence on her eight year old son would need watching. Abraham Johnston’s later record justifies her decision. In April 1859 he was indicted by the Coles County grand jury for gambling.
Presumably the case came up in the October 1859 term, but the volume of the circuit court record which includes that term has been lost.35 Did Lincoln defend young Abraham in this case? Probably not.


33 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 112.
34 Weik, pp. 50-51. Abraham Johnston died in 1861 at the age of twenty-two.
35 Indictment and appearance bond for $100, signed by Johnston, A. H. Chapman and A. C. Poorman (the two latter sons-in-law of Dennis Hanks) , in lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office, box "1859."


Thomas Johnston, Abraham’s brother and a cripple, also was a wayward young man. Abraham Lincoln helped him out of tangles with the law on at least two occasions. One incident was described by Henry C. Whitney, Urbana lawyer and friend of Lincoln. In the summer of 1856 Tom Johnston stole a watch from an old man named Green at Champaign, Illinois. Tom was arrested and lodged in jail at adjoining Urbana after a hearing before Justice of the Peace Whitney, the father of Henry C. Whitney. Tom asked that his trial be delayed until his uncle, Abraham Lincoln, could come to defend him. Soon after this Lincoln and Whitney were at Urbana for a political meeting. Lincoln told Whitney that there was a boy in the local jail whom he wanted to see, explaining that it was the son of his stepbrother John D. Johnston of whom he was very fond. The boy also was under a charge of stealing at Charleston, Lincoln said, and added that he would help young Johnston out of these two scrapes, but no more. "After that if he wants to continue his thieving I shall do nothing more for him." Lincoln visited Tom at the jail, and promised to help him. The interview made Lincoln very sad; "in fact I never saw him more so," Whitney recalled. When the case came to trial, the prosecutor agreed to drop the charge if the Greens would agree not to press the case. Lincoln and Whitney visited the Greens, who agreed to come to court and express their willingness that the boy be released. This they did, and Tom went free.36 Ward Lamon tells the same story and adds that before Lincoln left town he gave young Tom Johnston some money and some earnest advice.37
A theft charge against young Johnston in Charleston, probably the one to which Lincoln referred, was settled on May 18, 1857, by Thomas Johnston pleading guilty to petit larceny and drawing a fine of one dollar and costs and a sentence of one hour in jail. Lincoln did not defend Johnston in court, for he was in Springfield on May 18, 1857. He may have arranged for the payment of the fine and costs.38


36 Weik, pp. 52-53. This story in similar form also appears in Whitney: Life on the Circuit with Lincoln, pp. 419-421. Cited hereafter as Whitney, Circuit.
37 Lamon, p. 326. John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that Tom Johnston was a thief, and that he stole many articles from the Lincoln cabin when Hall was living there. Gridley, p. 22. ’
38 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, p. 271, 302; Angle, 1854-1861, p. 177. The charge against Johnston was stealing five knives and five handkerchiefs from a store kept by Hiram and Daniel Tremble, on June 13 or 14, 1856. Eight of the missing articles were recovered from the house of Charles Sawyer, Sr. Johnston was indicted by the grand jury for petit larcency on October 10, 1856. John J. Hall was a witness in his behalf. Documents in the case are in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office. The name is spelled "Johnson" throughout. The accused signed his name "T. L. D. Johnson" in a semi- literate hand. There are no documents in Lincoln’s hand. The Coles County Circuit Court Judge’s Docket, 1855-1858, p. 40, has an entry on the case, but the name of the defending attorney is omitted.


While Lincoln was in Washington in December 1848 as a member of Congress, both his father and his stepbrother appealed to him for assistance. Thomas Lincoln wrote to Abraham on December 7, 1848, that he was in danger of losing his land by a forced sale, and asked his son for a twenty dollar loan. The letter was in the handwriting of John D. Johnston, who added a request of his own for eighty dollars. Thomas Lincoln’s letter was as follows:
Coles County Ill Decr 7th 1848
Dear Son
I will in form you I and the old womman is in the best of health at this time and soe is all of the relations at present. I belive I injoy as good health at this time as I have for many years past and I hope these few Lines will find you enjoying the same state of health, I was gratly in hopes that you would have come a past heer on your way to Wash- ington as I wished to see you, but as you faild to come a past, I am compeled to make a request by Letter to you for the Lone of, Twenty Dollars, which sum I am compeled to razes, or my Land will be sold I have beged time Till I could wright to you to send me that a mount of money by Letter Send it to me if you can, for neither I nor Johnston can razes it for we have nothing that will bring money, I doe expect you will think Strang at this request, for that much money & it was eaquely as strange to me & John when I was cold on for it not long sence for it was an old Transcript of a bout Eigh years standing, that we thought was paid Long a goe & still think so, but we have Lost the recpt if we ever had won, & all, the Plantif & officers denies it ever being paid so we have it to pay again and I now you cant apreciate the reluctance that I have made this request of you for money but I am compled to doe so & I hope you will grant it, & excuse me for soe doing and I am in hopes I will be able to make you requempence for all of your favours, I sopous it would be of sattisfaction to you now how I have disposed of them notes you gave me, the one on James Gill I got the money for & the one Robert Mattison I tried to sell it for 15 $ in cash and coudent doe it So James M Miller offerd John Twenty Dollars in goods at his Trade prices & Monroe advised him to take it, so he sold it to him with out recourse on any body & the two small notes we ar likely not to do much with, but I am glad that I have lived to see anuther Whig Presadent alected & hope live to see monarcha or Locofoco principals crmble to dust be of good cheer four you ar on a good caus and I think old Zak will make all things right, we have razed this summor as much as fifty bushels of corne to the acor & our wheat was very good, your Father in haste
Thos Lincoln39
Abraham Lincoln replied to his father, from Washington, on December 24, 1848, as follows:
My dear Father: Your letter of the 7th was received night before last. I very cheerfully send you the twenty dollars, which you say is necessary to save your land from sale. It is singular that you should have forgotten a judgment against you; and it is more singular that the plaintiff should have let you forget it so long, particularly as I suppose you always had property enough to satisfy a judgment of that amount. Before you pay it, it would be well to be sure you have not paid it; or, at least, that you cannot prove that you have not paid it. Give my love to Mother, and all the connections. Affectionately your son,
A. Lincoln.40
Thomas Lincoln’s difficulty arising "from an old transcript of about eight years standing" probably came from a debt contracted nearly seven years before. As we have seen, in March 1842 Thomas Lincoln mortgaged his farm for fifty dollars. The debt was to have been paid in two years, but the repayment is not recorded in the Deed Records.
Another possible source of Thomas Lincoln’s difficulty was a judgment for $13.12½ and costs secured against him and one Martin L. Ashmore by Lucinda Montgomery before Justice of the Peace Thomas Jeffries on January 11, 1845. This judgment was less than four years old, however, in December 1848, and action concerning it had been taken as recently as January 1846. Thomas Lincoln’s reference to "a bout eigh years" would seem to rule this out as the reason for his request to his son Abraham. The basis of the Montgomery judgment was a note dated March 27, 1844 and signed by Lincoln, Johnston, and Ashmore for $13.12½ and due in nine months. Johnston could not be found when the writ for the hearing was served on January 6, 1845, therefore judgment was entered against Lincoln and Ashmore only. The judgment remaining unpaid, a writ of execution was issued on March 19, 1845, and the constable levied on "one speckled cow and one pided [pied?] heifer 2 years old & 2 red heifers each one year old." When offered for sale on April 12, 1845, the property remained unsold for want of bidders. Additional writs of execution were issued on April 15 and on November 11, 1845, but the judgment remained unpaid. On serving the November writ on January 18, 1846, the constable reported "no property found." By this time the costs had amounted to $5.43, making a total of $18.55 owed by Lincoln and Ashmore.41
After penning Thomas Lincoln’s letter to his son, John D. Johnston added one of his own, using the same page as that for the last part of Thomas’ letter. Johnston wrote to his stepbrother as follows:
A. Lincoln
Dear Brother, I & famly is well but I am Down in Spirits becous I owe somthing like 70 or 80 Dollars in small dribes [dribbles?] & I have kept from paing them by not having any property & have maid no new contracts but traid all together on Fathers property & I am dund & doged to Death so I am all most tired of Living, & I would all most swop my place in Heaven for that much money I know you will think little of this for you never had the Tryal, but Abe, I would Drother Live on bread & wotter than to have men allways duning me for just [?] contrcts & if you can send me 80 Dollars I am willing to pay you any Intrust you will ask, & to make you safe Father will make you a Deed for all of his Land when you come in the spring my reason for makcn this propositi is becous you dont wont us to sell out & I cant pay my debts without, so if you will send us a hundred Dollars you Shall have a Deed for all of the Land and if I cant razs the money for you at Fathers Death or before I am & Shall be willing to give you up Possesion of all of the Land & improvements with out charge for any improvement maid on said Land by me or my ares [heirs], and I will comencc daring & Improveing righ off and be contented to goe to work with soiri hart, and not be a fraid of the officer Taken the bread and meat out of my childrens mothes, I have faith that I can razs you that much money in Three years when the Time would come that I could razse a calf & pig of my owen for Tom & Abe can now Doc nearly as much work in a Crop as a man, I candadly would drother never own a foot of Land than to not pay my Debts, nor lave any to my children Indad I would drother give possession now than to live hur and have men a watching [?] me, to see if I hadent something the Law would take, to set a man wonst behind hand in this country & no other way to make a living only by his Laber, it will take him his Life Time to git out fc pay the cost if he has a large family Wright soon & Let us no & send me some of all the Dockments you must excuse this painful letter your Brother A. Lincoln
J. D. Johnston




39 Photostat of original letter, from Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
40 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 15.
41 Transcript of this case from the records of the justice of the peace filed with Circuit Clerk on May 18, 1848. In file box, "Old J. P. Transcripts" in lower vault, Circuit Clerk’s office.


Abraham’s reply to Johnston was commenced on the bottom of the same page of his reply to his father. He proceeded to give his stepbrother some good advice and a very generous offer, if Johnston would go to work and prove that he was worth helping. Lincoln wrote:
Dear Johnston: Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it best, to comply with now. At various times when I have helped you a little, you have said to me "We can get along very well now" but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, 1 think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day’s work in any one day. You do not very much dislike to work, and still you do not work much, merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more to your children that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after they are in. You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that you should go to work, "tooth and nails," for somebody who will give you money [for] it. Let father and your boys take charge of your things at home – prepare for a crop, and make a crop; and you to go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get. And to secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you, that for every dollar you will, between this and the first of next May, get for your own labor, either in money, or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dolla[rs] a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this, I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines, in calif [fornia], but I [mean for you to go at it for the best wages you] can get close to home [in] Coles county. Now if you will do this, you will soon be out of debt, and what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I should now clear you out, next year you would be just as deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in Heaven very cheaply for I am sure you can with the offer I make you get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and, if you dont pay the money back, you will de- liver possession. Nonsense! If you can’t now live with the land, how will you then live without it? You have always been [kind] to me, and I do not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eighty times eighty dollars to you.
Affectionately Your brother,
A. Lincoln.42
Johnston did not take Lincoln up on this generous offer, for a letter from Lincoln to Johnston nearly a year later shows that Johnston’s financial habits had not improved. This letter will be examined later.
Lincoln’s help for Johnston extended beyond financial offers. In 1850 Johnston wanted to get a contract to carry mail from Greenup in Cumberland County to Charleston, by way of Campbell (Farmington), a distance of twenty-two miles. Lincoln endorsed and guaranteed Johnston’s bid. He wrote to Johnston from Springfield on February 23, 1850:
Dear Brother Your letter about a mail contract was received yester- day. I have made out a bid for you at $ 120, guaranteed it myself, got our P M here to certify it, and send it on. Your former letter, concern- ing some man’s claim for a pension, was also received. I had the claim examined by those who are practised in such matters, & they decide he can can [sic] not get a pension.
Lincoln added a few words about a tragedy in his own family. Edward Baker Lincoln, the second child, had died on February 1, 1850, when nearly four years old. "As you make no mention of it, I suppose you had not learned that we lost our little boy. He was sick fifty-two days & died the morning of the first day of this month. He was not our first, but our second child. We miss him very much. Your Brother in haste
A. Lincoln43
Lincoln’s continuing interest in his Hanks relations is shown by a letter he wrote to John Talbot Hanks, son of Dennis, who had moved to Oregon. On September 24, 1860, in the midst of the presidential campaign, he took time to reply to a letter which John had written to him on July 22, 1860.44 He advised him to remain in Oregon if he was doing well. "If you have a good start there, and should give it up, you might not get it again, here, or elsewhere" He reported to John that "I heard from our relations over at Charleston, about three weeks ago, and they were well then." Lincoln signed himself "Your Uncle." John was the son of Sarah Elizabeth Johnston Hanks, Lincoln’s stepsister. He died in Oregon, aged ninety, about 1912.45
The strained relationship which so often exists in a family with children of different parentage was completely absent in that of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. Not only was there deep affection between Sarah and her stepson Abraham, but Abraham and Sarah’s son John D. Johnston were fond of each other. This is shown not only by Abraham’s often expressed concern for John’s welfare, but also by John naming one of his sons for his step-brother. Another son was named Thomas, after John’s stepfather. In 1861, after John’s death, Abraham spoke of him in a most affectionate manner in a conversation with Augustus H. Chapman. As we have seen, in 1856 and in 1857 John’s son Thomas ran afoul of the law, and on both occasions Abraham came to his assistance. Abraham’s relationships with his stepsisters, Sarah Elizabeth and Matilda, were on an affectionate brotherly basis. In 1844 he took Harriet, daughter of Sarah Elizabeth, into his Springfield home to give her a better educational opportunity. His last trip to Coles County, in 1861, was marked by a visit to the home of Matilda, where his stepmother was living.
The quality of warm human kindness, so marked in Abraham Lincoln’s character, may have been, in part at least, a reflection of his happy home life as a boy after Sarah became his stepmother when he was ten years old. The affectionate relationships between Sarah, her children, and her stepson, were due to her own motherly affection, shared without distinction with the son of Thomas and with her own children.

42 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 15-16. Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. II, pp. 144-146, erroneously date this letter "January (?) , 1851." The letter was written on the same sheet as the letter of December 24, 1848, to Thomas Lincoln. Barton, Paternity, p. 267, suggests that "John D. Johnston doubtless lied in the letter he sent to Abraham Lincoln in the name of Thomas, when Abraham was in Congress, pleading for a gift of twenty dollars to save the Illinois farm from being sold under judgment. . . ." If Johnston intended to purloin the money, why did he not ask, in Thomas’ name, for one hundred dollars instead of adding a request of his own for eighty dollars? Johnston was lazy and improvident, but there is nothing in the records examined to suggest that he was a liar or a thief. Abraham’s fondness for his stepbrother is in itself a character reference.
43 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 76-77. Johnston did not get the mail contract, which went to O. Sallee on a bid of $95. Letter, Victor Gondos, Jr., Industrial Records Branch, the National Archives, to the writer, March 19, 1953.
44 Letter from Hanks, dated "Canyonvill Douglas Co. Origon July 22 I860" in Robert Todd Lincoln Collection in the Library of Congress, No. 3371. Printed in David C. Mearns: The Lincoln Papers, vol. I, pp. 267-269. Cited hereafter as Mearns.
45 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 120; Papers in Illinois History, 1939, p. 148.
Eighth Judicial Circuit Map
Abraham Lincoln’s Coles County Law Practice
ABRAHAM LINCOLN practiced law in Coles County for a number of years, most frequently from 1841 to 1847 and occasionally after that, although the county was not a part of the Eighth Judicial Circuit which included Springfield where Lincoln lived and had his law office.
When the Eighth Judicial Circuit was organized on January 23, 1839, Decatur in Macon County was the nearest courthouse town on the Circuit to Charleston, Coles County seat, which was in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Shelby County was added to the Eighth Circuit on February 23, 1841, making Shelbyville the nearest county seat on that circuit to Charleston. It was following this change in the circuit that Lincoln began to take cases at Charleston in considerable number. The addition of Moultrie County (Sullivan) when that county was created on February 16, 1843, brought another county seat town which was near Charleston. When Edgar County (Paris) was added to the circuit on February 21, 1845, Shelby County was detached, but was returned to the circuit on February 11, 1847. Thus from 1847 to 1853, Edgar, Shelby, and Moultrie counties were on the circuit. In 1853 the Eighth circuit was reduced in size and all counties south of DeWitt and east of Sangamon were detached.1
Thus it was that Charleston, although not on the Eighth circuit, but on the Fourth, was a logical stopping place for those following the courts in Shelby, Edgar and Moultrie counties. The presence of his relatives in Coles County gave Lincoln an additional reason for stopping at Charleston.
According to Amanda, daughter of Dennis Hanks, Lincoln frequently stayed at the Hanks home in Charleston when in town to attend court. Writing in 1901 when she was 68 years old, Mrs. Amanda Hanks Poorman recalled:
Uncle Abe was at our home more than he was out at his father’s . . . when he was in the Charleston neighborhood his business was almost always in town. He made our home his regular stopping place. . . . Our cabin had three rooms, all on one floor, and was daubed weathertight with mud. When Uncle Abe came we had to make arrangements to give him room. I was the youngest child, and generally went to the floor to sleep while Uncle Abe occupied my bed. . . .
In the spring of the year, when court was to be in session a week in Charleston, we always looked forward to the coming of Uncle Abe, who would be at our home and spend the week there, giving his days to his work in the court room and giving his nights to us in our home. We would gather around him in front of the fireplace and he would tell us stories until far into the night. . . .
[When Abraham was coming] we laid in an additional supply of provisions, for he was a great eater. He liked everything. He came to us just his plain simple self. His trousers were almost always patched, and my father used to call them "Abe’s spectacle pants." He went around in his shirt sleeves when he was in the house, and never wore a necktie. His clothes were always a poor fit, his trousers being too short and his coat always short enough to show the patches on his spectacle pants. There were no airs about him. He never sought to impress us with his importance. He didn’t tell us he saw finer things in other houses. He indicated in every way that the way we had things in our home was just what he liked and that he dearly loved to be with us.2
Another daughter of Dennis Hanks, Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chap- man, described Lincoln as a lawyer in eastern Illinois, in a statement printed in a St. Louis paper in the 1880’s. Mrs. Chapman was quoted as saying that in his law practice, Lincoln "was noted for his unswerving honesty . . . juries listened intensely [sic], earnestly, receptively to the sad-faced man . . . nothing could move him when once his resolutions were formed. There was nothing scholarly in his speeches, and he always rested his case on its merits, only asking for simple Western justice, and the texture of the man was such that his very ungainliness was in his favor before a pioneer jury. His face always wore a sweetened and kindly expression, never sour and burning to win them, his tall frame swaying as a pine, made him a restless pleader." Mrs. Chapman remembered a case in which Lincoln, satisfied as to his client’s innocence, depended mainly on one witness. That witness told under oath what Lincoln knew to be a lie, but no one else knew this. In his address to the jury Lincoln said, "gentlemen, I depended on this witness to clear my client. He has lied.


1 Bulletin, no. 40 (September 1935) of the Abraham Lincoln Association, pp. 3-5.
2 Article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 1901. In Joseph Wallace scrapbook, pp. 508-512, in Horner Library, Illinois State Historical Library. Amanda was born in 1833, and thus was 8 years old when Lincoln began to attend the sessions of the Coles County Circuit Court in 1841. After sixty years, Mrs. Poorman’s memory may have been supplemented by her imagination.


I ask that no attention be paid to his testimony. Let his words be stricken out, if my case fails. I do not wish to win in this way." His scorn of a lie touched the jury, and he won his case. From such incidents came the expression "Honest Abe," Mrs. Chapman said. Lincoln’s power over a jury was illustrated by the statement of an opposing lawyer one evening during a term of court. Mrs. Chapman reported that he said, "Our case is gone; when Lincoln quit he was crying, the jury was crying, the judge was crying, and I was a little damp about the lashes myself. We might as well give the case up."3
Many interesting stories have been told of Lincoln’s experiences while riding the circuit. One Coles County incident has been told by Henry C. Whitney, who first met Lincoln in 1854:
One night, when Judge Treat and four lawyers, including Lincoln, were staying at a farmhouse east of Charleston, they were all put in two connecting rooms to sleep, in one of which was a fire, whose smoldering embers cast fitful flashes of light in the opaqueness of the two chambers. Judge Treat slept in the room with no fire, and getting up in his long nightgown in the night to visit the fireplace for something, awoke Gen. Linder, who slept in the room having the fire. The latter, being superstitious, thought a veritable ghost had entered the room, and he set up a series of shrieks, which Lincoln afterwards avowed, chilled his blood to the extreme capillaries. Lincoln said, in describing the scene, that no one who had never heard such exclamations, could imagine the awful terror which the human voice could convey.4
Whitney is also the source of another incident of Lincoln’s Coles County law practice. Whitney got the story from Judge David Davis:
The judge told me he never saw Lincoln angry at poor accommodations on the circuit but once. They arrived at Charleston on a cold, wet afternoon, chilled through and uncomfortable; the landlord was away; there were no fires nor wood. Lincoln was thoroughly incensed; he threw off his coat, went to the wood-pile, and cut wood with an axe for an hour. Davis built a fire, and when the landlord made his appear- ance late, Lincoln gave him a good scoring.5
Yet another Coles County story dealing with Lincoln’s law practice was told to Mrs. Gridley in 1891 by Mr. Abram High- land of Charleston. His story concerned a case in which Lincoln and Orlando B. Ficklin of Charleston were opposing counsel. If the story is true, it was probably a case before a justice of the peace. It was tried in a very small and dilapidated rural school house in Coles County.
Mr. Lincoln was compelled to stoop very much in order to enter the door and the seats were so low that he doubled up his legs like a jackknife. Mr. Lincoln was obliged to sit upon a school bench and just in front of him was another, making the distance between him and the seat in front of him very narrow and uncomfortable. His position was almost unbearable and in order to carry out his preference which he secured as often as possible, and that was to "sit as near to the jury as convenient," he took advantage of his discomfort and said to the justice, "Your Honor, with your permission I’ll sit up nearer to the gentlemen of the jury, for it hurts my legs less to rub my calves against the bench than it does to skin my shins."
There has never been compiled a list of the cases in Coles County Circuit Court in which Lincoln appeared as an attorney. Due to the incomplete case files at the courthouse at Charleston7 for the period in which Lincoln practiced, it is unlikely that a complete list ever will be made. The following compilation, therefore, is by no means complete. Included are some cases in which Lincoln’s participation is a matter of tradition rather than of available record. We also have included Lincoln’s State Supreme Court cases and’ his Federal Court bankruptcy cases which originated in Coles County.

Officers of the Coles County Circuit Court

The judges in the Circuit Court of Coles County during the period when Lincoln had cases there (1840-1857) were:
Justin Harlan, 1836-1840.
Chief Justice William Wilson of the Illinois Supreme Court, 1841-1848, as required by the Act of February 10, 1841, which abolished the office of Circuit judge and assigned circuit duty to Supreme Court justices. Other Justices substituted for Chief Justice Wilson at times.
Justin Harlan, 1849-1856, after the Constitution of 1848 revived the office of circuit judge (Article 5, section 1) . Appointed Indian Agent by President Lincoln in 1862.
Charles Emmerson, 1857-1859.
The prosecuting attorneys for the circuit in which Coles County was located were:
Garland B. Shelledy, 1839-1840.
Aaron Shaw, 1841-1842.
Alfred Kitchell, 1843-1854, with others serving in a pro-tempore capacity during portions of those years.
Edward Kitchell, 1855-1856.
John R. Eden, 1857-1859, later a member of Congress, 1863-1865, 1873-1879 and 1885-1887.



3 Clipping, no name or date, reprinted from St. Louis Globe-Democrat, about 1886, Courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt.
4 Whitney, Circuit, p. 72. "Judge Treat" was Samuel H. Treat, justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, 1841-1855, and the judge assigned to the Eighth Circuit following a reorganization of the Illinois judiciary in 1841. "Gen. Linder" was Usher F. Linder, chosen as Attorney General of Illinois in 1837. The "farmhouse east of Charleston" may have been the home of Stephen Sargent.
5 Whitney, Life, vol. I, p. 197.
6 Gridley, p. 134.
7 There is reason to believe that some years ago these files were rifled of manuscripts in Lincoln’s handwriting by an unscrupulous "collector" of Lincoln material. The absence of Judge’s Dockets for much of the period is especially to be regretted.


The circuit clerks of Coles County were:
Nathan Ellington, 1835-1855, until his murder by his son-in-law, Adolphus F. Monroe.8 James D. Ellington, 1856, son of Nathan Ellington.
George W. Teel, 1857-1864.
The sheriffs of Coles County were:
Albert Compton, 1839-1845.
Lewis R. Hutchason, 1846-1850.
Richard Stoddart, 1851-1852.
Thomas Lytle, 1853-1854.
John R. Jeffries, 1855-1856.
Harvey B. Worley, 1857-1858.


Abraham Lincoln’s Coles County Cases


There was a tradition among the Coles County relations of Abraham Lincoln that his first law case was in Coles County. According to the story, as told to Mrs. Gridley by John J. Hall, his uncle Joseph Hall attended a religious "camp meeting" at Paradise with a bottle of whiskey in his wagon. The preacher seized Hall’s bottle, took it with him to the pulpit, and announced that he had found it on the camp grounds and was going to preach a sermon about it. Hall admitted ownership of the bottle, and asked that it be returned. The preacher refused. Hall said nothing, but determined to bring suit, as there was a lawyer in the family. The next time Abraham Lincoln was in Coles County, Hall had him bring suit against the preacher. Lincoln won the case and Hall received twelve cents damage. The preacher was so angry that he appealed the case to a higher court. Lincoln won the appeal, also, and the judgment was increased to fourteen cents. Also, the preacher had to pay the court costs.9 The same story with variations, also is a tradition in the Sawyer family. This version places the case before Lincoln was admitted to the bar in Springfield in 1837. The preacher broke the bottle at the pulpit and had Joseph Hall arrested. Lincoln was visiting his folks at the time and undertook to defend Hall, who was acquitted. Hall then brought suit against the preacher for the loss of his bottle of whiskey.10
That’s the story, in its two forms. If it took place according to the Sawyer version, it must have been in the fall of 1835, when as we have seen, Lincoln probably visited his Coles County folks before a December session of the legislature at Vandalia.
A search of the court records discloses no such case in or near 1835. On October 9, 1843, however, Joseph Hall was awarded 15c and $7.65 costs from one Isaac Odell for the loss of one pint bottle and its contents, in a suit before Justice of the Peace Thomas Jeffries. Hall had six witnesses in his behalf, among them John D. Johnston. Odell appealed the case to the Circuit Court and posted a $50 appeal bond. The case was decided by a jury trial on May 21, 1844. The jury gave Hall damages of fourteen cents (one cent less than the justice’s court) and his circuit court costs. Each party was to pay his own cost before the justice of the peace. Dennis F. Hanks was a member of the jury.11 Was Lincoln Hall’s attorney in this case? The records seen by the writer do not show the attorneys in the case. Lincoln was in Jacksonville on October 6, 1843, and in Springfield on October 11. It is unlikely that he was in Charleston on October 9. On May 21, 1844, the date of the appeal trial, Lincoln was in Springfield.12
September 30, 1840. Isaac Sears vs. Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston. An appeal from a judgment in justice’s court. Judgment reversed. As already noted, it is by no means certain that Abraham Lincoln was an attorney in this case.13
May 28, 1841. John F. Vest vs. Robert E. V. Williams, John A. Love, Reuben Williams and Thoda Garrett. Lincoln appeared for the defendants. A trespass suit. A jury was called, but the plaintiff said he would not prosecute and withdrew all right of action. An affidavit by Robert E. V. Williams in Lincoln’s hand, in the Herndon and Weik Manuscripts, dated May 26, 1841, relates that Vest had told Williams that he, Vest, was without funds. Williams noted that Vest, therefore, would be unable to meet the costs of the suit if he should lose it.14
May 28, 1841. James B. Moore vs. William B. White. A trespass suit. Lincoln for the defendant. Case continued, and on May 26, 1842, again continued. On Lincoln’s motion the plaintiff was ruled to enter bond for costs within ninety days. Case dis missed at defendant’s cost on October 25, 1842.15



8 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 100-103, for trial and conviction of Monroe, who met his death at the hands of a mob.
9 Gridley, pp. 108-109.
10 Clarence W. Bell: "Sawyer Family Traditions."
11 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 4. Papers on suit before Justice of the Peace Court in lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office.
12 Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 197-198, 230.
13 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 288, 339.
14 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 390; Pratt, p. 74; Herndon-Weik Mss., Library of Congress, group III, No. 3122. Microfilm in Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield. (Cited hereafter as Herndon-Weik Microfilm) ; Rufus Rockwell Wilson: Uncollected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. II, pp. 107-108. Cited hereafter as Wilson.
15 White’s plea in Lincoln’s hand, filed May 28, 1841. Wilson, vol. II, pp. 110-111, cites Herndon-Weik collection. Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 390, 430, 490; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 126.


May 29, 1841. John P. Aertson vs. Gideon M. Ashmore and H. J. Ashmore. Suit for $500 damages over a $400 note. Lincoln and Orlando B. Ficklin for the plaintiff. On May 29, 1841, Gideon M. Ashmore confessed judgment for $182.91 which Aertson accepted in settlement of the case, Ashmore in addition paying the costs.16
May 29, 1841. Elijah Ewing vs. William Goodman. Lincoln for the defendant. A case of trespass, assault and battery. Case continued and plaintiff gave security. On May 24, 1842, the case was dismissed at the defendant’s cost.17
July 16, 1841. People ex. rel. Duncan vs. Compton, Sheriff of Coles County. Not a case at Charleston. In the Illinois Supreme Court. Lincoln and Stephen T. Logan for the defendant. There is no record of this case in the Coles County Circuit Court Record, nor in the published reports of the Supreme Court. The defendant was ruled to return a fee bill and execution for costs within twenty days. On December 14, 1841, Lincoln moved to discharge this rule. After argument by Lincoln on December 15, the court approved his motion on December 16.18
In 1842 Lincoln and his partner Stephen T. Logan took a large number of bankruptcy cases before the federal district court. Five of these cases came from Coles County. Harry E. Pratt, who made a study of this bankruptcy practice by Logan and Lincoln, concludes that these Coles cases probably were sent to Lincoln at Springfield by Alexander P. Dunbar, Charleston lawyer and friend of Lincoln. These cases arose under the act of August 19, 1841, which took effect on February 1, 1842. This was the first federal voluntary bankruptcy law. It was in effect for only thirteen months, being replaced on March 3, 1843. Each case rceived a notice in the Sangamo Journal, a preliminary hearing, a second notice, and a final hearing. This final hearing in many cases was held at Kaskaskia. The following were the Coles County cases, with the dates of the first notice in the Journal and the final hearing given in each case:
Nathan Reed, February 25, 1842; June 8, 1842. Elijah Williams, July 1, 1842; October 1, 1842. B. U. White, August 29, 1842; March 6, 1843, Kaskaskia. Richard W. Eastern, October 7, 1842; March 3, 1843, Kaskaskia. Jacob Miller, November 25, 1842; March 24, 1843, Kaskaskia.19


16 Aertson ’s complaint in the case, in Lincoln’s hand, was filed on May 27, 1841. Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, No. 113; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 108-110. Settlement of the case in Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 403.
17 Goodman’s affidavit, in Lincoln’s hand, and dated May 28, 1841, was filed the next day. Wilson, vol. II, pp. 111-112, cites Herndon-Weik Collection. Circuit Court Records, vol. I, pp. 402, 414; Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 74, 126.
18 Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 81, 103; Pratt: "Lincoln’s Supreme Court Cases" in Illinois Bar Journal, Sept. 1943, cites Supreme Court file No. 14133.
19 Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln and Bankruptcy Law. Chicago, The Poor Richard Press, 1943 (Reprinted from Illinois Bar Journal, January 1943) .


May 25, 1842. Anne Patterson vs. Young E. Winkler. A paternity suit in which Lincoln represented the defendant. On April 23, 1842, Anne Patterson made affidavit before Justice of the Peace Stephen B. Shelledy that Young E. Winkler was the father of her illegitimate female child born on March 26, 1841. Shelledy thereupon issued a warrant for Winkler’s arrest. Winkler plead guilty in a hearing before Shelledy, and posted a bond of $200 for his appearance in circuit court. The case never came to trial. In a document in Linclon’s hand, dated May 25, 1842, Winkler acknowledged that he was the father of Eliza Jane, illegitimate daughter of Anne Patterson. He agreed to pay $50 yearly for seven years for the child’s support, and entered a bond of $350. On this basis the case was settled. 20 On May 24, 1842, the case of John Patterson vs. Young E. Winkler was dismissed at the defendant’s cost. Lincoln for Winkler in this case, also. Was this suit a parallel action brought by Anne’s father?21
May 27, 1842. James E. Pearson and George W. Anderson vs. Byrd Monroe and John Easton. A debt case. Lincoln for the plaintiffs, Usher F. Linder for the defendants. The declaration of the plaintiffs, in Lincoln’s hand, filed May 24, 1842, is in the Herndon and Weik manuscripts. On May 27, 1842, the case was continued, and on October 25, 1842, it was dismissed at the defendant’s cost. A companion case, Pearson and Anderson vs. Byrd Monroe, also was dismissed at the defendant’s cost on October 25, 1842. Was Lincoln an attorney in both cases?22
May 28, 1842. John Morris vs. Benjamin Jones, William R. Jones, and Dumas J. Vanderen. A suit over an unpaid note, dated August 29, 1839, for $400 with twelve per cent interest. Lincoln and Alexander P. Dunbar for the plaintiff, who was awarded $290.40. A declaration by Morris, in Lincoln’s hand, reciting the facts of the case, was filed on May 13, 1842.23



20 Wilson, vol. II, pp. 300-302; Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, No. 2179. Justice of the Peace records in this case are on file in lower vault of Circuit Clerk’s office, box "1842."
21 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 422.
22 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 454, 490, 491; Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 126, 148; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 299-300; Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, No. 2194.
23 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 468; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 126; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 297-299: Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, Nos. 2103-2106.


May 28, 1842. Benjamin D. Turney vs. Archalaus Craig. A suit for damages. Lincoln and Orlando B. Ficklin for the plaintiff. Usher F. Linder was one of the attorneys for the defendant. Case continued. Tried by a jury on October 29, 1842, and the plaintiff recovered $300 damages and costs.24
May 24, 1843. John W. Rodgers vs. John Stewart. A property suit (possession of a horse?). Lincoln (?) for Rodgers, who was awarded the property in dispute, plus costs and damages. It is possible that Lincoln was Rodgers’ attorney in this case.25 See discussion under year 1857, below.
October 16, 1843. James H. Bagley vs. Isaac D. Van Meter. A slander suit. Lincoln and Linder for the plaintiff, who received $80 damages after a jury trial. He had sued for $1,000. Bagley’s bill of complaint, in Lincoln’s hand, is in the Library of Congress, bearing the notation that it was filed with Nathan Ellington, Coles County Circuit Clerk, on October 10, 1843. Bagley complained that Van Meter had stated before witnesses that Bagley "swore a damned lie, and I can prove it." The Herndon and Weik manuscripts have, also in Lincoln’s hand, an assignment by Bagley of $40 to Linder and $30 to Logan and Lincoln, "if said judgment shall amount to so much." This was dated October 27, 1843.26
October 21, 1844. James Alexander, Administrator of John H. McClelland, deceased, vs. Thomas Affleck. An equity suit. Alexander P. Dunbar for the complainant, Lincoln for the defendant. Injunction granted, October 21, 1844 and dissolved four days later. Amount in controversy, $1876.79. Defendant recovered costs of the complainant. On May 15, 1845, Affleck filed an answer to the bill in chancery filed against him by Alexander. Affleck was father-in-law of McClelland and was accused of wrongfully retaining property belonging to McClelland’s estate following the death of the latter. Affleck deposed that McClelland had assigned the property to him to enable him to pay a debt owed by McClelland to a firm in Cincinnati. The case was continued on October 10, 1845 and finally dismissed on October 15, 1846.27


24 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 466, 515; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 148; Albert A. Woldman: Lawyer Lincoln, p. 102 (Cited hereafter as Woldman) ; Hertz, Abraham Lincoln, A New Portrait, vol. II, p. 533. Cited hereafter as Hertz. Hertz prints a plea of not guilty by the defendant. Also in Wilson, vol. II, p. 347.
25 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 543. Lincoln was in Taylorville on May 22, and in Petersburg on June 5. His whereabouts for the intervening period have not been established. Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 178-180.
26 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 569; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 199; Miscellaneous Lincoln Manuscripts, Library of Congress; Weik, p. 160; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 471-472; Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, No. 137. Van Meter’s plea as defendant is in the Jesse W. Weik Papers in the Illinois State Historical Library, folder 1833-1849. Cited hereafter as Weik Papers.
27 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 28, 53, 112, 135; Hertz, vol. II, pp. 539-541; Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, Nos. 19, 20. McClelland died on September 1, 1842, leaving no will. James Alexander was appointed administrator on October 24, 1842. An inventory of the estate showed a value of $2070.73. Coles County Probate Files, No. 1485. Office of County Clerk.


May 12, 1845. Thomas McKibben vs. Jonathan Hart. A slander suit. Lincoln and John H. Murphy for the plaintiff. Alexander P. Dunbar for the defendant. McKibben sued Hart for $2,000 damages because Hart had called him a horse thief. The plaintiff recovered $2,000 and costs, but $1,700 of the $2,000 was remitted, and a stay of execution for twelve months of the remainder except for $50 was agreed to. In addition to the $50, Hart was to pay the costs and Dunbar’s fee. McKibben’s agreement to this, and also his assignment of $35 to Lincoln as his fee, both in Lincoln’s hand, are in the Herndon and Weik manuscripts. Lincoln instructed the Circuit Clerk to pay his $35 to his father. The money was paid as directed, for the original assignment by McKibben has added in the hand of John D. Johnston, Lincoln’s stepbrother, "Thos. Lincoln by J. D. Johnston."28
This was not the only instance of Lincoln assisting his father by sharing with him the proceeds of his local law practice. As we have seen, in his letter of December 7, 1848, to his son, Thomas Lincoln mentioned a number of promissory notes Abraham had given him to collect for his own benefit. Thomas mentioned four notes, one signed by James Gill, one by Robert Mattison (Matson?) and "two small notes," the names of the makers not mentioned. It would appear that before leaving Illinois for Washington to attend the short session of the Thirtieth Congress, Lincoln had given these notes to his father as a means of helping him.
May 13, 1845. Michael Ryan vs. Elias Anderson. A seduction case. Anderson had seduced Ryan’s daughter. Lincoln and Ficklin for the defendant. Linder for the plaintiff. On May 14 a jury awarded the plaintiff damages of $656 plus costs and charges. The defense made a motion for an arrest of judgment. On May 15 a defense motion for retrial was denied. An appeal was filed, an exception being taken to the instructions of the judge to the jury, and bond of $100 was furnished. 29 Anderson had difficulty in raising the money to pay his attorneys, for on May 15, 1845, the day the case was appealed, he gave two promissory notes for $100, one each to Lincoln and Ficklin. To guarantee payment, he gave Lincoln and Ficklin a deed to 160 acres of land in southeastern Coles County (town 11 north, range 11 east), the deed to be cancelled if he paid the $200 due on the notes by June 15, 1845.30 The case was appealed to the Supreme Court where it was decided in December 1846, the judgment being affirmed, with costs. The opinion of the court, by Justice Samuel D. Lockwood, included a pointed criticism of the common law rule used by the appellant in seeking to have the judgment set aside. The opinion stated:
It has long been considered as a standing reproach to the Common Law, that it furnishes no means to punish the seducer of female innocence and virtue, except through the fiction of supposing the daughter was a servant of her parent, and that in consequence of her seduction, the parent has lost some of her services as a menial. It is high time this reproach should be wiped out.
The Court concluded that:
This action ought then, no longer to be considered a means of recovering damages for the loss of menial services, but as an instrument to punish the perpetrator of a flagitious outrage upon the peace and happiness of the family circle.
We are consequently of opinion, that that portion of the instruction excepted to was not erroneous. The judgment is consequently affirmed with costs.31
October 8, 1845. William Frost vs. Wesley Gillinwater. A slander suit. Lincoln and Thomas A. Marshall for the defendant, Ficklin and Linder for the plaintiff. A demurrer to the declaration of the plaintiff, in Lincoln’s hand, denying that he (Gillinwater) had called Frost a thief, is in the Herndon and Weik manuscripts. Filed on October 8, 1845, it was overruled by the court that same day, and the case came to trial. A jury was chosen, but was discharged by agreement of the parties, who also agreed that a statement by the defendant (Lincoln’s client) should be entered in the record, as follows:
Defendant states that he has never spoken the slanderous words in the declaration alleged, that he always has believed and still believes the plaintiff to be an honest man, that he never has believed and does not now believe that the plaintiff stole, embezzled, or in any way appropriated to his own use any of the Defendant’s money, and that he makes this statement to be placed upon the record as the most public and enduring vindication that he can make of the Plaintiff’s reputation against such a charge.
The case was dismissed with the plaintiff to pay the costs.32


28 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 29, 60; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 281; Weik, pp. 160-161; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 623-626; Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, Nos. 1793-1803. McKibben’s complaint, filed March 26, 1845, is in the Weik Papers, folder 1833-1849.
29 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 66, 70, 77.
30 Deed Records, vol. I, p. 144.
31 8 Illinois 583-589; John T. Richards: Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer-Statesman, p. 227. Cited hereafter as Richards. In the appeal to the Supreme Court, Lincoln alone represented Anderson. A. T. Bledsoe was associated with Linder in representing Ryan.
32 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 99, 105; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 651-653; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III. Nos. 810, 811.


October 8, 1845. Henry Eccles vs. James Milton True, Edmund True, and Simon W. True. A damage suit for $500, based on the destruction of property. Lincoln, Linder, and Dunbar for the plaintiff, Ficklin and Marshall for the defendants. Eccles’ declaration, alleging the destruction by the defendants of buildings and other improvements on land owned by him, was filed on September 1, 1845. The answer of the defendants, claiming that Eccles had no title to the property involved, was filed on September 7, 1845. The case came to trial on October 8, 1845, and a jury awarded the plaintiff damages of fifteen dollars and costs.33
May 11-14, 1846. Lincoln probably attended court at Charleston. On May 7, 1846, Lincoln wrote from Springfield to James Berdan: "It is a matter of high moral obligation, if not of necessity, for me to attend the Coles & Edgar courts. I have some cases in both of them, in which the parties have my promise, and are depending upon me. The court commences in Coles on the second monday, and in Edgar on the third."34
Summer of 1846 or 1847. John J. Hall stated in 1891 that during the summer of 1846 or 1847 Lincoln stayed at his father’s house for at least two weeks. The reason for the long visit was that Lincoln "wanted to study something out about the law." He spent the time "a laying and a thinking," until he announced "I’ve done enough studying and I reckon I’d better go back to Mary."35 While improbable, this story is not impossible. Pratt has no record of Lincoln’s whereabouts from June 11, 1846, to July 17, and from August 5 to September 5 of the same summer. Similarily, Thomas has no record for the period August 6 to September 1, 1847.36 All three of these periods in the summers of 1846 and 1847 are long enough to have been used by Lincoln as Hall stated. Such an incident would not have been out of character.
October 14, 1846. The People vs. Sigler H. Lester. Indictment for assault with intent to commit murder and bodily injury. Lincoln and Ficklin for Lester, who was indicted on October 8, 1845, and brought to trial a year later, on October 14, 1846. A document on this case in Lincoln’s hand, reads as follows:
This day came the defendant and moved the court to quash the Indictment herein because of a misjoinder of counts which motion was over-ruled by the court– The defendant then moved the court, to rule the prosecuting attorney to elect as to which count of the Indictment he would proceed upon, and to enter a nolle prosequi as to the other counts because of a misjoinder of counts, which motion was also overruled by the court.37
The same statement appears on the court record, with the added information that the defendant then petitioned for a change of venue, which was granted by the court to Cumberland County. Five witnesses gave bond of one hundred dollars each for their appearance at the Cumberland County court a few days later to give testimony in the case.38
Lester was convicted in the Cumberland court. On May 19, 1847, a petition to Governor Augustus C. French for his pardon was signed by 179 persons, residents of Coles and Cumberland counties. The petition was written by Lincoln, who was among the signers. It reads as follows:
To the Honorable, the Governor of the State of Illinois—
Whereas Sigler H. Lester was, at the May term 1847 of the Cumber- land circuit court, by said court, convicted of an assault with intent to commit murder, and sentenced to confinement in the Penitentiary for the term of one year, and whereas there are circumstances, which in our opinion render it proper, that the Executive clemency should be extended to him, therefore We, the undersigned, respectfully recommend that Your Excellency grant a pardon of said offence to said Lester.
Among the signers were O. B. Ficklin, Thomas A. Marshall, Alexander P. Dunbar, Nathan Ellington, John D. Johnston, Dennis Hanks and Abraham Lincoln, whose signature was the seventeenth on the document. A pardon was given to Lester on August 14, 1847.39
Lester must have been a man of violence, for on March 28, 1838, he was required to give bond for fifty dollars to keep the peace toward one Jacob Cease, and on July 26, 1844, he was tried before a justice of the peace and fined forty dollars and costs for assault on one John C. O’Brian and family. Lester appealed this conviction to the Coles County Circuit Court, where after one continuance on October 22, 1844, the case was dismissed for want of prosecution on May 13, 1845.40 The writer has seen no evidence that Lincoln represented Lester in these earlier cases.



33 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 108; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 647-650; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 662, 663, 3031, 3032.
34 Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 333; Collected Works, vol. I, p. 380.
35 Gridley, p. 167. Hall was 17 years old in 1846.
36 Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 337-342, 345-349; Benjamin P. Thomas: Lincoln Day by Day, 1841-1853, pp. 32-36. Cited hereafter as Thomas, 1847-1853.
37 This document was located by the writer in the lower vault of the Coles County Circuit Clerk’s office, in a file box marked "Peoples 1831-1846."
38 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 99, 127. The witnesses were Samuel Johnson, George W. Bacon, Joseph Foster, William B. Squires, and Hezekiah Vandoren. Cumberland County court records were destroyed by a fire in 1885 which destroyed the courthouse at Toledo. Theodore Calvin Pease: The County Archives of Illinois, p. 155, Springfield, Illinois State Historical Library, 1915. Vol. XII of the Collections of the Library.
39 Pardon Papers, Illinois State Archives; Executive Register, vol. V, p. 15, Illinois State Archives; Collected Works, vol. I, p. 394.
40 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 171; vol. II, pp. 29, 65. Papers on trial before the justice of the peace in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office.


October 17, 1846. Pearson and Anderson vs. Byrd Monroe. The same parties as those in the suit settled on October 25, 1842. Lincoln and Marshall for the plaintiffs. The case was continued when it came up on October 17, 1846, was again continued on May 13, 1847, and on October 12, 1849, it went from Coles to Shelby County on a change of venue.41
October 19, 1846. Lincoln attended the Coles County Circuit Court for its October 1846 term, which opened on October 19. On October 22 he wrote to William Brown, "I have just returned from Coles, . . ."42
May 14, 1847. Vincent Strader vs. Davis Harris. A replevin suit over the ownership of a horse and cow. Lincoln and Ficklin for the defendant. The case was continued, and settled on May 9, 1848, when Lincoln was in Washington as a member of Congress. Harris got the cow.43
October 14, 1847. John Linder vs. Abraham H. Fleenor. A slander suit. Lincoln for the defendant, who lost. Linder sued Fleenor for $1,000 damages. Usher F. Linder and Ficklin were Linder’s attorneys.44 Jesse Weik, who tells the story in detail, became interested in this case because the incident involved occurred at his birthplace, Greencastle, Indiana. Linder was suing Abraham Fleenor because he had accused Linder of perjury. Linder had testified before the grand jury that Levi B. Fleenor and Emeline Fleenor, living together as man and wife, were not married. The Fleenors claimed that Levi and Emeline had been married at Greencastle. This Linder denied, stating that they had not stopped in Greencastle more than fifteen minutes, while migrating to Coles County and that Emeline did not even leave the wagon. Lincoln, representing the defendant, insisted that this was no bar to a legal marriage if a preacher or squire was at hand to perform the ceremony. Lincoln’s client lost the suit. A judgment of $1,000 was given to Linder, but $950 was remitted. Weik adds that Lincoln must have been mislead by his client, for a search of the Greencastle records failed to produce evidence of the marriage there of Levi Fleenor or any other member of the family.45


41 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 149, 161, 273; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 2195-2200. The declaration of the plaintiffs, in Lincoln’s hand, dated April 26, 1847, is among the documents.
42 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 389.
43 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 167, 195; Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 20; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 988-989.
44 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 156, 183. Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 42; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1617-1629.
45 Weik, pp. 165-167. Even if Levi and Emeline Fleenor had not been parties to a marriage ceremony, their relationship would have constituted a "common law" marriage under the Illinois law of that period. 257 Illinois 27. Citation supplied by Mr. J. Y. Kelly of Charleston, Illinois.


October 16, 1847. Robert Matson vs. Hiram Rutherford. The famous "Matson slave case." Lincoln, Linder and Marshall for the plaintiff. This case is described in detail in the next chapter.
October 16, 1847. Levi Watson vs. James Gill. A suit for damages. Lincoln (?) for the defendant, Linder for the plaintiff. Watson recovered damages of $215, and costs.46 The only evidence that Lincoln represented Gill is the reference to a note on James Gill given by Lincoln to his father, in Thomas Lincoln’s letter of December 7, 1848, previously quoted. It is possible that Gill made the note to Watson, who assigned it to Lincoln in payment of his fee. If this was the case, Lincoln was associated with Linder as counsel for Watson.
October 22, 1847. A. Lincoln, for the Use of Thomas Lincoln vs. R. D. Hodges. A suit brought by Lincoln for his father before a justice of the peace for the collection of a debt of five dollars. Justice J. B. Harris issued a summons on October 22, 1847, for Hodges to appear before him on October 30 to answer Lincoln’s complaint. Hodges failed to appear and judgment against him was entered by default for five dollars and costs. Failing to pay, writs of execution were issued against him on November 23, 1847, February 22, 1848, and May 13, 1848. In each case the constable serving the writ reported "no property found." The date of the serving of the third writ was July 10, 1848. The total costs amounted to $3.76, making a total of $8.76 which Hodges owed, and, as far as the record shows, never paid.47


46 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 189, 196. On May 9, 1848, when Lincoln was in Washington, a motion for a new trial was overruled. The judgment was paid on October 17, 1848, $197 to Linder, Watson’s attorney.
47 Transcrpit of record in box of justice of the peace records in lower vault of Circuit Clerk’s office. The transcript was filed with the clerk of the Circuit Court on October 13, 1848. Abraham Lincoln was in Springfield on October 22, 1847. He left Charleston on October 17. Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 43. Presumably he filed the suit before he left Charleston. The name of the lawyer who handled the case after Lincoln’s departure does not appear in the records examined by the writer.


1850 (?) The famous hog thief case, in which Lincoln is supposed to have secured the acquittal of a guilty man without realizing his guilt, took place in Coles County about the year 1850, according to Herndon. The writer has not identified the case in the Coles County Circuit Court records.48 The defendant, unnamed by Herndon, pleaded not guilty and said he was unable to hire a lawyer. The court appointed Lincoln to defend him. The defendant refused to give Lincoln any evidence to use in his behalf, and asked Lincoln to defend him on "general principles/’ To Lincoln’s surprise, the man was acquitted despite strong evidence of his guilt. After the trial Lincoln’s client admitted his guilt to Lincoln. The stolen hogs had been sold to his neighbors, some of whom were on the jury. They knew that if they found him guilty they would lose their hogs!49
May 1, 1850. The People vs. William D. Davis. A murder case. On May 1, 1850, Davis was indicted for murder by the Coles County Circuit Court grand jury, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. There is no other reference to this case in the Coles County Circuit Court records. In 1941, Dr. Harry E. Pratt reported that Davis was indicted for the murder of Henry W. Lothan and that a change of venue was granted to Clark County where a special term of court was called on July 1, 1850. Lincoln represented Davis. On January 10, 1853, Lincoln wrote to Governor Joel A. Matteson, requesting a pardon for Davis. Lincoln’s plea was as follows:
In July 1850, a man by the name of William D. Davis, was tried and convicted of the crime of Manslaughter and sentenced to the Peniten- tiary for the term of three years, by the circuit court of Clark County, whither the case had been taken by a change of venue from Coles County—
I assisted in his defence, and thought his conviction was right, but that the term fixed was too long under the circumstances. I told him that if he would behave himself well for a considerable portion of the time, I would join in asking a pardon for the remainder. He has a young family, and has lost one of his arms— He has now served about five sixths of his time; and I understand, the Warden, who is now in Springfield, testifies that he has behaved well— Under these circumstances I hope he may be released from further confinement—
Your Obt. Servt.
A. Lincoln50
Since the case originated in Coles County, it is assumed that Lincoln represented Davis in the courts of both Coles and Clark counties.


48 The only two cases recorded in the Record from the April term, 1849, to the July term, 1852, in which defendants accused of theft were acquitted after jury trials were People vs. Thomas Ingrum, April 30, 1849 (vol. II, p. 216) , and People vs. Arthur Collins, July 13, 1852 (vol. II, p. 382) . Lincoln was in Springfield on both of these dates. Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 123, 290.
49 Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, Nos. 3765-3767. Photostats from Library of Congress.
50 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 284, 285; article in Paris, Illinois, Daily Beacon News, February 12, 1941. Original letter to the Governor in Illinois State Archives, also in Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 187-188. This letter has no endorsement by the Governor, nor is there any record of a pardon for William D. Davis in the Pardon Papers in the Archives.


November 24, 1851. Dennis F. Hanks vs. William B. White. An equity suit. Lincoln and Linder for Hanks.51 Bill filed on November 24, 1851. The original bill, in Lincoln’s hand, but signed "Lincoln and Linder" in the hand of Usher F. Linder, was on file in the Coles County Circuit Clerk’s office until its removal in 1949 to the Illinois State Historical Library. This document, never before printed to the writer’s knowledge, is as follows:
To the Honorable, the Judge
of the Coles County Circuit Court
in Chancery sitting:
Humbly complaining showeth unto your Honor your orator, Dennis F. Hanks, that for some time previous and up to the day of [October 24] A.D. 1834 one Nathan Ellington was the owner in fee simple of Lot numbered Thirty-nine in Parker’s Addition to the town of Charleston, in said County of Coles; that previous to said day, said Ellington had contracted to sell said Lot to one Brown, who in like manner had contracted to sell the same to your orator, that said Ellington still holding the legal title; that on the day last aforesaid your orator furnished the money, necessary to pay for said lot [$24], to one William B. White, and engaged said White to get said Ellington and Brown together, pay for the lot, and have a deed made for the same; that said White did on said day, with your orator’s said money, pay for said lot, and take a deed for the same from the said Ellington and his wife [Fanny M. Ellington], a copy of which is herewith filed marked (A) and prayed to be taken as part hereof— But, in taking said deed, said White did, for some reason unknown to your orator, take said deed to himself, instead of your orator; and your orator, at the time having confidence in the said White, that he would convey said Lot to your orator on request, let the matter pass; but your orator immediately took possession of said Lot, built a house thereon, and otherwise improved it, moved into said house, and continually resided in it for about ten years, when, it suiting his convenience, he removed off of said Lot, leaving it without any actual occupant, in which condition it has ever since continued, and still is– And your orator charges that said White has not any time exercised any acts of ownership over said Lot, or paid any taxes thereon; but on the contrary, your orator has continually, openly treated said Lot as his own, and regularly paid all taxes upon it, from the said [24th] day of [October] A.D. 1834 up to the present time— Yet so it is, that the said White has been requested by your orator, and utterly refuses to convey said Lot to your orator—
In tender consideration of which your orator prays that said William B. White be made defendant to this Bill; that the People’s writ of Subpoena issue for him, that he answer all and singular the allegations of this Bill, but his oath to his answer is hereby expressly waived; and that on a final hearing of this cause, your Honor will adjudge the legal title of said defendant to be in trust for your orator, and that your Honor will grant such other and further relief as equity may require, and as in duty bound &c.
[Signed] Lincoln and Linder 52
Subpoenas requiring White to appear before the court at Charleston were issued to the Sheriff of Hamilton County, dated February 2, 1852, and September 17, 1852. Both were served, on April 20 and October 2, according to the notations by the Sheriff of Hamilton County on the originals on file in the Circuit Court at Charleston. A subpoena to White County, dated September 1, 1852, was not delivered as White was not found in that county. On July 16, 1852, a motion was made that the case be dismissed at the plaintiff’s (Hanks’) cost, which was done when both Hanks and White appeared in court with their attorneys on October 16, 1852. Evidently Hanks had failed to remember correctly his business arrangements with White made in 1834, eighteen years before.53
Was the William B. White in this case the same William B. White who was Lincoln’s client in Moore vs. White in 1841? Another case involving a William B. White (the same?) and relatives of Lincoln was The People vs. William B. White tried in October 1847. Lincoln was in Charleston as the time of this trial. The prosecution, of course, was in the hands of the circuit attorney. Lincoln would not have taken part in the defense of White, who had been indicted on October 15, 1846, for assault with intent to rape Mrs. Mary Johnston, the wife of John D. Johnston, Lincoln’s stepbrother. The case was tried by a jury on October 13, 1847, and White was found not guilty. His defense was that he was at his own home at the time of the alleged assault.54
August 18, 1852. Lincoln signed a call for a meeting of the incorporators of the Springfield and Terre Haute Railroad, to be held at Charleston on August 18, 1852. He may have been present. 55


51 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 406, 438.
52 Since Lincoln did not sign this document, and since he omitted the date of the Ellington-White deed transfer, October 24, 1834, it is possible that Lincoln was not in Charleston when he wrote this document. He may have sent it to Linder from Springfield. Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 257, locates Lincoln in Springfield on November 24, 1851. Why did not Linder insert the missing date?
58 The Ellington-White transaction on October 24, 1834, in Deed Records, vol. A, p. 355, contains no reference to Hanks. The consideration was $24. On November 22, 1852, the lot in question was subdivided by White. The plat of William B. White’s subdivision was recorded, Deed Records, vol. P, p. 416.
54 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 130, 134, 155, 180. Mrs. Mary Barker Johnston died in 1850. Her husband remarried on March 5, 1851. His second wife was Nancy Jane Williams.
55 Illinois Journal, July 9, 1852. Microfilm in Illinois State Historical Library. Thomas A. Marshall and Usher F. Linder also were among the signers. Call in Collected Works, vol. II, p. 133.


April 12, 1855. Thomas A. Marshall vs. Samuel Laughlin. This was a suit brought by Marshall on two $500 certificates of deposit endorsed to him by Laughlin on a Cincinnati banker who went bankrupt two days after the notes were presented unsuccessfully for payment. Lincoln and Linder for Marshall. On April 12, 1855, the case was continued, with the costs to be paid by the defendant. On April 9, 1856, the parties waived a jury trial, and the court "took time" to render a decision. On April 13, 1856, the plaintiff was awarded $1,000 plus costs and charges. The case was appealed to the State Supreme Court, where Lincoln, Linder, and Herndon represented Marshall. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court in an opinion by Chief Justice John D. Caton.56
1857 (?). Mrs. Susan D. Baker, daughter of Isaac W. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township, many years later told of a suit brought by her father when she was about six years old in which Lincoln was her father’s lawyer. Her statement would place the suit about the year 1857. According to Mrs. Baker it was a suit over the possession of a colt, which Rodgers claimed had strayed from his pasture into that of a neighbor named Steward. Rodgers engaged Lincoln, visiting in Charleston at that time, as his lawyer. Lincoln advised him to tie the colt equidistant from the two mares and then release it. It would go to its mother. This was done and the colt went to the Rodgers mare. Rodgers won his case when this was brought out in the trial.57
There is no record of such a case in the Coles County Circuit Court near the time mentioned. It may have been before a justice’s court. On the other hand, Mrs. Rodgers may have been confusing her recollection with a family tradition. The Coles County Circuit Records do show, on May 24, 1843, or eight years prior to Mrs. Baker’s birth, a suit between John (not Isaac) W. Rodgers vs. John Stewart (not Steward) in which Rodgers recovered property from Stewart.58


56 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 68, 164, 208; 19 Illinois 391; Richards, p. 245. There is some doubt that Lincoln appeared in Charleston in connection with this case. On April 12, 1855, he was in Bloomington. Lincoln’s whereabouts on April 9, 1856, have not been established. It is improbable that he was in Charleston when the case was decided in the Circuit Court on April 13, 1856, for his presence in Springfield on April 12 has been established. Paul M. Angle, Lincoln Day by Day 1854-1861, pp. 67, 119, 120. Cited hereafter as Angle, 1854-1861.
57 Account of Mrs. Baker in Lincoln Anniversary Supplement to Lerna Weekly Eagle, February 1928. Copy in possession of the writer.
58 Circuit Court Records, vol. I, p. 543.


Mrs. Baker’s story is similar to an account in J. G. Holland’s biography of Lincoln, written in 1865 and published the next year. Holland gives "the details of a case in the Coles Circuit Court." He does not give the date nor the names of the parties to the suit. Lincoln, he explains, was the attorney for the defendant (Rodgers was the plaintiff in Mrs. Baker’s story), who won the suit. As Holland states the case the colt-mare test was made before the suit, not while it was in progress, and Lincoln had nothing to do with the test. He did, however, use the result of the test to win the suit for his client. He made it clear to the jury that the "preponderance of evidence" was with his client’s contention, thanks to the choice made by the colt, despite the fact that the plaintiff had a greater number of men testifying that the colt was his property.59
Additional substance is given to Mrs. Baker’s story by Herndon’s account of Lincoln’s visit to Coles County in 1861. Among those who came to greet the President-elect was one man who "brought with him a horse which the President-elect, in the earlier days of his law practice, had recovered for him in a replevin suit. . . ."60 If the case had been tried in 1843, the horse in 1861 would have been at least eighteen years old; if in 1857, onlv four vears old.
Did Lincoln actually take part in a suit in Coles County in which the ownership of a colt was decided by the colt selecting its owner’s mare as its dam? It is impossible to say positively yes or no. The combination of Mrs. Baker’s story, Holland’s account of a similar case in Coles County, and Herndon’s account of Lincoln greeting in 1861 a man for whom he had, years before, recovered a horse, would make it appear that the story had some basis in fact. However, it is impossible from available records to identify the case with one in which we are certain that Lincoln was an attorney. If such a case did occur, it probably was that of Rodgers versus Stewart in 1843.
January 4, 1857. David A. Morrison and John Crabtree vs. Illinois Central Railroad; David A. Morrison vs. Illinois Central Railroad. Abraham Lincoln was not connected with these cases until they reached the Supreme Court, where he was associated with O. B. Ficklin and H. C. Whitney as counsel for the railroad. These cases were damage suits for the loss in value of cattle shipped from Urbana to Chicago. In the Coles County Circuit Court the plaintiffs won damages of $1,200 (Morrison and Crabtree) and $672 (Morrison alone) after jury trials. Appeals to the Supreme Court were allowed and the cases were combined in the appeal. Justice Sidney Breese of the Supreme Court gave the opinion which reversed the lower court on the ground that the shippers had assumed the risks in transit, having secured lower than the regular freight rates. The case was decided in the December 1857 term of the Supreme Court. Woldman observes that the question involved in the case "was of vast importance to both the business public and the railroad interests in general, in that it established the right of a railroad to restrict its liability to a shipper by express agreement." The decision "has been cited many times in other courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States." Lincoln’s notes on the case are in the Herndon-Weik manuscripts.61
May 18, 1857, The People vs. Thomas L. D. Johnston. Lincoln probably did not represent Johnston, son of John D. Johnston, in this case which we have already examined, in the chapter on Lincoln’s concern for his Coles County relatives.62
November 14, 1857. Lincoln informed a correspondent that it would be impossible for him to attend court at Coles or Edgar counties, or any of the courts in Judge Harlan’s circuit (the Fourth).63 The rearrangement of the circuit court districts in 1853, as we have noted, removed Edgar, Shelby and Moultrie counties from the Eighth Circuit. Coles, now in the Fourth Circuit with Edgar, had never been in the Eighth. It is probable that Lincoln did not appear as an attorney in any case before the Coles County Circuit Court after 1857. He was, however, associated a number of times with Coles County lawyers in cases that were appealed to the Supreme Court at Springfield.
January 11, 1858. Usher F. Linder and Henry P. H. Bromwell, law partners in Charleston, sent to Lincoln at Springfield a declaration in the case of Shephard vs. Walker, which they wanted him to file in the District Court. They wrote that their "reason for sending to you is that as we are not familiar with the practice in that court we feared it might not be rightly entitled &c."64 Lincoln replied on January 13, that the case would be tried at the June 1858 term of court. He did not mention the name of the parties to the suit, but the dates of the correspondence indicate that his letter referred to the Shephard vs. Walker case.65


59 Holland: Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 80-82. Cited hereafter as Holland.
60 Herndon, p. 388.
61 Circuit Court Records, vol. Ill, pp. 464-465; 19 Illinois 136-141; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1288-1293; Woldman, p. 170; Richards, p. 242.
62 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 271, 302; Angle, 1854-1861, p. 177.
63 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 426. To Ozias Bailey, of Edgar County.
64 Photostat of letter "Linder & Bromwell" to A. Lincoln, Esq., in files of Illinois State Historical Library. Marked "United States Court Document." Courtesy of Dr. H. E. Pratt.
65 Original letter in Bromwell Papers, Library of Congress, vol. XI, No. 1078C. In Collected Works, vol. II, p. 431.


December 24, 1858. On this date E. W. and S. M. True of Mattoon telegraphed to Lincoln at Springfield, "Have suit with Bank of State of Indiana in United States [District Court] at Springfield. Want you to defend."66 Did Lincoln act in this case? The writer does not know.
April 1859. William Kile and David Nichols vs. John Crabtree. Lincoln was not associated with this case until it reached the Supreme Court on appeal. This was a suit over the payment of a note for $2,550 given by Crabtree to Kile and Nichols in 1856 for eighty-one head of cattle. The case originated in Edgar County and went to Coles County on a change of venue. Crabtree lost in Coles Circuit Court on May 28, 1858, and appealed to the Supreme Court, where his appeal was upheld in April 1859. Lincoln and Herndon represented Kile and Nichols before the Supreme Court. 67 Lincoln took the case at the request of Thomas C. W. Sale of Paris, Edgar County, who wrote to him on December 14, 1858, as follows:
In the case of John Crabtree plaintiff in error vs. William Kile and David Nichols defendants in error now in the Supreme Court from Coles Circuit Court; my clients Kile and Nichols wish to have the benefit of your services. The writ is returnable on the 4th of January, I believe. Will you be so kind as to take charge of the case? It was tried by Mr. Usher of Terre Haute and myself for K and N and messers Linder and Green for Crabtree.
Dr. Kile of this place whom I suppose you know will be in Springfield about the first of January and see you in person. I will add if you undertake your fee is certain to be paid.68
January 12, 1860. On this date M. C. McLain of Charleston wrote to Lincoln concerning a suit in which he wished Lincoln to act. The letter follows:
Charleston Jan. 12, 1860
Hon. A. Lincoln, Springfield
I left your city on Friday last without being able to see and talk with you on the subject of the case Harris and Headen [?] vs. J. W. True.
The plaintiffs you have doubtless learned were allowed to amend their appeal bond within ten days. Should they do so I still desire that you look after the suit and will be with you again on Monday evening next.
M. C. McLain.69
The writer has been unable to find any reference to this case in the Coles County Circuit Court Record or in the Supreme Court Reports. Whether or not Lincoln acted in this case, either originally or on the appeal, does not appear in any material examined by the writer. John W. True was from Mattoon, and was well known to Lincoln.



66 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, Library of Congress, No. 1555. Cited hereafter as Robert Todd Lincoln Collection.
67 21 Illinois 180-186. Transcript of record from Coles County, dated November 30, 1858, in Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1423-1425; Circuit Court Record, vol. IV, p. 146; Richards, p. 246. A printed abstract of the case by Crabtree’s attorney, A. Green, as it went to the Supreme Court is in the Weik Papers, folder 1850-1869.
88 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1532.
69 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 2237.


In the January 1860 term of the Illinois Supreme Court Lincoln and Milton Hay represented David V. N. Radcliff and others in a series of cases appealed from the Coles County Circuit Court. Judgments had been entered against Radcliff and his fellow defendants, which included the Illinois Central Railroad and the Terre Haute, Alton and St. Louis Railroad, in a series of mechanics’ lien suits. The Supreme Court reversed the decrees of the Circuit Court. The plaintiffs in the Coles County Circuit Court were Albert H. Pierce, Davis M. Reese and George N. Baker, David Y. Crosby, David W. Watson, John P. Usher, and Thomas B. Jones.70
Family tradition has it that Lincoln was the attorney for Fountain Turner, who resided southeast of Charleston in what later (1859) became Hutton Township, in a suit in which U. F. Linder was the opposing lawyer. The writer obtained this information from Mr. Samuel S. Sargent of Hutton Township, grandson of Fountain Turner. The Coles County Circuit Court Record shows Fountain Turner a party to two suits, in both of which he was the defendant. Both cases were dismissed at the plaintiff’s cost. In Ebenezer L. Miller et al vs. Fountain Turner, dismissed on October 24, 1844, Thomas A. Marshall is mentioned as the attorney for the plaintiffs.71 In Ambrose Edwards vs. Fountain Turner, dismissed on June 3, 1857, the attorneys were Linder for the plaintiff and Ficklin and Mann for the defendant.72 Lincoln may have been Turner’s attorney in the 1844 case. He may have been in eastern Illinois at the time.73
Lincoln was an attorney in at least twenty-four cases which were heard before the Coles County Circuit Court, and probably a good many more. In these twenty-four cases of which we have a clear record of Lincoln’s participation, twenty-two were civil cases. He represented the plaintiff in twelve cases, the defendant in ten. How did he come out in these cases? When representing the plaintiff, Lincoln won nine times and lost twice. The outcome of one case, transferred to another county, is not known to the writer. As an attorney for the defendant, Lincoln won four times and lost five times. His clients got off with only the costs charged against them in three of these five cases. Perhaps these should be considered as partial victories. One case never came to trial, but was settled on terms favorable to the plaintiff. Lincoln’s clients lost in both criminal prosecutions. He attempted to get pardons for both, and succeeded in one case. To summarize, in Coles County Circuit Court Lincoln won thirteen, lost nine, one never came to trial, and we are uninformed about the result of one case. Lincoln’s record as a Coles County barrister, then, was good but not spectacular. Surviving records show that Lincoln’s cases were well prepared, and that when he had co-counsel he carried his share, and more, of the load.


70 Circuit Court Record, vol. IV, pp. 151-152, 382-404, 430-431, 436-471; 23 Illinois 473. The cases were started on May 31, 1858. O. B. Ficklin and S. W. Moulton represented the defendants in the Coles County Circuit Court.
71 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 503, 528, 540, 566; vol. II, pp. 25, 38.
72 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 256, 446; Coles County Circuit Court Judge’s Docket, 1855-1858, p. 54.
73 Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 252.
The Matson Slave Case
THE MOST DRAMATIC and controversial case in which Abraham Lincoln appeared as an attorney in the Coles County Circuit Court was the "Matson slave case," in October 1847.1
The case involved the freedom of a negro woman, Jane Bryant, and her four children: Mary Catherine, Sally Ann, Mary Jane, and Robert Noah. Anthony Bryant her husband was a free negro employed as the farm foreman of Robert Matson of Kentucky. For some years Matson had farmed land two miles east of Newman in what is today Douglas County (created 1859) but was then in Coles County. Since 1843 Matson had brought slaves from Kentucky to his "Black Grove" farm2 for the farm work each spring, returning them to Kentucky in the fall. Matson claimed that the slaves were not Illinois residents, and hence were not entitled to their freedom. Bryant, his year-around foreman, became free because of his permanent residence in Illinois, although it seems he did not receive a "certificate of freedom," as required by Illinois law.
Bryant’s wife Jane, with her four children, was among the slaves brought by Matson to Black Grove in the spring of 1847. When the time approached for their return to Kentucky in the fall of 1847, Bryant took his wife and the four children to nearby Oakland and placed them under the protection of two Coles County abolitionists, Gideon Mathew Ashmore, local tavern proprietor, and Dr. Hiram Rutherford, to prevent their being returned to Kentucky.3 Ashmore gave shelter to Jane and her children.
Matson made affidavit that the negroes sheltered by Ashmore were his slaves. After a hearing of two days before Justice of the Peace William Gilman, the five negroes were lodged in the Coles County jail in the custody of Sheriff Lewis R. Hutchason. They were in Illinois without "letters of freedom," and under the law they must be kept, advertized, and their labor sold to pay for their keep. After holding the negroes for forty-eight days the sheriff filed a claim against Matson for $107.30 for "keeping and dieting five negroes" at thirty-seven cents each per day. The next step in the case came on October 16, 1847, when Ashmore, through his attorney, Orlando B. Ficklin, applied to the Circuit Court for the release of the negroes on a writ of habeas corpus.4 In retaliation, Matson sued both Rutherford and Ashmore for $2,500 for having taken his slaves from him.
Lincoln entered the case at this point. The October term of court had arrived and he was present with other circuit-riding lawyers. Chief Justice William Wilson of the state Supreme Court, judge of the Fourth Circuit, presided, assisted by Justice Samuel H. Treat of that Court, judge of the Eighth Circuit. A Supreme Court justice was not on the Coles County bench be- cause of the importance of the case; Supreme Court justices at this time performed circuit duty. The presence of Justice Treat, regularly assigned to an adjoining circuit, however, was indicative of the interest aroused by the case. He was present at the invitation of Justice Wilson, according to Ficklin.


1 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 191, 196; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1950-1974; O. B. Ficklin: "A Pioneer Lawyer," in The Tuscola Review (Tuscola, 111.) , Sept. 7, 1922 (reprinted from a Charleston, 111., paper, January 15, 1885) ; Duncan T. Mclntyre: "Lincoln and the Matson Slave Case," in Illinois Law Review, January 1907, pp. 386-391; Jesse W. Weik: "Lincoln and the Matson Negroes. A Vista into the Fugitive Slave Days," The Arena, April 1897, pp. 752-758; Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 392-397; Sandburg, vol. I, pp. 330-335; Tarbell, pp. 258-260; Woldman, pp. 59-64.
2 Entered by Robert Matson, Aug. 3, 1842. Wi/ 2 , NW14, Sect. 33, T. 16 N., R. 14 W of the 2nd Principal Meridian.
3 Dr. Rutherford came to Coles County from Pennsylvania in December 1840. He was Robert Matson’s physician during the period 1842-1843, as noted in the doctor’s account book in the possession of his granddaughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Rutherford Zimmerman of Oakland, Illinois. Ashmore came from Tennessee. According to Orlando B. Ficklin, in an account first published on January 15, 1885, in the summer of 1847, while Matson was absent in Kentucky, his housekeeper at the Black Grove farm, Mary Corbin, in a fit of anger told Sim Wilmot, brother of Jane Bryant and also a slave, that when Matson returned it was his intention to return the Negroes to Kentucky and sell them. Sim told his sister and her husband, who appealed to Ashmore for help after being refused assistance by two nearby church groups. Ashmore called in Dr. Rutherford. According to Ficklin, Ashmore and Rutherford were among "the most thorough -faced abolitionists of that day." Ficklin wrote that there were thirty-three abolitionists in Coles County in 1847. In addition to Rutherford and the Ashmore brothers, Gideon Mathew and Samuel Claiborn, in the Oakland neighborhood, Ficklin mentioned a group in the Goo^enest Prairie neighborhood, including members of the Rodgers, Balch, Campbell and Dryden families. They were "men of pluck and of the Cromweliian mold; sober, quiet, industrious citizens. They were lampooned and derided for not being either Clay Whigs or Jackson Democrats." In Tuscola (Illinois) Review, September 7, 1922. Courtesy of Dr. C. W. Rutherford, Indianapolis, Ind.
4 Petition in Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III. Nos. 1953-1955.


Usher F. Linder, Matson’s attorney, requested Lincoln to assist him in the suit against Rutherford, and Lincoln attested the bond for costs provided by the friends of Matson.5 Dr. Rutherford, who knew Lincoln, also wished to secure his legal services. Rutherford came to Charleston from Oakland for that purpose. Rutherford later recounted the story of his interview with Lincoln:
I found him at the tavern sitting on the veranda, his chair tilted back against one of the wooden pillars entertaining the bystanders and loungers gathered about the place with one of his . . . stories. My head was full of the impending lawsuit and I found it a great test of my patience to await the end of the chapter. . . . Before he could begin another I interrupted and called him aside.
I told him in detail the story of my troubles, reminded him that we had always agreed on the questions of the day, and asked him to represent me at the trial of my case in court. He listened attentively . . . but I noticed a peculiarly troubled look came over his face now and then, his eyes appeared to be fixed in the distance beyond me and he shook his head several times as if debating with himself some question of grave import.
Reluctantly, Lincoln told Rutherford that he could not represent him, as he had already been counseled with in Matson’s behalf, which placed him under a professional obligation. Rutherford, irritated at Lincoln’s refusal, engaged the services of Charles H. Constable. In the meantime Lincoln secured a release in the case, presumably from Linder, and offered to represent Rutherford. But Rutherford had already engaged Constable, so Lincoln continued as Linder’s associate in Matson’s interest.6
The whole litigation – Matson’s damage suit, the sheriff’s bill, and the freedom of the five negroes – turned upon the outcome of the habeas corpus proceedings. Ficklin, Ashmore’s counsel, realized that Matson would strengthen his claim to the negroes if he bid them in when their services were put up for sale for the jail charges, and secured a court order stopping the sale until the habeas corpus proceedings had been adjudicated. The case came up on October 16, 1847, the day the petition was made to the court.


5 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 394. According to Mclntyre, Matson had gone to Springfield (shortly after the negroes had fled to Ashmore’s tavern) and had consulted Lincoln. A few days after his return from Springfield Matson stated "that he did not know where this thing – meaning his effort to take the negroes back to Kentucky – would end, that he had been to Springfield to consult Abraham Lincoln; that he did not quite like the way he talked about slavery, still as he wanted the best lawyer in the country he had retained him for any litigation he might get into." Matson notified Lincoln to attend the October term of court at Charleston. Mclntyre, pp. 387-390. Document No. 1951 in the Herndon-Weik microfilm shows that Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston was associated with Linder and Lincoln in Matson’s behalf.
6 Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 394-395,


The case hinged on the question, were the negroes held "in transit" while crossing the state, or were they held in the state by the will of their master? If only crossing the state they were not free, but if located in the state by the will of their master, they were. The question, therefore, was the "true intent and meaning" of Matson in placing his Kentucky slaves on his Black Grove farm. The only evidence that the stay of the negroes on Matson’s farm was temporary came from Joseph Dean, Matson’s hired man, an "ignorant, worthless fellow," according to Ficklin. Linder, speaking for Matson, argued that the recognition of slavery by the federal Constitution created an obligation to protect slave property wherever the Constitution applied. Ficklin commented in later years that Linder’s speech, because of the eloquence and boldness with which he defended Matson’s claim to the negroes, "would have been vociferously cheered" in South Carolina. Linder, showing "bitter and malignant prejudice" to ward abolitionists, bitterly denounced Ashmore and Rutherford for harboring runaway slaves.
Ficklin and Constable contended that the Ordinance of 1787 and the Constitution of Illinois (1818) outlawed slavery in Illinois. Constable quoted effectively from the famous speech of Curran in defense of Rowan, a defense which made Lincoln wince, according to Ficklin.
I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with and inseparable from British soil; which proclaims even to the stranger and sojourner the moment he sets foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy and consecrated by the genius of universal emancipation, no matter what complexion incompatible with freedom an Indian or African sun may have burnt upon him, no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains that burst from around him and he stands regenerated and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation.7
Lincoln, speaking for Matson, did not endorse the position taken by Linder, but admitted that if the Matson negroes had been permanently located by their master in Illinois, such action made them free. Ficklin observed that Lincoln, as was his habit, stated
his opponents’ points and arguments with such amplitude and seeming fairness and such liberality of concession of their force and strength that it increased in his adversaries their confidence of success. This was done in this case, but his trenchant blows and cold logic and subtle knitting together and presentation of facts favorable to his side of the case, soon dissipated all hope that any advantage was likely to be gained by Lincoln’s liberal concession, but rather that he had gained from the court a more patient and favorable hearing and consideration of the facts on which he relied for success. The fact that General Matson had at such a time when he placed a slave on his Illinois farm, publicly declared that he was not placed there for permanent settlement, and that no counter statement had ever been made publicly or privately by him, constituted the web and woof of the argument of Mr. Lincoln, and these facts were plausibly, ingeniously and forcibly presented to the court, so as to give them all the effect and significance to which they were entitled and more.8
Beveridge found that those present felt that Lincoln argued weakly, and that his speech was fatal to his client’s case.9
The decision was in favor of the negroes. The court record shows the disposition of the case:
In the matter of the petition o£ Jane Bryant, Mary Jane Bryant, Mary Catherine Bryant, Sally Ann Bryant and Robert Noah Bryant, Persons of Color, on application by Habeas Corpus for freedom,
Now at this day come the said applicants and presented by Gideon M. Ashmore their petition for the writ of Habeas Corpus directed to Lewis R. Hutchason, Esqr. Sheriff of Coles County who held them in custody, and this court being satisfied in the premises, ordered the said writ to issue, returnable forthwith before his Honor Chief Justice Wilson assisted by the Honorable Samuel H. Treat Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; and the said writ having been returned, and the said Lewis R. Hutchason having returned upon the said writ the causes of capture and detention together with the said Negroes into court, and the cause coming on to be heard after testimony adduced and argument had and the court being satisfied what judgment to render, it is finally considered and adjudged that the said Applicants Jane Bryant, Mary Jane Bryant, Mary Catherine Bryant, Sally Ann Bryant, and Robert Noah Bryant be discharged from the custody as well of the said Lewis R. Hutchason as of Robert Matson and all persons claiming them by through and under him as slaves, and they be and remain free and discharged from all servitude whatever to any person or persons from henceforth and forever. It is further adjudged that this proceeding be certified to said Negroes, as evidence of their freedom, And the Sheriff, Lewis R. Hutchason having returned that said Negroes were retained by him upon proceedings instituted by the said Robert Matson as owner of said Negroes, it is further ordered that the said Robert Matson pay all costs due and owing by reason of the original arrest of said Negroes including the costs of this application and that execution issue from this court therefore etc.10
In brief, Matson lost his slaves and was charged with all costs involved in their arrest and detention in jail. Although his client lost, it is reasonable to assume that Lincoln rejoiced in the outcome – "that they be and remain free . . . from henceforth and forever." No wonder that Paul M. Angle has called this case "one of the strangest episodes in Lincoln’s career at the bar."11



7 Beveridge, vol. 1, p. 397n. Quotation from Tuscola Review, September 7, 1922.
8 Tuscola Review, Sept. 7, 1922.
9 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 396.
10 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 191. The order was dated October 16, 1847.
11 Whitney, Circuit, p. 315n. Note by the editor.


On October 17, the day following the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus, Rutherford and Ashmore signed a bond for $1,000 in behalf of the freed negroes.12 This was necessary to insure their continued liberty, under the "Black Laws" of Illinois.
When the decision was announced, according to Rutherford, Matson hurriedly left for Kentucky, evaded his creditors, and never paid Lincoln his fee.13
The next spring, while Lincoln was in Washington, Matson’s suit against Ashmore was disposed of. The court dismissed the case and ordered that Ashmore recover his costs from Matson.14 Probably Ashmore never received a penny from the absent Matson.
A week after the negroes were liberated, Dr. Rutherford described the case in a letter to his brother-in-law in Pennsylvania.
Our Circuit Court sat last week, I had the pleasure of attending as a party to give reasons why Justice should not be done. I was sued by a person named Matson for the gentlemanly sum of twenty-five hundred dollars & 50 dol damage. The suit did not come on. My attorney submitted a plea of dismissal which was not decided and so it stands until May next. The circumstances of this suit arose from the following occurrences. About 2 years ago Matson brought with him from Kentucky a free man and his wife & five children who were his slaves there, to this country and settled them on his farm 12 miles distant from this place. He suffered them to remain with him till last summer, when he determined to remove the children to his residence in Kentucky, and leave the old people childless in Illinois. He had previously taken back one child and then resolved to remove the remaining 4. The parents to avoid force left his farm with their children, and came to this place, and put themselves under the protection of a man named Ashmore. Matson got out a process to take them as runaways, and the woman and children were brought before a court of 3 justices. A number of us feeling an interest in the case employed the Hon. O. B. Ficklin M.C. of this county to defend them. The court decided to commit them to jail as runaways, as it was concluded to try the case before the circuit Judge at the Oct. term. Matson sued Ashmore and myself for harboring them (the fine for which is $500 each person by law) . However the negro trial came on, and the arguments were heard by two of our circuit judges, who ordered them to be discharged from the custody of the sheriff and Matson pay the costs, amounting to $200. Matson left next day for Kentucky without his blacks and whether he will return to attend to the suits against Mr. Ashmore or myself in May is uncertain. Be it as it may I feel no uneasiness as I did not have them on my premises and besides I expect to get rid of the suit from a defect in the declaration.15



12 Herndon- Weik microfilm, group III, No. 1958.
13 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 397. Matson may have given Lincoln a note for some amount over twenty dollars, which Lincoln gave to his father. On December 7, 1848, Thomas Lincoln wrote to his son that the note from "Robert Mattison I tried to sell it for 15$ in cash and coudent doe it so James M Miller offered John [D. Johnston] twenty dollars in goods at his trade prices & Monroe advised him to take it, so he sold it to him with out recourse on any body. . . ." Photostat from Huntington Library, San Marino, California. The letter is in the handwriting of John D. Johnston.
14 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 196. May 9, 1848.
15 Letter from Dr. Hiram Rutherford, Oakland, 111., to John J. Bowman, Elizabethville, Pa., Oct. 25, 1847. In possession of a grandson of Dr. Rutherford, Mr. Hiram John Rutherford, Oakland, 111. Courtesy of Mr. Rutherford.


A few weeks after the Matson case, when both Lincoln and Ficklin were in Washington for the first session of the Congress to which they had been elected, Lincoln remarked to Ficklin, when speaking of the Matson case: "Ficklin do you know that I think the latter part of your speech was as eloquent as I ever listened to?" Ficklin prized this remark "because of its rarity, for Lincoln seldom paid compliments in the presence of the person complimented – the rule was otherwise with him."16
The liberated Bryant family, Anthony, his wife and the four children, was given passage to Liberia by wellwishers in Illinois and Missouri. One of the donors was William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner in Springfield. An investigator for the Colored Baptist Association of Illinois, Elder S. S. Ball of Springfield, saw them at Monrovia, Liberia, in the spring of 1848. In his report Ball stated that the Bryants had arrived in Liberia without funds and were living under deplorable conditions. Anthony asked Ball that money be provided to return the family to the United States. This was not done.17
The Illinois "Black Laws," which sought to discourage the presence of negroes in Illinois, were not repealed until 1865.18 As late as September 1864, a Coles County grand jury indicted one William Cash for bringing a slave, a mulatto girl named Adell, into the State of Illinois for the purpose of setting her free. When the case came before Circuit Judge Oliver L. Davis on April 4, 1865, he threw it out, and "ordered that this cause be stricken from the docket and defendant discharged."19
Why did Lincoln appear as an attorney for a slave owner who was claiming slaves in the free State of Illinois? The answer may be seen in his sense of professional obligation. He had advised Usher F. Linder, Matson’s lawyer, and felt obliged not to appear as counsel for Matson’s opponent. J. G. Holland, writing in 1865, pointed out in his brief description of this case, that Lincoln recognized slaves as property. If he had not, he "would never have consented to act on this case . . ." In other words, although Lincoln disliked slavery, he knew that it was recognized by the Constitution, and that a slave owner was entitled to have his claim properly adjudicated, even in a free state. Holland noted, also, that Lincoln "made a very poor plea . . . and that all of his sympathies were on the side of the slaves."20 This leaves the question, why did Lincoln appear in the case at all? The writer believes that Lincoln looked upon his participation in the case as a matter of professional obligation only. He argued only the technicalities involved. Lincoln did not attempt to justify Matson’s claim on any basis of equity or justice.


16 The Tuscola Review, Sept. 7, 1922.
17 Paul M. Angle: ’Aftermath of the Matson Slave Case," in Abraham Lincoln Quarterly, vol. II, pp. 146-149 (September 1944) .
18 Act approved Feb. 7, 1865. Public Laws of Illinois, 1865, p. 105.
19 Circuit Court Record, vol. IX, p. 150. The indictment is on file in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office.
20 Holland, p. 121.
Orlando Bell FickLin and Usher Ferguson Linder
IN THE VARIOUS county seats where Lincoln had cases, he followed the common practice of having local lawyers as associates. It was customary for the local lawyers to "get the business," prepare the cases, file the necessary papers and see to other preliminaries, and then turn the cases over to their circuit-riding associates for presentation in court. In Lincoln’s case, however, it is clear that he did much of the paper work himself, even when he had a local associate. This is shown by the surviving documents in Lincoln’s hand which relate to his Coles County practice.
The two lawyers with whom Lincoln worked most frequently in Charleston were Orlando B. Ficklin and Usher F. Linder.1 In addition to serving as co-counsel with them, Lincoln often found them as opposing counsel. In cases before the Supreme Court at Springfield, Lincoln and Ficklin worked together on a number of occasions.
Lincoln had confidence in the ability and integrity of Ficklin and Linder. This is shown by a remark he made to Joseph Gillespie at Springfield in January 1861. Gillespie’s notes of his visit with the President-elect include a conversation on the problem of cabinet making. As reported by Gillespie, Lincoln remarked that he wished he could take all his Illinois lawyer friends with him to Washington, Democrats and Republicans alike, and make a cabinet out of them. Lincoln said there were some Illinois Democrats whom he knew well he would rather trust than a Republican he would have to learn to know, for he would have "no time to study the lesson." Gillespie asked who these Democrats were. Lincoln replied: "Oh, most any of the leading Douglas Democrats – Linder or Ficklin, or Morrison."2
Ficklin was a Whig until 1842. After that he was a Democrat. Linder was first a Democrat, then a Whig, and finally a Democrat. Lincoln was a Whig before he became a Republican. Both Linder and Ficklin served in the legislature as Democrats, while Lincoln was there as a Whig. Despite these political differences, the two Charleston lawyers were on friendly and even cordial terms with Lincoln. The three men were of about the same age.
Orlando Bell Ficklin was born in Scott County, Kentucky, on December 16, 1808, and died at Charleston on May 5, 1886. He was graduated from the Transylvania Law School in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1830, and was admitted to the bar at Belleville, Illinois, the same year. Ficklin served in the Black Hawk War in 1832 as a quartermaster. He was state’s attorney for the judicial circuit which included Coles County in 1835-1836. In 1837 he removed to Charleston. Ficklin was elected to the Illinois legislature in 1834, 1838, 1842 and 1878. He left the legislature to enter Congress in 1843, where he served until 1849, and from 1851 to 1853. He was in both the legislature and Congress with Lincoln. Ficklin was a democratic presidential elector in 1856, a district delegate to the national convention of his party in 1856, and a delegate at large to the 1860 convention. He was a member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1862.3
Ficklin gave to William H. Herndon, in a letter dated June 25, 1865, a description of his friendship with Lincoln, and his estimate of Lincoln as a lawyer and as a stateman. Ficklin wrote:
It will be 30 years next December since Lincoln and myself met at Vandalia as members of the Legislature, a friendship then commenced which remained unbroken by political differences, personal interests or otherwise, up to his death. I knew him well as a lawyer, a statesman and citizen, valued him highly, and deeply deplored his death. He was a case lawyer, but in a case when he felt that he had the right, none could surpass him. As a statesman he was deeply imbued with the principles of Henry Clay, but was conscientiously opposed to slavery all his life, and he expressed his views honestly and truly to the Kentucky delegation when he urged them so strongly to accept compensational emancipation. He had a nice and keen perception of right and wrong, and did not wish to see rich men made poor by having their negroes freed without compensation.4



1 Lincoln’s co-counsel has been identified in fifteen cases tried in Coles County Circuit Court. Ficklin and Linder acted with him in five cases each. Other local lawyers associated with Lincoln in Coles County, either as cocounsel or as opposing counsel, included Thomas A. Marshall, Alexander P. Dunbar, EJisha H. Starkweather and Charles H. Constable.
2 Rufus R. Wilson: Intimate Memories of Lincoln, p. 334. Gillespie’s notes were first published in the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette in 1888. The Morrison referred to was James L. D. Morrison, 1816-1888, of Belleville, Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois in 1860.
8 LeBaron, pp. 269-297; Biographical Directory of the American Congress (1950), p. 1154; Moses: Illinois, Historical and Statistical, vol. II, p. 656. Cited hereafter as Moses.
4 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 199-291.


Usher Ferguson Linder was born at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on March 20, 1809, and died at Chicago on June 5, 1876. He came to Illinois in 1835 and settled first at Greenup, then in Coles County. He moved to Charleston in 1838, after a brief residence in Alton. Linder was elected to the legislature from Coles County in 1836, 1846, 1848 and 1850. He served as Attorney General of the State from February 4, 1837, to June 11, 1838. Linder deserted the Democratic party for the Whigs in 1838, but returned to the Democrats when the rising tide of Republicanism engulfed the Whigs. He was a delegate to the Democratic national convention in 1860, representing the seventh congressional district, which included Coles County. Linder was active as a lawyer in eastern and southern Illinois, and was famous as a stump speaker and orator. Henry Clay Whitney, who as a young lawyer knew Linder in the eighteen-fifties, described him as "the most brilliant orator that ever lived in Illinois."5
Many years later Linder recalled his impression of Lincoln as a member of the legislature in the session which began in December 1836. Lincoln, Linder wrote, "made a good many speeches in the legislature, mostly on local subjects. A close observer, however, could not fail to see that the tall, sixfooter, with his homely logic, clothed in the language of the humbler classes, had the stuff in him to make a man of mark." 6 In a speech to the Flouse of Representatives in January 1837, Lincoln crossed swords with Linder. Lincoln was speaking on a resolution offered by Linder which proposed an inquiry into the management of the affairs of the State Bank. Lincoln remarked that it was "not without a considerable degree of apprehension that I venture to cross the track of the gentleman from Coles." Referring to alleged corruption on the part of the State Bank Commissioners, Lincoln asked "if the Bank is likely to find it more difficult to bribe the committee of seven, which we are about to appoint, than it may have found it to bribe the commissioners?" Here Linder insisted that Lincoln’s remarks were out of order. The Chair ruled that Lincoln was not out of order. Linder appealed the ruling to the House, but then withdrew his appeal with the observation that he preferred to let Lincoln go on. He thought he would break his own neck. To this sally Lincoln replied that he "was not saying that the gentleman from Coles could not be bribed, nor, on the other hand, will I say he could. In that particular I leave him where I found him."7
Such exchanges did not prevent the growth of friendship between the two men. Some idea of the close personal relations between Lincoln and Linder is given in a story that is traditional in the Linder family. Usher F. Linder and Elisha Linder, who lived in western Coles County, were cousins. On one occasion, about two in the afternoon, Lincoln and Usher rode up to Elisha’s house. We will let Mr. Clarence W. Bell, grandson of Elisha Linder, complete the story:
Usher Linder was drunk. They dismounted from their horses and when they reached the house, Lincoln said: "Lish, we are going over to Shelbyville to plead some cases and Ursh has been drinking heavy and is so drunk we can’t go any further. Help me sober him up." Grandmother asked Lincoln if they had had any dinner. He replied, "No, Becky, we haven’t eaten anything since breakfast." Grandmother killed a chicken and fried it for dinner while Grandfather gave Usher strong coffee to sober him up. He thought he had succeeded, so they sat down to dinner. Usher reached for the plate of chicken, .poured it all out on his own plate, and handed Lincoln the empty plate, saying, "Abe, have some chicken." Abe and my grandfather had to pour Ursh more strong coffee. After the meal they proceeded on their way to Shelbyville.8
Linder, in his Reminiscences, tells of an incident in Springfield during a political meeting held at the State House, when Lincoln, together with Edward D. Baker, protected him from possible physical assault. The incident probably took place during the campaign of 1844 when Clay opposed Polk for the presidency. While Linder was speaking "some ruffian in the galleries" flung at him "a gross personal insult, accompanied with a threat." Both Lincoln and Baker, "warm personal and political friends" of Linder, were present. Fearing that Linder might be attacked when he left the State House, they came upon the stand shortly before Linder finished speaking and stood by him. After the speech had been completed each took one of Linder s arms and walked with him from the State House to his hotel. Linder recalled that Lincoln said to him:
Linder, Baker and I are apprehensive that you may be attacked by some of those ruffians who insulted you from the galleries, and we have come up to escort you to your hotel. We both think we can do a little fighting, so we want you to walk between us until we get you to your hotel; your quarrel is our quarrel, and that of the great Whig party of this nation, and your speech upon this occasion is the greatest one that has been made by any of us, for which we wish to honor, love and defend you.




5 John M. Palmer (Editor) : The Bench and Bar of Illinois, vol. II, p. 656. Cited hereafter as Palmer; Linder, pp. 21, 35-37, 148, 395; Whitney, Circuit, p. 180. Whitney was Linder’s junior by 22 years.
6 Linder, p. 58. The year before, when he met Lincoln at Charleston, "Lincoln did not make any marked impression upon me, or any other member of the bar." P. 37.
7 Lincoln and Linder had previously clashed (on December 21, 1836) on a minor point. Collected Works, vol. I, pp. 56-57, 62, 66-67.
8 Statement prepared for the writer by Mr. Bell, October 25, 1949.


Linder considered this "no ordinary compliment coming from Mr. Lincoln, for he was no flatterer." Guarded by his two friends and accompanied by many sympathisers, Linder reached his hotel unmolested. Linder considered this one of the proudest days of his life, "on account of the devoted friendship shown by Lincoln and Baker."
Holland, in his life of Lincoln, gives this incident in a some- what different form. According to this version, a speech made by Linder was very offensive to some Democrats who "proposed to make a personal matter of it." When Linder spoke a second time "his friends feared for his safety," and Lincoln and Baker "took their places by his side, and, when he finished, conducted him to his hotel."9
Correspondence between Lincoln and Linder while Lincoln was in Congress in 1848, shows the close political tie between the two at the time, and also discloses that Linder, the former Democrat, was getting restless as he sensed that the northern Whigs were accepting the cooperation of the abolitionists. On February 20, 1848, Lincoln wrote to Linder from Washington. Linder was a candidate for the Illinois legislature.
U. F. Linder: In law it is good policy to never plead what you need not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what you can not. Reflect on this well before you proceed. The application I mean to make of this rule is, that you should simply go for Gen. Taylor; because by this, you can take some democrats and lose no whigs; but if you go also for Mr. Polk on the origin and mode of prossecuting the war, you will still take some democrats, but you will lose more whigs, so that in the sum of the opperation you will be the loser. This is at least my opinion; and if you will look around, I doubt, if you do not discover such to be the fact amongst your own neighbors. Further than this: By justifying Mr. Polk’s mode of prossecuting the war, you put yourself in opposition to Gen. Taylor himself, for we all know he has declared for, and, in fact originated, the defensive line of policy.
You know I mean this in kindness, and wish it to be confidential.10

Linder replied on March 15. He asked Lincoln three questions concerning Whig opposition to the Mexican War and Whig-abolitionist cooperation. He wanted to know if it would not be as easy to elect Taylor without opposing the war. Lincoln wrote again on March 22. Whig silence on the war was impossible, the Whigs "are compelled to speak and their only option is whether they will, when they do speak, tell the truth, or tell a foul villainous, and bloody falsehood." As for "falling in company with abolitionists," Lincoln denied that the Whigs had accepted abolitionist doctrine. Abolitionist support of Harrison, the Whig candidate in 1840, had given the Whigs their "only national victory."11
The close professional relationship between Lincoln and Linder is shown by a letter from Lincoln to Linder, written from Springfield on March 2, 1853.
The change of circuits prevents my attending the Edgar court this Spring, and perhaps generally hereafter. There is a little Ejectment case from Bloomfield, in which the name of Davidson figures . . . and for defending which I have been paid a little fee. Now I dislike to keep the money without doing the service; & I also hate to disgorge; and I therefore request of you to defend the case for me; & I will, in due time, do as much or more for you. Write me whether you can do it.12
How Lincoln was supposed to have repaid this obligation was later told by Linder and also by his daughter, Mrs. Rose Linder Wilkinson. Linder delivered the address of the occasion at the Lincoln Commemorative service held by the Chicago Bar Association on April 17, 1865. Linder told how his son, in difficulty because of a shooting scrape, was aided by Lincoln. He said:
I wrote to Mr. Lincoln. I was in a quarter of the country where I knew he was a tower of strength; where his name raised up friends; where his arguments at law had more power than the instructions of the Court. I feared, many of his political friends being united against my son, that his services and his talents might be enlisted against him. I wrote to him, giving him all the circumstances, telling him of my wife’s grief and my own, and soliciting that he would come and assist me to defend my son; that I thought he had been employed against him.

In his reply to Linder, Lincoln:
Condoled with me and my wife in our misfortune, and assured us that, no matter what business he might be engaged in, he would come, and he was truly sorry that I had supposed that he would take part in the prosecution of the son of a friend of his. I had offered him a fee, and in that letter he also said he knew of no act of his life that would justify me in supposing that he would take money from me or any dear friends for assisting in the defence of the life of a child. 13
The same incident also was told by Linders daughter Rose. Some of the details she mentions are at variance with Linder’s account:
My brother Dan, in the heat of a quarrel, shot a young man named Ben Boyle and was arrested. My father was seriously ill with inflammatory rheumatism at the time, and could scarcely move hand or foot. He certainly could not defend Dan. I was his secretary, and I remember it was but a day or so after the shooting till letters of sympathy began to pour in. In the first bundle which I picked up there was a big letter, the handwriting, on which I recognized as that of Mr. Lincoln. The letter was very sympathetic.



9 Under, pp. 248-250; Holland, p. 96. It is likely that Holland’s account came from what Linder had told him and which he remembered imperfectly. Holland referred to the incident as having occurred during the "Clay campaign," or 1844. Lincoln was present at political meetings at Springfield in the 1844 campaign on March 2, May 22, June 12, and August 24. Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. xxxi, 218, 230, 233, 243. Both Lincoln and Linder were Whig electors in 1844, having been chosen by the Whig Convention at Springfield on December 11 and 12, 1843.
10 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 453.
11 Collected Works, vol. I, pp. 457-458.
12 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 191.
13 L. P. Brockett: The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln (1865), pp. 702-703. Cited hereafter as Brockett.


"I know how you feel, Linder," it said. "I can understand your anger as a father, added to all the other sentiments. But may we not be in a measure to blame? We have talked about the defense of criminals before our children; about our success in defending them; have left the impression that the greater the crime, the greater the triumph of securing an acquittal. Dan knows your success as a criminal lawyer, and he depends on you, little knowing that of all cases you would be of least value in this."
He concluded by offering his services, an offer which touched my father to tears.
Mr. Lincoln tried to have Dan released on bail, but Ben Boyle’s family and friends declared the wounded man would die, and feeling had grown so bitter that the judge would not grant any bail. So the case was changed to Marshall County, but as Ben finally recovered it was dismissed.14
This story of Lincoln coming to the aid of his friend Usher F. Linder when Dan Linder was in trouble was retold by Alonzo Rothschild in his book Honest Abe, A Study in Integrity, pub- lished in 1917. Rothschild blended together the accounts by Usher and Rose. Woldman, in his Lawyer Lincoln, retells the story, following Rothschild’s version.15
The incident from which these various accounts are derived occurred at Paris, Illinois, in 1856. The Prairie Beacon of that city gives us some of the details. The issue for May 16, 1856, reported that "On Tuesday evening [May 13] eighteen year old Daniel Linder, son of lawyer Usher O. [F.] Linder, had a quarrel with his companion, John [not Benjamin] Boyle, outside the Augustus and Rudy store. Linder shot his friend in the hands, chest, and head. He dropped the gun and fled, but officials soon captured him and put him in jail." Young Linder was soon released on a writ of habeas corpus, and a $5,000 bond was furnished. Fortunately for him, Boyle recovered. Hence the charge against him was not murder, but "assault with intent to inflict bodily injury." The Edgar County grand jury presented a true bill against Daniel Linder on October 15, 1856, and the case came to trial the same day. Daniel pleaded not guilty, and put up bond of $100, his father acting as his security. At the application of the defendant, the case was sent to Clark County on a change of venue. Five witnesses, including John Boyle, put up $50 bond each for their appearance at the Clark County Circuit Court on October 27 next. 10 On October 17, 1856, the Prairie Beacon commented on the case as follows:
It will be recalled that young Daniel Linder was supposed to have gone to Central America after his shooting episode with John Boyle. Apparently this was hearsay, for his case has been heard this week before the Edgar County grand jury. He was charged with "assault with a deadly weapon" and released on a $100 bond. His father had charge of the case and disqualified some of the jurors because they read the Beacon, which he claimed, villified him and prejudiced his son’s case. A reading of the newspaper does not sustain these charges. The case was transferred to another county.17
It is clear that Usher F. Linder, not Lincoln, was Daniel’s lawyer in Paris. The writer was unable to locate the judge’s docket for this period, which would have given the name of the defense attorney. The Beacon refers to Daniel’s father, and no other lawyer. Lincoln was sufficiently prominent by the fall of 1856 to have been mentioned by the Beacon if he had appeared in the case.
The case came before the Clark County Circuit Court at Marshall on November 5, 1856, when the Clerk of the Court certified the charge as "assault with an intent to do a bodily injury." The case was continued until the next term of court. On June 9, 1857, when the case came up the state’s attorney announced that he would no longer prosecute the defendant. The judge’s docket ("Bench Docket") for 1854-1859 lists the case (second day’s causes, June Term 1857, Case No. 14) as nolled prossed and the defendant discharged. The attorneys for the defendant are given as Linder, Ficklin, and Bell.18 The dates involved in this case would appear to preclude any participation by Lincoln. The case came before the court in Paris on October 15, 1856. Angle places Lincoln at Clinton, Illinois, on October 13, and at Belleville on October 18. The case first came up at Marshall on November 5, 1856. Lincoln was at Springfield on November 4. The final hearing at Marshall was on June 9, 1857. Lincoln was at Springfield on June 8, 9, and 10.19
It seems to be clear, therefore, that Lincoln did not assist in the defense of Daniel Linder in the case arising out of the shooting of John Boyle at Paris in 1856. Both Usher Linder and his daughter appear to have been confused in the matter. Note,however, that while Usher reports that he asked Lincoln for help, and that Lincoln agreed to come to his assistance, he does not say in so many words that Lincoln took part in the case. An explanation may be that Lincoln offered to help in the defense of Dan Linder in a murder trial, but Boyle’s recovery reduced the charge to assault. For this less serious charge, Lincoln’s assistance was neither expected or needed.


14 A. K. McClure: Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories (1901), pp. 263-264. The writer has been unable to trace the origin of this statement attributed to Mrs. Rose Linder Wilkinson. Apart from the differences from her father’s account of the incident, Mrs. Wilkinson’s statement contained other errors, as we shall show from the records. The person shot was John Boyle, not Benjamin. Dan Linder was admitted to bail and the change of venue was to Marshall in Clark County, not to Marshall County.
15 Rothschild, pp. 141-142; Woldman, p. 101.
16 Edgar County Circuit Court (Paris, Illinois), Circuit Court Record, vol. IV, pp. 352, 354.
17 From notes taken from the Beacon for the writer by Mrs. Avanella Jeffers of Paris, Illinois.
18 Clark County Circuit Court (Marshall, Illinois), Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 208, 287; Bench Docket 1854-1859, n.p.
19 Angle, 1854-1861, pp. 146, 149, 180.


Linder was a warm supporter of Senator Douglas in 1858. It was this association which gave rise to his nickname, ’Tor God’s Sake Linder." Linder tells the story in his Reminiscences (p. 79). During the campaign some of Lincoln’s friends made the practice of following Douglas on his speaking trips, and attacking him in speeches after Douglas "would be in bed asleep, worn out by the fatigues of the day." Douglas telegraphed Linder to meet him at Freeport and accompany him on his speaking tour "to help fight off the hell-hounds," as he called them, that were howling on his path, and used this expression: ’Tor God’s sake, Linder, come." A telegraph operator made the message public with the result that the Republican papers dubbed him thenceforth with the name "For God’s Sake Linder," which title Linder wore "with great pride and distinction ever since."
Linder must have been a fiery sort of man, well equipped to "fight off the hell-hounds" for Douglas. On April 12, 1859, in open court in Charleston, Linder assaulted with his fists a fellow lawyer, Elisha H. Starkweather. Two days later Starkweather made affidavit before Justice of the Peace Eli Wiley, praying that Linder be placed under bond to keep the peace. Starkweather alleged that in addition to threatening and assaulting him, Linder had taken to carrying a pistol, and Starkweather feared for his life. Linder promptly posted a $500 bond before Justice Wiley.20 This incident took place the year before Linder moved to Chicago.
The continued close friendship of the Lincoln and Linder families is shown by the gift of some dishes and tableware made by Mrs. Lincoln to Usher F. Linder for his wife when the Lincolns were making ready to move from Springfield to Washington. The gift included a moss-rose pattern china pitcher, a majolica pitcher, a large serving dish, a gravy boat, four small plates, a candlestick, and some table silver.21
During the war Daniel Linder was again involved in Lincoln’s relationships with his father. This time Lincoln was able to perform a real service for the Linder family. Usher told of the incident in his Chicago eulogy of Lincoln in April 1865. His son Daniel had gone south before the war broke out, and
By some means, he was enlisted in the service of the rebel army. My friends here know, as you judges who sit upon the bench know, that I called upon them to unite with me in adding your influence to mine to prevail upon President Lincoln to induce him to release my boy from prison. He was captured a year and a half ago. Mr. Lincoln did so without any hesitation, and he took the pains – it was the day before Christmas a year ago, and it made my home happy – to telegraph me of the fact. . . . He said to me "Your son has just left me with my order to the Secretary of War to administer the oath of allegiance. I send him home to you and his mother."22

In this instance, Linder’s memory was trustworthy. On December 22, 1863, Lincoln sent word to General Gilman Marston at Point Lookout, Maryland, "If you have a prisoner by the name of Linder – Daniel Linder, I think, and certainly the son of U. F. Linder of Illinois, please send him to me by an officer."23 Just what Lincoln said to the young Copperhead when he was brought before him is not recorded, but he probably made him regret his treason. The day after Christmas Lincoln sent young Linder home to his folks in Chicago and sent the wire which Usher quoted, in substance, in his 1865 address.24 Thus did Lincoln provide a belated "Merry Christmas" for the Linders.
The release of Daniel Linder was linked by Lincoln with the release of the son of a Virginia friend of Attorney General Edward Bates. When Bates requested the parole of the son of his friend, Lincoln is reported to have said to him:
Bates, I have an almost parallel case. The son of an old friend of mine in Illinois ran oft and joined the rebel army. The young fool has been captured, and is a prisoner of war, and his old, broken-hearted father has asked me to send him home, promising, of course, to keep him there. I have not seen my way clear to do it; but if you and I unite our influence with this administration, I believe we can manage it together and make two loyal fathers happy. Let us make them our prisoners.25



20 Papers in lower vault of Circuit Clerk’s office, box marked "1859." Starkweather died on December 1, 1859. Headstone 4 in "Old Cemetery," Charleston.
21 Sandburg, Collector, p. 209.
22 Brockett, p. 703. The Mattoon Gazette for February 28, 1862, in an editorial attacking Usher F. Linder for failing to support the war, referred to his son, Dan, who "has had the boldness to take up arms" in the "center of rebeldom."
23 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 87.
24 The message was sent the day after Christmas, not the day before, as Usher Linder recalled in 1865. An endorsement by Lincoln to Stanton, also dated December 26, was placed on a telegram from General Marston reporting compliance with Lincoln’s order. Lincoln directed Stanton to "administer the oath of allegiance to him, discharge him, and send him to his father." Collected Works, vol. VII, pp. 94-95.
25 Hertz, vol. II, p. 862.


The accuracy of this reported statement by Lincoln to Bates is doubtful, for Lincoln ordered young Linder brought from the prison camp on December 22, and the conversation with Bates took place two days later, as is shown by Bate’s diary. Under date of December 24, 1863, Bates recorded:
Edwin C. Claybrook, of 9 Reb Cavy. is a prisoner of war, at Point Lookout. He is a youth of 18 or 20 son of Col Claybrook of Northd Cy. [Northumberland County] Va. The Prest, being abt. to send for young Linder of Ills, at my instance, ordered up young Claybrook also, with the view, in both cases, to release them, if they will only accept the boon, on any reasonable terms.
The Prest: is anxious to gratify Linder, the father, who is his old friend; and I am very desirous to make a New Year’s gift of Claybrook, to his father and family.26

On the day of his talk with Bates, December 24, Lincoln ordered General Marston, "If you send Linder to me as directed a day or two ago, also send Edwin C. Claybrook, of 9th Virginia rebel cavalry."27
Near the end of March 1864, Lincoln received an eloquent and touching letter from his old friend Linder in Chicago. It was an application for an appointment, couched in unusual language for that purpose. Linder wrote:
My Dear Sir: In the revolutions of the wheel of fortune I have often been at the top – and as often at the bottom – In other words I have been, now, four years at this place, and notwithstanding I have exerted a dilligence and prudence, hardly common to me, no prosperous wind has yet filled my sail – but the whole bag full have steadily set against me. I have never before asked an office of any president, or any executive of a state – but taking into consideration the wants of myself and family – If the government of the U. S. has anything to do which I am capable of performing – you may consider me as an humble applicant – I am seeking no sinecure; my health is good thank God – and I am only 55 years old the 20th inst.
I am constrained to believe friend Lincoln that you have ever cherished the kindest feelings for me as I know I have for you and although we have been often thrown in opposition to each other I think there has never been anything said by either that has left a pang behind–
If there had been, you, I know are too magnanimous to remember it now, considering the vast distance which fame fortune and distinction have made between us, and I make these remarks simply to place myself outside of the category of your personal enemies – If you should think me loyal, competent and worthy – and upon these considerations offer me a place where I can be of service to the country, I will accept it however humble or insignificant it may be – and bring to the discharge of the duties thereof all the zeal and talents I have, be they great or small – Now – I suppose you have thousands of just such letters as these written to you every day, well this is the first of the kind I have written and I assure you, I shall not trouble you with another – I don’t ask you to prepare a feather bed for me for I had just as soon have a hard bed as a soft one. A place in the army – in the distant territories, indeed anything that needs work and thinking I am ready and anxious to obtain – and for which I shall feel ever grateful. Knowing the importance of time with you I regret that my necessities have made it necessary to inflict upon you so long a letter – And let me assure you that whether my application is considered favorably or unfavorably – I shall never cease to pray God to crown your administration with complete success – for it is my sincere wish that the brightest page of your country’s history, may be that which records your struggles and triumphs over treason and oppression – 1 wish you in conclusion to pardon me if I have presumed too much upon old friendship and acquaintance – and act in obedience to your own honest instincts which I have trusted and am still willing to trust.
Your friend, U. F. Linder28




26 Howard K. Beale (editor) : The Diary of Edward Bates, 1859-1866, pp. 323-324.
27 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 91.


Despite this eloquent plea, Linder did not get a Federal appointment. This did not embitter him, however, for his references to Lincoln in his reminiscences are sympathetic without exception. Even more indicative of Linder’s lack of resentment was his address to the Chicago bar association at a meeting held on April 17, 1865, to express the feelings of the members following Lincoln’s death. John M. Palmer, who was present, has recorded that Linder’s speech was "one of the most thrilling and remarkable" he had ever listened to. Linder’s references to "the great kindnesses that he had at various times received from Mr. Lincoln, were very interesting." The speech "abounded in pathos and was a masterpiece of eloquence." No other speech of the occasion compared with it. 29 This was not the speech of an embittered and disappointed office seeker.
Linder expressed his opinion of Lincoln as a lawyer in a letter to Joseph Gillespie written from Chicago on August 8, 1867. Gillespie, also, had known Lincoln well. Linder wrote:
But you speak of our mutual friend Lincoln – What a strange and marvelous career he had, he was a man of singular [talents?], but a large minded man – I think his greatest fort was, as a lawyer – and I don’t know whether he was strongest before the judge or the jury. I certainly never liked to have him against me.
How very many of our old acquaintances are dead and gone and the question occurs shall we ever see them again, in the language of Job. "If a man dies shall he live again." I reckon Lincoln would say if here "A living dog is better than a dead lion." He was, as you say wise, and O Lord wasn’t he funny?30

Usher Linder was a man of great natural ability. He was a skillful lawyer, an effective debater, and a notable orator. He was a member of the legislature at age 26, and attorney-general of the state before he was 28. This auspicious beginning did not prove to be the start of a brilliant political career for two reasons. Linder shifted from the dominant Democratic party to the less popular Whigs in 1838, and when the Democrats began to yield first place in Illinois to the rising Republican party Linder went back to the Democrats rather than climb on the Republican bandwagon with most of the Whigs. The other reason was personal. Usher Linder drank to excess. This hurt him professionally as well as politically. He left Charleston in 1860, within a year after his brawl with Starkweather which probably was due to drink, in an effort to make a new start in Chicago. His letter to Lincoln four years later shows that he had made little material progress by then at his new location. The years that followed evidently brought little improvement in his welfare. Orville H. Browning gives us a glimpse of Linder two years before his death. Browning recorded in his diary for April 23, 1874, "Met U. F. Linder on the street today. Had not seen him for several years. He looks old and broken, and was poorly and meagerly dressed and I suspect is poor and needy."31
In an effort to provide an income for his family, Linder spent the last two years of his life writing his Reminiscences. The book was published in 1879, nearly three years after his death and contained an introduction written by his friend Joseph Gillespie.
It probably had a very limited sale. At any rate it is a scarce item today.


28 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 31895.
29 Palmer, vol. II, p. 658. Brockett, pp. 701-703, gives excerpts from this address, from which we have quoted the incidents involving Daniel Linder.
30 Letter, Usher F. Linder to Joseph Gillespie, August 8, 1867. In Autograph letters, vol. 14, pp. 139-142, Manuscript Division, Chicago Historical Society Library.
31 The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning, vol. II, p. 381.
Was Lincoln a Swedenborgian?
CIRCUIT JUDGE JUSTIN HARLAN of Marshall, who presided over the court at Charleston from 1849 to 1856, was a brother-in-law of Mrs. Nancy Chenoweth Sargent, the wife of Stephen Sargent of Hutton Township, Coles County. Lincoln knew the Sargents well and visited at their home more than once. They lived on the Old York-Charleston trail which passed through Marshall, and along which Lincoln probably traveled on more than one occasion. Nancy Chenoweth’s first husband (1822) was Jacob Harlan, elder brother of Justin. Jacob died in 1836; and the widow married Stephen Sargent in 1842.
Many years later, a granddaughter of Mrs. Sargent said that Abraham Lincoln in the late 1850’s was baptized in the Swedenborgian "New Church" at the Sargent home. Mrs. Floret Harlan Hendrickson was the daughter of Burns Harlan, a son of Mrs. Sargent by her first marriage. She was raised in the home of her grandmother, a devout Swedenborgian, who converted her husband to that faith. The Sargent home became a Swedenborgian center in the community. Lacking a church building, services were held at the Sargent home. A "New Church Society" was formed which continued in existence for over forty years or until about 1890, under the leadership of Stephen Sargent and after his death in 1878, under that of his son John S. Sargent.1
Mrs. Hendrickson was an active Swedenborgian throughout a long life. Born in 1854, she died in California in 1946. Near the close of her life, Mrs. Hendrickson told her pastor, the Rev. Andre Diaconoff of Los Angeles, of Lincoln’s contact with Swedenborgian doctrines at the Sargent home. She recalled that her grandparents had given Lincoln copies of several of Swedenborg’s writings when he visited at their home. Her great-uncle, John S. Sargent, told Mrs. Hendrickson (in later years she said) that on one occasion Lincoln was present at the Sargent home when a baptismal service was held, and that he received the New Church baptism.2
Mr. Samuel S. Sargent, a son of John S. Sargent, at an early age became interested in local and family history. He questioned old residents of the neighborhood who had attended the New Church meetings at the Sargent home. Two of those to whom he talked, C. P. Brandenburg (who died in 1914) and Allen Parker (who died at a later date) told Mr. Sargent that Lincoln had attended a meeting or meetings of the New Church Society at the Sargents, and had shown an interest in New Church teachings. Samuel S. Sargent’s father, John S. Sargent, told him that Lincoln had borrowed some Swedenborg books from Stephen Sargent, and had returned them. "He said that after Lincoln had become President that the family had tried to figure out which books they had loaned him, to look for any writing by Abe, but none could be found."
Mr. Sargent also was told by Mrs. Hendrickson, his second cousin, that Lincoln was a reader of Swedenborg’s writings, and furthermore that he had been baptized at one of the early meetings of the New Church Society at the Sargent home. On the other hand, Mr. Sargent’s sister (Mrs. Opal S. Hodge of Charleston, born in 1875) told him that she had never in her life heard anything about Lincoln having been interested in the New Church at Grandfather Sargent’s or of his having any interest in any way with that denomination; that neither her grandmother nor her father had ever said anything about it in her hearing; and she did not believe there was anything to the Lincoln story. Mrs. Hodge was fifteen years old when her grandmother died.3
Mrs. Floret Hendrickson thus appears to be the source of the story that Lincoln was baptized as a Swedenborgian. She attributed her knowledge of this incident to John S. Sargent when talking to her pastor, but not when talking to Mr. Sargent’s son Samuel S. Sargent. Nor did John S. Sargent ever tell his son that Lincoln was baptized.
It is not unlikely that Lincoln borrowed some religious books from Stephen Sargent, and also read them carefully. Lincoln was intellectually inquisitive, and had an open mind on the subject of religion. These same characteristics also would lead him to listen attentively to the exposition of Swedenborgian doctrines by his friend and host, Stephen Sargent, when visiting at his home. If a church service was conducted while Lincoln was present, we can be certain that he did not walk out. He was innately a courteous man, and would not have pained his host by a hostile attitude. But open mindedness and courtesy would not have caused Lincoln to accept the sacrament of baptism. And if Lincoln had accepted the doctrines of the New Church we can be certain that he would have freely proclaimed his religious affiliation to his family and friends. Of this there is no evidence. The baptism story is wrong. Perhaps it represented wishful thinking by New Church adherents who knew that Lincoln had shown an interest in their doctrines.


1 Letters, Samuel S. Sargent to the writer, November 12, 17, 1951.
2 Article by Rev. Andre Diaconoff in Nexu Church Messenger of March 4, 1942, quoted in Raymond Pitcairn: "Abraham Lincoln and the New Church," a typed copy of which was sent to the writer by Mr. Leslie Marshall of the Swedenborg Fellowship, Paterson, N.J., November 5, 1951.
3 Letters, Samuel S. Sargent to the writer, November 12, 17, 1951.
The Death, of Thomas Lincoln, 1851
THOMAS LINCOLN died at his Goosenest Prairie home on January 17, 1851, age 73 years and 11 days.1 The cause of his death is reported to have been kidney trouble.2 He had been ailing for some time, and a year and a half before, on May 25, 1849, John D. Johnston had written to Abraham Lincoln that his father was "yet alive and that is all," and urged him to come to see the old man before he died. Johnston’s letter, dated "friday morning Char– May 25 1849" is as follows:
Dear Brother
I hast to inform you That father is yet a Live & that is all & he Craves to See you all the time & he wonts you to Come if you ar able to git hure, for you are his only Child that is of his own flush & blood 8c it is nothing more than natere for him to crave to See you, he says he has all most Despared of Seeing you, & he wonts you to prepare to meet him in the unknown world, or in heven, for he thinks that ower Savour Savour has a crown of glory, prepared for him I wright this with a bursting hart, I Came to town for the Docttor, & I won you to make an effort Come, if you are able to get hure, & he wonts me to tell your wife that he Loves hure & wants hur to prepare to meet him at ower Savours feet, we are all well, your Brother in hast
J. D. Johnston3

At about the same time that Johnston wrote he prevailed upon Augustus H. Chapman to write to Lincoln also. Chapman was the husband of Harriet, daughter of Dennis Hanks. Chapman’s letter, was dated Charleston, May 24, 1849, but more likely was written on the 25th for in a letter dated May 28th (Monday), Chapman refers to having written to Lincoln on "Friday last." It is probable that when Johnston came into town on the 25th for the doctor, he also spoke to Chapman. Chapman’s first letter was as follows:
Mr. Lincoln –
Sir – at the special request of J. D. Johnsin I write you to inform you of the very Severe illness of your Father, he was atacken with a lesion of the Heart Some time Since & for the last four days Has been getting much Worse & at this time He is very Low indeed. He is very anxious to See you before he dies & I am told that His Cries for you for the last few days are truly Heart-Rendering. He wished you to come & see him instontly if you possibly can. If you are fearfull of Leaving your family on account of the Children & can bring them With you we would be very Glad for you to bring them with you. the Health of our place is excelent & Harriett & I would be very glad to Have [you] bring them with you as we are very comfortably fixed & will do all we can to render you stay agreeable. Yours in great Haste
A. H. Chapman
You need Have no fears of your Father Suffering for any thing He may need as Harriett & I will see that He Has everything He may need.
A. H. C.4
Three or four days later Chapman wrote to Lincoln again, to report that his father’s condition was not as serious as had been supposed:
Charleston, Ills. May 28th, 1849 [Monday]
Mr. Lincoln –
Sir on Friday last I wrote you at the request of J. D. Johnson which I suppose Has given you Considerable unnecessary trouble on account of your Father. I was fearful at the time I wrote to you that I was giving you considerable unnecessary uneasiness & So told Johnson, but he said that it was not So. I wished him to wait until Allison returned from your Fathers but he would not consent on the grounds that if He did not Send you a Letter then that he would not Have the Opportunity of writing until the present mail. So I wrote you at his Earnest Solicitation & He had the Letter Mailed instontly. I now Have the pleasure of informing you that your Father is not only out of all Danger but that he is not afflicted with a Disease of the Heart as Dr. Allison had Supposed all along but that his illness arose from an unusual amount of matter being confined in His Lungs which occasioned the Oppression of the Heart & let Allison to Suppose this Disease was one of the Heart – Yesterday & today He has raised a Large amount of matter or Fleghm from Lungs & is almost entirely Releaved & will doubtless be well in a Short time. I hope you will receave this before you get off for this place if you are intending to come here as I would be very sorry indeed for my Last Letter to cause you to Leave any important business that you Might have on Hands & that required your imediate attention. I hope you will forgive me for writing you as I did without knowing what I was about & promise for the future to be more careful Harriett send Her love to you all.
Respectfully yours
A. H. Chapman5
The letters from Johnston and Chapman resulted in Lincoln going to Coles County to see his father. He had returned to Springfield on March 31, following the adjournment of Congress. At this time Lincoln was an active candidate for appointment as Commissioner of the General Land Office. A Washington trip seemed desirable to advance his candidacy. Lincoln returned from Coles County on June 2, and left for Washington on June 10, arriving about June 17.6 The day that Lincoln left Springfield for Coles County has not been fixed, but it is likely that he left before Chapman’s letter of May 28 reached him.


1 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 94-95. Thomas Lincoln was born on January 6, 1778.
2 Herndon, p. 60.
3 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 340. Also in Mearns, vol. I, p. 179.
4 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 337. Also in Mearns, vol. I, pp. 178-179.
5 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 342. Also in Mearns, vol. I, p. 180.


Lincoln did not get the Land Office appointment, which went to Justin Butterfield of Chicago on June 21, while Lincoln was in Washington. Lincoln’s unpopular stand as a congressman in opposition to the Mexican War had decreased his political influence, and probably was the major factor in his failure to secure the appointment. His hurried trip to Coles County to see his ailing father, when his presence in Washington to press his application in person might have been helpful, may be considered another factor. But note that he delayed a week after his return to Springfield before leaving for Washington. It is interesting to speculate on the effect that four years in Washington as a "bureaucrat" might have had on Lincoln’s subsequent career.
During the winter of 1850-1851, Thomas Lincoln grew worse, and as the approaching end became more and more obvious, Johnston wrote to his stepbrother Abraham twice, without receiving a reply. Dennis Hanks’ daughter Harriet Chapman then wrote to him. After receiving her letter Lincoln replied to Johnston on January 12, 1851, five days before his father’s death.
Dear Brother:
On the day before yesterday I received a letter from Harriett, written at Greenup. She says she has just returned from your house; and that Father is very low, and will hardly recover. She also says you have written me two letters; and that although you do not expect me to come now, you wonder that I do not write. I received both your letters, and although I have not answered them, it is not because I have forgotten them, or been uninterested about them – but because it appeared to me I could write nothing which could do any good. You already know that I desire that neither Father or Mother shall be in want of any comfort either in health or sickness while they live; and I feel sure you have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to procure a doctor, or any thing else for Father in his present sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave home now, if it were not, as it is, that my own wife is sick-abed. (It is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous.) I sincerely hope Father may yet recover his health; but at all events tell him to call upon, and confide in, our great, and good, and merciful Maker; who will not turn away from him in any extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads; and He will not forget the dying man, who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before; and where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere-long to join them.
Write me again when you receive this. Affectionately
A. Lincoln7
It is possible that Lincoln underestimated the seriousness of Thomas’ illness. A year and a half before, as we have seen, Johnston had written to him in a most urgent manner, and his father had recovered. However, his reference to "the dying man" who puts his trust in God would seem to preclude that notion. The religious exhortation in the letter is the sort of sentiment in which the pious Thomas would take comfort. Benjamin P. Thomas describes this letter as having "an unconvincing tone." Thomas feels that Abraham "had no real affection for his father and could not dissimulate about it."8
Did Abraham Lincoln have "no real affection" for his father? It is clear that they had few of the common interests that form the basis for a comradely relationship. None of the descriptions of the life of the Lincolns in Indiana, where Abraham spent his teens, show Thomas and Abraham hunting or fishing together, engaging in friendly wood chopping contests, or other backwoods sports. As a youth Abraham developed interests that his father did not share. As he grew older he became increasingly aware of Thomas’ more restricted intellectual horizon. Abraham soon went beyond his father’s meagre formal education. This does not mean that they were antagonistic. Abraham never defied his father, as far as we know. Dennis Hanks told Herndon that Thomas loved his son, but he couldn’t tell whether or not the affection was returned. Thomas Lincoln was a kindly man, as was his son. The writer concludes that the father and son relationship, while not particularly congenial, was a normal one.
There is one account of Thomas’ last illness that reports Abraham’s presence at his father’s bedside shortly before his death. The LeBaron or 1879 history of Coles County states:
Abraham Lincoln had come to see him [Thomas Lincoln] in response to his wish through a letter from Mr. A. H. Chapman, and spent some time with him. He left word to send for him in case the disease took a malignant form. A severe attack soon followed his departure, proving fatal, and before Abe could be notified his father was gone.9

6 On June 2 A. G. Henry wrote to Joseph Gillespie that Lincoln’s presence in Washington was necessary if he expected to get the Land Office appointment, and that Lincoln would "go the moment he gets home he is now in Coles but is looked for tonight." Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 127, 129-130.
7 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 96-97. It was written from Springfield. The mention of Mrs. Lincoln being "sick-abed" with "baby-sickness" is a reference to the birth, on December 21, 1850, of William Wallace Lincoln. The original letter is damaged on one edge. Missing words have been taken from Nicolay and Hay.
8 Thomas, Lincoln, p. 134.
9 LeBaron, p. 422.


This statement is contradicted by the letter from Lincoln to Johnston. Could this account have had its basis in a visit by Lincoln to Charleston in the fall of 1850 during the October term of court, after his father had become ill, but before the gravity of the illness had become apparent? The October term was from October 7 to October 11. Lincoln was in Mt. Pulaski and Clinton, October 7-12. Hence he did not attend the October 1850 term of the Coles County Circuit Court. From September 18, 1850, to January 17, 1851, the date of his father’s death, there are only two periods when Lincoln’s whereabouts have not been established for periods of three days or more in succession. These were November 7-13, and December 29-January 5. Is it possible that Lincoln visited his father at either of these times? The December-January period is ruled out by Lincoln’s reference to his wife’s illness in his January 12 letter to Johnston, as well as by the implication of that letter that he had not seen his father recently. On November 14 Lincoln was in Decatur. He might have been in Coles County before reaching Decatur, possibly for the week-end of November 9 and 10, prior to attending the Moultrie County Circuit Court at Sullivan, which opened on November 11. If Abraham Lincoln saw his father within a few months of Thomas’ death on January 17, 1851, it probably was about November 10. It is more likely, however, that Lincoln did not visit Coles County during the fall or winter of 1850-1851.10
During his last illness, Thomas Lincoln was visited frequently by a neighbor, Mrs. Jane Price Fury, who read the Bible to him. As Mrs. Fury’s daughter, Mrs. Joseph R. Bean, told William E. Barton in 1922, "He could read the Bible himself, and liked to do it, but he was old and weak and his sight was bad and he liked to have mother read the Bible."11
Thomas Lincoln was buried in the Shiloh or Gordon cemetery a mile and a half west of his home, where his wife was to join him eighteen years later.12 The Reverend Thomas Goodman of Charleston, who served the Shiloh church as well as other rural churches, preached the funeral sermon for Thomas Lincoln. As there was no Baptist church nearby, the Lincolns attended services conducted by preacher Goodman of the Disciples of Christ. The service was held in the Lincoln cabin, with the preacher standing in the open door, the women and children inside, and the men standing outside.13
Mrs. Bean, about ten years old at the time, lived half a mile from the Lincoln cabin. She was at home at the time of the funeral, she told Dr. Barton, but she could hear the funeral sermon for preacher Goodman was "a great man to ’holler’."14
Thirty-six years after Thomas’ death, Mr. Goodman wrote of him that "In his case I could not say aught but good. . . . He was a consistent member through life of the Church of my choice – the Christian Church or the Church of Christ– and was, as far as I know – and I was a very intimate friend – illiterate, yet always truthful, conscientious and religious."15
Abraham Lincoln probably visited his stepmother at the Goosenest Prairie cabin within a few months of his father’s death. The family record page from Thomas Lincoln’s family Bible contains entries in Abraham’s hand, the last dated March 5, 1851. The first days after that date on which it is likely that Abraham was in Coles County and made these entries were Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, 1851. Lincoln attended the Edgar County Circuit Court at Paris on Friday, May 16, and he was present in Shelbyville on Wednesday, May 21. The Shelby County Circuit Court had convened on Monday, May 19. 16 It was Lincoln’s practice to stop over at Charleston between the sessions of the Edgar and Shelby courts. He very likely spent the week-end of May 17-18 at Charleston and at the Goosenest Prairie home of his stepmother.
Tradition has it that after Thomas’ death his widow stayed for two years with John Sawyer, and helped care for his children.17 Mrs. Lincoln then returned to Goosenest Prairie and made her home with the John J. Hall family. Hall had acquired 80 acres of the Lincoln farm from John D. Johnston in November 1851.


10 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 304, 326; Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 198, 202-203, 210-211.
11 Barton Papers, University of Chicago Library, scrapbook "Thomas Lincoln." Mrs. Bean was born in 1841. Mrs. Sarah Lincoln, it will be recalled, was unable to read or write.
12 Thomas Lincoln left no will, and the Coles County probate records have no record of the appointment of an administrator. The Gordon cemetery was on land owned by Benjamin Summer. On December 3, 1852, he sold 80 acres, including the cemetery location, to Isaac W. Rodgers, who deeded 1½ acres comprising the cemetery to the "Trustees of the Gordon Graveyard," on March 12, 1866. Land Entry Book and Coles County Abstract Office records. Rodgers sold ½ acre to the Trustees and donated one acre. Statement to the writer by I. W. Baker, grandson of Isaac W. Rodgers, June 11, 1952.
13 Barton, Lineage, pp. 83-85.
14 barton Papers, University of Chicago Library.
15 Barton, Paternity, p. 271. Mr. Goodman was wrong on two counts: Thomas Lincoln was not illiterate, and he was a Baptist during most of his life.
16 Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 229-230.
17 Cavins, p. 83. The probability that Abraham Lincoln was a visitor at the Goosenest Prairie cabin in May 1851, suggests that Mrs. Lincoln did not leave the cabin until after that date.


Mrs. Lincoln lived out the rest of her life in the same cabin that had been home to her and her husband, except when advancing age led her to seek shelter in the more substantial houses of other relatives, especially in the winter months.
Thomas Lincoln’s grave remained unmarked for many years. When Abraham Lincoln visited Charleston and Farmington on Thursday, January 31, 1861, before leaving for Washington, he went to his father’s grave. The accounts of this visit to Shiloh cemetery vary in details. Mrs. Susan D. Baker, daughter of Isaac Rodgers (1810-1870) who lived in the neighborhood of the cemetery, was almost ten years old in January 1861. Many years later Mrs. Baker recalled that Lincoln
came to my father’s in February [January 31] 1861, before he was inaugurated, and asked my father to go with him to his father’s grave. They went over to the old cementery where Lincoln stood by his father’s grave and wept, saying the country was approaching a critical time and that he never expected to get back here again – and never did.18
This account does not mention the presence of any person other than Rodgers with Lincoln. Other accounts make it clear that A. H. Chapman, husband of Dennis Hanks’ daughter Harriet, and a close personal friend of Lincoln, accompanied him to the cemetery.
There is a tradition that on the occasion of his visit to his father’s grave, Lincoln placed at the grave a marker, on which he had cut the initials "T. L." John J. Hall told George E. Mason, in an interview which took place about 1906, the story of Lincoln’s last visit as the story was preserved in the Hall family. After arriving at the Hall cabin at Goosenest Prairie, Mr. Hall recalled that:
Before noon Uncle Abe told me to hitch up; that he wanted to go over to the graveyard. Just before we started he said: "John, have you any good, solid joists around here?" I said yes, and got him some white oak timbers about three inches wide and two inches thick. He took one and got the saw and ax and made two grave markers – one for the head and the other for the foot. He then took his knife and cut in the headboard the initials "T. L."
We drove over to the graveyard and he cleared up the grave and drove the posts at the head and foot. Those markers were stolen after he was assassinated, and from that time until the present shaft was put up the grave was unmarked and Grandmother’s grave has never been marked at all.19
The story of Lincoln putting a board at his father’s grave also was told by John J. Hall to A. A. Graham, a member of the Chicago Historical Society, who visited Goosenest Prairie in 1879. Graham reported his visit to A. D. Hagar, secretary of the society, as follows:
I went to the home of Lincoln’s parents in this county on last Thursday. I also visited the little churchyard where their bodies now lie. I find their home an old double cabin, now much worn and inhabited by a Mr. Hall and family, who are, I judge, in poor circumstances. . . . I was shown the old bureau they brought from Ky in 1811 [1819], still in good order. It cost originally $40, they told me, and was, in its day, quite a grand affair. I was also shown the old family bible, now well worn. The leaf containing the family record had been stolen out, so Mr. Hall says, but he had taken the precaution to copy it in an old book. [I] made a copy of that, which I enclose you. . . . When Abe used to come here, it was his custom to fill a buggy with provisions and go down and visit his parents a day or two. After he was elected president, he came down, visited his father’s grave, and with his own hands cut the letters T. L. in a small walnut board and placed it at the head of the grave. I was told that board was "kicking around in the grass," having rotted from its connections with the ground. Shame! I thought, and so said. I went to the churchyard, with three gentlemen living near to find it, telling them I would send it to you for preservation. We could not find it, and inquiry developed the fact that it had been stolen some time ago, and was, – no one knew where.20
Augustus H. Chapman, who later stated that he accompanied Lincoln to his father’s grave, denied that Lincoln placed a wooden marker at the grave. The account in LeBaron’s 1879 county history says that
Another rumour is prevalent in the community where Thomas Lincoln died. It is supposed that when the President visited the grave ... he cut the letters "T. L." on a walnut board and drove it into the ground at the head of the grave. This the writer of these pages endeavored to find, but could not. Mr. Chapman says he did not cut the letters and place the board at the grave as represented. He was with him all the time and he says no such thing happened.
This account of Lincoln’s 1861 visit also tells the story of Lincoln’s plans for a tombstone for his father’s grave.
... he visited the grave of his father in company with A. H. Chapman and John Hall. . . . When Mr. Lincoln returned to Charleston he asked one of the younger members of the [Dennis] Hanks family to find out the probable cost of the tombstone for his father’s grave. During the conversation on the subject Mr. Lincoln asked Mr. Chapman what he thought the expense would be. Mr. Chapman answered not less than $40 nor more than $60 he thought. "Well," said the President, "see what it will cost and let me know at Washington, and I will send you an inscription I want put on." The war came and he could not attend to it. It has been erroneously supposed that he left money and it was not appropriately used. This, Mr. Chapman says, is untrue, and that the only arrangements made was the one already given. Further proof is given in a letter from Mrs. Lincoln after her husband’s untimely death, wherein she refers to the thought often expressed by the Presi- dent that as soon as his term of office expired, he would return here and see to the erection of the monument.21


18 Quoted in Supplement to Lerna Weekly Eagle, February 1928 (vol. XXXIX) . Copy in possession of the writer. Mrs. Baker was born on February 7, 1851. Mr. George Rodgers, great-grandson of Isaac Rodgers, has amassed a wealth of material on Lincoln associations with Coles County and especially the Pleasant Grove Township region, which material he graciously made freely available to the writer. Mr. Rodgers resides a short distance east of the Shiloh cemetery.
19 Mason’s interview 7 with Hall in undated clipping, about 1906, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois. The same story has been told by George B. Balch, who lived in the Goosenest Prairie neighborhood. Browne, pp. 21-22. Hall was 77 years old in 1906. In 1891 Hall had given Mrs. Gridley a similar account. Gridley, pp. 276-277.
20 Letter, A. A. Graham to A. D. Hagar, Charleston, 111., March 3, 1879. Autograph Letters, vol. 24, pp. 219, 220, Manuscript Division, Chicago Historical Society.
21 LeBaron, pp. 423-424.


Chapman’s own account of the tombstone incident was written to Herndon on October 8, 1865. After greeting his stepmother at her daughter’s home in Farmington, Chapman and Lincoln pro- ceeded to John J. Hall’s cabin at Goosenest Prairie. From there they went to the grave of Thomas Lincoln. While at the cemetery Lincoln told Chapman that
he intended to have the grave enclosed and suitable tombstones erected over his father’s grave and requested me to ascertain what the cost would be and he would furnish Dennis Hanks the money to have it done. Said he would furnish an inscription for the tombstone as he wished inscribed on it. Said he would do it as soon as he got time for me then to see the marble dealer and write him the cost and he would furnish Dennis the money to have it all done just as he wished. . . . He never furnished me the inscription for his father’s tombstone and none has ever been erected on his grave. 22
Graham, on his 1879 visit, was told the story that Lincoln had left money for a grave marker, which had been squandered. Graham reported:
... it is generally believed he [Lincoln] left a sum of money here with some one to build a small monument. The money was squandered, and no monument is yet built. This should not be so. He did certainly make arrangements for its erection. Whether he left money is not certainly known. I think if Mr. Robert Lincoln knew of it, he would do it out of his father’s estate.23
The accounts of Lincoln’s visit to his father’s grave which we have noted give as his companions on that occasion A. H. Chapman, Isaac Rodgers, and John J. Hall. Still other "eye witness" accounts have been preserved in which Lincoln visited the grave with the authors of these accounts.
Theron E. Balch, then 15 years old, and attending school in Farmington, many years later told this story. The pupils were in the school yard during the morning recess, when three men drove up in a carriage and asked for a boy to guide them to the Gordon cemetery. Balch spoke up, and Lincoln asked his companion in the carriage, Dennis Hanks, to move up beside the driver to make room for the boy beside Lincoln. Lincoln questioned young Balch about his school work and placed the lad at his ease. Balch "directed him to his father’s grave, which was marked by an odd-shaped sandstone." After a short meditation by his father’s grave, Lincoln ’walked about the graveyard, reading the inscriptions of other stones." Then Lincoln drove Balch back to his school and dismissed him with his thanks and a coin, which Balch refused to take.24
This account is highly improbable. In the first place, it is the only account placing Dennis Hanks with Lincoln. If Hanks was in the vehicle with Lincoln no guide to the cemetery would have been required. Furthermore, it is most likely that Lincoln knew the location of the cemetery himself, and that this was not his first visit to his father’s grave. The "odd-shaped sandstone" is not mentioned in any other description of the incident.
It is possible that John Hanks, not Dennis Hanks, was with Lincoln on this occasion. After Lincoln’s death John Hanks told William H. Herndon that Lincoln suggested that he go with him to Charleston in 1861. Hanks states: "I went with him– saw his father’s grave."25
Also of doubtful accuracy is an account by Mrs. Sarah Louisa Hall Fox, daughter of Matilda Johnston Hall Moore, at whose home Lincoln visited on this occasion. A few years before her death in 1935 at 94 years of age, Mrs. Fox (19 years old in January 1861) told of Lincoln’s visit to Farmington and to the grave. Mrs. Fox accompanied Lincoln from her mother’s home to the John J. Hall cabin at Goosenest Prairie. From there Lincoln and Mrs. Fox went to the Gordon cemetery. "He again helped me out," Mrs. Fox recalled, "and we viewed his father’s last resting place. There was only a slab with the name ’Thomas Lincoln’ and the date of his death. He looked sad as he took me back to the cab."26


22 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 421, 423.
23 Letter, Graham to Hagar, March 3, 1879, previously cited.
24 Charleston Daily Courier, May 22, 1924. As told by Mr. Balch to Mr. J. A. Colby. Clipping in scrapbook of Mrs. Esther C. Goodwin of Charleston. Mrs. Kate E. Bacon, a daughter of Mr. Balch, gave a slightly different version in an interview printed in a San Diego paper. Mrs. Bacon’s account mentions no other person with Lincoln when he drove up to the school-yard. The grave marker, according to Mrs. Bacon, was a "petrified log." Clipping from unnamed and undated San Diego paper in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
25 Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, No. 3913. Photostat from Library of Congress. Lincoln’s letter to John Hanks, January 28, 1861 is in Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 181.
20 Clipping, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 12, 1933. In files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Ind. Sarah Louisa Hall was born on August 12, 1841. Ms. in Barrett Collection. Sale Catalogue, 1952, p. 7.


If we take the word of all who professed to know the details of the visit to Thomas Lincoln’s grave, Abraham Lincoln was accompanied by quite a party – Chapman, Hall, Rodgers, Dennis Hanks, John Hanks, Balch, and Mrs. Fox! The grave, instead of being unmarked, was decorated with a walnut board, an oak board (both placed there by Lincoln himself at the time of the visit), a piece of sandstone, a petrified log, and a slab bearing his name! The writer concludes that Lincoln was accompanied to the graveyard by Chapman and possibly Hall and/or Rodgers, and that probably the grave was unmarked at the time.
According to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, her husband planned to make provision for marking his father’s grave during the summer of 1865. In a letter dated Chicago, December 19, 1867, Mary Todd Lincoln wrote to her husband’s stepmother:
My husband a few weeks before his death mentioned to me, that he intended that summer, paying proper respect to his father’s grave, by a head & footstone, with his name & age & and I propose very soon carrying out his intentions. It was not from want of affection for his father, as you are well aware that it was not done, but his time was so greatly occupied always.27
Mrs. Abraham Lincoln did not make any arrangements for Thomas’ grave, probably due to her failing health, and his grave was still unmarked when Sarah Lincoln was buried by her husband in 1869.
A resident of the neighborhood, George B. Balch, who had known Thomas Lincoln, was a poet as well as a farmer. In 1876 he composed the following poem which called attention to the neglect of the grave of Thomas Lincoln:

I
In a low, sweet vale, by a murmering rill,
The pioneer’s ashes are sleeping,
Where the white marble slabs are so lonely and still,
In their silence their vigil are keeping.

II

On their sad, lonely faces are words of fame,
But none of them speak of his glory,
When the pioneer died, his age and his name,
No monument whispers the story.

III

No myrtle, nor ivy, nor hyacinth blows,
O’er the lonely grave where they laid him;
No cedar, nor holly, nor almond tree grows
Near the plebian’s grave to shade him.
IV

Bright evergreens wave over many a grave
O’er some bow the sad weeping willow,
But no willow trees nor evergreens wave
Where the pioneer sleeps on his pillow.

V

Some are inhumed with honors of state
And laid beneath temples to moulder;
The grave of the father of Lincoln the great,
Is known by a hillock and boulder.
VI

Let him take his lone sleep, and gently rest,
With naught to disturb or wake him,
When the angels shall come to gather the blest
To Abraham’s bosom, they’ll take him.28

Largely as a result of this poem, public interest was aroused, and a monument twelve feet high was erected in May 1880. Mrs. S. M. Owings, daughter of Thomas Donnell, Mattoon monument dealer, who supplied the monument, many years later described how the movement to secure a fitting marker over the grave of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln succeeded. The publication of Mr. Balch’s poem resulted in a movement for a monument and $22 was raised in a short time. Mr. Donnell wrote to Robert Todd Lincoln, grandson of Thomas Lincoln, and as a result Mr. Lincoln sent $118 toward the cost of the stone. Five dollars additional was donated by Mr. Joseph Glenn of Mattoon, making a total of $145. Mr. Lincoln showed his interest by coming to Mattoon to look at the stone intended for the grave of his grandfather. He visited the home of Mr. Donnell, and expressed his thanks to those who had undertaken a task that the relatives and friends of Thomas Lincoln should have accomplished years before.29
Another account of the origin of the 1880 Thomas Lincoln monument tells of George Balch raising money for the stone in the fall of 1879 by reciting his poem, for a paid admission, in Mattoon and other places. This account records that Robert Lincoln’s contribution was $100.30
In time vandals ("souvenir hunters") chipped the corners from the monument until it became unsightly. Mrs. Susan D. Baker, daughter of Isaac W. Rodgers, and other residents of the neighborhood were convinced that a more suitable marker should be erected, one protected from vandals and bearing the names of both Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. The 1880 monument bears only the name of Thomas Lincoln. They formed the "Shiloh Lincoln Memorial Club" with Mrs. Baker as president. An effort to get the state legislature to provide the monument failed, as did efforts to secure the needed money by private subscription.31
The project for a new monument took definite form in 1923 when Mr. Wayne C. Townley of Bloomington, district governor of the Lions club of Illinois, met Mrs. Baker and determined to see the job done. Mr. Townley and the Shiloh Lincoln Memorial Club entered into a written agreement whereby he agreed to raise $2,500 for the monument. Failing to secure this amount by individual donations, Mr. Townley took up the proposal as a Lions district project, and spoke to every Lions club in Illinois. Nearly every club responded and the monument, of Barre granite, was secured from Stotzer Brothers of Milwaukee, who gave a substantial discount because of their interest in the project.32
The dedication of the monument took place on May 16, 1924, under the auspices of the Illinois Lions clubs. Mr. Harry I. Hannah of Mattoon was in charge of the program. Mr. Townley, former Governor Frank O. Lowden, Dr. William E. Barton and Mrs. Susan D. Baker spoke. President Calvin Coolidge sent a letter, addressed to Dr. Barton, expressing his interest in the occasion and his regret that he could not be present. The President’s letter ended with this sentiment: "This monument commemorates not simply the individuals above whose dust it is erected, but the home which they established and maintained. That home, lacking though it was in all our present luxuries and in many of our comforts, was adequate for the development of character; it gave to the world Abraham Lincoln."33 In like vein, the inscription on the monument reads:

LINCOLN

Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln
1778-1851 1788-1869
Father and Stepmother
Of our Martyred President
Their Humble but Worthy Home
Gave to the World
Abraham Lincoln

Markers at the foot of both graves were added in 1925 by the Kiwanis Club of Danville, and in 1934 an iron fence was erected around the plot by the Illinois-Eastern Iowa district of the Kiwanis. The original monument of 1880 is now near the entrance to the cemetery. The Shiloh cemetery is on the Memorial Highway. By the roadside is an historical marker erected by the State of Illinois in 1934 which reads:
SHILOH CEMETERY
In Shiloh Cemetery are the graves of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln, father and stepmother of Abraham Lincoln. On January 31, 1861, shortly before assuming the presidency, Lincoln came here from Springfield to visit his father’s grave in company with his stepmother.
The last statement probably is wrong. There is no acceptable evidence that Mrs. Lincoln accompanied her stepson to the cemetery. She was seventy-two years old and the day was cold and rainy. Eight years later she was brought to the cemetery to join her husband, following her death in 1869.


27 From photostat of original letter in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Ind. Courtesy of Dr. L. A. Warren.
28 Supplement to Lerna Weekly Eagle, Lincoln Anniversary issue, February 1928. Many of Mr. Balch’s poems were published in 1912 by his daughter, Mrs. Frank McCrory of Charleston. George B. Balch: Poems, Boston, Sherman, French and Co., 1912. Included is a biographical note written by Mr. T. J. Lee of Lee’s Academy, shortly after Mr. Balch’s death on September 4, 1886. Mr. Balch is buried at the Indian Creek cemetery, east of Lerna in Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County.
29 Letter from Mrs. Owings to the Mattoon Journal-Gazette. Clipping, no date, in possession of Mr. George P. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township.
30 Article by Dr. C. E. Pollard in Champaign News Gazette, May 26, 1939. Clipping in the possession of the writer. A framed notice formerly on the fence surrounding the 1880 monument, on the letterhead of the Shiloh Lincoln Memorial Club of Janesville, 111., undated, also states that Robert Lincoln contributed $100. An account in the CJiarleston Plaindealer (no date, probably February 1892) states that $34 was raised by Balch and that Robert Lincoln made up the difference, to a total cost of $150, Photostat of clipping in the possession of the writer.
31 Mrs. Baker’s activities are described in an article by her granddaughter, Mrs. Sue Josties, in the Neoga (Illinois) News for February 12, 1953.
32 Letter, Wayne C. Townley to the writer, April 8, 1953. Mr. Townley for many years has been active in the Illinois State Historical Society. He is a past president of the Society. Photostat of the agreement with the Shiloh Lincoln Memorial Club in the possession of the writer. Courtesy of Mr. Townley.
33 Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, April-July 1924, pp. 234-240 (vol. XVII, nos. 1-2) .
Lincoln Protects the Interests of His Stepmother
AS SOLE HEIR of Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln inherited his father’s 80-acre farm at Goosenest Prairie upon the death of Thomas Lincoln in January 1851. He had no desire to profit from the inheritance, and on August 12, 1851, he sold the 80 acres to his stepbrother John D. Johnston for one dollar, reserving the "right of Dower of Sarah Lincoln, widow of the said Thomas Lincoln deceased."1 The transaction appears to have been conducted by mail. On August 31 following the sale we find Abraham writing to Johnston from Springfield, "Inclosed is the deed for the land. We are all well, and have nothing in the way of news. We have had no cholera here for about two weeks. Give my love to all, and especially to mother."2
Johnston had not owned the land more than a few months when he proposed to sell it and move to Missouri. When in Charleston on November 2, 1851, Lincoln learned of this proposal. Two days later, having gone on to Shelbyville, Lincoln wrote to Johnston, giving him his opinion, in a letter in which he showed concern for the welfare of his stepmother. Lincoln advised against the move. As for his mother’s dower right in the 80 acres, that she could let Johnston have, "and no thanks to me." The forty acres in his name (the "Abraham forty") Lincoln intended to keep for the benefit of his stepmother. The letter of November 4 follows:
Dear Brother: When I came into Charleston day-before yesterday, I learned that you are anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever since; and cannot but think such a notion is utterly foolish. What can you do in Missouri, better than here? Is the land any richer? Can you there, any more than here, raise corn, & wheat & oats without work? Will any body there, any more than here, do your work for you? If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along any where. Squirming & crawling about from place to place can do no good. You have raised no crop this year, and what you really want is to sell the land, get the money and spend it – part with the land you have, and my life upon it, you will never after, own a spot big enough to bury you in. Half you will get for the land, you spend moving to Missouri, and the other half you will eat and drink, and wear out, & no foot of land will be bought. Now, I feel it my duty to have no hand in such a piece of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account; and particularly on Mother’s account. The Eastern forty acres I intend to keep for Mother while she lives – if you will not cultivate it; it will rent for enough to support her – at least it will rent for something. Her Dower in the other two forties, she can let you have, and no thanks to [me].
Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in any unkindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to face the truth – which truth is, you are destitute because you have idled away all your time. Your thousand pretenses for not getting along better are all nonsense – they deceive nobody but yourself. Go to work is the only cure for your case.
A postscript was addressed to his stepmother:
A word for Mother. Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live with him. If I were you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of it (as I think you will not) you can return to your own home. Chapman feels very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will make your situa- tion very pleasant.3
The Chapman referred to was Augustus H. Chapman, husband of Mrs. Lincoln’s granddaughter Harriet Hanks. Mrs. Lincoln did live with the Chapmans for a time, perhaps on more than one occasion. Her permanent home, however, remained at Goosenest Prairie with the family of her grandson, John J. Hall, who, as we shall see, bought the farm from Johnston in 1851. Squire Hall, father of John and son-in-law of Mrs. Lincoln, died in October 1851, the same year as the death of Thomas Lincoln.
After writing to Johnston on November 4, Lincoln received a letter from him to which he replied on November 9, still writing from Shelbyville. Evidently Johnston had suggested selling the "Abraham forty" and putting the money at interest for the benefit of Mrs. Lincoln. Lincoln wrote:
Dear Brother; When I wrote you before I had not received your letter. I still think as I did; but if the land can be sold so that 1 get three hundred dollars to put to interest for mother, I will not object if she does not. But before I will make a deed, the money must be had, or secured beyond all doubt, at ten per cent.4



1 Deed Records, vol. O, p. 215. NW&fra14;, SE&fra14;, and NE&fra14;, SW&fra14;, Section 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary to John D. Johnston. Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 108-109.
2 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 110. Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 242-245, finds no record of Lincoln leaving Springfield during the period August 11-31, 1851.
3 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 111-112.
4 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 112.


This did not suit Johnston, who wanted to get one hundred dollars out of the sale, leaving two hundred dollars for the benefit of Mrs. Lincoln. He so wrote to Lincoln on November 22, who replied from Springfield on November 25, refusing to sell the land unless all of the money received went to Mrs. Lincoln’s support. The letter follows:
Dear Brother: Your letter of the 22nd. is just received. Your proposal about selling the East forty acres of land is all that I want or could claim for myself; but I am not satisfied with it on Mother’s account. I want her to have her living, and I feel that it is my duty, to some extent, to see that she is not wronged. She had a right of Dower (that is, the use of one-third for life) in the other two forties; but, it seems, she has already let you take that, hook and line. She now has the use of the whole of the east forty, as long as she lives; and if it be sold, of course she is entitled to the interest on all the money it brings, as long as she lives; but you propose to sell it for three hundred dollars, take one hundred away with you, and leave her two hundred at 8 percent, making her the enormous sum of 16 dollars a year. Now, if you are satisfied with treating her in that way, I am not. It is true, that you are to have that forty for two hundred dollars, at Mother’s death; but you are not to have it before. I am confident that land can be made to produce for Mother at least $30 a year, and I can not, to oblige any living person, consent that she shall be put on an allowance of sixteen dollars a year. Yours, etc.5
Lincoln did not agree to selling the forty acres which were in his name, and the land was never sold by him. The sale of the eighty acres which Johnston had received from Lincoln in August for one dollar went ahead, however. John J. Hall bought the land on November 27, 1851, for $250.6 Mrs. Lincoln was a party to the sale, the record of which contains no mention of her dower right. Being a party, her rights to the property went to Hall as did those of Johnston.
Johnston left Coles County late in February 1852, not for Missouri, but for Marion county, Arkansas, in the Ozark region, which he reached on March 1. He bought a farm on the White River a few miles south of the Missouri line, for $160, the money presumably coming from his sale of the Goosenest Prairie farm to Hall for $250. Mrs. Johnston’s father and family lived in the same region.7 John D. Johnston returned to Coles County from Arkansas in less than a year. He died in Coles County on April 1, 1854. He left no will. His personal property at the time of his death was appraised at $55.90. Despite Johnston’s indolence, Lincoln was fond of him. In a conversation with A. H. Chapman on the occasion of his last visit to Coles County in 1861, Lincoln "spoke of his stepbrother John D. Johnston who had died a short time previous in the most affectionate manner."8
There is little written evidence of financial or other assistance which Lincoln gave to his stepmother between 1851 and 1861. This is not surprising, as his gifts to her were made in person, without correspondence, when he visited Charleston.
There is a tradition in the Sawyer family, with whom Mrs. Lincoln may have spent some time following her husband’s death, that Abraham sent her ten dollars a month. On one occasion, according to the tradition, she purchased gifts for John Sawyer’s children, Lydia and Ann with money sent her by her stepson.9 When Lincoln was in Charleston in 1858 for the debate with Douglas, he gave his mother fifty dollars, according to Chapman.10 Weik reports that when Lincoln last visited his stepmother in 1861, he left her "a generous sum of money to lighten the burden of her declining years and thus insure her every comfort."11 This is not unlikely.


5 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 113.
6 Deed Records, vol. Q, pp. 122-123. John D. Johnston and wife Nancy J. and Sarah Lincoln to John J. Hall. Filed January 14, 1853. "Nancy J." was Johnston’s second wife, Nancy Jane Williams, whom he married on March 2, 1851.
7 Letter, "J. D. Johnston & Nancy Johnston" to "Dear Brother and Sister," dated "Taney County, August 3, 1852." The letter probably was written from the home of Mrs. Johnston’s father in Taney County, Missouri, which adjoins Marion County, Arkansas. In the letter Johnston gave his address as "Marion County, Worth Post Office Arkansas." Since Johnston had no brother, the letter presumably was to his wife’s brother and sister. This is indicated also by the reference in the letter to "your father." Johnston’s father had been dead since 1816. Text of letter in Sandburg, Collector, pp. 92-93. From Barrett Collection. In Illinois State Historical Library.
8 Chapman to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 422. Papers relating to settlement of Johnston’s estate in Probate File No. 1107, Coles County Probate Records. Johnston’s early return to Coles County from Arkansas is indicated by the fact that on December 22, 1852, he signed two small notes (for less than twelve dollars together) to Coles County merchants. These notes were unpaid when he died fifteen months later.
9 ’’Sawyer Family Traditions," prepared for the writer by Mr. Clarence W. Bell, October 25, 1949. The gifts were a shawl and a breast pin. John Sawyer was the grandfather of Mr. Bell.
10 Chapman to Herndon, October 18, 1865. Herndon-Weik Photostats, No. 417.
11 Weik, p. 50.


There is reason to believe that some of the money Abraham Lincoln gave to his stepmother found its way into the hands of her grandson, John J. Hall. The Barrett Collection contained a receipt for $20.50, to which Sarah Lincoln made her mark, given to John Hall on June 18, 1857, "in full payment of a note I Have on Him & in full of all claims I Have against Him up to this date March 10th/57." Mrs. Lincoln’s mark was witnessed by her grandson-in-law, Augustus H. Chapman. The receipt is in Chapman’s handwriting, also. Evidently Hall still owed some money to Mrs. Lincoln, for the receipt, originally written for "all claims I Have against Him up to this date," was changed by striking out "this date," which was June 18, and inserting "March 10th/57," which was four months earlier.12
Mrs. Lincoln’s daughter Matilda lost her first husband, Squire Hall, on October 5, 1851. On November 27, 1851, John D. Johnston, who had received Thomas Lincoln’s eighty-acre farm from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas’ heir, on August 12, 1851, for one dollar, resold the farm to John J. Hall, son of Mrs. Matilda Hall, for $250. Did Mrs. Lincoln live with her daughter Matilda and her grandson John at the Goosenest Prairie farm following this November sale to Hall? It is likely that she did much of the time, although not continuously. Matilda presumably left the Lincoln-Hall cabin in 1856, following her marriage to Reuben Moore on June 19. Moore had a house in the village of Farmington.
During the Civil War an unpleasant incident is supposed to have occurred in Charleston involving Mrs. Thomas Lincoln. If it took place it is probable that President Lincoln never heard of it, as the local authorities kept the matter as quiet as possible, according to the account by "Uncle Joe" Cannon, which first appeared in 1927.
Since 1861 Joseph Gurney Cannon, a Tuscola resident, had been state’s attorney for the 27th judicial circuit consisting of Champaign, Douglas, Ford and Vermillion counties. On February 10, 1865, Coles and Edgar counties were added to this circuit.13 Thus Cannon became the prosecuting attorney for Coles County. His first term of court in that capacity was that of April 1865. He replaced James R. Cunningham as prosecutor and Judge Oliver L. Davis replaced Judge Charles H. Constable.
As Cannon tells the story about Mrs. Lincoln there were those in Charleston who were not above striking at President Lincoln through his stepmother. "One day," Cannon remembered many years later, "I received an urgent summons of a most secret nature to come to Charleston." He found the judge and the clerk of the court greatly disturbed. They laid before Cannon a charge of theft against Mrs. Lincoln which she had admitted. Cannon was in a quandary. He did not believe Mrs. Lincoln was a thief, despite her confession, and he refused to prosecute. Instead, he made a personal investigation. He told the judge that he "thought more likely she was the victim of a conspiracy," and that "it was another phase of the Copperhead war." An interview with Mrs. Lincoln brought out the facts. While shopping she had taken a small piece of calico to match with some goods of the same sort she had purchased before – a common practice, and perfectly honest in its purpose. But she was seen putting the sample in her pocket and leaving without paying for it. "She was too conscientious to make a denial," Cannon concluded, " and I imagine too proud to offer excuses." He had no doubt that "she thought of the disgrace she was bringing on the honored son in the White House." Cannon reassured Mrs. Lincoln, and related the circumstances to the judge, adding "that if we prosecute Mrs. Lincoln we would be joining in a conspiracy to injure the President." He proposed that the charge and the confession be wiped off the records. "At the same time we sent for the complainants," Cannon recalled "and forcibly impressed upon them our disgust at their conduct and the contempt in which we held them, and warned them that if they gave any publicity to the affair the consequences would be most unpleasant." Fearing the wrath of the judge and the prosecutor, they kept silent.14
If this incident occurred at all, it probably was early in 1865, when Cannon first became the Coles County prosecutor. The writer doubts that it ever took place. The Coles County Circuit Court records for the Civil War period include a case, which because of its similarity, may have been the basis for Cannon’s story. If so, faulty memory and an active imagination combined to lead "Uncle Joe" astray.
On October 6, 1864, the Coles County grand jury indicted Mrs. Matilda Moore for larceny on the charge of stealing, on September 1, 1864, a bolt of calico valued at $5.25 from Morton and Clement’s store in Charleston.15 Mrs. Moore, the widow of Reuben Moore, was the daughter of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, and the stepsister of the President. The indictment was filed by James R. Cunningham, of Charleston, state’s attorney on October 6, 1864, with Circuit Clerk George W. Teel. Bail was fixed at $300. The bond for that amount was signed by John J. Hall, son of Mrs. Moore by her first marriage, and to this document Matilda Moore made her mark. The bond was dated March 1865, the day of the month not given.


12 Original in the possession of Justin G. Turner, Hollywood, Calif., who kindly gave the writer a photostatic copy, March 24, 1952.
13 Public Laws of the Stale of Illinois, 18G5, pp. 32-33. This left only two counties, Clark and Cumberland, in the 4th circuit (p. 26) . The reason for reducing the size of the 4th circuit was to punish Judge Charles H. Constable "for his decision in the Clark County deserter-kidnaping case, some two years previously. This was done in the face of the remonstrance of the people of the circuit." Alexander Davidson and Bernard Stuve: A Complete History of Illinois (1874), pp. 911-912. The Constitution of 1848, article V, section 28, provided for the election of stale’s attorneys by judicial circuits. Cannon remained public prosecutor for the 27th circuit until 1869.
14 L. W. Busbey: Uncle Joe Cannon, pp. 109-111. Cited hereafter as Busbey.
15 Morton and Clement’s store was located at the southeastern corner of the public square in Charleston, on the site now occupied by Alexander’s department store.


The case came to trial before Circuit Judge Oliver L. Davis on April 2, 1865. Although a witness appeared in her behalf, Margaret J. Eastin, Mrs. Moore entered a plea of guilty. The court found the value of the property taken by Mrs. Moore to be three dollars. She was fined $100 and costs, and ordered committed to jail until the fine was paid. On April 17, 1865, Mrs. Moore and Hall entered into a second bond, for $200, for the payment of the fine within five months.16
A fine of $100 for a three dollar theft appears to have been rather severe, especially so since from the record it appears that this was Mrs. Moore’s first and only offense. Neighborhood tradition pictures Mrs. Moore living in a log cabin in the village of Farmington at about this time, and taking in washing for a living. Was her poverty a factor in the theft?
Note the similarities in the Cannon story and the case of The People vs. Matilda Moore. In the one case, Mrs. Lincoln; in the other, her daughter. In both cases calico was taken. In both the accused admitted guilt. Could Cannon’s memory have tricked him in later years? If so, it is possible that instead of protecting Lincoln’s stepmother, actually Cannon, as public prosecutor, was a party to imposing a $100 fine for a $3 theft upon Lincoln’s stepsister. It is probable that Cannon did not realize the family relationship. He had only recently become the Coles County prosecutor, and he was not a resident of the county. The names Moore and Hall, in themselves, would not have suggested a Lincoln relationship to him. The severity of the sentence might be explained by picturing Cannon and Judge Davis, both acting in Coles County for the first time, as eager to establish reputations for being "tough." Imagine their dismay upon discovering that a victim of that policy had been the stepsister of President Lincoln! Hence the acceptance of a bond for her release on April 17, two days after Lincoln’s death –?
In the spring of 1864 President Lincoln sent fifty dollars to Dennis Hanks for the use of his stepmother. Hanks’ letter to Lincoln acknowledging the money shows that at this time Mrs. Lincoln was living with Mr. and Mrs. Hanks at Charleston. On April 5, 1864, Hanks wrote:
Dere Abe I Receivd your Little [Letter?] Check for 50.00 I shoed it to mother She cried like a child Abe She is mity childish heep of truble to us Betsy is very feble and has to wait on hir which ort to have some person to wait on hir we are getting old we have a great many to wait on of our connections they will cum to see us while we Live. . . ."
In May 1864 Hanks visited President Lincoln in Washington, and evidently discussed the question of the care of his stepmother with him, for on June 8, 1864, Hanks wrote to John J. Hall, who was living at the Goosenest Prairie farm to come and take Mrs. Lincoln. Mrs. Hanks was in poor health and the burden of the care of Mrs. Lincoln was on Dennis. Furthermore, Hall was using, without paying any rent, the "Abraham forty" which still belonged to Abraham Lincoln, and which Lincoln wished to be used for the benefit of his stepmother. Hanks insisted that Hall either keep Mrs. Lincoln or pay the "back rent" on this property which he had been using since 1851, or for thirteen years. The letter, from the Barrett Collection, follows:
John I want you to cum and take grand Mother and keep hir untile I see that your ant lives or not. It looks very strange to me to no that you have no simpany for your ant than you have that has waited on you a many a time and Matilda allso John she has worked hir self down just at such business But the time has cum that youall cant trot a round and she doo the worke for all John you would not no hir My hart is grieved with teres in my eyes But it does no good now the thing is dun Now John I have bin to see old Abe and now I say to you that that forty acres of land was left for your Grand mother’s support and if you dont tend to it I will tend to it for you shore I am treated very rong a bout it you think that it cant be dun but I will show you a bout it but if you will rather pay the back rent rather than keep hir you must do it shore Take your choise a bout it one or the other has to be dun shore Not one of them that she has cooked for and waited on is any a count to hir now so cum and take your grand Mother from here untile your ant lives or dies .... it is not a fitting place for your grand Mother I entend to do as I say a bout it shore take your chies I want to hear from you a meaditly for I shall prosed in time
D F Hanks 18



16 Circuit Court Record, vol. IX, pp. 60, 244, 277. Documents in the case in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk’s office. The obligation was finally settled on December 5, 1868, over three years later, when John J. Hall paid $150 to Sheriff Clark C. Starkweather. Receipt signed by Clerk of the Court H. Clay Wortham. In Coles County Circuit Court Judges Docket, 1865-1868, p. 21.
17 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32134. Mrs. Lincoln was Hanks’ mother-in-law, hence the reference to "mother." "Betsy" was his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Johnston Hanks.
18 In Illinois State Historical Library, from Barrett Collection. Sandburg, Collector, p. 95, prints the text of this letter. Sandburg assumes that the letter was written to T. L. D. Johnston, a son of John D. Johnston and a cousin of John Hall. The writer is convinced that the letter was to Hall.


Whether this Letter had any effect or not the writer does not know, but Mrs. Lincoln did not remain with the Hankses very long. Mrs. Hanks died on the following December 18 after an illness of about six months. Her daughter Harriet Hanks Chapman reported her death to Lincoln on January 17, 1865. Harriet wrote that she had been "down" to see Mrs. Lincoln on the first of the year. Mrs. Lincoln was living at the time with the family of her grandson, John J. Hall, at the old Lincoln farm. Harriet asked Lincoln to give her husband, Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Chapman, a "situation" so that the Chapmans could provide Mrs. Lincoln with a more comfortable home. The letter follows:
Charleston Ills, Jan. the 17th 65
President Lincoln
Dear Uncle
I have been intending to write to you for some time, but felt so bad that I had not the heart to write to anyone save my husband. Our family have resently met with a great loss. God in his divine mercy has seen fit to take from our midst a Kind and devoted Mother. She died on the 18th of Dec after an Illness of about 6 months in her death we have lost a devoted Mother one whose place can never be fild on this Earth, You also have lost a friend for Mother was indeed a friend to you and Spoke of you often during her last moments. But we ought not to grieve too much for her for She died happy and left behind every assurance that she has gone hapy. Father takes her death very hard he is not well and I fear that he is not long for this world and it is heart rendering to think of having to give him up too. I was down to see Grand Ma Lincoln on Newyears. She seems to be failing fast and is grieving her self to death about Mother. Poor woman how my heart aches for her. She was so destitute of every comfort. She wants to leave there very bad and come to my house and tells me that she is badly treated. I told her that it was impossible for me to take her just now for my house is small and not very Comfortable and my family is large but I told her to wait till my Husband come home his time of Service expires the 17th of Feb. 19 and then we would try and do something for her it looks too hard for as good a woman as She is to be compeld to Spend her last days in want and misery and I for one will do as I have always done my part in her behalf and now want you to assist me by giving my Husband a situation so that he can support his family and take good care of her as long as She lives if we should be spared that long, you can do this and not discomode yourself in the least and I think that Augustus deserves your favor. He has always been a Strong Union man spent both time and money in your election has now been in the Army for 3 years and 3 months and would remain longer if his family was better situated – during that time he has never been sick a day or unfit for duty and has never had but one furlough home and that only for 15 days, has not made ennything but a living for himself and family and this is why I ask you for your assistance feeling sure that you would not deny me and them Gran Ma made me promise to write to you and tell you to do all you could for us for she would rather live with us then enny where els. The rest of the relations are all well.
The roling months have brought us the close of an other year. There has been much suffering throughout our land during that time. Many are the Vacant Chair. Houses have been made desolate partings en- dured. Heart Strings have been broken – and many widows and orphans have mourned for the loved and lost. But let us look forward to a better picture and welcome young ’65 with bright hopes and pleasant anticipations let us hope that before its Close smiling peace will return once more and scatter its blessings through all our land.
Well I have written a much longer letter than I intended to trouble you with this time and if I have transgrest I hope you will forgive. If you feel disposed and can assist Augustus please let him know soon. He will be at home in about 6 weeks. Remember me kindly to your wife and children, yours with love
Harriet A. Chapman20
Mrs. Chapman’s statement that Mrs. Lincoln was "badly treated" in the Hall home, that she was living in "want and misery," and that "she wants to leave there very bad and come to my house," suggests that Mrs. Chapman was highly critical of the Halls. A letter from John L. Hall to Lincoln, written on October 18, 1864, bears out the idea of strained relations between the families, and suggests that credit for taking care of the President’s stepmother was a matter of dispute between them. In this letter Hall accused Dennis Hanks and Chapman of keeping money that Lincoln had sent for the use of his stepmother. Hall insisted that he, and not Hanks or Chapman, had been caring for Mrs. Lincoln for the past four years. The letter was as follows:
Private
Charleston Coles County Illinois Oct 18th 1864
Dear Uncle,
This Leaves us all well but Grand Mother. She is quite puny [poor?]. I write to inform you that Grand Mother has not and does not receive one cent of the money you send her Dennis & Chapman keep all the money you send her. She now needs clothing and shoes, they have the money in their Pockett & Uncle Dennis is cussing you all the time and abusing me & your best friends for supporting you they make you believe they are taking care of her which is not the case. I & my Mother 21 are now taking care of her and have for the past four years. If you wish her to have anything send it by check here to the bank of Charleston, or send none for I tell you upon the honor of a man she does not get it & he Dennis has threatened to put her on the county. I hope to hear from you soon. Brother Alfred is wounded & badly, shot through the foot & now is in hospital at Quincy. he was wounded at Dallas Ga 27th of May last. I remain your nephew
John J. Hall
N. B. I have written you these plain truths by Gran Mothers request She has been asking me to do this for four years – please write soon
John J. Hall 22



19 On December 25, 1864, Chapman had written to the President asking that he be discharged from the service on February 17. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 39540. Chapman was discharged on April 13, 1865.
20 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 40079. Despite Mrs. Chapman’s concern for her father, Dennis Hanks lived to the ripe old age of 93, dying on October 21, 1892. At the time of this letter Augustus H. Chapman was Lieutenant Colonel of the 54th Illinois Infantry.
21 Hall’s mother was Mrs. Matilda Johnston Hall Moore, the daughter of Mrs. Lincoln and the widow of Squire Hall and also of Reuben Moore.


In evaluating these letters from Mrs. Chapman and from Hall, it should be borne in mind that Harriet Chapman was appealing to Lincoln’s fondness for his stepmother as a means for securing a political appointment for her husband, soon to be discharged from the army.23 Hence her reference to Mrs. Lincoln’s "want and misery" and alleged mistreatment. It was a great pity that the harrassed President, in the midst of war, was worried by such letters, full of family spite and jealousy, and designed to work on his sympathy and affection for his stepmother. What replies, if any, Lincoln made to Hall or to Harriet Chapman, is unknown. If Lincoln had planned on giving a civil appointment to Chapman, his death two days after Chapman’s release from military service ruled that out. Five months later Chapman did receive an appointment from President Johnson.
Chapman became an Indian Agent for the Flat Head Indians in Montana on September 22, 1865. He held this position until November 9, 1866. 24 It would seem that this appointment did not come to Chapman as a result of any specific arrangement made or word spoken by Lincoln prior to his death. There appears to be no evidence that Lincoln took any step to provide a civil appointment for Colonel Chapman. In August and September 1865 Chapman had a number of influential Illinoisians write to President Johnson in his behalf, among them Governor Oglesby, Congressman Bromwell, and William H. Herndon. On September 14 Chapman wrote to the President himself. He recounted that in the latter part of 1864 while still in the army he had received a letter from Mr. Lincoln stating that he was solicitous concerning the future of his stepmother, and expressed a wish that Mrs. Chapman continue to care for the old lady as long as she lived. Lincoln informed Colonel Chapman that if he would resign his position in the army, Lincoln "would to some extent reward me for the care and kindness I had shown his mother, and for my services in the cause of my country. " Following his discharge in April 1865, Chapman continued to President Johnson, he found himself out of service and "only in moderate circumstances with a large family dependent upon him." He therefore requested a federal appointment, as an "assessor" in Illinois or as an Indian agent.25 Chapman’s request received prompt attention, for on September 21 President Johnson wrote to Secretary of the Interior Harlan concerning Chapman and the next day Harlan submitted Chapman’s commission as an Indian agent to the President.
The Indian agency appointment was followed in 1867 by an appointment as assistant assessor of internal revenue, according to an obituary in a Charleston paper.26
In the fall of 1864 Mrs. Lincoln was visited by a nephew, R. Y. Bush of Hawesville, Kentucky. After his return home, Bush wrote to John J. Hall on December 3, 1864. Evidently Hall had "touched" him for a loan, for Bush writes: "You will also please give to her [Aunt Sarah] the balance of the money you may consider yourself in my debt. It will purchase her some comforting article &c I can doubtless get along without." Bush thus recognized that Mrs. Lincoln was not prospering at the Hall home. In this letter Bush comments on President Lincoln’s reelection:
Well John, Old Abe, as he is called, is again to be our President. I sincerely regret it indeed. I can see nothing but war, war, war, under his reign, and if ever a people were thoroughly scourged by war, the American people are certainly that people. Peace, with union or disunion would certainly be ten thousand times preferable to the people, even if the Negro was continued in bondage [,] to this desolating and heartrending strife.



22 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 37368. "Brother Alfred" refers to Alfred L. Hall, younger brother of John. On June 7, 1864, Alfred L. Hall wrote to his brother from the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, telling of his wound in the foot. On September 2 he wrote again from the hospital at Quincy, Illinois. Letters in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection. A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 412, lists in the roster of Company I, 123rd. Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Private Alfred D. Hall, who enlisted August 1, 1862 and was mustered out on June 22, 1865. Opposite his name was the notation "wounded." Were Alfred D. Hall and Alfred L. Hall the same person? Probably.
23 Chapman was discharged on April 13, 1865. A.G.R., vol. Ill, p. 656. A letter from Chapman to Lincoln dated DeBall’s Bluff, Arkansas, March 25, 1865, indicates that Lincoln expedited Chapman’s release from service. Lincoln had written to Chapman, according to the latter, that "if I would send my resignation direct to you that you would order its immediate acceptance." Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 41422. Chapman’s resignation was published in Special Orders No. 171 of April 13, 1865. Reference Service Report, The National Archives, to the writer, October 10, 1949.
24 Dates for Chapman’s Indian agency service from Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. Letter to the writer from Mrs. Anita S. Tilden, Librarian, Office of Indian Affairs, September 27, 1949. Also, letter, Secretary of the Interior James Harlan to President Andrew Johnson, September 22, 1865. In The National Archives, Washington, D.C.
25 Letters in the National Archives. Quoted in Reference Service Report, The National Archives, October 10, 1949, to the writer. The report was prepared by Margareth Jorgensen.
26 Charleston Plaindealer, clipping, no date (about September 15, 1898). Chapman died on September 11, 1898.


Bush did not receive a reply from Hall. On April 5, 1865, Bush wrote to Hall again. He was ’and have been all this time anxious to hear from Aunt and all the family 8c relations." Bush did not refer to the money Hall owed him, which Mrs. Lincoln was supposed to have received. Bush reports that since his last letter he had seen President Lincoln in Washington. Peace Democrat Bush evidently thinks more kindly of Lincoln after having seen him. "Old Abe" has now become "Father Abraham."
I made a visit to Washington in the latter part of winter & saw Father Abraham. I found him very busy, but very kind and agreeable. He seemed pleased to see me. Tell Aunt that they are working him very hard at Washington & if he had not been raised to maul rails, he could never stand the hard labor at the White House.27
Joshua F. Speed of Kentucky, whom Lincoln had known since his early days in Springfield, some years after the Civil War told of Lincoln’s concern and affection for his stepmother. Speed saw Lincoln two weeks before his death, when he was writing a letter to Sarah Lincoln. Speed later recalled that Lincoln’s "fondness for his stepmother and his watchful care over her after the death of his father deserves notice." Lincoln "could not bear to have anything said by any one against her." Lincoln told Speed that in writing to her "he was discharging a most agreeable duty." Lincoln then spoke of "his affection for her and her kindness to him." He told Speed that following his election "he could not bear to leave the State for four years without going to see her." As Speed recalled it, Lincoln told him that "A few days before he left home he visited her, and staid all night. In the morning, as he bade her good-bye, she looked at him and said, ’Good- bye, Abraham; I shall never see you again, you will never come back alive.’ The earnestness of her look he said sometimes haunted him." Speed’s comment on this was, "Alas! how true the prediction."28
Mrs. Lincoln was living at the Goosenest Prairie farm at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. Dennis Hanks recalled in 1889 (when he was ninety years old) that he brought her the sad news. Hanks told Eleanor Atkinson that:
I had to go out to the farm to tell Aunt Sairy. Tom’d ben dead a good while, an’ she was livin’ on thar, alone.29
"Aunt Sairy," sez I, "Abe’s dead."
"Yes, I know, Denny. I knowed they’d kill him. I ben awaitin’ fur it," an’ she never asked no questions. She was gettin’ purty old, an’ I reckon she thought she’d jine him. She never counted on seein’ him agin after he went down to Washington, no how.30



27 Letters in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection. Quoted in part in Sandburg, Collector, p. 109. Bush addressed his letters to John F. Hall, rather than John J. Hall. This was an error. Bush’s letters are those of a well-educated person. Bush wrote to Hall rather than directly to his Aunt Sarah because he knew that she could not read, and that Hall would read his letters in any event.
28 Joshua F. Speed: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and Notes of a Visit to California. Two lectures by Joshua F. Speed. Louisville, Kentucky, 1884, pp. 26, 36-37. Cited hereafter as Speed. Quotation courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt.
29 Hanks was wrong about this. John J. Hall and family lived with Mrs. Lincoln on the old Lincoln farm.
30 Atkinson, pp. 54-55. John J. Hall’s account to Mrs. Gridley of this incident does not mention Hanks. According to Hall, when Mrs. Lincoln learned that Abraham had been killed, "she jest put her apern over her face and cried out ’Oh, my boy Abe! They’ve killed him, I knowed they would, I knowed they would.’ She never hed no heart after that to be chirp and peart like she used to be." Gridley, p. 279.


References to Mrs. Lincoln in letters written from 1864 on indicate that her health was poor during the last five years of her life. In January 1867 Harriet Chapman reported to Herndon that "Grandma is getting very feeble. Since I wrote last [on December 10, 1866] I have visited her and found her quite sick."31
Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln in 1867 wrote to Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln in a manner that showed she fully realized her husband’s affection for his stepmother. This is the letter from which we have quoted the passage concerning Thomas Lincoln’s grave. The occasion of the letter was that the younger Mrs. Lincoln was sending a "few trifles" to her stepmother-in-law. The letter, omitting the part already quoted, was as follows:
Chicago, Dec. 19th 67
Mrs Sally Lincoln
My Dear Madam:
In memory of the dearly loved one, who always remembered you with so much affection, will you not do me the favor of accepting these feW trifles? God has been very merciful to you, in prolonging your life and I trust your health has also been preserved – In my great agony of mind I cannot trust myself to write about, what so entirely fills my thoughts, my darling husband; knowing how well you loved him also, is a grateful satisfaction to me. Believe me, dear Madam if I can ever be of any service to you, in any respect, I am entirely at your service. ... I will be pleased to learn whether this package was received by you – Perhaps you know that our youngest boy, is named for your husband, Thomas Lincoln, this child, the idol of his father – I am blessed in both my sons, they are very good & noble. The eldest is growing very much like his own dear father. I am a deeply afflicted woman & hope you will pray for me –
I am, my dear Madam, affectionately
yours Mary Lincoln
This letter please consider entirely private – I shall be greatly pleased to hear from you.32

The day following the writing of this letter Mrs. Mary Lincoln wrote again to Mrs. Sarah Lincoln. She enclosed the express receipts for the shipment mentioned in the previous letter, "also ten dollars which please accept for the making of the dress &c &c." Mrs. Lincoln requested an answer, and word as to whether the box and money had been received.33 It is possible that Mrs. Mary Lincoln’s concern over the safe delivery to Sarah of "these few trifles" (probably including material to make a dress) and the money with which Sarah could get a dress made for herself, stemmed from her familiarity with the Hanks-Hall letters to her husband in 1864. Hall, it will be recalled, had accused Dennis Hanks of stealing money intended for Sarah Lincoln.34
Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln died in 1869, at the old Lincoln farm at Goosenest Prairie.35 Mrs. Sarah Chapman of Pleasant Grove Township was a fourteen year old girl when she helped to "lay away" Mrs. Lincoln. Many years later Mrs. Chapman recalled that after Mrs. Lincoln’s body was placed in the coffin, a pillow of excelsior was placed under her head. It was noticed that there was no pillowslip, so a neighbor supplied a large white handkerchief to cover the pillow. The funeral service was conducted in the Lincoln cabin by the Reverend Aaron Lovins of Toledo, Illinois. He stood in the door of the cabin with the family seated inside and the neighbors standing outside. Mr. Lovins was a member of the Disciples of Christ. He had been preaching at the Webster School (a mile and a half south of the Lincoln farm) where Mrs. Lincoln and the Halls with whom she lived had attended services.36 Mrs. Lincoln’s funeral was the "most largely attended of any one that ever died in the locality," according to an account in the Charleston Plaindealer in February 1892.37 John J. Hall stated in 1891 that Mrs. Lincoln was buried in a black woolen dress which Abraham Lincoln had given to her on the occasion of his last visit to Coles County in 1861.38


31 Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 1363, January 6, 1867.
32 From photostat of original, in the files of the Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lincoln Lore, No. 526, May 8, 1939, has the text of this letter. The two sons to whom Mrs. Lincoln refers were Thomas Lincoln (1853-1871), then fourteen years old, and Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926) , then twenty-four years old. Mary Todd Lincoln died on July 6, 1882.
33 Quoted in Sandburg and Angle: Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow, p. 280.
34 John J. Hall many years later told Mrs. Eleanor Gridley that "Grandmarm could not wear one of the dresses or other fixins" which Mrs. Mary Lincoln sent to her. Letters, Mrs. Gridley to Oliver R. Barrett, Chicago, November 28, 1934. In Illinois State Historical Library, from Barrett Collection.
35 William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik: Abraham Lincoln. The True Story of a Great Life (1928 edition) , vol. I, p. 29, give the date as April 10. Cited hereafter as Herndon and Weik. An article in the Charleston Plaindealer, n.d. (February 1892) refers to her death in April 1869. Photostat of clipping in files of Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Barton, in his The Women Lincoln Loved, p. 108, and Tarbell in her Life of Lincoln, vol. Ill, p. 26, give the date of Mrs. Lincoln’s death as December 10, 1869. The death records in the Coles County Clerk’s office do not go back to 1869.
36 Lerna Weekly Eagle, April 17, 1931. File in possession of Mr. Earl B. Sumerlin, Mattoon, Illinois.
37 Photostat of clipping.
38 Gridley, p. 277.
Lincoln, and Coles County Politics, 1849-1858
THE ELECTION OF LINCOLN to Congress in 1846 meant that he had become a figure of some importance in the Whig party of Illinois. Lincoln was the only Illinois Whig in either house of the Thirtieth Congress. Although he did not secure a second term in 1848, his party elected General Taylor as President. Following his return to Springfield after the short session of Congress (December 1848 -March 1849) Lincoln sought unsuccessfully an appointment as Commissioner of the General Land Office. He also endorsed the applications of others for federal appointments. He received many letters from those who sought his assistance in such appointments. Lincoln believed that he was entitled to have some voice in federal patronage in Illinois. On May 16, 1849, he wrote to Secretary of the Navy William B. Preston, reminding him of a promise that no high offices would be filled by Illinoisians until he had been heard on the matter.1
In May 1849, when Lincoln had begun to seek the Land Office position for himself, he was approached for a recommendation for a federal appointment by Charles H. Constable with whom he had practiced law in Coles County. Constable had written to Lincoln at Washington, but had received no reply. He now, May 5, 1849, writes to him at Springfield, still hopeful of receiving "some suitable appointment under the administration." His motive is "no inordinate thirst for place" but is an honest desire to use the "liberty with which God has endowed me." Constable added, frankly, that a federal appointment would "help support and educate a growing family," since his practice was growing less profitable and he was laboring under a "serious pecuniary embarrassment." Constable relied upon Lincoln’s friendship, which had ever "been a source of congratulation" to him. He was willing to take almost any sort of appointment – a territorial judgeship, an Indian agency, or a diplomatic assignment to a South American country – "Indeed," Constable added, "I am willing to do anything honorable. . . ." He relied on Lincoln’s advice as to his next step.2 Constable evidently decided that he wanted foreign service, for on May 13, 1849, Lincoln provided him with a letter of introduction to the Secretary of State, John M. Clayton. The letter described Constable as one who "has fought the whig battles faithfully," and who was "now a favorite with us all."3 Constable did not receive an appointment. By 1856 he was a Democrat and in 1861 he was elected Circuit Judge as a Democrat.
An exchange between Lincoln and Constable concerning the latter’s drift from the Whigs to the Democrats is related by Holland. The undated incident took place in Paris, Edgar County. Constable had been criticising the Whig party for neglecting its friends. In his own case, he charged the party with ingratitude. Holland remarks that Lincoln listened to Constable in silence until he referred to his own case. Then Lincoln "turned fiercely upon him, and said, ’Mr. Constable, I understand you perfectly, and have noticed for some time back that you have been slowly and cautiously picking your way over to the Democratic party’."4
Lincoln also was asked to use his influence in 1849 in behalf of Charles W. Nabb of Charleston, who was seeking an appointment as United States Marshal in Illinois. On April 30 Nabb wrote to Lincoln that "having been acquainted with the business of sheriff," at the solicitation of friends he had made application for that position. Lincoln’s exertions in his behalf would "never be forgotten."5 Lincoln’s friend and fellow-lawyer, Alex- ander P. Dunbar of Charleston, at Nabb’s request, wrote to him in Nabb’s behalf, stating that Nabb would make an excellent Marshal and that "we in this part, of the state would be well pleased with the appointment." Both Dunbar and Nabb, however, believed that Benjamin Bond was likely to get the appointment, if he did not have it already.6 Bond got the job. An unsigned and undated note to Lincoln, probably sent in May 1849, asked him to "tell Bond that Linder wishes John R. Jeffries ap- pointed Deputy to take Census for Coles."7


1 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 48-49.
2 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 307. Lincoln also received a letter from Judge Justin Harlan of the 4th circuit (1849-1856) , dated Charleston, May 3, 1849, endorsing the application of "our crony" Constable. Ibid., No. 305.
3 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 48.
4 Holland, p. 98. On June 7, 1856, in a letter to Lyman Trumbull, Lincoln referred to Constable as being one of those Whigs who had "already gone over hook and line" to the Democrats. Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 342-343.
5 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 289.
6 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 309.
7 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 292. Justin Butterfield, in a letter to J. J. Brown, Springfield, June 7, 1849, refers to "Benj. Bond the recently appointed marshall." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, vol. XXV, pp. 140-141.


Probably these Coles County friends attributed more political influence to Lincoln than he actually had, for as we have noted, he failed to receive the appointment he wanted for himself, despite his most vigorous efforts to block the appointment of his successful rival, Justin Butterfield of Chicago.8 Lincoln probably lost the appointment for the same reason that he failed to secure a renomination for Congress – his opposition to the Mexican War had made him, at that time, a liability to the Whig Party. His place in Congress was taken by Major Thomas L. Harris, a Democrat and a hero of the Mexican War.
While Lincoln had opposed the Mexican War, Butterfield had not. According to Linder, Butterfield had held office in New York at the outbreak of the War of 1812. He had opposed the war and it destroyed his popularity, and "laid him on the shelf for many years/’ When the Mexican War started, Butterfield was asked if he opposed that war, also. He replied, "No, by God, I oppose no wars. I opposed one war, and it ruined me, and henceforth I am for War, Pestilence and Famine."9 In June 1849, Lincoln received a letter from two Charleston friends, Alexander P. Dunbar and William W. Bishop, warning him against "treachery in the camp." Writing on June 6, before the Butterfield appointment had been made, they reported that they had that day "heard U. F. L. [Usher F. Linder] dealing out glowing eulogies upon your competitor Butterfield and at the same time speaking very contemptuously of your friend Henry of Springfield." This reference was to Dr. Anson G. Henry whom Lincoln had recommended for a Land Office appointment. Dunbar and Bishop reported that "B. M. [Byrd Monroe?] is busily working with U.F.L. this day and yesterday, but as B. M. holds his hand more closely than U. F. L. we only surmise what he is about. . . ." The writers warned Lincoln that if Linder and Monroe (?) "have not given you a written line of confidence," he could be assured that "it will be given against you" by prejudicing Senator Joseph R. Underwood of Kentucky, "if not against you, in favor of Butterfield." Both Dunbar and Bishop had written in behalf of Lincoln. Bishop had written and sent to Lincoln a letter to "the old General, the President, which letter please use, if convenient and proper in your estimation."10 The writer has seen no other evidence that Linder was working against Lincoln’s interests at this time, nor that Lincoln ever referred to the Bishop-Dunbar letter in any letter of his to Linder. Although Linder later became a Democrat, as late as 1852 he campaigned for a Whig candidate for Congress, Orville H. Browning of Quincy.11 In the fall of 1849, Linder in a speech in the legislature criticized Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing for having passed over Lincoln, and attacked Butterfield, who had received the appointment, as "one who avails himself of every opportunity to express his contempt of the people." This speech by Linder was printed in the Chicago Journal, and a copy reached Lincoln. Writing to the editor of the Journal on November 21, 1849, Lincoln showed a very generous attitude toward both Ewing and Butterfield. When Butterfield was appointed, Lincoln "expected him to be an able and faithful officer," and nothing had since come to his knowledge "disappointing that expectation." Ewing also, Lincoln believed, "was an able and faithful officer."12
The surviving Lincoln correspondence seen by the writer contains no letters on political subjects between Lincoln and his Coles County friends for the years 1850-1853. When Lincoln was a candidate in 1854 for the U. S. Senate seat which finally went to Lyman Trumbull, his friend Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston wrote to him on December 8 of that year concerning Lincoln’s chances of receiving the votes of the members of the legislature from the Coles County districts. Marshall offered to "get up a public meeting to instruct our Senators and Representatives . . ." to vote for Lincoln.13


8 Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 125-131. Butterfield was appointed on June 21, 1849, while Lincoln was in Washington to promote his own candidacy for the job. Lincoln left Washington to return home on June 25.
9 Linder, p. 87. 10 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 355. Bishop was a Whig newspaper editor, described by Lincoln as "a very clever fellow" in a letter to Herndon, February 1, 1848. Collected Works, vol. I, p. 447. Dunbar was a lawyer.
11 Linder, p. 84. 12 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 68.
13 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 571. Lincoln, it will be recalled, was Marshall’s lawyer in the case of Marshall vs. Laughlin (1855-1856) .


In the campaign of 1856 Lincoln was a Republican elector. He spoke in Coles County at least once. He was among the speakers at a political rally in Charleston on August 8, 1856, held in behalf of Fremont and Bissell, Republican candidates for President and Governor. Nearly one thousand persons attended the meeting.14 Referring to his campaigning for the Republican ticket in eastern Illinois at this time, Lincoln wrote to Lyman Trumbull from Springfield on August 11, 1856, that he had
just returned from speaking at Paris and Grandview in Edgar County – & Charleston and Shelbyville, in Coles and Shelby counties. Our whole trouble along there has been & is Fillmoreism. ... I think we shall ultimately get all the Fillmore men, who are really anti-slavery extension – the rest will probably go to Buchanan where they rightfully belong; if they do not, so much the better for us.15

Ex-president Millard Fillmore was the candidate of the "Native American" or "Know-Nothing" party in 1856. This was a "nativist" movement critical of the foreign-born and Catholics. James Buchanan was the Democratic candidate for president.
Lincoln’s Charleston speech on August 8 was in response to a request from his Coles County friends, particularly Thomas A. Marshall. On July 14, 1856, Marshall had written to Lincoln from Charleston:
Our friends . . . insist that you must come and that soon. The work goes on finely but many are hanging back yet, & we think one of your speeches now will be worth two after a while. There will be a big circus here on the 24th and a crowd ready collected for you if you should come that day. You know all about circuses. They collect crowds, but not exactly the sort of crowd we want. Give us a week’s notice if you fix any other day, and you shall have a fine audience. If we can have some assistance in the way of a few first-rate speeches, Coles will roll up a booming majority for Fremont.16
On September 17, 1856, Marshall again wrote to Lincoln, sending him the names of seventeen "Fillmore men" of Coles County "whom you probably could influence by writing to." Marshall noted that "Fillmoreism has developed itself rather more here since I saw you than before, but I still have high hopes of carrying the county. Our friends are active in every precinct, the warmest sort of fellows you ever saw." Marshall thought the Republicans in Coles County were "gaining ground daily." There had been "cheering news" from some of the counties south of Coles.17 Despite Marshall’s optimism, the Fremont ticket ran third in Coles County. The county vote was Buchanan 1 187, Fillmore 796, and Fremont 783.18


14 Illinois State Journal, August 13, 1856. Microfilm in Illinois State Historical Library.
15 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 359-360.
16 Herndon-Weik Collection, Group II.
17 Herndon-Weik Collection, Group II.
18 Moses, vol. II, p. 1208.


There is a tradition in Mattoon that Lincoln spoke in that city in the spring of 1858, from a window at the south side of the Essex House, located at the crossing of the Illinois Central and the Terre Haute and Alton railroads.19 The writer has seen no supporting evidence for this tradition. Lincoln did speak in Mattoon on September 7 of that year. This may have been the basis for the tradition.
In 1858 Lincoln was a candidate for the United States Senate to succeed Stephen A. Douglas, a candidate for reelection. Since United States Senators (prior to 1913) were chosen by state legislators rather than by direct popular vote, Lincoln was interested in seeing that strong Republican candidates for the legislature were chosen, and that all possible support for them was secured. In April 1858, Lincoln wrote to his friend Marshall concerning the political situation in the state senatorial district in which Coles County was included. He wrote as follows:
Urbana, Ills. April 23, 1858
Hon: T. A. Marshall
Charleston, Ills.
My dear Sir,
I wish you, G. W. Rives of Edgar, and O. L. Davis, of Vermillion, to co-operate in getting a Senatorial candidate on the track, in your District – Davis is here, and agrees to do his part – The adversary had his eye upon that district, and will beat us, unless we also are wide awake – Under the circumstances, a District convention may, or may not be the best way – you three judge of that – I think you better take some good reliable Fillmore men into conference with you, and also some person or persons from Cumberland. Indeed, it may appear expedient to select a Fillmore man as the candidate – I also write to Rives – I am most anxious to know that you will not neglect the matter, not doubting that you will do it rightly, if you only take hold of it –
I was in Springfield during the sittings of the two democratic conven- tions day-before-yesterday – Say what you will, they are having an abundance of trouble – Our own friends were also there, in consider* able numbers from different parts of the State – They are all in high spirits, and think, if we do not win, it will be our own fault – So I really think –
Your friend as ever
A. Lincoln 20

John H. Marshall of Charleston, now deceased, the son of Thomas A. Marshall, whote the following comment on the letter from Lincoln to his father:
This letter reveals something of Mr. Lincoln’s accurate knowledge of political conditions in this part of the State, and his political insight into practical methods. There were a large number of Clay-Fillmore Whigs in this part of the State many of whom had not definitely affiliated with either the Democrats or the new Republican party and both parties were making every effort to capture their votes. The great contest was to elect men to the State Legislature who would vote for Mr. Douglas or for Mr. Lincoln for United States Senator. The Democrats nominated Usher F. Linder, a very capable public speaker, as their candidate for the State Senate from this district. The Republicans finally agreed upon Thomas A. Marshall as their candidate for the State Senate, and W. W. Craddock as their candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives. The Republicans went to work with enthusiasm early in the campaign and before the time of the great debate here, September the 18th, had compiled a list of all the voters in the district, and the political affiliation of each. So that they knew all the Republicans, all the Democrats and all of the "doubtfuls" and where to find them. At the ensuing election the Republicans were successful in carrying the district and elected Marshall and Craddock to the State Legislature where they voted for Lincoln as United States Senator for Illinois.
Thomas A. Marshall replied to Lincoln’s letter of April 23 on May 1, as follows:
Charleston, May 1, 1858
Dear Lincoln:
Your favor of 23rd ult, came duly to hand. I would have written at once in reply [but] that really there was no occasion for a reply and moreover you were not at home and I did not know where you would be.
I think we can carry our Senatorial and Representative District. The Fillmore men will generally vote with us, as many will vote for a Republican I think as would for a Fillmore man. That is all will go with us anyhow, except those who have made up their minds to turn Democrats and recent events have staggered even them, a good many of them I am confident. We can and will elect a Senator and a Representative who will vote for Lincoln for the U. S. Senate.
For the rest, we have quite a warm feeling for Douglas, and if a resolution by the Legislature approving his course on Lecompton will do him any good I am for sustaining him in that way.
Yours, etc.
T. A. Marshall21

Regarding his own candidacy for the State Senate, Marshall wrote to Lincoln on June 2, 1858:
My name has been announced as a candidate for the Senate – appar- ently with the concurrence of everybody we could expect to get, except my own – Our friends think that I am a hundred or two votes stronger in this county than anybody else, and that here is the principal fighting ground of the district.22



19 Alexander Summers: Mattoon, Origin and Growth, 1946, p. 8.
20 The original of this letter is in the possession of Mrs. John H. Marshall of Charleston, daughter-in-law of Thomas A. Marshall. Mrs. Marshall kindly permitted the writer to examine it. Mr. John H. Marshall, before his death, gave a copy of this letter and the comment on it which follows below, to Professor S. E. Thomas of the Eastern Illinois State College. Mr. Thomas gave this material to the writer. The copy and the original were compared by the writer for differences. There were none. Interview with Mrs. Marshall on May 12, 1949. This letter is printed in Collected Works, vol. II, p. 443.
21 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 762.
22 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 836.


Although Lincoln in his letter of April 23 had not urged Marshall to be a candidate, there is a strong tradition that Lin- coln was responsible for Marshall’s candidacy. Instead of making the suggestion directly to Marshall, Lincoln is supposed to have written to other Republicans of the district, suggesting that Marshall be the nominee.23
The June 2 letter from Marshall to Lincoln also contained some sage political advice. Among the prominent "Fillmore men" of Coles County was Dr. William M. Chambers of Charleston, who had moved to Charleston from Kentucky in November 1855. Marshall told Lincoln that Chambers would be in Springfield in a few days, and he suggested that Lincoln show Chambers some attention, such as calling on him at his hotel. Chambers, Marshall reported, was well disposed toward Lincoln and the Republican party. Moreover, he stated, Lincoln would find him a "very sociable and clever gentleman." A friendly gesture toward him "might have a good effect."
It appears that Lincoln did not follow Marshall’s suggestion concerning Dr. Chambers, for on July 22, 1858, we find Chambers writing to Lincoln from Charleston and referring to the fact that "personally we are not acquainted." In this "confidential" letter Chambers unburdened himself of his doubts regarding Lincoln’s position, especially on the subject of slavery. Chambers was an old-line Whig who had supported Fillmore in 1856 in preference to the Republican Fremont. The letter was as follows:
Hon. A. Lincoln
Dear Sir – Personally we are not acquainted and possibly may never be but I find myself placed in a position where it is necessary to address you in this way lest the latter coming conclusion may be verified.
I have just read your speech delivered at Chicago [on July 10] and desire to say something to you about it, but before doing so I will promise that I am a member of the American party and as such participated in the canvass of 1856 with the consciousness of defeat before me, activated by a desire to prove there was a conservative element in the government. I have ever entertained a political hostility to Judge Douglas, and perhaps there is no man with my humble capacity, who can entertain a more sincere desire to see him beaten in the coming contest than myself, – none who would do more in an honorable way than I will to accomplish his defeat. My opposition to him is based upon principle. I admire his talents and his genius, and would rejoice if I could have confidence in the man or have faith in his government policy, but I can not and therefore I want some man to defeat him. Since last winter I have not hesitated to avow myself in your favor for that position, feeling that we had not the man who could be run with any prospect of success.
With this brief introduction I will proceed with my intention.
I do not see any necessity for discussing the subject of slavery in a theoretical point of view, and very certainly we are not interested in its practical workings, unless you have determined to keep alive a sectional party; everything as I understand it, now tends to have a unified opposition to the administration, and to have a platform upon which the Republican and American parties north and south can stand. I hope it is not your intention to thwart this movement. Less of the discussion and less of the favoring of negro equality will satisfy your friends in the extreme north part of the state, and you may rely upon it some explanation will be necessary to carry the south. For one I can not defend your positions as I understand them, and there are Republicans here who are getting very shy, and do not hesitate to condemn your course. I am an humble citizen, but take this liberty of thinking and speaking for myself, and no one is responsible but myself for what I say or do.
If I advocate your claims, I do not want my opposition to Senator Douglas to be the only reason for doing so, and if to do any one thing political would be calculated to rejoice me more than any other one thing, it would be the means of explaining away some objectionable views expressed by you in your Chicago speech, and I must be allowed to say that unless some movement is made in that direction, I shall hold my peace upon the subject of the election. I have told Mr. T. A. Marshall that I will give him my support, and my Fillmore friends understand this, but under existing circumstances I can not urge them to do as I do.
I am very sure that no action but to kindly suggest has prompted me in this matter, and to warn you that your position is dangerous to your success, and one that a large body of your fellow citizens, who are opposed to the Democratic party can not endorse.
It is thought here by many of our warmest admirers, that [there] is no need of your letting Douglas place you on the defense, there is enough of his political inconsistencies and tergiversations to keep you busy a year, and I submit to you if it were not better to handle those than disturb the elements that are so kindly affiliating.
Suit yourself about an answer to this, but I would suggest that if you can in any way defend your position by rendering it less objectionable to many devoted friends you had better fix an early day to come over to this part of the state.
Please inform me if I may rely on your attention to this matter.
Very respectfully your friend
W. M. Chambers24

On July 22, the same day that Chambers wrote, Marshall also wrote to Lincoln. Chambers had shown Marshall his letter to Lincoln before mailing it. Marshall told Lincoln that Chambers really had some influence, and suggested that it would be wise to conciliate him if possible. Marshall outlined the kind of reply he thought Lincoln should make to Chambers:
I would say something like this – for instance that as his letter does not specify the particular parts of the Chicago speech that do not meet his approval, you do not know exactly what part to explain and it would exceed the bound of a letter and take more time than you now have at your command to enter into a detailed defense of the whole. That you expect to visit Coles County during the canvass (which I trust is the case) and that then you will take occasion both in private and in public to make such explanations as will satisfy him. That you have been contending only for what you consider the fundamental principles of our institutions. That as for negro equality in the sense in which the expression is used you neither believe in or desire it. You desire to offer no temptations to negroes to come among us or remain with us, and therefore you do not propose to confer upon them any further social or political rights than they are now entitled to. As a citizen of a Free State, as a member of Congress you would have no right to interfere with slavery in the states and you have no such desire and you consider the idea of changing the constitution so as to give Congress control over the subject of slavery in the states as impractical -and absurd. I think that some such letter as I have here sketched would satisfy the doctor and remove a good deal of trouble out of your way. Our enemies are preparing for a desperate fight. We must go into it with as little weight as possible. Unless they succeed in exciting some strong prejudices against us we are safe in the [this] quarter.25
The writer has not seen Lincoln’s reply to Dr. Chambers. It probably has not been preserved. Evidently Lincoln satisfied him, for Chambers introduced Lincoln from the platform at the Charleston debate with Douglas on September 18.
Marshall gave Lincoln practical political advice on other occasions during the campaign of 1858. On August 27 Marshall wrote from Springfield:
Dear Lincoln
Trumbull has made a list of appointments. He has made none for Danville. They need waking up there, if you have a chance it would be good for you to go there –. It would do much good, in fact I consider it very important for you to go to Moultrie. Trumbull has made no appointments there. He promises to go to Cumberland – but not at the court. These small counties ought to be attended to. The enemy pays special attention to them. I make these suggestions to you at the suggestion of the gentlemen here. I will see you when you come over to Paris. I have written to Mattoon that you will be there Tuesday morning September 7 – and leave when the train goes east. They will be in to see you that morning.26
In June 1858 the Democratic Mattoon Gazette attacked Lin- coln’s record in Congress during the Mexican War, on the ground that he had refused to vote supplies for the soldiers in the field. An examination of the record of Lincoln’s votes convinced the Gazette that its attack had been unwarranted, and the paper printed a long editorial in retraction. The Gazette concluded that Lincoln’s record would "pass muster with the best men of any party during his congressional term." The Gazette gave this retraction "in no mincing way," and wanted it understood "that we intend the plaster to be as broad as the wound and that, so far as we have been instrumental in doing any injustice to Mr. Lincoln, we make the retraction fully." The Illinois State Journal reprinted the Gazette editorial under the caption "The Amende Honorable," with the comment that there was "an honesty, a heartiness, a nobleness in this retraction which commends it to honorable men everywhere." The Gazette’s editorial, continued the Journal, came "like an oasis in the desert of dirty political wallowing" of the Douglas press in Illinois.27
Mattoon Republicans were eager for Lincoln to speak in their city. Douglas had spoken there during the last week of July and this increased the interest in a Lincoln meeting. On August 4, 1858, Hiram W. Tremble wrote to Lincoln from Mattoon:
Our Republican friends request me to say to you that they want you to pay them a visit and make them a speech in the town of Mattoon. I am sure that a speech from you in this place would do much for the party that you lead. S. A. Douglas was here last week and spoke for 1¼ hours to quite a respectable audience and at the conclusion of the speech the audience gave three cheers for Abe Lincoln. Now Abe, get your time that you will make us a speech and I will get you an audience that will do honor to any speaker. I want you to be fully prepared to give your views on the Dred Scott case and on the nigger Equality which your enemies charge upon you. There are numbers here that are wavering in their politics. Tonight we are organizing a Republican Club in this place.28
Another letter urging Lincoln to speak at Mattoon was written on August 16, 1858, by Robert Harvey, secretary of the recently organized Republican Club. Harvey suggested September 8 as a suitable date, and reported that
Douglas has already addressed the people here and after Douglas had left the stand and three faint cheers were given, three cheers were proposed for Hon. Abe Lincoln & given with a hearty good will and 3 more on top. We can get you an audience of 3 or 4000. Douglas had an audience of about 5 or 600 & most of them were Republicans.29
While still at Springfield, on August 29, 1858, Marshall wrote again to Lincoln, who was at Tremont, Illinois, on August 30. Marshall suggested a schedule which would make possible a Mattoon speech on September 7:
Dear Lincoln –
If you are able to stand the labor you must fill your appointments at Monticello and at Paris on the 6th and 7th. Get from Bloomington or Clinton to Monticello by private conveyance. Monday afternoon after speaking go to Bement. Take the night train to Tolono. The morning train will take you to Mattoon. There you will have to remain until one o’clock, a little late it is true but time enough if they know you are coming. By this plan you will be at Mattoon from 6 o’clock AM to one o’clock. While there you can give them a talk if you feel able to, and presuming that you will, and that you must be there at this time, I will write the Mattoon people and [let them] know it. If when you get there you can’t speak, why you can show yourself. Douglas spoke at Mattoon, and it will have a good effect for you to speak there. If they know you will speak they can get you a good audience. Prospects are bright.30




23 Lincoln’s part in the Marshall candidacy is stated in LeBaron, p. 526. Marshall ran in the 18th senatorial district, comprising Vermillion, Coles, Cumberland and Edgar counties.
24 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1009.
25 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1011.
26 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1304.
27 Illinois State Journal, July 28, 1858. Microfilm, Illinois State Historical Library. The dates of the original Gazette article and of the retraction were not given. In 1860 the Gazette supported Lincoln.
28 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1155.
29 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1247. The letter is endorsed "Ansd." Lincoln’s answer is not extant. Collected Works, vol. VIII, p. 455.
30 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1312.


Lincoln spoke in Mattoon on September 7, the day suggested by Marshall. He left Mattoon for Paris that afternoon, arriving about three P.M., when he spoke again.31
As the correspondence between them shows, Lincoln and Marshall were political allies. They also were warm personal friends, and were welcome guests in each other’s homes. Lincoln spent the night of September 18, 1858, following the debate, in the Marshall home, and also the night of January 30, 1861, on the occasion of his last visit to Coles County. It is probable that Lincoln was a guest of the Marshalls on other unrecorded occasions. The Marshall family preserve various incidents of this friendship. For example, on one occasion Mr. Marshall visited the Lincoln home in Springfield when the Lincolns, much against Mr. Lincoln’s wish, were about to get ready to attend a party. Mrs. Lincoln had spread her party dress on a chair in the sitting room. Mr. Lincoln suggested, jokingly, that Mr. Marshall occupy the chair with the dress, thus rumpling it up, as he didn’t want to go to the party. Mr. Marshall wisely refrained from disturbing Mrs. Lincoln’s dress.32
Thomas A. Marshall was a native of Frankfort, Kentucky, where he was born on November 4, 1817. He was a nephew of Henry Clay, in whose home he was married. He moved to Coles County in 1839 and to Charleston in 1841. He became the owner of considerable land in Coles County and was active as a lawyer and as a banker. He was one of the organizers of the Republican party in eastern Illinois. In addition to serving two terms as a state senator, Marshall was the Colonel of the First Illinois Cavalry in the Civil War.33
A former Kentucky Whig, Marshall was conservative in his views on the issue of slavery, as is shown by his letters to Lincoln. Although opposed to slavery in principle and, in common with other Republicans, opposed specifically to its extension to the territories, Marshall was in no sense an "abolitionist" as that term was used in the 1850’s. Coles County had been settled largely by Kentuckians. Marshall’s views on the issues of the day were typical of those of many of the leading citizens of the county. With some notable exceptions, the Democratic party in Coles County drew its support from the less well-to-do. The former Kentucky Whigs were in many cases among the most extensive land owners in the county and among the most active professional men. For the most part they supported Lincoln in 1858 and 1860, although many of them had balked at supporting Fremont, the Republican presidential nominee, in 1856. Fillmore’s "Native American" party in 1856 was in a sense a "way-station" for these former Whigs on their road to the Republican party. Marshall gave his support early to the Republican party, but was acutely aware of the appeal of "Fillmoreism" to many of his fellow ex-Whigs.
Reference has already been made to Usher F. Linder’s response to the appeal for help from Senator Douglas during the cam- paign, an appeal which gave rise to Linder’s nickname of "For God’s Sake" Linder. When Linder responded to Douglas’ appeal Lincoln’s Charleston supporters promptly informed him. Arthur Compton, writing to Lincoln from Charleston on September 7, 1858, reported that Linder, in response to telegrams from Douglas, had consented to join Douglas in his campaign, and that Linder had intimated that he would be "handsomely remunerated" for his services.34 The next day M . C. McLain of Charleston reported to a Republican leader of Paris (where Lincoln had spoken the day before) that Linder had left that morning (September 8) on his mission to help Douglas, and asked that if Lincoln was still in Paris that he be informed of Linder’s action, "that he may make such arrangements to meet the new feature in the contest as he may deem best."35
Among the letters Lincoln received during the 1858 campaign was a long and gossipy letter from Augustus H. Chapman, who wrote to him from Charleston on July 24, as follows:
Dear Sir:
Mr. Craddock, the Republican candidate for representative in Coles and Moultrie counties wishes me to write you for him and ask you to send him at your earliest convenience the most bitter speech that Douglas ever made in his best days against the Know Nothing or American parties. You know that in our district there is between 3 and 4 hundred more American voters than there is Republican voters and Craddock thinks if he had one of Douglas’ bitterest speeches against the American or Know Nothing Parties that he could use it to great advantage as John Monroe his Douglas opponent36 is striving very hard to make the Americans believe that Douglas and his party have never been hostile to them at least not nearly as much so as we Republicans represent them to have been. If you can possibly send Craddock such a copy of one of Douglas’ speeches do so by all means. I will guarantee he will make a judicious use of it. It affords me great pleasure to be able to say to you at this time that our prospects for success in the fall election for representative and senator are brightening every day and very fast and that we now feel certain of success almost beyond a doubt. At the meetings of our secret vigilance committee last night the reports were of the most encouraging character and w T e parted in glorious spirits. Several of the most bitter American leaders of our county came out this week for Douglas and openly avowed themselves Democrats from this time on. You can hardly form an idea at the storm which arose among the honest voters of the party. They curse these fellows loud and long denouncing them as Traitors and damd rascals in fact for anything that was mean and degrading and the way that the honest ones, the hopes of the party, flocked over to our side was truly astonishing, they . . . will do battle for us manfully from this time on. Nothing has happened for years that has done us so much good. These Scamps [who] would be leaders of the K N are now thank God where they could do us any [no] further harm, right where we wanted them. Col. John Coffee the American presidential Elector for this district during the last election has come out on our side and is doing all he can to advance our interest and let me tell you he is a host. All is peace among us, no rivalry or quarreling but all united and determined to win or die atrying while the Democracy are in confusion on all hands, quarrels, strife, bickering, stare them in the face at all points. It has been the intention of the Democracy to run Jim Robinson for Congress in this district but they have become so much alarmed at the enthusiasm for Oglesby among their opponents that they are now trying to arrange it to run Aron Shaw, whether they can get it so arranged I know not but hope they can not for as Robinson is their candidate we think we stand a slight chance of beating him but if they run Shaw they will in all probability have the dead wood on us but will they run who they may we will give them the very best that we have in the locker. We think Tom Marshall’s election is sure by from 3 to 5 hundred majority at least and we also intend to elect Craddock. If not by as big a majority over John Monroe. Craddock is the best stump speaker in our ranks in the Wabash valley and the Locoes fear him more than any other man we have in our ranks. We have our party better organized than we have ever had before [by] a long ways and you may expect to have a favorable report from Old Coles the day of the election. Dr. Win. Chambers a very prominent American leader in this country has not yet taken ground on either side. We are very anxious to secure him. He will write you soon if has not already done so and Tom Marshall will write you and post you in regard to what he wants, if you can consistently say anything to him that will have a tendency to bring him over to our side do so by all means. We are amaking the fight on slave and free white labor and not saying much about equality or anything of that kind. . . . :37
Your friends and relatives in this county are all well and prospering about as usual. Grandmother Lincoln is a member of our family and will continue to be [in] all probability until she dies. I often take my Republican papers and read extracts from them that eulogize you. You can hardly form an idea how proud that makes her. She often says Abram was always her best child and that he always treated her like a son. I told her I was agoing to visit you today and she said tell him she sends a load of love to you and wants to see you once more very much. Harriet also sends love to you all. She has been quite unwell lately but is getting well slowly. She was confined about two weeks since and has not been very well since. We had a big fine son the last time but we lost our boy that was a baby when you were here. Lost our little son a year ago. No other news of interest. Hope Douglas comes out and makes us a speech this season [and] that you will do the same.
Respectfully yours
A. H. Chapman38



31 Angle, 1854-1861, p. 245.
32 Statement to the writer by Mrs. John H. Marshall, May 12, 1949.
33 LeBaron, p. 526. Information on the Henry Clay relationship given to the writer by Mrs. John H. Marshall.
34 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1374.
35 To L. Munsell. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1382. On August 16, 1858, Munsell had written to Lincoln from Paris urging him to take a more aggressive attitude toward Douglas, who was a "better tactician" than Lincoln, although Lincoln could vanquish him "in fair debate." Lincoln should "push" Douglas harder. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1249.
36 Harvey B. Worley, not John Monroe, became the Douglas Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives in the 25th representative district consisting of Coles and Moultrie counties.
37 The reference to the Chambers and Marshall letters to Lincoln suggests that Marshall had discussed the situation with Chapman, perhaps because of Chapman’s family relationship to Lincoln through his wife.
38 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1029.

Abraham Lincoln - 1861
Abraham Lincoln in January 1861.

This photograph was made by C. S. German in Springfield
on January 26, 1861, four days before Lincoln’s last
visit to Coles County. (From Meserve and Sandburg:
The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln. Photograph
Number Thirty-four. Used by permission of
Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve.)
The Charleston Debate
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1858, was the biggest day in the history of Charleston, that quiet little county seat amid the cornfields of eastern Illinois. It was the day that Abraham Lincoln met Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas in the fourth of their seven historic debates in the campaign for the United States Senate. Lincoln, "the first and only choice of the Republicans of Illinois for the United States Senate," did not gain a Senate seat, but more importantly, achieved a renown in these encounters with the "Little Giant" that opened the road to the White House.
The day before eager partisans had begun to stream into the little city. The two hotels were soon filled, and many hospitable householders opened their homes to bedless strangers. The city was abustle with preparations for the big day. Committees conferred, banners and signs were painted, and out at the fair grounds on the western edge of the city hammers pounded away on the speakers stand where the "Tall Sucker" and the Senator would cross oratorical swords on the morrow.
Saturday dawned clear and soon became warm. As the time for early farm chores passed, small clouds of dust drifting along the roads to Charleston marked the progress of farm families coming to town for the big event. From the four corners of the county they came, wagons loaded with children, big hampers of food and jugs of cider to cut the dust of the road. The farmers of Coles County had come for the day. Dog Town, Bloody Hutton, Greasy Creek, Paradise, Muddy Point, Farmington, Goosenest Prairie – they were all present. Every rural neighborhood was represented among the wagons that drew to a halt under the shade trees of the fair grounds.1
Both Douglas and Lincoln arrived at Mattoon on September 17,2 and spent the night in that city before coming on to Charleston for the debate the next day.
Lincoln had ridden on the train from Centralia to Mattoon. Unlike Douglas, he did not have a special car or cars. Henry C. Whitney rode with Lincoln, and later told of the difficulty he had in obtaining a chance for Lincoln to rest in an unoccupied apartment in an "apartment car."3
Mr. William F. Cavins, who had talked with those who as youths had been in Mattoon on September seventeen, gives an account of Lincoln in Mattoon. Douglas had his headquarters at the Essex House, while Lincoln received his friends at the old Pennsylvania House. There was much visiting and planning for the parade to Charleston the next day. Some ten or a dozen curious lads lined up at the edge of the hotel porch to see Lincoln. He gave each a handshake, and observed to one lad, Jasper Miller, who was bare-footed, "Young man, I wish I could go barefooted."4
The Republicans and Democrats, through a joint committee, had arranged for mammoth parades to come to Charleston from Mattoon. The Republicans were to follow the south road and the Democrats were to use the north road, thus avoiding collisions. Those living along the way were asked to join the procession of their party as it advanced toward Charleston.
The Republican procession left Mattoon early in the morning, led by the "Bowling Green" band of Terre Haute. As it moved along it was joined by numerous rural groups. Lincoln left Mattoon a short time later, in a carriage drawn by a span of cream colored horses and driven by their owner, J. W. True.5 Also in the carriage were James T. Cunningham and Deck Dole. Upon overtaking the parade the Lincoln carriage took the lead. Near Charleston a large local delegation, mounted on horseback and led by Thomas A. Marshall and H. P. H. Bromwell, joined the procession. A large float from Charleston, drawn by six or eight horses, and decorated with white muslin and silk and wild flowers dominated the whole Republican demonstration as it entered the city. The float carried thirty-two white clad young ladies wearing green velvet caps, each representing a State of the Union by holding a banner with the name of that State. A large sign on one side of the float bore the words: "Westward the Star of Empire Takes its Way, Our Girls Link-on to Lincoln, Their Mothers were for Clay." On the other side of the float in large letters were the names of the Republican candidates: Lincoln, Oglesby (Congress), Marshall (State Senate) and Craddock (State House of Representatives). Kansas Territory was separately represented by Eliza, daughter of Mr. Marshall. Dressed in white and mounted on a white horse, she flourished a banner that told the world "I Will Be Free."
When the Charleston group met the Lincoln carriage, Mr. True gave up the driver’s seat to James T. Cunningham. There is a local tradition that as the procession passed through the streets of Charleston, Mr. Lincoln saw his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, standing with others watching the parade. He halted his carriage, went over to her and spoke briefly and gave her a kiss before returning to his carriage. The procession reached Charleston about eleven o’clock and proceeded to the northwest corner of the public square. Here the formal reception took place, with Bromwell giving the address of welcome. Lincoln, standing in the carriage, thanked them for the cordial welcome and for "this beautiful basket of flowers," referring to the young ladies in the float.
One of the thirty-two young ladies on the Republican float, then fourteen years old, wrote a description of the event in a letter to her sister sixty years later. The sister also had taken part at the age of twelve. Mrs. Rhoda Compton Shepherd wrote to Mrs. Nancy Compton Alexander on March 12, 1919. She first described the float used in the parade:


1 The story of the Lincoln-Douglas debate at Charleston has been told in detail by Professor S. E. Thomas, emeritus head of the social science department of the Eastern Illinois State College at Charleston. His paper on the subject was first read at the semi-centennial celebration of the debate in Charleston on September 18, 1908. In 1924 it was printed as Bulletin No. 86 of the College, S. E. Thomas: "Lincoln-Douglas Debate. A Narrative and Descriptive Account of the Events of the Day of the Debate in Charleston." The following description of the debate is taken from the account by Professor Thomas, except where otherwise noted.
2 Chicago Press and Tribune, September 21, 1858, quoted in Edwin Erie Sparks: "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858," vol. Ill, Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1908, p. 314. Cited hereafter as Sparks.
3 Whitney, Circuit, p. 410.
4 Cavins, p. 6. Rev. Jasper Miller wrote an account of this incident which was printed in the Lerna Weekly Eagle, May 22, 1930. In files of the Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Rev. Mr. Miller was about twelve years old in 1858.
5 According to James T. Cunningham of Mattoon, grandson of James T. Cunningham, his father John Cunningham told him many times that the Lincoln carriage and horses were owned by his father. John Cunningham, thirty years old in 1858, was present at the debate. The carriage horses were "Claybanks," the best in the county. The carriage was sold after James T. Cunningham’s death for $256. Interview with James T. Cunningham, the younger, January 7, 1950. John Cunningham told James K. Rardin, publisher of the Charleston Daily News, that his father James T. had purchased the matched team of Claybanks from a member of the True family, and that John Will True drove the carriage in the procession, with James and John Cunningham also in the carriage with Lincoln. Issue of September 18, 1908.


Do you remember that the ship was trimmed with cedar from Father’s yard, which made the red, white and blue with which it was covered much more effective? Our double-decked wagon was built like a ship and called "The Ship of State." Our Motto on one side suggested by Lavina Baker’s father was: "Westward the car of empire takes its way, the girls link on to Lincoln, their mothers were for Clay." I think the names of "Marshall and Craddock" were on the other side. The ship stood on the street, on the north side of the Postoffice opposite Father’s old store. Nell Wilson (Nell McCrory) rode horse back with the Democratic girls who were also in uniform. Do you remember our uniform? White dresses with long red and blue sashes, fastened on the left shoulder and tied down on the right side. White hats with a deep fall of lace around the brim and a wreath of cedar around the crown. I was with the older girls on the lower deck and you with the younger ones on the upper deck. You were dressed as Goddess of Liberty, of which there were two, one at each end of the ship, holding a flag, because the judges could not decide between the beauty of yourself and Nora Strickland. Each of you had natural curls flying. We all sang at intervals, and I’m surprised to find I have forgotten what we did sing.6
Horace White, who was present as a reporter for the Chicago Press and Tribune, in his description of the Republican proces- sion referred to "one young lady on horseback holding aloft a banner inscribed, ’Kansas, I will be free/ As she was very good looking, we thought that she would not remain free always/’7
The Democratic procession used the north road. Douglas probably did not ride with the procession, but came to Charleston from Mattoon with Mrs. Douglas on a special train he had been using in the campaign. This was the understanding of the joint committee. The Douglas train consisted of a baggage car, several coaches, and a flat car at the end, complete with a small brass cannon, often used to announce the arrival of Mr. Douglas in a town. Arriving in Charleston, the "Douglas Special" probably was met by the local Democratic committee, who took Mr. and Mrs. Douglas in a carriage to join the procession advancing toward Charleston, and returned to the city leading the procession.
The most striking feature of the Douglas procession was a band of thirty-two couples of young men and young women, mounted on horseback, and gorgeously attired. Sixteen carried American flags on hickory sticks, and sixteen carried flags on ash sticks, thus wishfully symbolizing the Union of Democrats and Whigs. The procession proceeded to the northwest corner of the square at Sixth (then Jackson) and Monroe (then Washington) streets, where Mr. Douglas was formally received by Orlando B. Ficklin.
The Lincoln headquarters were at the Capitol House (or Johnson Tavern) at the northwest corner of the square, where the Linder Building now stands. Directly across Sixth street (then Jackson) was the Union House (or Bunnell Tavern) where Douglas had his headquarters. The Charleston National Bank occupies the site today. Mr. Lincoln stayed overnight as the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Marshall, then living on Monroe (or Washington) street, between Fifth (or West) and Sixth (or Jackson) streets. The Douglases were the overnight guests of Mr. and Mrs. Ficklin.
The day of the debate was a gala occasion for Charleston. There were numerous brass bands and fife and drum corps in town, accompanying various delegations. Stores and residences were decorated with flags and banners. The visiting delegations carried signs proclaiming their political loyalties. Among the banners were those reading: "Edgar County Good for 500 Majority for the Little Giant," "This Government Made for White Men – Douglas for Life," "Abe, the Giant Killer" and "Support Abraham Lincoln, the Defender of Henry Clay." A giant banner eighty feet long hung from the courthouse to a high building on the west side of the square. It read on one side: "Coles County 400 Majority for Lincoln," while on the other side there was a picture of Lincoln as a young man standing in a wagon and driving an ox team. It was labelled "Old Abe Thirty Years Ago." According to local tradition, another Republican feature was a large wagon, drawn by five or six yoke of oxen, and bearing a large log of the proper length for making rails. As the wagon moved around the square two or three stalwart men split rails, using the old fashioned maul and gluts. The wagon bore a banner reading, "Vote for Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, the Ox Driver and Giant Killer." The driver was Matt Glassco, who was nearly as tall as Lincoln. As the wagon passed Lincoln he called out to Glassco, "You, too, are up in the world some."8
Was this the origin of the "Rail Splitter" campaign label for Lincoln? In 1860, Glassco and others drove a team of thirty-two yoke of oxen hitched to an immense wagon to a Republican rally at Mattoon. It is possible that the purported 1858 incident actually was the 1860 affair, imperfectly remembered. Another item which, if true, would strengthen the 1858 tradition, is an alleged conversation between Lincoln and Thomas S. Dowling, son-in-law of Dennis Hanks, at the time of the Charleston debate. Dowling recalled, many years later, that he asked Lincoln, "Abe, did you ever split any rails in Coles County? I never knew you to do so, but I might have forgotten it." Lincoln is supposed to have replied, "No, I never split any rails here; of course I didn’t, but it is a good advertisement for the campaign; let them go on."9 This incident, also, may relate to an imperfectly remembered conversation, perhaps on January 31, 1861, when Lincoln made his last visit to Charleston.
Another 1858 rail splitting incident is attributed to the Freeport debate, held on August 27, some three weeks before that at Charleston. At the time of the unveiling of the statue, "Lincoln the Debater," at Freeport on August 27, 1929, a pamphlet was distributed which included an article written by Fred L. Holmes, author of Abraham Lincoln Traveled This Way. In this, Mr. Holmes relates that in 1922 he was told by Matt Trask, who had been present at the Freeport debate: "I remember how enthusiastic the Lincoln men from Winnebago County were. Some of them rode around town on a wagon with a big log aboard, which they attacked vigorously with axes. Lincoln was a rail splitter, you know, hence the railsplitting stunt."10 This incident, also, may relate to the 1860 campaign.
Considering the publicity given to the "Rail Splitter" campaign label during the contest of 1860, it is quite possible that the three incidents described may actually have been associated with the later campaign. None of the contemporary newspaper accounts given in Sparks, or those seen elsewhere by the writer, refer to rail splitting as a campaign device in 1858. However, the three accounts by Glassco, Dowling and Trask, were independent of each other. It is possible, but not probable, that the "Rail Splitter" political label for Lincoln originated in the 1858 campaign.
Mr. Wayne C. Temple of the University of Illinois, after a careful study of the origin of the rail splitter political device, reports in 1954 that he "has been unable to locate a single primary source confirming the use of the rail in 1858. ... In 1858 Lincoln . . . was not yet the ’Rail Splitter’." Rather, Mr. Temple concludes, "The idea of associating Lincoln with rail splitting was born in 1860, the inspiration of Richard J. Oglesby . . . and John Hanks. . . ."11 He probably is right.


6 Letter in possession of Miss Dora Alexander of Charleston, daughter of Mrs. Nancy Compton Alexander.
7 Quoted by Herndon and Weik, vol. II, p. 121.
8 Professor Thomas obtained this account from Emmett Glassco, son of Matt Glassco.
9 Charleston Daily News, August 17, 1908. Statement made some years before by Mr. Dowling to the editor, James K. Rardin.
10 Freeport’ ’s Lincoln. Pamphlet published by The Lincoln-Douglas Society, Freeport, 111., 1929, p. 13.
11 "Lincoln’s Fence Rails," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 1954, pp. 20-34.


Before the debate, both Lincoln and Douglas took dinner at their respective headquarters, sitting down to table with the local party leaders and other political figures present for the occasion.12 After dinner the crowd proceeded to the fair grounds where the debate was to be held. Processions were formed by both parties to accompany their champions from the square to the speakers’ stand. The pro-Lincoln Charleston Courier described an incident which occurred when Douglas’ carriage took its place in the Democratic procession. When the procession marshal asked that the Douglas carriage fall in line, the Senator stuck his big gray hat out of the carriage, and "with a face swollen with rage, or something worse," declared that if he could not be treated with respect, he would get out of the procession. The reason for this outburst of "celestial wrath" was a small banner along the line of march showing Lincoln, with uplifted club, felling the "Little Giant." The Courier commented, "Now, in the name of all the gods at once, upon what meat hath this our Caesar fed, that he has grown so great?" Lincoln passed without comment under a Douglas banner much more disgraceful. The Courier thought it "most wondrous strange" for Douglas, who had countenanced slanderous effigies of Henry Clay in his own papers, the Illinois State Register and the Louisville Democrat, to be shocked at the sight of Abe the Giant Killer.13
There were various estimates of the size of the crowd which assembled to hear the debate. The figures ran from ten thousand to twenty thousand. The lower figure is probably nearer the actual number, which may have reached twelve thousand.14
A raised platform about 18 by 30 feet had been erected for the speakers, very probably located just about where the north end of the east grandstand now stands in the Coles County fair grounds. The platform faced east, and the crowd was massed to the north, east and south of the platform, with rough boards providing seats for a small part of the huge throng near the platform. Approximately sixty persons were seated on the platform; leaders of both parties, most of them from eastern Illinois. At least four newspaper reporters were on the platform, from Republican and Democratic papers of Chicago and perhaps other cities. The Chicago Times (Democratic) had James B. Sheridan and Henry Binmore present. The Chicago Press and Tribune (Republican) had Horace White and a shorthand reporter, unusual in 1858, Robert R. Hitt on the platform.

Among the Charlestonians on the platform were Dr. William M. Chambers, who introduced Lincoln, Thomas A. Marshall, W. W. Craddock, H. P. H. Bromwell, Alexander P. Dunbar, Usher F. Linder, Orlando B. Ficklin, and Democratic postmaster Jacob I. Brown. Mattoon’s platform guests included Elisha Linder, James T. and John Cunningham, Deck and Charles Dole, and Frederick, Simeon, Edmund and James True. Visiting dignitaries on the platform included Richard J. Oglesby of Decatur and Richard M. Thompson and John P. Usher of Terre Haute, Indiana. There were none of Lincoln’s local relatives on the platform. Probably the local committee on arrangements did not consider Dennis Hanks, John J. Hall, A. H. Chapman and others of the Hanks-Hall families of sufficient importance politically to be recognized by being given platform seats. There were no ladies on the platform. This explains the absence of Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln.
After the speakers had reached the platform two incidents occurred which revealed the strong partisan feelings of some of those present. Some of the more enthusiastic Republicans attempted to place a large banner showing Lincoln having Douglas on the ground, near the front of the platform. It was inscribed "Lincoln worrying Douglas at Freeport." The Democrats objected to it, and vigorously demanded its removal. Lincoln noticed the commotion and requested the removal of the banner, saying, "Let us have nothing offensive to any man here today." At just about the time Lincoln started to speak, a group of Democrats pushed forward to the front of the crowd with a banner bearing a caricature of Lincoln and a negro woman, labeled "Negro Equality." The Republicans, in their turn, considered this insulting. When demands that it be taken down were ignored, Joe Dole and Ed True jumped off the platform and tore the banner down. Both Lincoln and Douglas helped to quiet the resulting commotion.
Lincoln opened the debate at 2:45 P.M. He spoke for one hour, followed by Douglas for an hour and a half. Lincoln closed the debate with a thirty minute rejoinder.
Marshall and Chambers, in their letters of July 22, had warned Lincoln that emphasis on negro equality would cost him votes in eastern Illinois. In his very first remarks Lincoln assured his audience that he did not believe in the social and political equality of the negro with the white man; that he did not believe negroes should be permitted to vote, or act as jurors, or hold office. He was opposed to racial intermarriage. Lincoln observed that there was a physical difference between the races which he believed would forever forbid them living together as social and political equals. This being so, while they remained together "there must be the position of superior and inferior/’ and Lincoln, "as much as any other man" was "in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
In taking this position Lincoln was not being inconsistent. He had said almost the same thing at Ottawa four weeks before. When Douglas replied to Lincoln’s opening speech he charged him with inconsistency in his treatment of the subject of negro equality in his speeches in northern and southern Illinois. This Lincoln denied in his reply to Douglas, and dared any fair-minded man to point out any difference between his speeches north and south. This denial was justified as far as the substance of his speeches was concerned. The difference between his remarks at Chicago, Ottawa and Freeport, and at Jonesboro and Charleston on this subject was one of emphasis rather than substance.15
Lincoln’s attitude toward the negro in 1858 hardly fits our picture of Lincoln the "Great Emancipator" and friend of the negro. His views reflected the prevailing opinion of the white men of the North at that time, including, probably, the great mass of those opposed to slavery. Except in New England and on a limited basis in New York, free negroes could not vote, even in the northern states. The "Black Laws" of Illinois were not repealed until 1865, and negro suffrage in the state did not come until 1870. Lincoln was in step with public opinion on this subject in 1858. His experience as a war president led him to modify his views. A year before his death he favored suffrage for negroes of intelligence, and for those who had served in the Union army. 16 This illustrates Lincoln’s capacity for growth, perhaps one of the most important of the characteristics which contributed to his greatness.


12 There is a tradition in the Sargent family that Lincoln was invited to join them, in town for the debate, at their picnic dinner on the courthouse lawn. Mrs. Stephen Sargent sent her twelve year old son John to ask Lincoln to join them. He walked over to the Sargent family group and expressed his regrets. Letter, Samuel S. Sargent to the writer, November 12, 1951.
13 Reprinted in Peoria Transcript, October 1, 1858, in Sparks, p. 325. The incident was doubtless much exaggerated by the Republican Courier.
14 Estimates in contemporary newspaper accounts, reprinted by Sparks, range from 10,000 to 15,000. The Illinois State Journal for September 23, 1858, said "not less than 12,000 present."
15 Sparks, pp. 102, 267-268, 300-301, 303-304. The text of the Charleston debate is in Collected Works, vol. Ill, pp. 145-186.
10 Letter, Lincoln to Gov. Hahn of Louisiana, March 13, 1864. Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 243.


An eye-witness account of the debate was written a quarter of a century later by former Governor Richard J. Oglesby, in a letter to Isaac N. Arnold, Lincoln’s friend and biographer. Oglesby wrote:
I was present ... as a candidate for Congress. It was a grand occasion to all political parties of the day. To the Republicans it was a day of triumph and of glory. Douglas was manifestly tiring of the joint discussion. Lincoln, on the contrary, like a precious stone in the rough, was growing constantly brighter and more brilliant by the attrition of the contest. Douglas was petulant. Lincoln was calm, grave, and impressive, like one who already feels the good of ambition attained, and making ready to accept and bear the just responsibility of victory. I remember the special incidents of the debate that day. . . . When Lincoln snatched Orlando B. Ficklin by coat collar and dragged him to the front of the stand to prove by him that the intimation by Douglas that he Lincoln had refused in Congress to vote supplies to our vol. [volunteers] in the Mexican War, "was a lie" – "Ficklin personally knows this to be a lie" too – Ficklin looked so surprised and the whole performance was so grotesque and unexpected everybody burst out into a roar of laughter which went far towards mollifying an irritation resulting from the mental conflict between the two great debaters.17
Oglesby referred to the incident when Lincoln sought Ficklin’s testimony to prove that, by his votes in Congress for military supplies, he had supported the troops in the field, even though he was opposed to the Mexican War as a matter of policy. Lincoln and Ficklin had both been members of the House of Representatives, 1847-1849.
Many accounts of this incident give the impression that Ficklin, caught off guard, testified to the accuracy of Lincoln’s contention. Actually, Ficklin dodged the issue very neatly. He did not deny Lincoln’s statement, nor did he confirm it. Instead, Ficklin referred to Lincoln’s vote on a resolution which Lincoln had not mentioned. Lincoln was right in stating that he had supported the troops by voting supplies for them, but he did not prove it by Ficklin. Let us quote from the debate at this point. After bringing Ficklin to the front of the platform, Lincoln said, in part:
I do not mean to do anything with Mr. Ficklin except to present his face and tell you that he personally knows it to be a lie [the charge that Lincoln voted against supplies for the troops]! He was a member of Congress at the only time I was in Congress, . . . and he knows, as well as Judge Douglas, that whenever a dollar was asked, by way of compensation or otherwise, for the benefit of the soldiers, I gave all the votes that Ficklin or Douglas did, and perhaps more.
Ficklin spoke up at this point. He said:
My friends, I wish to say this in reference to the matter. Mr. Lincoln and myself are just as good personal friends as Judge Douglas and myself. In reference to the Mexican War, my recollection is that when Ashmun’s resolution [amendment] was offered by Mr. Ashmun of Massachusetts, in which he declared that the Mexican War was unnecessary and unconstitutionally commenced by the President – my recollection is that Mr. Lincoln voted for that resolution.
Thus Ficklin avoided making any comment on the question of Lincoln’s votes for the benefit of troops in the field. Lincoln resumed his address at this point, saying:
That is the truth. Now, you all remember that was a resolution censuring the President for the manner in which the war was begun. You know they have charged that I voted against the supplies, by which I starved the soldiers who were fighting the battles of their country. I say that Ficklin knows it is false.
Yes, Ficklin knew that this charge was false, but he adroitly avoided saying so when Lincoln brought him into the picture.18
Lew Wallace of Indiana, later famous as a Civil War general and as the author of Ben Hur, was one of the crowd assembled at the fair grounds to listen to the debate. Years later, in his autobiography, Wallace recalled that Douglas reached the platform first, worried and preoccupied, and ’’niggardly in his recognition of friends. " Lincoln was smiling as he reached the platform, "a whole world of kindness in his eyes" as he bowed to acquaintances. Douglas’ clothes were well tailored, while those of Lincoln "spoke of a slop-shop," his thin neck craning out over a sweat-wilted collar. Wallace noted that the crowd was unusually quiet for a political meeting; those present were "palpitating with an anxiety too great for noise." When Lincoln rose to speak Wallace recalled that except for his "benignant eyes, a more unattractive man I had never seen thus the centre of regard by so many people." Lincoln’s voice was clear without being strong, and "he was easy and perfectly self-possessed." A strong Douglas supporter, Wallace at first laughed at the uncouth Lincoln. But in ten minutes he quit laughing and soon he was listening breathlessly, wondering if Douglas "could indeed be so superior to this enemy as to answer and overcome him." By the close of Lincoln’s opening speech, Wallace had been converted to his thinking. He could not "get from under a conviction that Mr. Lincoln’s speech was a defense of Freedom."
Wallace was disappointed in Douglas’ speech. "His face was darkened by a deepening scowl, and he was angry; and in a situation like his anger is always an admission in the other party’s favor." Douglas spoke so gutturally that Wallace, who was stand- ing close to the speakers’ stand, had difficulty in understanding him. Despite his predeliction in Douglas’ favor, Wallace found that Douglas, his mind all logic, had no magnetism, and failed to draw him as Lincoln had done. Wallace did not stay to hear Douglas through.19
The huge crowd listened with close attention to both debaters. The speeches were punctuated by applause, quickly suppressed so that no words would be lost. The quiet was such that those sitting on the east and south fences of the fair grounds could follow the speakers. When Lincoln ended his closing speech he was cheered enthusiastically, following which the crowd dispersed, the bands of music and carriages forming impromptu parades back to town. Lincoln and Douglas left the platform side by side. Mrs. Douglas had been with Mrs. Ficklin during the debate, and returned to town in the Ficklin carriage. The handsome Mrs. Douglas wore a lavender checked silk dress and a pretty bonnet.20 Mrs. Lincoln was not in Charleston with her husband.
After the debate Mr. Lincoln returned to the Capitol House before visiting his Charleston relatives, Dennis Hanks and family and the family of Augustus H. Chapman. Jesse W. Weik tells of a cutting observation concerning Douglas Lincoln is supposed to have made while chatting with friends at the hotel following the debate. Dillard C. Donnohue of Greencastle, Indiana, who was present, was Weik’s informant. Lincoln was out of patience with Douglas because of his tactics during the debate, and did not conceal his irritation, according to Donnohue, who reported that he heard Lincoln say, referring to the presence of Mrs. Douglas with the Senator, that "I flatter myself that thus far my wife has not found it necessary to follow me around from place to place to keep me from getting drunk."21
Lincoln ate supper with the Chapmans. After supper both parties held political rallies. The Democrats used the court house, while the Republican rally, four times larger, was held on the southwest corner of the public square.22 Horace White, the Chicago reporter, described the speakers at the party rallies:
Richard J. Oglesby, the Republican nominee for Congress [afterward General, Governor and Senator], addressed one of them. At the Douglas meeting, Richard T. Merrick and U. F. Linder were the speakers. Merrick was a young lawyer from Maryland, who had lately settled in Chicago, and was a fluent and rather captivating orator. Under was an Old Line Whig, of much natural ability, who had sided with the Democrats on the breakup of his own party.23



17 Letter, R. J. Oglesby to Isaac N. Arnold, Lincoln, Illinois, March 7, 1883. Tipped in Arnold, vol. I, facing p. 14 a. Copy in Chicago Historical Society.
18 Sparks, p. 307; Collected Works, vol. Ill, pp. 182-183.
19 Lew Wallace: An Autobiography, vol. I, pp. 253-256.
20 From letter of Mrs. Shepherd to Mrs. Alexander, March 12, 1919, previously cited. Mrs. Douglas was Adele Cutts before her marriage. She was the daughter of J. Madison Cutts, the nephew of Dolly Madison.
21 Weik, pp. 235-236.
22 Illinois State Journal, September 25, 1858. The statement has been made that Lincoln ate a meal on this day with the family of Dennis Hanks, then living in the second story of a house on the west side of the square. Charleston Daily News, August 17, 1908. It is more likely that Lincoln had a meal with the Hankses the next day, Sunday.
23 Herndon and Weik, vol. II, p. 123.


After the rally on the square Lincoln and the other Republican leaders went to the Marshall home for a conference and an informal reception. The local band serenaded Mr. Lincoln. "The music was then heard under the windows of ‘Kansas’ ‘California’ ‘Iowa’ etc. far into the dangerous hours, and finally vibrated and throbbed itself to sleep."24
The party at the Marshall home lasted until after midnight. Eliza Marshall, daughter of the host, fifty years later retained a vivid recollection of the party gathering at her father’s house, where Lincoln, Oglesby, John P. Usher, H. P. H. Bromwell25 and other leaders "certainly had a jollification that night." Eliza, age seventeen, "fully appreciated their feelings," which she had "imbibed" from her father.26 And so, on a note of celebration, ended the day of the great debate in Charleston.
Lincoln remained at the Marshall home as an over-night guest, according to Eliza Marshall.27 Augustus H. Chapman in 1865 wrote to Herndon that when Lincoln was in Charleston in 1858 he spent the night at his house, and left at four in the morning. Mrs. Thomas Lincoln was living with the Chapmans at that time, according to Chapman, and she got up to see her stepson before he left. He gave her fifty dollars that morning, although Mrs. Lincoln assured him that she did not need it.28
Lincoln obviously did not spend the same night at two houses. Was Chapman confusing Lincoln’s 1858 visit with that of 1861, when Lincoln spent his last night in Charleston with the Chapmans? A more likely explanation is that Lincoln spent two nights in Charleston on his 1858 visit. The debate was on Saturday and Lincoln spoke at Sullivan, Illinois, about thirty miles distant by road, on Monday. Where did he spend Sunday and Sunday night? Angle in his day-by-day study of Lincoln for the years 1854-1861 has no entry for Sunday, September 19, 1858. James K. Rardin, of Charleston, giving John Cunningham of Mattoon as his authority, wrote in 1908 that on Monday Mr. Lincoln was driven from Charleston to Sullivan by John Will True in the same carriage and team used in bringing Lincoln from Mattoon to Charleston on the day of the debate.29 If this account is accurate, it means that Lincoln spent Sunday and Sunday night in Charleston or its vicinity. Did he spend Sunday with his relatives, the Hankses and the Chapmans? It would have been a natural thing for him to do. If, as Chapman stated, Mrs. Lincoln was living at the Chapman home at the time, it is logical to assume that Lincoln spent Sunday night with the Chapmans.30 As he was scheduled to speak at Sullivan at two o’clock Monday afternoon, it was necessary for him to make an early start from Charleston, as he was going by carriage. Hence the four o’clock in the morning departure as related by Chapman.
A daughter of Dennis Hanks, writing in 1901, claimed that Lincoln spent a night with the Hanks family at the time of the debate. Mrs. Amanda Hanks Poorman recalled:
How angry my mother was when the Lincoln-Douglas debate occurred at Charleston. Everyone wanted to take Uncle Abe home or to some hotel or some other place of entertainment, and my mother and father had a hard time getting possession of him. . . . My mother would speak rather sharply to him, saying: "Abe, don’t you let any of those people pull you away tonight. You come right straight back here. . . ." And he did stay with us.31
The writer has seen no other evidence placing Lincoln in the Dennis Hanks home as overnight guest at this time, fTheor either Saturday or Sunday night. It is probable that after forty-three years Mrs. Poorman’s memory was faulty.


24 Illinois State Journal, September 25, 1858.
25 Henry Pelham Holmes Bromwell (1823-1903), a native of Baltimore, moved to Vandalia, Illinois, from Cincinnati in 1850. He came to Charleston about 1857 and entered into a law partnership with U. F. Linder. He served in Congress as a Republican from 1865 to 1869, representing the seventh district which included Coles County. About 1870 he moved to Colorado.
20 Letter, Eliza Marshall True (Mrs. J. W. True) to S. E. Thomas, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, August 12, 1908. In Library of Eastern Illinois State College, Charleston.
27 Letter, J. W. True (husband of Eliza Marshall True) to S. E. Thomas, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, August 20, 1908. In Library of Eastern Illinois State College, Charleston.
28 Chapman to Herndon, October 18, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 417.
29 Charleston Daily News, September 18, 1908.
30 Mrs. Sarah Jane Bowling, a sister of Mrs. Harriet Chapman, in a written statement dated Feb. 23, 1904, referred to a picture of Lincoln "now in possession of my sister, Mrs. Harriet Chapman, presented to her in 1858 by Uncle Abe. . . ." Thomas F. Madigan: A Catalogue of Lhicolniana, n.d., item 96, p. 44. In Illinois State Historical Library. Mrs. Chapman told Professor Thomas that she asked Lincoln for his photograph when he was at her home at the time of the debate, and that he told her that he had none, but would send her one. Some months later she received a photograph by mail. Professor Thomas has seen this picture, which was identical with the one in the frontispiece of Sparks’ edition of the debates. The statement under the picture in Sparks, that "evidence seems to show that the negative was made at Charleston, Illinois, during the Campaign of 1858," probably is in error. There was no photograph gallery in Charleston at that time, according to Mrs. Chapman.’ Thomas, p. 3. The present location of Mrs. Chapman’s photograph of Lincoln is not known to the writer.
31 Article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 1901. In Joseph Wallace scrapbook, pp. 508-512. In Horner Library, Illinois State Historical Library.


On July 28, 1915, a stone marker commemorating the debate was placed on the Coles County iair grounds, near the highway. Unfortunately, the stone records the wrong date, September 28, 1858, instead of September 18, 1858. The stone bears the information that the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate was "held on these grounds/’ The stone is some distance from the site of the speakers’ stand which on the day of the debate was located approximately two hundred feet southwest of the location of the marker.
In the election on November 2, 1858, the Republicans elected their candidates to state office, 32 and received a majority of the votes cast for candidates for the General Assembly. The district apportionment, based upon the census of 1850, favored the Democrats, who elected 54 members to both houses to 46 for the Republicans. This insured the reelection of Douglas to the United States Senate. The Democrats elected five out of nine members of Congress, among them James C. Robinson of Marshall, who was chosen from the seventh congressional district consisting of Coles and fourteen other counties. Coles County Republicans were elected to the General Assembly from the districts in which Coles was included: the eighteenth senatorial district (Vermillion, Coles, Cumberland and Edgar) chose Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston.33 The twenty-fifth representative district (Coles and Moultrie) chose William W. Craddock of Mattoon.34
Among those who wrote to Lincoln after the election was Henry P. H. Bromwell of Charleston. On November 5, Bromwell reminded Lincoln that he had "won a victory for the popular vote of Illinois" had sustained him, and he had "the applause of the whole Republican Host." The way seemed "paved for the presidential victory of I860." Lincoln had shown that he could carry Illinois "under the most unfavorable circumstances," and Bromwell looked forward with eagerness to the 1860 nominations, which would give Lincoln "a chance upon a wider field to meet our enemies where they cannot sulk behind gerrymandered District lines to deprive you of the fruits of honest victory." Bromwell assured Lincoln that "the Republicans of this Region glory if you yet & will not rest while anything remains to do that they can to uphold you."35
A year later, on November 13, 1859, Bromwell wrote to Lincoln about the approaching presidential contest. He assured Lincoln that he had been a "Lincoln Man all over from the very first," and wanted to know if Lincoln was interested in a vice-presidential nomination. Bromwell expressed a desire to see Lincoln preside over the Senate with his recent opponent Douglas, a member, although Lincoln was his first choice for the presidency. Bromwell referred to a circular he had seen proposing a Simon Cameron-Abraham Lincoln ticket. He thought the order of names should be reversed. The importance of Pennsylvania was such that a Lincoln-Cameron ticket might be a good idea.36
Lincoln received an invitation to speak in Charleston during the winter of 1859-1860. A committee of the "Young Men’s Literary Association" of Charleston wrote to him on September 28, 1859. His political friends Chambers and Bromwell were two of the three signers of the letter, which was as follows:
Dear Sir:
The undersigned were appointed to a committee by the "Young Men’s Literary Association of Charleston" to select persons to deliver lectures the coming winter in our Town.
Your reputation as a thinker and speaker has pointed you out as a very proper person to write, and in our capacity we very earnestly solicit you to accept this an invitation to deliver a lecture upon some subject (of your own selection) in our town sometime during the coming winter.
You are aware we have not a city to boast of, but we have a town made up of an intelligent & appreciative people, and a large Hall to speak in, and will promise you a hearty welcome.
If it is possible, please accept and fix some time for the purpose and also the amount you will charge, and let us know as soon as it is in your power to do so.
W. M. Chambers
H. P. H. Bromwell
L. B. Moore37




32 State Treasurer, Miller, R., 125,430; Fondey, D., 121,609; Daugherty, "Danite" Democrat, 5,071. State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Bateman, R., 124,556; French, D., 122,431.
33 Senator Marshall served for one term of four years, in the 21st and 22nd General Assemblies. Chosen as president pro tempore of the Senate in January 1861, he acted as lieutenant governor for a week (January 7 - 14) , until the inauguration of Lieutenant Governor Francis A. Hoffman. Lieutenant Governor John Wood had become Governor in March 1860 upon the death of Governor William H. Bissell. Senator Marshall was a delegate to the Republican national convention of I860. From July 1861 to July 1862 he was colonel of the First Illinois Cavalry. Marshall’s first state service had been as a member of the constitutional convention of 1847.
34 The vote in Coles County was as follows: House of Representatives – Craddock, R., 1,777; Harvey B. Worley, D., 1,641. State Senate – Marshall, R., 1,847; Usher F. Linder, D., 1,560. Reference Report, Illinois State Historical Library, December 27, 1949. Courtesy of Dr. J. Monaghan. The vote in Charleston was Marshall, 303; Linder, 332; Craddock, 301; Worley, 335. Charleston Daily News, September 18, 1908.
35 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1451. In Mearns, vol. I, pp. 221-222.
36 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 2056. This letter would indicate that Bromwell didn’t quite know just what he wanted for Lincoln. Lincoln probably got a good chuckle out of it. Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania (1799-1889) , was in the U. S. Senate 1845-1849; 1857-1861, and 1867-1877. He was a prominent candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1860. President Lincoln appointed him Secretary of War, 1861-1862, and Minister to Russia, 1862.


Lincoln’s reply has not been seen by the writer. He did not come to Charleston during the winter of 1859-1860. In December he spoke in Kansas; and in February he went east, to speak at the Cooper Union in New York City, and in New England. Lincoln’s political star was rising. When next he came to Charleston he was President-elect of the United States.
The Republicans of Coles County were active in the 1860 campaign. On April 21 a county convention met at Charleston to select delegates to the state convention which was to meet at Decatur on May 9 and 10. This meeting resolved that Abraham Lincoln was "the first choice of the Republicans of Coles County for president of the United States."38
Following the nomination of Lincoln by the Chicago convention on May 18, Republican rallies were held at Mattoon, Ashmore and Charleston. The meetings were addressed by Marshall, Bromwell, and other local Republicans. Five thousand people turned out for the Charleston rally on July 7. A night parade of "Wide Awakes," with four hundred torches, followed the meeting. Three bands played on the public square, and colored lights were strung on wires from the courthouse to surrounding buildings.39
The only correspondence between Lincoln and his Coles County friends concerning the 1860 election seen by the writer is a request for three dollars from the editors of the Mattoon Gazette on October 9, 1860. It was signed "Harding and Mclntyre."
We as editors of the Mattoon Gazette have been advocating the Re- publican cause to the best of our ability since the opening of the campaign, and finding "Jordan a hard road to -travel" in financial affairs, hope you will excuse us for asking the fee which we charge candidates for the publication of their names – $3 – not for our editorial services.
Your prospects in the county are flattering.40
Coles County gave Lincoln a slight plurality in 1860. The vote was: Lincoln, 1495; Douglas (Democratic party), 1467; Bell (Constitutional Union party), 79; Breckinridge (Southern Democratic party), none.


37 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1946.
38 Illinois State Journal, May 1, 1860.
39 Illinois State journal, June 7, July 11, 1860.
40 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 3952.


Sketch Map of Lincolns Last Visit to Coles County
The President-Elect Visits Cotes County
MR. LINCOLN MADE a short visit to Coles County to see his stepmother on January 30, 1861, nearly two weeks before he left Springfield for Washington. He went by way of Tolono and Mattoon, changing trains at both places. The trip was made with little publicity, there being no reporters and no bodyguards with the President-elect. The round trip took three days, with two nights and one day being spent in Charleston and Farmington.
Knowing the scheduled times for the trains he used in leaving Springfield and Mattoon, it is possible to construct a tentative time-table for the trip from Springfield to Charleston:

9:50 A.M. Left Springfield on the Great Western Railroad.
2:50 P.M. Arrived at Tolono, after a possible layover at Decatur.
3:50 P.M. Left Tolono on the Chicago Express of the Illinois Central Railroad (estimated departure time) .
5:15 P.M. Arrived Mattoon (twenty minutes before scheduled departure of the Express from Mattoon at 5:35 P.M.) .
5:40 P.M. Left Mattoon on a freight train of the Terre Haute, Alton and St. Louis Railroad.
6:15 P.M. Estimated time of arrival at Charleston.
The total elapsed time was eight hours and twenty-five minutes, including a wait of one hour between trains at Tolono and a wait of twenty-five minutes at Mattoon. 1 The writer has seen no account of how Lincoln spent the time between trains at Tolono. The short wait at Mattoon was spent at the Essex House. 2 This hotel was located at the crossing of the two railroads, and served meals to train passengers. A twenty minute stop for this purpose was customary. It is not unlikely that Lincoln ate supper while waiting for the freight to leave for Charleston at 5:40 P.M. He probably ate lunch while the train from Springfield was waiting at Decatur.



1 Springfield departure time from Reference Report to the writer, Illinois State Historical Library. Courtesy of Dr. H. E. Pratt, State Historian; Tolono schedule from a letter to the writer from Mr. C. C. Burford, Urbana, Illinois, May 15, 1951; Mattoon departure time of express train and freight train, Mattoon Gazette, February 1, 1861.
2 Mattoon Gazette, February I, 1861. Mr. Burford informs the writer that "the Champaign County Gazette does not mention Lincoln traveling through Tolono January 30 - February 1, when he was President-elect, although it gives considerable attention to the special "inaugural train" of February 11.


The writer is indebted to Mr. C. C. Burford of Urbana for interesting details concerning train schedules and operating practices during this period. Excerpts from Mr. Burford’s informative letter follow:
The passenger trains on all roads made very slow time in 1861. The running time between Champaign and Chicago was approximately eight hours. Freights took longer, of course, especially way freights. Yet, they were a possibility. . . . We must recall that locomotives in 1861 burned wood for fuel. There were many delays to /’wood up," with passengers assisting in the process. The Great Western used to "wood up" at Sidney, southeast of Champaign. Possibly the long time required to move from Springfield to Tolono was partly caused by the stop in Decatur to "wood up. .
My opinion is that the train routes of Lincoln, Springfield to Charles- ton and return, can be only partly substantiated. We have so little material upon which to build. ... I am wondering if Lincoln did not keep plans on his Charleston trip secret, as the same plots against his life were active January 30 as they were ten or twelve days later. We must recall that the special inaugural train was preceded by a pilot engine. There was wide publicity on the special train. Also, there were many Southern sympathizers south of Charleston and Mattoon, which may explain partially why there is so little source material available on the January 30 trip. 3 As Mr. Burford states, there was little publicity about the trip. Apart from his "family, it appears that Lincoln gave advance notice of his plan for the trip only to Senator Marshall, who accompanied him. The Springfield papers referred to the trip only after he had left for Charleston, and after his return to Springfield.
Lincoln’s purpose in avoiding publicity on this trip to see his stepmother, was, in all probability, a desire to get away for a few days from the endless stream of office-seekers who had been dodging his steps in Springfield. It is doubtful if he gave a thought to possible danger from southern sympathizers.
Who accompanied Lincoln for all or part of the way to Charles- ton? His friend Senator Tom Marshall was with him both going and returning. There is some uncertainty as to Lincoln’s other fellow-passengers when he left Springfield. The Illinois State Register for January 31, 1861, reported that "Mr. Lincoln with Honorable Edward Bates of St. Louis and several leading Republicans of this and other states left here for Coles County yesterday." The similar notice in the Illinois State Journal of the same date did not mention the names of any of Lincoln’s companions. John M. Lansden, a student at Illinois College at Jacksonville, was on the train when Lincoln boarded it at Springfield. More than half a century later Mr. Lansden recalled that Lincoln, who took a seat near him, was accompanied by Judge David Davis and Judge Edward Bates. Lansden did not mention Senator Marshall. He recalled that Lincoln told humorous stories to his companions, punctuated by hearty laughter, and that when the train passed through Macon County, Lincoln spoke of his rail splitting there thirty years before.4
The most detailed account of Lincoln’s departure from Springfield on the morning of January 30 was written by Henry C. Whitney, who accompanied him part of the way (if not all) to Tolono before leaving the train to return to Springfield. Whitney states that Lincoln’s other companions when he boarded the train were Senator Marshall and Judge John Pettit of Indiana, former United States Senator (1853-1855) and Territorial Chief Justice of Kansas (1859-1861), who was seeking an appointment from Lincoln. Whitney did not mention Davis or Bates.
Whitney met Lincoln at his home and walked with him to the depot. He described Lincoln on this occasion as wearing
a faded hat, innocent of a nap; and his coat was extremely short, more like a sailor’s pea-jacket than any other describable garment. It was the same outer garment that he wore from Harrisburg to Washington when he went to be inaugurated. A well-worn carpet-bag, quite collapsed, comprised his baggage.
Whitney, as he tells the story, secured a pass for Lincoln at the depot. Lincoln waited for the train in the railroad superintendent’s office. After boarding the train, Whitney recalled, "Lincoln took pains, though not with ostentation, to secure an humble old lady, whom he knew, a double seat."5
When Lincoln boarded the Illinois Central train at Tolono it is probable that only Senator Marshall remained of those who had left Springfield with him. At Tuscola Joseph G. Cannon, a young lawyer then a resident of that town, entered the coach where Lincoln was riding; and rode with Lincoln and Marshall for the short distance from Tuscola to Mattoon. Near the close of his long career, "Uncle Joe" Cannon recalled this brief encounter. Lincoln, despite his recent election, was "the same cordial unassuming" person and "was of course the most distinguished man on the train and he was constantly surrounded by people who wanted to shake hands and have a word with him." Lincoln was just one of the day coach passengers. "He had no body-guard, and Senator Tom Marshall of Coles County was his only traveling companion/’ 6 After Cannon (who first met Lincoln in May 1860, at the Republican State Convention at Decatur) met them on the train, Senator Marshall remarked to Lincoln that Cannon had made many speeches in Lincoln’s behalf in eastern Illinois. Lincoln replied "I hope they were good ones, and of course they were." This Cannon did not deny.7
Lincoln’s arrival in Mattoon was noted in the local paper which was issued two days later. Editor W. P. Harding headed the item, which appeared on the second page, " ’Old Abe’ Loose." Hard- ing wrote:
Mr. Lincoln, who seems to have made a temporary escape from the office seeking host at Springfield, passed through this place last Wednesday evening. He came in on the regular evening train from Chicago, and went on the freight to Charleston, from which place we understand from Hon. T. A. Marshall, who accompanied him, he will soon return to Springfield. Thinking it none of our business what Mr. Lincoln’s business in Charleston was, we made no inquiries; and having seen him frequently, we concluded that as we wanted no office and could get none even if we did, we would not impose our presence upon him during his short stay at the Essex House. The large crowd, of all parties, which collected on the platform, were evidently delighted to see him, and he greeted his old friends as cordially as though he were simple friend Lincoln and not the most noted personage in the civilized world.
Since writing the above we learned from the papers that Mr. Lincoln is on a visit to his step-mother, whom we will lay a wager he found in less time than it took for Douglas to "find his mother."8
In light of the twentieth century attitude toward public figures by newspaper men, it is interesting to note that Editor Harding considered it no concern of his why Lincoln went to Charleston. Lincoln and Marshall rode the freight train to Charleston because otherwise they would have had a wait of over six hours until the next passenger train. It was not because they had missed a connection. They reached Mattoon about 5:15 P.M., and the next eastbound passenger train was not scheduled to leave until 11:35 P.M. The freight, however, left at 5:40 P.M.
A Charleston lawyer, James W. Connolly (later a major in the Civil War) told Jesse W. Weik in later years about Lincoln’s arrival at Charleston. Hearing that Lincoln was coming to the city, Mr. Connolly went to the depot to witness his arrival. He recalled that:
When the train finally drew in and stopped, the locomotive was about opposite the station and the caboose, or car which carried the pas- sengers, was some distance down the track. Presently, looking in that direction, we saw a tall man wearing a coat or shawl, decend from the steps of the car and patiently make his way through the long expanse of slush and ice beside the track as far as the station platform. I think he wore a plug hat. I remember I was surprised that a railroad company, with so distinguished a passenger aboard its train as the President elect of the United States, did not manifest interest enough in his dignity and comfort to deliver him at the station instead of dropping him off in the mud several hundred feet down the track. In addition to myself quite a crowd of natives were gathered on the plat- form to see him. . . . There were no formalities. Lincoln shook hands with a number of persons whom he recognized or who greeted him, and in a few minutes left for the residence of a friend, where, it was understood, he was to spend the night.9
A. H. Chapman, in an account of Lincoln’s 1861 visit written to Herndon on October 8, 1865, stated that Lincoln was accompanied to Charleston from Springfield by Senator Marshall, that they missed the train connection at Mattoon, and reached Charleston on a freight train, arriving about nine P.M. He said they went to Marshall’s residence.10 Chapman erred on two points. Lincoln did not miss a train connection at Mattoon, and he probably arrived in Charleston shortly after six o’clock.
The friend referred to by Mr. Connolly at whose home Lincoln spent the night was Senator Marshall.11 There is a tradition in the Marshall family that Lincoln spent the night in their home. The handsome cherry bed in which he slept has been preserved as a family heirloom.12 A story of this overnight visit by Lincoln, preserved as a family memory, is that Lincoln put his shoes outside his bedroom door to be polished by a servant, and that Eliza Marshall (later Mrs. James W. True of Mattoon), and a friend, Olive True (later Mrs. Gould of Mattoon) walked up and down the hall in them, so that they could say they had walked in the President’s shoes.13 Eliza Marshall was about nineteen years old in January 1861.


3 Letter to the writer, May 15, 1951. 4 John M. Lansden: "Abraham Lincoln, Judge David Davis and Judge Edward Bates," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, April 1914, p. 58.
5 Whitney’s account is quoted in Starr: Lincoln and the Railroads, pp. 164- 168. A shorter account is in Whitney, Life, vol. I, p. 294.
6 Busbey, pp. 115-116. It is possible that John Hanks joined Lincoln and Marshall when the train reached Decatur and went with them to Charleston. After Lincoln’s death Hanks told Herndon that Lincoln wrote to him of the visit, and that he, Hanks, joined him for the trip at Decatur. Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, No. 3913. None of the other first-hand accounts of the Charleston trip refer to John Hanks as one of the party. Lincoln on January 28 had invited Hanks to accompany him. Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 181.
7 Joseph G. Cannon: / Knew Abraham Lincoln. An address delivered in Danville, Illinois, October 20, 1922. Pamphlet, Danville, 1934.
8 Mattoon Gazette, February 1, 1861 (Friday). The reference to Douglas finding his mother was to a campaign trip Douglas made to New England in the summer of 1860, ostensibly to visit his mother in Vermont. His many political speeches on the trip caused the Republicans to poke fun at his use of a journey of filial devotion for campaign purposes.
9 Weik, pp. 294-295. Note that he did not mention Marshall.
10 Herndon-Weik Photostats, No. 420.
11 The Illinois State Journal, February 2, 1861, in a brief description of Lincoln’s Charleston visit, noted that "He reached Charleston on Wednesday evening, and spending the night at Senator Marshall’s. . . "
12 Mrs. John H. Marshall of Charleston kindly showed this bed to the writer on May 12, 1949.
13 Told to the writer by Mrs. Marshall.


Where was the Marshall home located in 1861? Professor Thomas, in his careful study of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, locates the Marshall home in September 1858 as "where the Richter block now stands on Monroe street," 14 or between Fifth and Sixth streets. Mrs. Marshall informed the writer that the Marshall home in 1861 was on the west side of what is now Tenth street, north of Harrison street, and set well back from both streets. A picture shows a large and handsome southern style house, reflecting the Kentucky birth of its owner, with four large white columns reaching from the porch to the roof, two stories high.
Accepting the Monroe street residence of the Marshalls in 1858, the question remains, when did the family move to Tenth street? Mrs. Eliza Marshall True (in the 1908 letter to Professor Thomas concerning events in 1858, to which we have referred) also wrote of her father having experienced serious financial losses at the outbreak of the Civil War, due to investments in southern railroads. Financial reverses in 1861 would point to Mr. Marshall having acquired the handsome house on Tenth street prior to that date.15
Chapman in 1896 told Jesse W. Weik, when describing his trip to Farmington with Lincoln the day after the latter’s arrival in Charleston, that Lincoln "had spent the previous night at my house. . . ."16 This statement must be rejected. Chapman confused the nights of January 30 and 31.
Considering the time required to go from Charleston to Spring- field in 1861, and the full program that Lincoln had in Charleston and Farmington on January 31, it is clear that Lincoln of necessity spent two nights in Charleston. After returning to Charleston from Farmington with Chapman (according to the latter in 1865), they "proceeded to my residence . . ." and Lincoln "left this place Wednesday morning at four o’clock to return to Springfield. Hon. Thos. A. Marshall again accompanied him."17 Chapman would hardly have mentioned that Lincoln left at four A.M. unless he had been his guest.
The writer is convinced that Lincoln spent the night of January 30 with the Marshalls, and the following night with the Chapmans, who at that time lived in the 400 block of Jackson (then Lafayette) street. As President-elect, Lincoln would be glad of the chance to give recognition to his friend and political ally, Senator Marshall, by accepting his hospitality. But his visit to Coles County was primarily a family matter, and therefore it was natural for him to spend his second night in Charleston at the home of Chapman, son-in-law of his stepsister, Elizabeth Johnston Hanks, where his relatives and connections would be- more likely to visit him.
Sometime during his brief stay in Charleston, Lincoln visited at the home of Dennis Hanks. Mrs. Rhoda Compton Shepherd, then sixteen years old, later described how she met Lincoln at that time. Writing to her sister, Mrs. Nancy Compton Alexander on March 12, 1919, Mrs. Shepherd recalled: "Do you remember after Lincoln was elected President and came back to Charleston Father took us to Dennis Hanks’ home, upstairs on the west side of the square, to shake hands with Lincoln and told us what it would mean to us some time in the future. . . ."18
But to return to Mr. Connolly’s account. After seeing Lincoln arrive, Mr. Connolly was invited by A. P. Dunbar, a lawyer who knew Lincoln well, to go with him when he called on Lincoln "at the residence where the latter was expected to spend the night." After the supper hour they called on Lincoln. Dunbar was in some doubt as to the degree of formality that would be called for in talking to the President-elect, even though they were old friends. But Lincoln settled that question promptly. As told by Mr. Connolly to Jesse W. Weik:
When we reached the house the family were still at the supper table, but Mr. Lincoln himself had withdrawn and was in the front room sitting before the fire. In response to our knock the door opened and who should step forward to greet us but Lincoln himself. Grasping Dunbar’s outstretched palm with one hand and resting the other hand on his shoulder, he exclaimed in a burst of animation, "Lord A’mighty, Aleck, how glad .1 am to see you!" That broke the spell; and if any stiffness or formality was intended it disappeared like magic. I was introduced and presently we were all sitting together and facing the fire. Lincoln did most of the talking. He was cheerful and communicative. After an exchange of ideas and recollections of the past with Dunbar, he was soon telling stories. Apparently there was a flood of them, one following another and each invariably funnier than its predecessor. It was a novel experience for me. I certainly never before heard anything like it. I shall never forget the one story which he had evidently reserved for the last, for he announced that it was the strangest and most amusing incident he had ever witnessed. I knew it would be interesting and was, therefore, all attention. It was about a girl whose duty it was to find and drive home the family cow. "One day," said Mr. Lincoln, "she rode a horse bareback to the woods. On the way home the horse, frightened by a dog or something which darted from behind a bush, made a wild dash ahead, the girl still astride when suddenly – " at this point Mr. Lincoln halted a moment, for some one was knocking at the door. He stepped across the room and opened it, there stood the Presbyterian preacher, his wife, and two other ladies. Of course Mr. Lincoln had to suspend his narrative. Meanwhile other callers arrived and in a short time the house began to fill with them, whereupon Dunbar and I decided to withdraw. As we made our way downtown, Dunbar, well knowing what an admirer of Douglas I was inquired: "Now that you have seen and heard the long-legged individual whom our friend Douglas defeated for Senator, what do you think of him?" I had to confess that he was a marvel – a charming story teller and in other respects one of the most remarkable men I had ever listened to. "But he was guilty of one thing I shall never cease to regret," I added. "What was it?" he asked. "He failed to relate the closing chapter of that last story," I answered.19
Chapman in 1865 told Herndon that while at Senator Mar- shall’s house that first evening, "hundreds called to see him. He was also serenaded by the Brass and String Band of the town, but declined making a speech."20 An account of Lincoln’s Charleston visit, written many years later by Eli Wiley of that city, records that soon after Mr. Lincoln reached the Marshall home:
a few young Germans appeared there, with some stringed instruments to give the President a serenade. They came into the room and played; while they did so, Lincoln stood near them, seeming to be more interested in the music than any other person present. After this, an hour was spent in social converse.
Wiley recalled that on this occasion Mr. Lincoln told one of his typical anecdotes. Dr. W. M. Chambers was one of those present to greet the President-elect. He said to Lincoln that he had a message for him from a mutual friend, Pete Miller. Miller, a Democrat, had asked Chambers to tell Lincoln that, although he had not voted for him, he believed that Lincoln had been lawfully elected; and that, if anybody attempted to prevent his inauguration on March 4, he "would shed the last drop of his blood" in support of Lincoln’s claim. With a twinkle in his eye, Lincoln replied to Chambers:


14 S. E. Thomas, p. 11. As noted before, Monroe street then was known as Washington street.
15 Professor Thomas states that his information on the location of the Marshall residence is based on an interview with Judge John H. Marshall and his older brother, Colonel James Marshall, sons of Thomas A. Marshall. As a young man Colonel Marshall had attended the Chicago Convention that nominated Lincoln for the presidency. These two, when talking of the events surrounding the debate in 1858, agreed that the family did not move to Tenth street until about a year later – in 1859 or early in 1860.
10 Quoted in Thompson, p. 33. Weik interviewed Chapman on January 3, 1896. Colonel Chapman died in Charleston on September 11, 1898. Coles County Death Register, vol. I, p. 192. He was 76 years old. He was survived by his widow and three children; Robert, John, and Ella.
17 Chapman is wrong about the day of the week. Wednesday was January 30. Lincoln left Charleston on the morning of Friday, February 1. Chapman’s letter to Herndon, October 8, 1865, in Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 422-423.
18 Letter in the possession of Miss Dora Alexander, niece of Mrs. Shepherd.
30 Weik, pp. 296-297.
20 Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 420.


Perhaps he would be like the young man who was going to war, whose two loving and admiring sisters had made an embroidered belt for him to wear, and when they had it completed, they asked him what motto they should put upon it, "Victory or death?" "No, no," says he. "don’t put it quite that strong. Put it ’Victory or get hurt pretty bad.’"21
After his night at the home of Senator Marshall, Lincoln went early the next morning to the home of Dennis Hanks for breakfast. Again there were crowds who were eager to see him. After breakfast Lincoln and Chapman left in a two-horse buggy for Farmington to see Lincoln’s stepmother who was at that time at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Matilda Johnston Hall Moore. Chapman reported that they had difficulty crossing Kickapoo Creek because of the ice in the stream. He recalled that his conversation with Lincoln on the drive to Farmington
was mostly concerning family affairs. Mr. Lincoln spoke to me ... of his stepmother in the most affectionate manner. Said she had been his best friend in this world and that no man could love a mother more than he loved her. He also told me of the condition of his father’s family at the time he married his stepmother and the changes she made in the family and of the encouragement he, Abe, received from his stepmother. He spoke on the road of the various men that had sup- ported him during the canvass and said he thought Caleb B. Smith [of Indiana] had done him more service than any public speaker. Spoke of his father and related some amusing incidents of the old man, of the bull-dog biting the old man on his return from New Orleans, of the old man’s escape when a boy from an Indian who was shot by his Uncle Mordecai. Spoke of his uncle Mordecai as being a man of very great natural gifts. Spoke of his stepbrother John D. Johnston, who had died a short time previous in the most affectionate manner.22
An amusing incident which occurred on the drive down to Farmington was related by Mrs. John Gordon many years later. The Gordons had moved to Pleasant Grove Township in 1861. Their land was wooded, and much clearing was needed. Mrs. Gordon recalled that:
One day when I was out with an axe cutting some sapplings, Gus Chapman and Abe Lincoln came driving along. I did not know Lincoln. He said to Gus, "Well, if she was my wife, I wouldn’t claim her!" I told him that he was putting on style with his stove pipe hat and talking about his betters, and that maybe the clothes on his back had not been paid for. Gus, he just haw-hawed like he would burst. He told Lincoln that "She knows how to work, Abe, they know how to make a clearing." . . . We finished our cabin that spring. . . ,23
At this time Mrs. Sarah Lincoln was living at the home of her daughter because, according to John J. Hall, the Goosenest Prairie cabin was temporarily untenantable. The chimney had collapsed the day before Lincoln’s arrival.24
Mrs. Sarah Louisa Hall Fox, daughter of Mrs. Moore, who was nineteen years old and was present in Farmington at the time of Lincoln’s visit, many years later recalled that after Lincoln reached the Moore home he continued on to the Goosenest Prairie farm, where John J. Hall, her oldest brother, was living.25 According to Mrs. Fox, Lincoln talked to Hall before leaving for the cemetery at Shiloh. Mrs. Fox’s account also places Mrs. Lincoln at her daughter’s home at the time of Lincoln’s visit.20
Although Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that Mrs. Lincoln was living at her daughter’s at the time of Lincoln’s visit, in a statement made to George E. Mason about 1906 he insisted that Mrs. Lincoln was living with him at the Goosenest Prairie farm at the time. Mason quoted Hall as saying that Lincoln "came down from Charleston early in the morning and came to the old house. I recall it so well that he had to take off his tall hat and stoop when he entered the room where grandmother was waiting for him." Lincoln took his stepmother in his arms, and "she cried over him. She told him that day it would be the last time she would see him, and he tried to pacify her. ’Why, mother?’ he asked, and she said, ’Abe, you are such a good man that they will kill you.’ He only laughed." As Hall told it to Mason, Mrs. Lincoln was brought from the Hall cabin to her daughter Matilda’s home in Farmington, where after a big dinner Lincoln said goodby to his stepmother.27
Hall’s statement to Mason that Mrs. Lincoln was living at Goosenest Prairie when Lincoln made his visit is supported by the recollection of Mrs. Caroline M. Newman of Charleston, who was eight years old in January 1861, and who lived in Farmington until 1873. She was the daughter of Dr. N. S. Freeman of Farmington. Sixty-eight years later she recalled that Lincoln "came down to Farmington with Col. A. H. Chapman, and they went to the log cabin and brought his stepmother to the home of Mrs. Matilda Moore, a daughter of Mrs. Lincoln."28



21 Article signed by Eli Wiley and dated Charleston, 111., February 8, 1888, in clipping from unnamed and undated newspaper (probably the Charleston Courier) in scrapbook belonging to Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Johnston, Charleston, Illinois.
22 Chapman to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 422. Actually, Johnston had been dead for nearly seven years.
23 Letter from Mrs. John Gordon, printed in Charleston Plaindealer, about 1897. Clipping, no date, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. W. E. Cottingham of Charleston.
24 Hall to Mrs. Gridley, 1891. Gridley, p. 276. While Mrs. Lincoln was away, Hall repaired the chimney.
25 Chapman stated that after greeting his stepmother at Mrs. Moore’s home, Lincoln and Chapman "proceeded to the residence of John Hall on the old Lincoln farm. . . ." Letter to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 420.
20 Clipping from St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 12, 1933. In files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
27 Account by George E. Mason in undated clipping in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston. Hall died in 1909.


Despite the statements by Hall in 1906 and Mrs. Newman in 1929, the writer believes that Mrs. Thomas Lincoln was living with her daughter Matilda in Farmington, at least temporarily, in January 1861. After Thomas Lincoln’s death in 1851, his widow lived for various periods with relatives. Among these probably were the family of John Sawyer in Paradise, that of her granddaughter, Mrs. Harriet Chapman in Charleston, and those of her two daughters, Mrs. Dennis Hanks in Charleston and Mrs. Matilda Moore in Farmington. As Mrs. Lincoln became older she frequently sought more comfortable living quarters than were possible at Goosenest Prairie, especially in the winter. In January 1861, Mrs. Lincoln was seventy-two years old.
At the time of Lincoln’s visit Matilda was about fifty-one years old and a widow. Following the death of her first husband, Squire Hall, on October 5, 1851, Matilda had married a widower, Reuben Moore, on June 19, 1856. 29 His first wife, Mary, had died on August 24, 1855. Moore died on June 23, 1859, age sixty-one.30 After her second husband’s death Matilda ran into legal trouble. On September 24, 1859, a Farmington (or Campbell, as the village also was called) neighbor of Mrs. Moore, named L. Burlingame, wrote to Lincoln:
Mrs. Matilda Moor wife of Ruban Moor deceased wishes you to come down and help defend a case in court. Moor died and fixed all of his property so that the widow is left to shift for herself. Mr. Clark C. Starkweather is employed to defend the case and wants you to come and help him. Court commences the first Monday of October. By request of Matilda Moor.31
Lincoln did not act as an attorney in this case, which came up in the April 1860 term of court with Charles H. Constable and Usher F. Linder representing Mrs. Moore. They may have acted at Lincoln’s request. The case was an application for dower, the defendants being John L, Adams, Lewis Enyart, Miles Moore, Lewis E. Moore, Almira Moore and Giles Moore. The last three were minors, and the defense attorney, James R. Cunnigham, was appointed trustee for them. What Matilda had done was to bring suit for her dower right against the heirs of Reuben Moore, including the children by his first wife and Giles Moore, her son.


28 Clipping from Lerna Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929, in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mrs. Newman’s recollection may have been based on what she had heard Hall say.
29 Coles County Marriage Records, 1849-1861, p. 116.
30 Dates for Squire Hall and Mary and Reuben Moore from their gravestones in Shiloh cemetery. Hall may have died of cholera. The Charleston Globe, July 31, 1851, reported that cholera had broken out in Goosenest Prairie. Four deaths had occurred. Courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt.
31 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1931. Farmington, or Campbell, was surveyed into lots on April 25, 1852.


Continued in April 1860, the case was settled on the following October 27. Mrs. Moore won her suit. She was to receive $600 in lieu of her dower interest, or failing that, one third of the land in Moore’s estate. This consisted of 231½ acres and four lots in the town of Farmington.32
Matilda’s marriage to Reuben Moore had not been harmonious. The record shows that prior to his death Reuben and his wife had agreed to a separation, and that she had contracted to accept $600 as her share of the property they owned as man and wife. According to the record, Moore destroyed this contract which Matilda had agreed to, and in his will he sought to cut her off from any share of his estate.
The settlement to Mrs. Moore included the Moore house in Farmington, for we find her living there in January 1861. According to local tradition, some time after 1861 Mrs. Moore disposed of the house and moved to a one-room log cabin in the same village, across the road from the school and south of the residence of Dr. N. S. Freeman. She supported herself by taking in washing.33
But to return to Lincoln’s visit. As his vehicle neared Farmington, it was recognized by Andrew H. Allison, who lived about one mile northwest of Farmington. Mr. Allison was on horseback. After recognizing the distinguished occupant of the buggy, he wheeled his horse and spurred up in order to get to the Moore house in time to give Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Moore word that President-elect Lincoln would soon be there.34 With the roads in poor shape, Mr. Allison was able to make much better time than the Lincoln buggy. It is the family tradition that the buggy contained Lincoln, John Hanks of Decatur, and a driver. No mention is made of Chapman. John Hanks himself told Herndon that after Lincoln’s election, "He wrote me a letter that he was going to see his mother – came by Decatur – I went with him – saw his father’s grave. He stayed with his mother one [day]. We ate dinner at in [sic.] Farmington. Pretty women there that took Abe’s eyes – I assure you. We then went back to Charleston – Sc came to Springfield."35 This is contradicted by Chapman’s account of the trip from Springfield which mentions only Senator Marshall as a companion of Lincoln when he reached Charleston and by Cannon’s statement about meeting Lincoln and Marshall, "his only traveling companion" on the train at Tuscola.36
Lincoln and Chapman (and John Hanks?) reached Farmington about two hours before dinner time. After greeting his stepmother and stepsister, Lincoln, accompanied by Chapman, took advantage of the time to visit his father’s grave at Shiloh, about a mile to the west, going by way of Goosenest Prairie. While Lincoln was on this errand of filial piety, which we have previously described, Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Lincoln took stock of the pantry. Finding it inadequate for a dinner for so eminent a guest and the many friends of the neighborhood who would like to sit down to dinner with him, Mrs. Moore called on her neighbor Mrs. N. S. Freeman for help. 37 Mrs. Freeman responded generously, and passed the word among the housewives of the village, with the result, according to Mrs. Fox, who was present, that they "brought their nicest cakes and pies, baked turkeys and chickens."38 How the good ladies of Farmington must have bustled about when they realized that they had a chance to help prepare a dinner for the President-elect of the United States! How the feathers did fly as the choicest poultry of the village was hurriedly readied for the stove. The casual passerby would have realized that something was afoot in the usually quiet village – the hurried and animated backdoor consultations, and the smoke pouring with unaccustomed urgency from the kitchen chimneys!


32 Circuit Court Record, vol. VI, pp. 204, 460-462.
33 Clipping, Lerna Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929, in scrapbook of Mr. George P. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township.
34 Tradition of the Allison family. Told to the writer by Mr. Andrew Berry Allison of Charleston, age 84, son of Andrew H. Allison. Mr. Allison died in September, 1952.
35 Undated statement, John Hanks to W. H. Herndon. Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, No. 3913, photostat from Library of Congress. See letter, Lincoln to Hanks, January 28, 1861, in Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 181.
36 professor S. E. Thomas informs the writer that he was told by Robert N. Chapman, son of A. H. Chapman, that his father and Lincoln were alone in the buggy and that Chapman drove. Robert N. Chapman was postmaster of Charleston at the time of his father’s death and for a number of years thereafter. Edwin David Davis, in his article "The Hanks Family in Macon County, Illinois" in Papers in Illinois History, 1939, pp. 112-152, states that "after the election John Hanks went with Lincoln to pay a farewell visit to Sarah Bush Lincoln in Coles County. Augustus H. Chapman met them in Charleston and drove them to the farm and also to Thomas Lincoln’s grave." pp. 137-138.
37 Lerna Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929, quoting statement by Mrs. Caroline M. Newman, daughter of Mrs. Freeman.
38 Clipping in St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 12, 1933. The writer doubts that any freshly baked turkeys were brought to the festive board. It takes much longer than two hours to bake a turkey.


By the time Lincoln and Chapman (and John Hanks?) returned to the Moore house a large crowd of friends and neighbors had gathered to greet the great man. The local school was dismissed by the teacher, R. H. Osborne, and the school children gathered with their teacher to shake the hand of President-elect Lincoln. Among these pupils were George T. Balch, age 18; Caroline Freeman, age 8; Jasper Miller, George T. Rodgers, William D. Allison, age 7, Thomas Allison, age 9, Emma Allison, age 10 and Mary Ann Allison, age 12 (children of Andrew H. Allison), Elizabeth Walls, age 12, and William ("Buck") Best, age 6, who on his death at Greenup about 1947 was the last survivor o£ those who greeted Lincoln on this occasion.39
Emma Allison, later Mrs. B. D. Miner, had recently injured her right hand in a sorghum mill accident, and her right arm was in a sling. She presented her left hand to Lincoln, who noticing her trouble, stooped and kissed her. Mrs. Miner in relating this incident many years later added that Lincoln told the children that he would rather be in their places than in his.40 Elizabeth Walls in later years recounted how after Lincoln had gone into the house she and the other little girls put their feet in his overshoes which he had left outside the door.41
In addition to the school children there were many adults present. Mrs. Fox recalled later that there were present "people from every walk of life there abouts, ministers and railsplitters come right from the wood." Lincoln stood beside the door and shook the hand of each one as they passed into the house for dinner. Mrs. Moore opened the doors of the living room and "set tables clear from one end of the house to another" The tables consisted of planks placed on saw-horses.
Among those present in addition to Lincoln, Chapman and the children already mentioned, were:
Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln.
Mrs. Matilda Moore, her daughter.
Mrs. Sarah Louisa Hall Fox, Mrs. Moore’s daughter, married the preceding August to Merrill Fox (1839-1881) .
John Johnston Hall, Mrs. Moore’s son.
Joseph Hall, his younger brother, later in Co. G, 54th Illinois Infantry.
R. L. Osborne, local schoolmaster.
David Dryden, Osborne’s father-in-law.
Isaac Rodgers.
Andrew H. Allison. His wife was in St. Louis on a trip at this time.
Rufus Allison.
Fred Bidle (or Biddle), local blacksmith.
The ladies of the neighborhood who had helped prepare and serve the dinner, probably including Mrs. Rodgers, Mrs. Dryden, Mrs. Rufus Allison, and Mrs. N. S. Freeman.
This list probably is incomplete. John Hanks may have been present, as he told Herndon. At any rate, the small Moore house was crowded on that Thursday afternoon, January 31, 1861. Fred Bidle (or Biddle) was an interesting person. He left Germany to come to the United States in order to avoid military service, yet after the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted and served in the 123rd Illinois Infantry. Andrew H. Allison demonstrated his devotion to Lincoln. In the election of 1864, despite inclement weather, poor health, and a protest by his wife, he rode two miles to the polling place to vote for Lincoln. Returning home after a day at the polls, he took to his bed and in two weeks was dead.42
School teacher Osborne later recalled his memories of Lincoln’s visit. Although "it was a quiet, private visit," with no advance notice, "all the people flocked to see ’Our Abe’ as he was fondly called. The young ladies took possession of the house and vied with each other in providing entertainment for the man whom all loved." Among his friends and relatives, "Mr. Lincoln was simplicity itself. He seemed to enjoy it so much that his face was continually lit up with a sunny smile. All were at their ease." Osborne was introduced by his father-in-law, David Dryden, with the remark that Osborne had been beaten for circuit clerk in Clark County. A kindly smile came to Lincoln’s face as he said to Osborne. "You must pick your flint and try it again." Osborne recalled that he "sat down by him in friendly converse about various things as though we were old friends." Some matches were lying on the table. Lincoln picked one up and said "What a blessing these little pieces of wood are, what a royal invention. What a blessing for the common people."43


39 Information from Mr. Andrew B. Allison; Mr. George P. Rodgers; Cavins, p. 5; R. H. Osborne in Lerna Weekly Eagle, Lincoln Anniversary issue, February 1928.
40 Clipping, paper not stated, August 16, 1929, in scrapbook of Mr. George P. Rodgers; Cavins, p. 5. George T. Rodgers, one of the children present, in later years confirmed this incident. Statement to the writer by Mr. George P. Rodgers, grandson of George T. Rodgers, who lived until 1925.
41 Written statement to the writer by Mr. Fred Grant of Mattoon, a son of Mrs. Elizabeth Walls Grant. April 1949.
42 Information concerning Mr. Bidle and Mr. Allison from Mr. Andrew B. Allison, May 1949. Frederick G. Biddle is listed as a private in Co. I of the 123 Infantry in A. G. R., vol. VI, p. 412. Mr. Allison was about 43 years old at the time of his death in 1864. The 1850 census returns for Coles County list him as 29 years of age.
43 Osborne’s recollections were reprinted in the Lincoln Anniversary supplement to the Lema Weekly Eagle, February 1928. In 1891 John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley an anecdote about Lincoln’s visit at Farmington which turned on the importance of matches. Gridley, p. 277.


After the dinner, according to Mrs. Fox, the visitors left and Lincoln "had a long talk with his old stepmother, my mother, and myself. . . . When he bid his mother farewell, she embraced him in her arms and said ’My dear boy, I always thought there was something great in you. With this war coming on, I am afraid you are going to have a hard time.’ He said, ’Don’t worry. Everything will come out all right.’ "44
Mrs. Newman’s account of the visit of Lincoln states that:
When it became generally known that the President-elect was in the village, school was dismissed; many assembled to give him welcome. Oliver Harris being away the store was forcibly entered and drums and fifes were secured and while martial music was being played they picked up Mr. Lincoln and carried him about the front yard of Mrs. Moore’s residence.
When dinner was served, two girls waited on the table, Miss Dovie Purcell, afterwards Mrs. John Magner and Miss Lib Miner, afterwards Mrs. Ralph Osborne. Mrs. Newman recalls that:
I was in the room when Mr. Lincoln was getting ready to take his farewell of his stepmother, about three o’clock in the afternoon. On the bed was the fur cape which he had brought her as a present. Sarah Bush Lincoln was seated in a rocking chair near him and while he was talking to those who were in the room one of his hands clasped the rocking chair in which she was seated and the elbow of the other arm rested on the mantle piece. When in repose his face presented a very sad appearance, but when he smiled a radiance passed over his countenance. When the time came for him to bid his stepmother goodbye, he put him arm gently about her and it was at this time she uttered those prophetic words: "Abe, I’ll never see you alive again. They will kill you."45
In an interview with William H. Herndon on September 8, 1865, Mrs. Lincoln referred to her stepson’s last visit to see her. She told Herndon:
I did not want to see Abe run for President, did not want him elected, was afraid, somehow or other, felt it in my heart that something would happen to him, and when he came down to see me after he was elected President, I still felt that something told me that something would befall Abe and that I should see him no more. Abe and his father are in Heaven, I have no doubt, and I want to go to them, go where they are. God bless Abraham.46
According to Chapman, Mrs. Lincoln accompanied her stepson when he returned to Charleston with Chapman following the Farmington visit.47 The Illinois State Journal’s report of the visit states that Lincoln "rode back to town in company with his aged relative."48 The local tradition among the Farmington residents, as well as the recollection of Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Mrs. Fox, is that Lincoln said goodbye to his stepmother at the Moore home. It is more probable that Mrs. Lincoln returned to Chapman’s Charleston home with her stepson, as stated by Chapman. Perhaps she had accepted an invitation to visit the Chapmans. In any event, the trip to Charleston enabled her to be with her stepson until the departure of his train the next morning.49


44 Clipping of December 12, 1933, St. Louis Globe-Democrat. As will be noted below, the writer does not believe that Lincoln said farewell to his stepmother at the Moore home.
45 Lema Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929. It will be recalled that Mrs. Newman was only eight years old at this time.
40 Herndon-Weik Collection, Group IV, No. 2315. Mrs. Lincoln was living with the Halls at Goosenest Prairie at the time. Note that in her statement Mrs. Lincoln does not mention the place where she last saw her stepson.
47 Chapman to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 422.
48 Issue of February 2, 1861. Where did the Journal get this information? Either from Lincoln himself, or, more likely, from Senator Marshall who returned to Springfield with Lincoln.
49 Speed’s report that in 1865 Lincoln told him that when he visited his stepmother in 1861 that he remained overnight and said goodbye to her in the morning, gives added support to Chapman’s statement. Speed, pp. 36-37.


Upon returning to Charleston, Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln and Chapman went to Chapman’s home, according to Chapman. A large crowd soon gathered to see Lincoln, who asked Chapman to announce that he would hold a reception at the Town Hall that evening at seven. Until then he wished to be left with his relations and friends. After supper Lincoln went to the Hall for the reception, where he greeted the large crowd that, regardless of party, had called to see him.50
Herndon relates that at the meeting at the Hall Lincoln spoke briefly, recalling boyhood experiences. Herndon continued:
In the audience were many persons who had known him first as the stalwart young ox-driver when his fathers family drove into Illinois from southern Indiana. One man had brought with him a horse which the President-elect, in the earlier days of his law practice, had recovered for him in a replevin suit; another one was able to recite from personal recollection the thrilling details of the famous wrestling match between Lincoln the flatboatman in 1830 and Daniel Needham; and all had some reminiscence of his early manhood to relate.51
Weik states that at this meeting, "although called upon, Lincoln declined making any remarks shadowing forth his views of the present state of the country or the policy of the coming administration."52
Eli Wiley of Charleston was one of those present at the reception held in the Town Hall. Twenty-seven years later he wrote the following account of the event as he remembered it:
The hall was densely packed with our citizens without regard to political preferences, for Mr. Lincoln was popular with the people. Mr. Lincoln entered the overflowing hall about 8 o’clock with Col. A. H. Chapman and wife, whose guest he then was. He was soon "surrounded by a surging and admiring crowd. He was comparatively cheerful, and still carried the grave face for which he was noted (except when lighted up temporarily by the recital of some of his inimitable stories) . The crowd in some way, expected to hear him speak. Perceiving the spirit and expectation, he took a position on the stand and gravely said, "You, my friends, are anxious to hear from me, what I think of the outlook for the future, but I am equally anxious with you, to see what lies before us and you will therefore have to excuse me from saying more, but if it will be any gratification to you, I shall be glad to take each one of you by the hand." The great crowd then moved past him, and he gave to each a cordial warm-hearted grasp of the hand – but many of the ladies present not contented with this manifestation, insisted on a warmer salute; and so, the president carried from the hall, that night, the aroma of many a pouting lip.53



50 Chapman’s October 8, 1865, letter to Herndon. The reception was held at the Mount and Hill Hall, second floor, corner of Fifth and Monroe streets (as they are known today) . The Charleston Daily News now occupies the first floor of a building on this site. The Hall was destroyed by fire on February 4, 1923.
51 Herndon, p. 388. The wrestling match occurred during the summer of 1831. The owner of the horse may have been Isaac W. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township.
52 Weik, p. 293. This is an almost verbatim quotation from the Illinois State Journal for February 2, 1861.
53 Article by Eli Wiley dated February 8, 1888, in scrapbook belonging to Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Johnston, Charleston, Illinois. A brief account of the meeting appeared in the New York Herald for February 4, 1861. In Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 182.


Following the meeting at the Mount and Hill Hall, Lincoln returned to the Chapman home for the night. He left Charleston the next morning at four o’clock, accompanied by Senator Marshall. According to Chapman, Mrs. Lincoln got up to say goodbye to her stepson before he left for the train. The parting between them "was very affectionate. She embraced him when they parted and said she would never be permitted to see him again that she felt his enemies would assassinate him. He replied no no Mama (he always called her Mama) they will not do that. Trust in the Lord and all will be well. We will see each other again/’54
Added credence is given to this description of Lincoln’s parting from his stepmother by its similarity to the account given by Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed in 1865, as recalled by Speed. In both descriptions Mrs. Lincoln is quoted as expressing the fear that she would never see him again, that he would never come back alive.55
If Chapman is approximately correct in stating that Lincoln left at four A.M., Lincoln got up early to catch the west-bound express which probably left Charleston shortly before five A.M. We know that it was scheduled to leave Mattoon at 5:30 A.M.56 The next west-bound passenger train left Mattoon at 5:30 P.M. At 9:30 A.M., however, a freight train left Mattoon for the west. It probably left Charleston not earlier than 8:45 A.M. It is possible that Lincoln and Marshall took the freight. This would have made it unnecessary for Chapman, Mrs. Lincoln, and Senator Marshall, as well as Lincoln himself, to get up before dawn to catch a five o’clock train.
If Lincoln went north from Mattoon on the Illinois Central there was no reason to reach Mattoon early in the morning, for the next scheduled train north left Mattoon at 12:55 P.M. It would reach Tolono at about 2:50 P.M. However, there is good reason to believe that Lincoln did not return to Springfield by way of Tolono, for the two scheduled west-bound Great Western trains left Tolono, one before one P.M. and the other at midnight.57 If Lincoln did not go by way of Tolono, then he remained on the train he boarded at Charleston until it reached Pana. Departing from Mattoon at 5:30 A.M., Pana, forty miles to the west, would have been reached at about seven o’clock or a little after, depending upon whether or not a stop of any length was made at Shelbyville.
An Illinois Central train from the south, coming by way of Pana and Decatur, left Bloomington at 10:47 A.M.58 Pana is about eighty miles south of Bloomington. If we allow ten min- utes for a stop at Decatur, and assume 10:35 A.M. for the arrival time at Bloomington, we estimate that the train for Decatur and Bloomington left Pana about 7:15 A.M., or shortly after Lincoln reached Pana from Charleston. Decatur, thirty-five miles to the north, would have been reached at about 8:30 A.M. If Lincoln was on the train, he left it at Decatur. He would have been obliged to wait for the next west-bound Great Western train, which left Tolono before one o’clock that afternoon, and probably reached Decatur, thirty miles to the west, about two o’clock or a little later.59 If we assume that Lincoln left Decatur by two-thirty that afternoon, he probably reached Springfield between four and five o’clock. Thus it is likely that Lincoln spent from 8:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M., more or less, in Decatur on February 1, 1861. How did he and Senator Marshall, his companion, spend those hours in Decatur? The writer does not know. If John Hanks was with Lincoln on the return trip, which may be inferred from Hanks’ statement to Herndon, he left Lincoln and Marshall at Decatur.


54 Chapman’s letter to Herndon, October 8, 1865.
55 Speed, pp. 36-37. Note also Herndon’s interview with Mrs. Lincoln on September 8, 1865, previously quoted.
56 The scheduled Charleston departure time has not been seen by the writer. The Mattoon Gazette, February 1, 1861, gives the departure times from that city.
57 Letter, C. C. Burford to the writer, May 15, 1951, for the Tolono schedules.
58 Letter from Mr. Burford, May 23, 1951, giving Bloomington train schedules from the Bloomington Pantagrapli. Mr. Burford suggested to the writer that Lincoln may have returned by way of Pana rather than by way of Tolono.
59 There are no surviving files in Decatur of the Decatur Illinois State Chronicle between October 27, 1859, and August 22, 1861. In October 1859 north-bound Illinois Central trains left Decatur at 4:50 a.m., 3:20 p.m. (freight) , and 4:06 p.m. In August 1861 the north-bound trains left Decatur at 5:35 a.m. and 5:35 p.m. Memorandum from Mr. Otto R. Kyle, Decatur Herald and Review, May 24, 1951. None of these trains could have been the one used by Lincoln in February 1861.


The Illinois State Journal of Springfield for February 2, 1861, reported that "Mr. Lincoln returned from Coles County yesterday morning." Actually, Lincoln probably reached Springfield in the late afternoon. If there was a west-bound train which left Decatur that morning by ten or even ten-thirty, Lincoln could have reached Springfield by noon. The writer has seen no evidence of such a train.
The Coles County visit was a pleasant interlude for Lincoln. Chapman recalled that "Mr. Lincoln appeared to enjoy his visit here remarkable well. His reception by his old acquaintances appeared to be very gratifying to him. They all appeared glad to see him, irrespective of party, and all appeared so anxious that his administration might be a success, and that he might have a pleasant and honorable career as President"60
This visit, particularly the time spent at Farmington, probably was the most pleasant and satisfying incident in Lincoln’s life from the time of his election to his death in April 1865. It is significant that none of the accounts or traditions of the visit make any mention of requests for political appointments by his local friends or relatives. The visit revived and refreshed the tired and worried Lincoln, exhausted by the importunities of office-seekers and deeply troubled by the grave responsibilities he was about to assume.


60 ’Chapman’s October 8, 1865, letter to Herndon.


President Lincoln and His Coles County Relatives and Friends
THE JANUARY 1861 visit was Lincoln’s last to Coles County. His relatives and friends in the county did not profit greatly by his political elevation. Few of them received presidential favors. As we have noted, Augustus H. Chapman, son-in-law of Dennis Hanks, became an officer in the 54th Illinois Infantry, and some months after his discharge in 1865 received an appointment from President Johnson as an Indian agent. Four years before, at the beginning of the Lincoln administration, an unsuccessful effort was made to secure the Charleston postmastership for him. It appears that Lincoln originally intended to make this appointment. It is not clear why he did not do so. The appointment of Chapman was endorsed by Thomas A. Marshall in a letter to Lincoln written from Charleston on April 14, 1861, as follows:
My brother-in-law, John A. Miles was an applicant for the office of Postmaster at this place & being an excellent man, had a large number of respectable signatures to his petition, but as you expressed yourself very decidedly desirous of conferring the place on A. H. Chapman I never pressed the name of my brother in law, nor even encouraged him to do so.
Yesterday I learned that another person David C. Ambler was appointed to this office – thus cutting off both Gus Chapman & Mr. Miles. I suppose this appointment was made without your knowledge. It is however a very good one, suitable in every way to be made, but it leaves Gus Chapman without anything. He would like something better than the Post Office but would be glad to get that. Ambler the appointee is a very good man, & was strongly recommended for the Post Office, but on learning that you desired "Gus" to have it, changed his application to one for a route agency on one of the Rail Roads. I wish to suggest that if there is any Route agency vacant Ambler might still have it, and "Gus" have the Post Office. I write this without con- sulting "Gus," and because he has talked to me a great deal about his hopes & wishes. I shall show it to him, however before mailing it.1
Chapman did not get the postmastership, and six months later he was a major in the army. Over thirty years later his son, Robert N. Chapman, was the Charleston postmaster.

According to Dennis Hanks, his wife Elizabeth (Mrs. Lincoln’s daughter) asked Lincoln to appoint him postmaster at Charleston. Hanks wrote to Herndon on January 26, 1866, that "as for myself I did not ask Abe rite out for an office only this I would like to have the post office in Charleston. This was my wife that asked him. He told hir that much was understood as much as to say I would get it. I did not care much about it." As for the sons of John D. Johnston, Hanks told Herndon that "Thomas Johnston went to Abe he got this permit to take degarytipes in the Army. This is all for they are all ded except John’s boys. They did not ask for any [public office]."2 Referring to the failure of Dennis Hanks to receive the postmastership, Henry C. Whitney gave it as his opinion that "Lincoln regarded his obligation to duty as a stronger obligation than that to friendship. . . ."3 In a letter to the President in 1864, Dennis Hanks asked Lincoln to "Remember My Boys if you can." For himself, Dennis wrote. "I don’t ask anything."4
When Dennis Hanks visited Lincoln in Washington in the spring of 1864, he brought with him letters to the President from two of his sons-in-law, Allison C. Poorman and William F. Shriver. Both were asking for permits to trade within the Union lines in the South. Poorman, writing from Charleston on May 9, told Lincoln that as he was "now out of business," he was applying "for a permit to trade within the lines of the Western Army in all kinds of Merchandize, Liquors excepted." If Lincoln would grant this favor, it "will not soon be forgotten." Lincoln’s endorsement on this letter, dated May 15, read "The writer of the within is a family connection of mine, 8c a worthy man; and I shall be obliged if he be allowed what he requests, so far as the rules and exigencies of the public service will permit."5


1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 9067. Lincoln may have mentioned to Marshall his intention to appoint Chapman as postmaster when he was Marshall’s guest on the night of January 30.
2 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 522-523. Thomas L. D. Johnston operated a photographic studio in Charleston in the Mount and Hill hall in 1864. Lerna Weekly Eagle, n.d. Article dated Charleston, July 12, 1929. In files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. John J. Hall, uncle of Thomas Johnston, told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that "Uncle Abe gave him a pass to go all over the army takin’ pictures. . . ." Gridley, pp. 22-23. Thomas Johnston was behind the lines in January 1864, at Vicksburg, Mississippi. John Berry, husband of Elizabeth Jane Hall, John’s younger sister, wrote from "Camp Clear Creek, Miss." on January 21, 1864, to Amanda Hall (also a sister of John J. Hall) , "I was at town the other day and I seen Thomas Johnston and he gave me his likeness and told me to send it to Jane. . . . Tom has a good time in vicksburge and he makes Plenty of money." Letter in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection.
3 Whitney, p. 419.
4 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32134. April 5, 1864. Hanks referred in his letter to his sons Charles and Theophilus. The first had reenlisted in the army, and Dennis feared that Theophilus ("15 years old a very Stout Boy he can shoot as well as I can") would go into the army with Charles. Dennis’ oldest son, John Talbot (born 1823) , had gone to Oregon some years before the war. Charles was 23 years old in 1864. He died October 20, 1870. Headstone in "Old Cemetery," Charleston.
5 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32944. This is a copy of the original letter. Both the copy of the letter from Poorman and the endorsement are in Lincoln’s hand, on one sheet of paper headed "Copy." Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 342.


Shriver’s request also was written from Charleston on May 9. He explained that "Father Hanks" would present the letter and would "more fully lay before you my wants than I can here explain." He requested a permit to trade "in Cotton and Hides for shipment North," within the lines of the armies of the Cumberland, Mississippi and Arkansas. Shriver offered "Father Hanks" as his only reference. Lincoln’s endorsement, dated May 15, read: "The writer of this is personally unknown to me, although married to a young relative of mine. I shall be obliged if he be allowed what he requests so far as the rules and exigencies of the public service will permit."
A Macon County relative and old friend of Lincoln, John Hanks, was considered for appointment as an Indian agent, but was not appointed because of his inability to write and his lack of business experience. 7 A letter in support of Hanks’ application was written to Lincoln by Richard J. Oglesby, in later years to be thrice elected Covernor of Illinois. Oglesby wrote from Springfield on September 17, 1861, as follows:
It will not be necessary for me in speaking of John Hanks to recount his virtues to you. You know his worth his capacity and his defects if he has any. I only wish to say this to you that if you can find it within your reach to confer some mark of respect upon him during your administration – I know of no man who will feel it more keenly than John Hanks himself. Besides it will be felt and appreciated all over the country in which he lives as a just recognition of old personal ties. No attribute of nature is more beautiful when fitly illustrated than the acknowledgment of former relations in life when one may be supposed to have forgotten them by reason of advancement to distinction and power in earthly honors. The difficulty I plainly see will be to overcome the misfortune Mr. Hanks labors under of not knowing how to write. Should you be able to confer upon him some position where this requirement may be dispensed with – you will have favored an old friend and pleased everybody else. Further than this as the personal friend of Mr. Hanks I do not ask or desire you to go.8
Dennis Hanks told Herndon that "John Hanks of Decatur did solisit him for an Indian agency and John told me that Abe as good as told him he should have one. But John could not read or write. I think this was the reason that Abe did not give John the place"9 Henry C. Whitney states that Lincoln asked him about the suitability of appointing John Hanks. Whitney suggested that Lincoln pass over Hanks’ ignorance, for "his honesty is better than knowledge."10
It is very much to Lincoln’s credit that he did not distribute political jobs among his eastern Illinois relatives.
A number of Coles County friends of Lincoln were Civil War colonels. Augustus H. Chapman entered military service as a major in the 54th Illinois Infantry on October 10, 1861. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on January 9, 1863. Colonel Greenville M. Mitchell of Charleston was regimental commander at that time. Colonel Chapman was mustered out on April 13, 1865. 11 Lincoln’s friend Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston was in command of the 1st Illinois Cavalry from July 1861 until it was mustered out at Benton Barracks, Missouri, on June 14, 1862.12


6 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32945. The document is marked "copy" and both letter and endorsement are in the same handwriting, not that of Lincoln. Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 342. The Coles County Marriage Register, 1861-1865, p. 41, shows that William F. Shriver was married to Mary L. Hanks on June 10, 1862. The name is spelled "Schriver" in the copy of the letter in the Lincoln Papers. The daughers of Dennis Hanks were:
Sarah Jane, born June 14, 1822, married Thomas S. Dowling of Charleston, died March 20, 1907.
Nancy, born 1824, married James Shoaff of Edgar County, 1843.
Harriet A., born 1826, married Augustus H. Chapman of Charleston, September 9, 1847.
Amanda, born 1833, married Allison C. Poorman of Charleston.
Mary, born after 1833, married William F. Shriver, June 10, 1862.
The names of the children of Dennis Hanks are given in a letter from Mrs. Harriet A. Dice to Alden H. Wyatt, March 23, 1928. Photostat in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
7 Whitney, Circuit, p. 419.
8 Copied by Paul M. Angle from the Oglesby Papers. Angle’s copy in the office of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Oglesby was a Decatur resident. His letter would appear to have been written to assure Lincoln that if he did appoint his illiterate second cousin to some sort of federal job, that the appointment would be generally approved in Macon County.
"Hanks to Herndon, January 26, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 522.
10 Whitney, Life, vol. I, pp. 63-64.
11 A. G. R., vol. Ill, p. 656.
12 A. G. R., vol. VII, p. 461.


Lincoln was well acquainted with the True family of Mattoon. Two of its members commanded, in turn, the 62nd Illinois Infantry. Colonel James M. True organized the regiment and served with it throughout the period of hostilities. When the regiment was reorganized in April 1865, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. True of the regiment became its commander. John W. True served with the 54th Infantry as Adjutant and as major. He resigned on July 17, 1863, probably to become a paymaster.13 F. G. True of Mattoon on February 1, 1863, had written to Senator Lyman Trumbull, asking Trumbull to use his influence to secure such a position for Major True. Trumbull referred the letter to Lincoln, who on February 9 passed the letter on to Secretary of War Stanton with the endorsement: "I personally know John W. True and think him both competent and worthy to be an Additional Paymaster. A. Lincoln."14
Colonel James Monroe of Mattoon, son of Byrd Monroe, Sr., of Charleston, according to a tradition in the Cunningham family of Mattoon, owed his advancement in rank to President Lincoln. Monroe married Mary Jane, daughter of James Taylor Cunningham (1801-1863), one of the founders of the city of Mattoon, a large-scale landowner, farmer and cattle dealer, and an acquaintance of President Lincoln. According to the tradition Monroe had been elected captain of his company and also had been appointed colonel of another regiment. The War Department objected to the transfer, and it began to look as though Captain Monroe would not be able to accept the higher rank. So Cunningham went to Washington to see the President in his son-in-law’s behalf. Lincoln brought him into his office, past a crowd of waiting office-seekers, and after a long conversation about Lincoln’s Coles County relatives and friends, the President gave Cunningham a note to the Secretary of War, which read: "Admit the bearer, Mr. Cunningham, at once. He is an old and tried friend of mine. He will not deviate one hair’s breath from the truth. Do what he wants done, if possible. A. Lin- coln."15 This note, on a small card, remained in the possession of the Cunningham family for years. Its present location is unknown. According to the family tradition, Secretary Stanton issued the necessary order, and Monroe received his colonelcy. He was later killed in action in Tennessee.16


13 A. G. R., vol. Ill, p. 656; vol. IV, pp. 244, 276. In November 1862, True had expressed a desire to become a paymaster. Collected Works, vol. V, p. 540 note.
14 Collected Works, vol. VI, p. 98. Also see vol. V, p. 540, Lincoln to Stanton, December 4, 1862.
15 Text of note from Portrait and Biographical Album of Coles County, III. Chicago, Chapman Bros., 1887, p. 441. Courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt. Mr. James T. Cunningham, II, in describing the family tradition to the writer on January 7, 1950, quoted the note, from memory, as follows: "This will introduce to you James T. Cunningham, a friend of mine. If there is anything you can do for him, I will appreciate it. A. Lincoln."
16 As told to the writer by Mr. James T. Cunningham, II, of Mattoon, grandson of James T. Cunningham, January 7, 1950.
One detail of this traditional account appears to be erroneous, but the main point may be accepted as probably true: that James T. Cunningham did go to Washington to see his friend the President in behalf of his son-in-law James Monroe, Colonel Monroe entered the service on April 19, 1861, as captain of Company B, 7th Illinois Infantry. On March 21, 1862, he was promoted to major in that regiment, and on September 6, 1862, he became colonel of the 123rd Illinois Infantry. It was this promotion, presumably (from major to colonel rather than from captain to colonel), which was the occasion of Mr. Cunningham’s visit to the President. Colonel Monroe was killed in action at the battle of Farming ton, Tennessee, on October 7, 1863.17
James Monroe’s brother George of the 54th Illinois Infantry, also was the recipient of President Lincoln’s favorable attention. Brigadier General Nathan Kimball of Kimball’s Provisional Division, writing from Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 29, 1863, to the Adjutant General, recommended First Lieutenant George Monroe for promotion. Monroe had been regimental quartermaster. General Kimball reported that "implicit confidence is placed in him by the officers of his Regiment and all who know him. He is competent, active, and trustworthy. . . ." On the reverse of General Kimball’s letter the President added an endorsement: "Lieut. Monroe is a son of an old friend of mine, and I desire him to have the promotion sought, if the service admits of it. A. Lincoln. Feb. 8, 1864."18 The desired promotion was delayed, for the Illinois Adjutant General’s Report has the notation opposite the name of George Monroe, Charleston, regimental quartermaster, "Prom, by President, Oct. 17, 1864."19
Dr. William M. Chambers of Charleston, friend and political supporter of Lincoln, received permission from the President and the War Department in October 1861, to raise a regiment of Kentucky-born Illinois troops for service in Kentucky. On October 3, 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron wrote to Governor Richard Yates of Illinois, bespeaking his cooperation in the organization of this brigade. Cameron wrote:
After consultation with the President, we have concluded to authorize Dr. William M. Chambers of Illinois, to organize a brigade of four regiments of infantry, native-born Kentuckians, now residents of Illinois, to serve for three years, or during the war. As the several regimental organizations are filled they will be sent to Kentucky for service. Please furnish such aid and facilities as may be necessary to organize promptly.20
Dr. Chambers meanwhile on October 4, 1861, had entered the service as a brigade surgeon and had been assigned to another brigade. On December 17, 1861, Major Chapman of the 54th, writing from Charleston before going on active duty on February 18, 1862, requested President Lincoln to have Dr. Chambers transferred to the "Kentucky Brigade" which he had been instrumental in forming, and which was then being organized. Chapman wrote that "there is no one who could render us more essential service in the formation of our Brigade than he." Lincoln noted on the reverse of this letter: "This inchoate Brigade was set on foot by particular friends of mine some time ago. I expect they will have to be completed by consolidation. I wish the very best done for them that can be consistently with the public service. A. Lincoln, Dec. 27, 1861."21
James T. Cunningham, the Mattoon friend of Lincoln who had aided Colonel Monroe, was sent by the President on confidential assignments on two or three occasions, according to family tradition. The last of these missions was made in 1863 and cost Cunningham his life. The President had requested him to visit the military post at Cairo, Illinois, where illness among the troops was rife, and give him a report on conditions. Cunningham was about sixty-two years old, and requested a Mattoon friend, Myron Jedediah Ferguson, about thirty-six years old, to accompany him. Both contracted camp dysentery at Cairo. Ferguson recovered, but Cunningham died.22


17 A. G. R., vol. I, pp. 259, 353, 357; vol. VI, pp. 395, 418.
18 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 174.
19 A. G. R., vol. Ill, p. 656. The record shows that George Monroe enlisted on October 10, 1861, and was mustered into service on February 18, 1862. His brother Byrd Monroe, Jr., was captain of Co. C, 54th Illinois Infantry, until his resignation on November 27, 1862. P. 662.
20 Official Records, Union and Confederate Armies, series III, vol. i, p. 557. Cited hereafter as Official Records. The 54th Illinois Volunteer Infantry was a regiment in this brigade, which also included the 60th, 62nd and 63rd infantry regiments. Its service was not confined to Kentucky.
21 Photostat of letter in files of Illinois State Historical Library. Collected Works, vol. V, p. 80. Dr. Chambers held the rank of major. He remained in the service until May 12, 1865. A. G. R., vol. I, p. 180.
22 Interview by the writer with Mr. James T. Cunningham, II, and Dr. Oscar W. Ferguson, son of M. J. Ferguson, Mattoon, Illinois, January 7, 1950. The writer has been unable to find any other reference to this incident.


President Lincoln’s correspondence with his Coles County friends included a number of requests for appointment to public office. His friend Thomas A. Marshall had been hard hit by the decline in the value of Southern state and railroad bonds following secession. Writing to Lincoln from Springfield on February 10, 1861, Marshall expressed his determination to meet all of his obligations in full, but to do so "will probably swallow up everything I have," he added. He asked Lincoln, therefore, for an appointment to public office, "as good an office as your sense of what is right authorizes" If, however, Lincoln did not think it right to appoint him to an office, Marshall wrote that:
I will suppose it is because the number of desirable places you can bestow upon the Republicans of this state is limited, & there are others who have greater claims, in sufficient numbers to fill them. In that case, I shall go to work with a stout heart to support my family, & if possible to retrieve my fortunes, not one whit abating my zeal for the Republican cause, or my devoted friendship for yourself.23
In the press of preparations to leave Springfield for Washington, it is likely that Lincoln did not find the time to reply to this letter. Marshall again referred to his precarious financial condition in his letter to Lincoln of April 14, 1861, concerning the Chapman appointment, but he made no reference to any appointment for himself. He did, however, request a West Point cadetship for his son James.24
Seeking to recoup his fortunes, Marshall with A. W. Mack, a banker of Kankakee, Illinois, formed a company to furnish provisions to the army. Early in June Marshall and Mack went to Washington, where they saw Lincoln, who on June 10 gave them a letter to General George B. McClellan, then commanding the Union forces in northwestern Virginia (now West Virginia). Lincoln assured McClellan that "any contract made with them would be faithfully complied with on their part. . . ." The President hoped that they would obtain a contract "on fair and just terms to the government and themselves." Marshall and Mack, the President added, were friends whom he "would be pleased to see obliged."25
While in Washington Marshall renewed his request for a West Point cadetship for his son, for on the same day as the letter to McClellan, Lincoln wrote to Secretary of War Simon Cameron: "If there is any vacancy of a cadetship, for West-Point, which I have to fill, please give it to James M. Marshall, son of Hon. T. A. Marshall, of Illinois." The appointment was made, and James M. Marshall was in the fourth (first year) class at West Point as of September 30, 1861.26
Evidently nothing came of the army contract business for on June 16, after returning to Charleston, Marshall wrote to Lincoln that he feared that "We will fail in accomplishing anything in the way of a contract." Marshall also asked Lincoln to expedite his son’s West Point appointment, in order that James could enter the Academy at the time required by Academy regulations.27
With the army contract venture unsuccessful, in this same letter Marshall suggested a military appointment for himself. He proposed that a brigade of troops be raised in Coles County, with himself in command with a commission as a brigadier general. Marshall pointed out that he had "borne nearly the whole burden & expense of the [Republican] party in this and some of the neighboring counties for five years," and that his standing in the party was such that his appointment as a brigadier general, he had been advised, would be well received in Illinois.
A Coles County brigade was not raised, but within two weeks after writing this letter, or on July 1, 1861, Marshall was commissioned Colonel and given command of the First Illinois Cavalry, which was mustered into service on July 19. 28 On September 20, 1861, six companies of the regiment, together with Colonel James Mulligan’s "Irish Brigade," were captured by a Confederate force of ten thousand men under General Sterling Price at the battle of Lexington, Missouri, after fifty-two hours of heavy fighting against great odds.29 The officers were placed on parole, and were exchanged in December 1861.


23 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 7275. This letter was written less than two weeks after Lincoln had visited in the Marshall home at Charleston. Marshall obviously had not embarrassed his guest by discussing his own desire for an appointment with him at that time.
24 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 9067.
25 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 400.
26 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 398 and note.
27 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 10315.
28 A. G. R., vol. VII, pp. 461, 467-469. Company C of this regiment was recruited in Coles County. Most of the men came from Mattoon.
29 Official Records, series I, vol. iii, pp. 187-188. Price reported the capture of 3,500 men (probably an exaggeration) , including Colonel Mulligan (in command of the Federal troops) , Colonel Marshall, and 122 other officers. For military operations leading up to the surrender, see pp. 417-421, 423, 426, 428, 452. T. M. Eddy: The Patriotism of Illinois (1865), pp. 165-166, states that the Confederates cut the Federal troops off from their water supply, and that both Mulligan and Marshall were wounded.


On December 8, 1861, Colonel Marshall, not yet having been exchanged, and having been informed that he was no longer considered to be on active duty, wrote again to the President from Charleston requesting an appointment.30 As it turned out, he was not in a position to accept an appointment, for following the exchange of the officers of the regiment that month, they were ordered to reorganize the regiment, with Colonel Marshall retaining command. This was partially accomplished by June 1862, and the partly organized regiment resumed service in the field. Difficulties arising out of the filling of vacancies in the regiment prevented the completion of the reorganization, and on July 14, 1862, the regiment was mustered out of the service at Benton Barracks, near St. Louis.31
The day following the disbanding of his regiment, Colonel Marshall wrote to the President from Benton Barracks. As he told Mr. Lincoln, the disbanding of the regiment was "because the authorities could not or would not exchange the [enlisted] men who had been taken prisoner and paroled.’’ Marshall made no reference to any political appointment for himself in this letter.32
Before coming to Charleston Marshall had resided for several years at Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he retained some property interests after his removal to Illinois. 33 It seems that after leaving military service, Marshall had occasion to return to Mississippi to look after his interests, for on June 6, 1864, President Lincoln wrote to General Henry W. Slocum in Marshall’s behalf. In April 1864 Slocum had been placed in command of that portion of Mississippi then under Union control, which included the Vicksburg district. Lincoln’s letter to Slocum was:
My friend Thomas A. Marshall, who will hand you this, informs me that he has some difficulty in managing a plantation in your Department. It may be that you withhold nothing from him which can safely be granted; and I do not make any order in the case; but simply wish to say I personally know, so far as such things can be known, that Mr. Marshall is loyal, truthful, and honorable; and that I shall be glad for him to be obliged in any not unreasonable way.34
Another Coles County friend who asked President Lincoln for an appointment was Henry P. H. Bromwell of Charleston. Bromwell had been active as a Republican since the party was first organized in Illinois. He had been a Republican presidential elector in both 1856 and 1860, and he had been defeated for Congress in 1856. On April 11, 1863, Bromwell wrote to Lincoln from Charleston applying for appointment as Fifth Auditor of the Treasury "when such office shall become vacant by the resignation of Judge Underwood/’ which Bromwell had been informed would be "shortly"35 Two days later Bromwell wrote to Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher about the same job, saying that he had heard of the impending vacancy and that he wanted it – in fact, he would take any position available.36


30 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 13303.
31 A. G. R., vol. VII, pp. 461, 484-485; Official Records, series II, vol. iv, p. 192. 82 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 17125.
33 Letter, Thomas L. Marshall, grandson of Thomas A. Marshall, to the writer, September 23, 1949.
34 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 378.
35 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 22921.
30 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 22948.


Evidently Bromwell did not get the appointment, for on February 15, 1864, he wrote to the President, from Washington, following a conference he had had with him. He applied again for an appointment, to "one of the contemplated bureaus of which we spoke, or such other appointment as you may deem me qualified for; and which would be proper for me to receive."37 As far as the writer has been able to determine, Bromwell did not receive an appointment. As it turned out, this was just as well, for he became the Republican candidate for Congress in 1864, was elected, and served for two terms. In the Bromwell Papers in the Library of Congress is a card in Lincoln’s hand, dated March 19, 1865, as follows: "Hon. Sec. of War, please see & hear Hon. H. P. H. Bromwell, one of our new Union M.Cs from Illinois. A. Lincoln." There is no indication in the Papers of the nature of Bromwell’s business with Secretary Stanton.38
An early Indian agency appointment by President Lincoln went to a former Coles County resident then living in California. George M. Hanson, formerly of Paradise, Coles County, who established the first post office in the county in 1829, was appointed Superintending Agent for the Indians of Northern California on April 9, 1861. Hanson had been prominent in Republican politics in California since 1856. He had been a delegate to the Republican national convention of that year, where he had advocated the nomination of Lincoln as the vice-presidential candidate. Hanson went to Washington in March 1861 for Lincoln’s inauguration, and to press his candidacy for the agency appointment. He was endorsed by Senator E. D. Baker of California and by W. P. Dole, who became Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Hanson sent all his testimonials to Secretary of the Interior Caleb B. Smith on March 29, 1861, with a letter in which he referred to his "personal acquaintance for over 30 years" with President Lincoln. Hanson’s name appears on an undated appointment memorandum, in Lincoln’s handwriting, found in the Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. He is listed for the north California Indian Superintendency at a salary of $4,000.39
The appointment was made, and Hanson served as Superintending Agent for the Indians of northern California until August 1863, when he was replaced. While in office, Hanson had been accused of diverting Indian purchases to his own use, and other irregularities. A reference service report by the National Archives, prepared for the writer, concludes that:
While nothing has been found in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to prove definite guilt on the part of Mr. Hanson, it would seem clear that he was under a heavy cloud of suspicion during most of his tenure of office and that he was replaced because of his administrative inability and this suspicion.40
Hanson was seen in California in 1864 by a Coles County acquaintance, George E. Mason, who later made his permanent residence in San Diego. Writing to a Charleston paper from San Diego on June 4, 1906, Mr. Mason recalled:
Hanson moved to California with his family and was made Indian Agent for the Digger Indians ... by President Lincoln. Notwithstanding his being a Methodist minister he skinned not only the cattle he purchased for the Indians, but he skinned the Indians as well, sold the beef and fed the Indians on the hoofs, horns and hides. I saw him in 1864, at Long Valley, in the Coast Range mountains, a poor old broken down man; the fire had faded from his eyes and his hands shook with the palsy of age.41
Another Indian agency appointment, to the Cherokees, went to Justin Harlan of Marshall, Illinois, who had served as judge of the Coles County Circuit Court during a number of years when Lincoln had cases in that court. Harlan was first appointed on September 11, 1862, on the recommendation of Secretary of the Interior Smith and that of John P. Usher, who became Secretary in 1863. On December 27, 1862, Harlan received a permanent appointment, following Senate confirmation. He served until he resigned in September 1866. He was succeeded by a Tennessee friend of President Johnson. Harlan’s services evidently were highly satisfactory, for in December 1863, he was considered for promotion to "Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Central Superintendency." For some reason his nomination to this higher office, after being made in the Secretary’s office, was not forwarded to the President.42


37 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 305521.
38 H. P. H. Bromwell Papers, Library of Congress, vol. XVII, No. 1627. Col- lected Works, vol. VIII, p. 366.
39 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, Nos. 13639 13641. Printed in Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 306, with the date "c. April 1, 1861" assigned.
40 Report dated February 20, 1950, prepared by Marshall D. Moody. An accompanying report by Miss Margareth Jorgensen gives details concerning Hanson’s appointment.
41 Undated clipping, the Charleston Daily Courier, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston. Mr. Mason was 74 years old at the time he wrote. He had lived in Charleston at various times from 1838 to 1895, when he moved to San Diego.
42 Reference Service Report to the writer, February 6, 1952, by Miss Margareth Jorgensen, National Resources Record Branch, The National Archives.


In an earlier chapter we described Lincoln’s relations with Usher F. Linder, and gave Linder’s letter of March 26, when he was living in Chicago, asking the President for an appointment. Among the letters received by President Lincoln from Coles County was one concerning a quilt sent to him by a lady of Mattoon, Mrs. Fannie Haller. Not having received an acknowledgment after four months, she asked a friend, Lieutenant Colonel D. C. Smith of the 143rd Illinois Infantry, to write to Mr. Lincoln. Colonel Smith wrote from Mattoon on September 26, 1864:
At the request of Mrs. Fannie Haller a resident of this place, seventy-six years of age, whose love for her country and appreciation of your services in behalf of that country prompted her in the month of May last to send you by express a beautiful quilt, the work of her own hands almost half a century ago. She has not yet been favored with an acknowledgment. . . A note from you stating whether or not you have received it would gratify her.
On the reverse of this letter is the notation in Lincoln’s hand, "Acknowledged, October 5, 1864."43
Illustrative of the petty annoyances which come to any President is a letter to Lincoln from Richard E. Turley of Oakland, Coles County, dated August 20, 1864. Turley inquired of Lincoln regarding the estate of one Charles Turley of Rappahannock County, Virginia, who died in 1858, leaving land and negroes. Turley claimed that the federal government had some connection with the*settlement of the estate.44
John S. Sargent (1846-1932) of Hutton Township, Coles County, was recognized by President Lincoln when Sargent was a patient in a hospital visited by the President. Lincoln knew the Sargents, and had visited at their home in southeastern Coles County. In later years the teen-age soldier told his son of the incident. As given to the writer by Mr. Samuel S. Sargent:
When Father was in the Union Army and stationed in Virginia, he was sick in the hospital. It was noised about that Lincoln was coming through the hospital. Father said he was beginning to feel pretty good, so when he saw him coming down the row of beds, he sat up in bed and decided to see if Lincoln would recognize him. He said that Lincoln came up to his bed and spoke to him calling him John and asked how the folks were back home and some other questions about his service.45
None of the beneficiaries of President Lincoln’s use of the pardoning power came from Coles County, to the writer’s knowledge. A Cumberland County soldier, Second Lieutenant Charles Conzet of Greenup, was released from confinement by the President in 1864, following his conviction of desertion by a general court-martial. According to John J. Hall, as told to Mrs. Gridley, Conzet was captured by Captain Talbot (of the 123rd Illinois Infantry). Following the capture, Talbot and "Charley Conzert" stayed overnight at Hall’s cabin at Goosenest Prairie. Hall drove them to Charleston the next morning. Hall claimed that the local Copperheads threatened to lynch him for his part in Conzet’s apprehension. Hall added that:
Charley was tried and sentenced to be shot, but Uncle Abe saved him fur he promised to go back into the war ag’in and be a good soldier, and Uncle Abe said to some of the big fellers down to Washington, "Charley used to be a neighbor of mine and I know what kind of stuff he’s made of. He’ll do as he says." So he let him go and Uncle Abe’s words proved true.46
The facts in the case, as shown by official records, were as follows: Charles Conzet was mustered into the service at Mattoon on September 6, 1862, as Second Lieutenant of Company B, 123rd Illinois Infantry. 47 He was tried by a general court martial at Headquarters, 75th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, on February 21 and March 13 and 14, 1863. He was found guilty of desertion in the face of the enemy at Nashville, Tennessee, on or about January 9, 1863, and was sentenced to be stripped of his insignia of rank and to be shot. The Judge Advocate General commuted the death sentence to imprisonment. On September 24, 1864, President Lincoln ordered: "Let the prisoner be released from confinement and dishonorably dismissed the service of the United States." Conzet’s dishonorable dismissal and release from confinement was the subject of Special Order No. 321, War Department, dated September 26, 1864. 48 Thus Conzet was saved from death by the Judge Advocate General, not by the President. The President did, however, release him from confinement with a dishonorable discharge. This action by the President did not constitute a pardon.49


4:1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 36703.
44 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 35442.
45 Letter, S. S. Sargent to the writer November 12, 1951. Private John S. Sargeant [Sargent] served in Co. C, 68th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He enlisted on May 30, 1862, at age sixteen, and was mustered out at Camp Butler, near Springfield, on September 26, 1862. The regiment served in the vicinity of Washington, D. C. A.G.R., vol. IV, pp. 455, 469. His captain was John P. St. John of Charleston, who became Lieutenant Colonel of the 143rd Illinois Infantry in 1864. After the war Colonel St. John went to Kansas, where he was active as a Prohibitionist. He served as Governor from 1878 to 1882 and in 1884 was the Prohibition Party’s candidate for president.
40 Gridley, pp. 133-134.
47 A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 398; letter Major General William E. Bergin, Acting The Adjutant General, Washington, D. C., to the writer, July 24, 1951.
48 Letter, Col. Robert E. Chandler, Acting Chief, Military Justice Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, Washington, D. C. November 6, 1951 to the writer. Colonel Chandler writes that his office "is in possession of no information which would indicate that Conzet was pardoned by President Lincoln." A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 398, notes that Conzet was "Dismissed Sept. 26, 1864." Two other members of the Conzet family of Greenup served honorably in Company B, 123rd Illinois Infantry. Musician John Conzet and Recruit Edward Conzet entered the service on August 10, 1862, and were mustered out on June 28, 1865. A.G.R., vol. VI, pp. 398, 400.
49 Hall was wrong about Lincoln saving Conzet from execution. He was correct about there being a Captain Talbot. The A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 398, shows that the Commander of Company B, 123rd Illinois Infantry, was Captain Edward Talbot of Greenup, who served from September 6, 1862 until his resignation on April 25, 1864. An 1884 history of Cumberland County states that Talbot resigned because of disability, and returned home to Greenup, where he ran a mill. Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland, Illinois, Chicago, F.A. Battery & Co., 1884, p. 277.


We will close this chapter with the following incident involving President Lincoln which is supposed to have occurred in Coles County. We quote from Mr. William F. Cavins:
James M. Bresee, a well known veteran of the Civil War states that when living near the Coles County village of Trilla with his parents before enlisting, a young woman named Ida Couch came with her children from Kentucky in an ox cart to live near them. Her husband was a soldier in the Union Army. He had sent her $5.00 which she never received and which she very much needed. Being unable to read or write she asked a neighbor to write a letter to the President explaining her plight, and called on Mr. Bresee’s mother to read for her the President’s reply. Mr. Lincoln stated that due to the confusion of the war the mail service was somewhat inefficient and that letters when lost were not easily traced. Fearing that she might not get the money and lest she might suffer for the need of it, he was therefore enclosing money to the amount that had miscarried.50
The writer has not seen this story in any other Lincoln material. While of dubious authenticity, it is not out of character. It is just the sort of thoughtful kindness which we associate with Lincoln.


50 Cavins, p. 8; Letter, W. F. Cavins to the writer, November 6, 1951. Mr. Bresee later lived near Mattoon, where Mr. Cavins interviewed him in his home.


President Lincoln and the Charleston Rioters
DENNIS HANKS wrote to the President, from Charleston, on April 5, 1864:
Abe we had a horible time a Munday of court it broke up got in to a fuss by a drunkin Soldier I never saw such a time Thare was 8 or 10 killed in the fight one you no Doct York of paris Edgar County young E. winkler was wounded. . . .1
Dennis was referring to the "Charleston Riot" of March 28, 1864, a fight between soldiers on leave and "Copperheads" in which six soldiers and three civilians were killed and four soldiers and eight civilians were wounded. The incident took place on the public square of Charleston.2 There had been bad blood for some time between the soldiers and those local civilians who were opposed to the Lincoln administration. Monday, March 28, proved to be a day to settle old scores. The town was crowded, for it was "court day" and in addition the local Democratic Congressman, John R. Eden, was scheduled to make a speech. It also was the last day of furlough for the men of the 54th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Companies C and G included many Coles County men who were in town for a last celebration before rejoining their regiment. The resulting "Charleston Riot" was the bloodiest affair of its kind in the North during the Civil War. It was not a "draft riot," such as was the fighting in New York City in July 1863.
Twenty-nine persons were arrested by the military for participation in the riot and were sent to Camp Yates near Springfield on April 8. Of these, thirteen were shortly released, one died at Camp Yates, and fifteen were sent to Fort Delaware, Delaware, where they were held until November 4, 1864, when President Lincoln ordered: "Let these prisoners be sent back to Coles County, Ill., those indicted to be surrendered to the sheriff of said county, and the others be discharged."3 Thus did President Lincoln give the civil authority precedence over the military. Only two of the fifteen prisoners at Fort Delaware were among the fourteen alleged participants in the riot indicted by the Coles County Circuit Court grand jury on June 11, 1864. These two men, George Washington Rardin and John F. Redmon, were brought to trial at Effingham, Illinois, on December 7, 1864, on a change of venue, and were acquitted.
Two Coles County men brought the plight of the fifteen prisoners at Fort Delaware to the attention of the President; his second cousin Dennis Hanks and Orlando B. Ficklin. Both went to Washington to see the President in behalf of the prisoners. According to local tradition the families and friends of the prisoners raised $1,000 which they gave to Ficklin to go to Washington. Ficklin failed to see Lincoln because he arrived at the time of the excitement over General Jubal Early’s raid on the capital on July 11 and 12, 1864. Hanks then offered to go to Washington and declined any payment other than his expenses. He saw the President, and the release of the prisoners followed. That is the tradition.
Two telegrams from Lincoln to judicial friends in Illinois on July 2, 1864, and correspondence between the President and Ficklin, appear to disprove this tradition. Lincoln took an interest in the Coles County prisoners before Ficklin’s visit. On July 2, Lincoln sent identical telegrams to his old Illinois friends, Judges Samuel H. Treat and David Davis, as follows: "Please give me a summary of the evidence, with your impression, on the Coles county riot cases. I send the same request to Judge Davis [Treat]." Both replied, but Davis’ letter has not been found. Treat replied by wire on July 4: "The record in the case of the Coles Co. prisoners was ordered to be certified to the president it contains the whole case in my opinion the prisoners should have been surrendered to the civil authorities under the act of March Third (3) eighteen sixty three (1863) Judge Davis was of the same opinion."4
Later in the same month (July), Ficklin reached Washington. It is not clear whether or not he saw Lincoln, but Lincoln wrote to him while he remained in the city, on July 22. Evidently Judges Davis and Treat had inclined the President to release the prisoners, when a military report caused him to hesitate. Lincoln wrote to Ficklin as follows:
I had about concluded to send the Coles County men home, turning over the indicted to the authorities, and discharging the others, when Col. Oaks’ 5 report, with the evidence he had taken in the case was put in my hands. The evidence is very voluminous, and Col. Oaks says it fully implicates every one of the sixteen [fifteen] now held; and so far as I have been able to look into it, his statement is sustained. I cannot now decide the case until I shall have fully examined this evidence.6
Ficklin, still in Washington, replied at once:
I have received your note in reference to the Coles County prisoners & appreciate the embarrassment under which you are placed by the report of Col. Oaks. The evidence on which his report is based is not only wholly exparte but was taken when the town was a military camp & the whole community was excited beyond description.
Richard Robinson (brother to James C. Robinson) , was proven to be there, was arrested at his house in Clark County and brought to Charleston & the best men in his neighborhood without distinction of party proved that he was at home all day drunk.7
I could cite other cases of similar character which simply prove that there were mistakes growing out of excitement intensified.
If these men can be tried at home or if the testimony can be retaken, before any fair minded man it will establish the innocence of those not indicted.
I deprecate & openly denounce all resistance to or violation of law as much as any one can or need to, but the community genuinely believes most of these men to be innocent & they have confidence that you will not allow them to be sacrificed for the sins of others. I leave this matter in your hands in the full confidence that you will deal justly by these men.8
Ficklin returned to Charleston, but he did not let the matter drop as the men remained in confinement. He asked Thomas A. Marshall to write to the President, and did so again himself, enclosing Marshall’s letter, who wrote from Charleston on August 23, 1864:
I am requested by our old friend Ficklin to write to you my notions about releasing the 15 copperheads that were arrested for being con- cerned in the outbreak here last spring & have been taken to Fort Delaware. I think none of them are of sufficient consequence to be made state- prisoners of. Several of them were I hear not indicted for any offence by the grand jury of this county which body was thoroughly loyal & well disposed to bring all to justice, against whom there was any proof. I think those who were indicted had better be handed over to the authorities here for trial & the others let loose. Most of them are poor miserable devils, that can do but little good or harm in any way. The leaders and indeed most of the actors in the affair here have so far escaped arrest. So far as 1 understand the feeling here the public would be satisfied to have the prisoners discharged.9



1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32134.
2 Charles H. Coleman and Paul H. Spence: "The Charleston Riot," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, March 1940, pp. 7-56. The following account is based on that article, with additional material not available to the authors in 1940.
3 Collected Works, vol. VIII, p. 90. Collected Works, vol. VII, pp. 421-423.
5 Lieut. Col. James Oakes, assistant provost marshall general for Illinois, who had recommended that the prisoners be tried by military rather than civil law.
Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 455.
7 Robinson was not one of those imprisoned at Fort Delaware. James C. Robinson of Marshall, Clark County, was a Democratic member of Congress, 1859-1865, and 1871-1875. He was defeated for Governor in 1864.
8 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 34690. July 22, 1864 (?) . Also in Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 455 note.
9 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 35511.


Ficklin sent Marshall’s letter on to Lincoln with one of his own which he wrote from Charleston on September 10. Why Ficklin delayed over two weeks in forwarding Marshall’s letter is not clear. Ficklin wrote:
I beg leave to enclose you the letter of our mutual friend Thomas A. Marshall, than whom no more ultra Republican lives in this latitude.
He tells you of the insignificance & want of influence & of consequence of the 15 Coles Co. prisoners. Why keep them confined in Fort Delaware.
Powerless for good or evil, & wholly disconnected with the Coles Co. riot, their confinement is entirely without significance. It is a punishment to innocent men but furnish no warning to the guilty. Washington Raridan10 is in Hospital with slight hopes of recovery. Send him home to be tried at our Court on the 4th Monday of this month. He can give all the bail required, but kept there he is likely to die.
I have told the friends of these prisoners that I had known you long & well & that you would not keep them in prison when there was no proof of their guilt. What have they done that is worthy of death or of bonds? Raridan, Brooks & Shelburne11 are now in hospital with a fair prospect of not getting out alive. Can you not be merciful to the afflicted & give ear to the wailings of the wife and children of each of these afflicted and wrongfully punished men?
Republicans, Democrats & Conservatives here all unite in asking that these men be tried or discharged & why can it not be done? Is the government afraid of a trial in open day? From March till September these men have pined in a prison & most of them have no more connection than your Excellency with the Coles Co. raid. Why then hold them. The 54, Col. Mitchell’s Regt captured at Devall’s Bluff arrive daily & will all be here soon.12
I beg of you to act in the case of the Coles Co. prisoners.13
It is difficult to say what effect these letters had on Lincoln’s decision to release the prisoners. He received them in July and September, and the men were not returned to Coles County until November. Lincoln’s release order followed the action he told Ficklin he had proposed to take in July, before receiving Colonel Oakes’ report. Marshall also recommended the same course in his letter of August 23.


10 George Washington Rardin.
11 Blueford E. Brooks, Miner Shelbourne.
12 Most of the soldiers involved in the Charleston Riot were members of the 54th Illinois Infantry, Col. Greenville M. Mitchell of Charleston, commanding.
13 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 36127.


In addition to Colonel Oakes, Major Addison A. Hosmer, acting Judge Advocate General, on July 26 also recommended that the Coles County prisoners be tried by military rather than by civil authority.14 After Lincoln had heard from Marshall and Ficklin he may have seen another report, dated September 30, from Hugh L. Bond and John C. King, civilian commissioners named by the War Department to hear and pass on the cases of "prisoners of state" at Forts Delaware and McHenry. Thirty-two were held at Fort Delaware, including the fifteen from Coles County. The report recommended that four prisoners be handed over to the civil authorities for trial, and that eighteen be released upon taking the oath of allegiance. Although the report did not list the twenty-two by name, the nature of the other recommendations suggests that the Coles County prisoners were among them.15
It is clear that Lincoln was under pressure from two sides. The military wanted their pound of flesh for the soldiers murdered in Charleston. Lincoln’s Illinois friends; Davis, Treat, Marshall and Ficklin, were urging a vindication of the civil authority. Nor should we lose sight of the over-all national picture in the summer and fall of 1864 – the tense military situation in Georgia and Virginia,16 the presidential election campaign, marked by bitter opposition to the President from the Radical members of his own party,17 and the endless succession of appeals to his mercy from the relatives of court-martialled soldiers. It is no wonder that the release order for the Coles County men was delayed; indeed, it is surprising that the order came when it did, four days before the national election, which was held on November 8.
It is doubtful if the visit of Dennis Hanks to the President had any influence. Hanks saw Lincoln in May, before Ficklin saw him in July. The family tradition has it that the released prisoners reached home before Hanks returned from Washington. This would indicate a second trip to Washington by Hanks, around the first of November. There is no evidence of such a second trip. Herndon’s account of Hanks’ visit states that his plea was not immediately successful, as Lincoln refused to override Secretary of War Stanton’s objection to releasing the prisoners.18
Hanks’ May trip to Washington is established by Lincoln’s endorsement, dated May 15, 1864, on a letter presented to him by Hanks from W. F. Shriver, which informed Lincoln that it would "be presented to you by Father Hanks." Furthermore on June 8, 1864, in a letter to John J. Hall, Hanks stated "I have bin to see Old Abe."19


14 Official Records, Series I, vol. xxxii, part 1, pp. 635-643. Lincoln’s release order of November 4 took the form of an endorsement on Major Hosmer’s report to the President.
15 Official Records, Series II, vol. vii, pp. 898-899. The report was addressed to the Secretary of War.
16 Sherman versus Hood in Georgia, Atlanta captured on September 2; Grant versus Lee, Sheridan versus Early in Virginia, battle of Cedar Creek on October 19.
17 Wade-Davis Manifesto, August 5.
18 Herndon, p. 418.
19 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32945; Sandburg, Collector, p. 95. F. B. Carpenter, the artist who was at the White House from February to July, 1864, while painting a picture of Lincoln and his cabinet (now in the Capitol) , tells of a visit to the President by Dennis Hanks. One object of the visit was to see if Lincoln "would do something for one of his boys." Carpenter, p. 299.


If Hanks’ May 1864 visit to Washington was his only visit to see the President (which is probable), then Herndon was right, and the family tradition is wrong concerning the effect of Hanks’ visit on the release of the Coles County prisoners.
In later years Hanks told his story of his visit to the President at the White House. Robert Mclntyre of Charleston asked Hanks if he had ever visited Lincoln in Washington. Hanks replied:
Certainly; there were some folks arrested in Charleston, and I for their folks’ sake, went on durin’ the war to get them free, for it was best. I got there and found the White House surrounded with soldiers. I got up to the door to go in, and a reporter [means porter] stopped me and said: "Who do you want to see?" I said, "Mr. Lincoln." He said, "You can’t see him; it aint the time of day yet." "I hain’t come here from Illinois for nothin’." He grinned and showed me the door to his office. Outside was a heap of fellers waitin’ to get in to see the President. I opened the door kinder soft, and at the other end of a big room sat Abe at an old desk worth about six bits. "Hey?" I hollered, "you’re a pretty President, ain’t ye?" He looked up and said, "Well, Dennis is that you?" and made a run and just gathered me. When I could git able to talk I said: "I don’t want no offis, Abe." He said, "most of ’em do Dennis" and smiled kinder tired. I told my errand and he said to come up next morning and he would fix it. We talked an hour as friendly as ever about long-ago times, then he told me to go down to the house and see Mary – that’s his wife. She’s dead now, poor soul. I knowed they was too high-falutin’ down to Mary’s for me, so I went to a tavern and put up. Next morning I went up, and Abe had an arm-load of indictments, and he said, "take these over to Stanton and he’ll fix it." I said, "Abe, I don’t know where the plaguegoned place is." So he called a reporter standin’ by and said: "Take these to Mr. Stanton." Pretty soon Mr. Stanton, in a bobtail coat, came in. He didn’t want to let ’em go; but Abe was kind and made him sign ’em. When Stanton went out, I said: "Abe, if I was as big as you are, I would take Stanton over my knee and spank him." He laughed and said, "it is not easy to keep my cabinet all in good humor." I left an’ came home and never saw him again. The next spring he was killed.20
Another incident of Hanks’ visit, not mentioned by him in the above account, was the gift of a silver watch to him by the President. The story is that when changing trains at Altoona, Pennsylvania, on the trip to Washington, Hanks lost his watch and money to a pickpocket. He told Lincoln of his loss. Many years later, in a letter to Oliver R. Barrett, T. B. Shoaff, a grandson of Dennis Hanks, described the incident. After learning of Dennis’ loss, "Lincoln turned around and took from his desk an old silver watch he had carried around over the State of Illinois, and from Springfield to Washington, saying ’Dennis you may have this watch. I have carried it a long time. Take it home and take care of it’." He then showed Dennis the gold watch he was carrying, a present from some Washington admirers.21
The watch remained in Hanks’ possession until shortly before his death, which occurred on October 21, 1892. 22 He showed the watch to Eleanor Atkinson during her interview with him in January 1889. He told her, "Thar’s a feller up in Chicago, that’s plumb crazy over Abe, an’ he offered me five hundred dollars fur it." 23 The "feller up in Chicago" was Mr. Charles F. Gunther, who bought the watch for $500 through Hanks’ granddaughter, Mrs. M. M. Barney, of Paris, Illinois. 24 Mr. Gunther placed the watch on exhibit in the old Libby Prison building in Chicago, which was exhibited to the public at the time of the World’s Fair of 1893. Gunther sold the watch to Oliver R. Barrett. When Mr. Barrett’s collection of Lincolniana was sold by auction in February 1952, the watch was purchased by the Waltham Watch Company.25


20 Lerna Weekly Eagle, Lincoln Anniversary issue, February 1928. Dennis Hanks gave Mrs. Gridley a similar account in 1891. He included in this version of the Washington trip story a statement that he was offered $1,200 to make the trip, and accepted the offer. He also stated that the released prisoners got back to Charleston ahead of him. Gridley, pp. 157-158. Hanks’ account evidently was the origin of the family tradition to that effect. The writer believes that the whole story of the visit illustrates Hanks’ tendency to magnify his own importance in all matters relating to Abraham Lincoln.
21 T. B. Shoaff, Paris, 111., to Oliver R. Barrett, Chicago, October 1, 1930. Copy of the letter in files of Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield. Also in Paris, Illinois, Daily Beacon-News, February 12, 1941. Mr. Shoaff died a few years prior to 1941.
22 The circumstances of his death were tragic. As told by George E. Mason in the San Diego, California, Sun, Hanks had been visiting his daughter, Mrs. Nancy Shoaff, at Paris, 111. On "Emancipation Day" the negroes of Paris invited Hanks to attend a celebration and occupy a seat on the platform, which he did. After the meeting he started home alone, and as he was almost blind, he was run over by a team of horses and was fatally injured. Undated clipping, about 1900, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston.
23 Atkinson, pp. 46-47.
24 On July 5, 1890, Mrs. Barney wrote to Mr. Gunther: "I was over to Charleston yesterday and saw Grandpa Hanks. He wanted to know if I could sell the watch he carries that belonged to Lincoln, said if he could get what he at one time was offered $500 he would sell it now, as he was more in need of money than watch and I thought I would write you/’ Original letter in possession of Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, Mass. Photostat to writer, courtesy of Mr. H. R. Williams, Waltham Watch Co. Hanks turned the watch over to Mrs. Barney for sale. On May 14, 1891, he executed an affidavit in which he stated: "This watch was presented to me by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 at Washington city, D. C, where I had gone to intercede for some men who had been in a riot at Charleston, Ills. The watch he gave me is a silver ’Waltham’ case No. E279- Wm. Ellery movement- key-winder - No. 67613 - Boston, Mass." Hanks added in his affidavit that "I am a full cousin of Abraham Lincoln, and taught him to read and write." Original in possession of Waltham Watch Co. Photostat to writer, courtesy of Mr. H. R. Williams.
25 Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection. Auction Sale Catalogue, 1952, item 483, pp. 182-184.
A Charleston Adviser to the President
AMONG THE LETTERS to President Lincoln in the Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, first opened to the public in 1947, is a series of letters from Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston, from some of which we have already quoted. The letters discuss appointments and other political matters, but they also include many pertinent observations by Marshall on the conduct of the war. Marshall’s long and close friendship with Lincoln enabled him to write with complete frankness, although the tone of the letters was always respectful. April 14, 1861, immediately upon the fall of Fort Sumter, Marshall wrote from Charleston to encourage Lincoln to pursue a bold policy:
Pursue no halting policy. Do not fear to march right up to the limit of all the power conferred on you. The blood of the North is up, take advantage of it. Garrison Washington and Harper’s Ferry, and New- port Ky. and St. Louis or Jefferson Barracks with heavy bodies of Northern volunteers. It is the way to save the border states.1
Two months later on June 16, 1861, Marshall again advised Lincoln concerning the policy to pursue regarding the border states:
You will unquestionably need more troops. You ought to make quick work with Missouri. I have no faith in Kentucky & believe that Crittenden & his friends only make matters worse. I fear in sending arms there you are only aiding the traitors unless you send a strong military force there. All good Union men would be glad to see a strong government army among them & whoever would be offended at that will prove a secessionist in the end. I am sorry Genl McClellan censured Prentiss for breaking up a secession camp in Ky. I had hoped we were done with that policy. ... It is no time to temporize with treason. You have drawn troops from Wisconsin and Indiana to the east, while the best fighting states against you are in the west, Tennessee, Missouri & Kentucky and you may as well make up your mind you have got them all to fight.2
Marshall was a Colonel, in command of the First Illinois Cavalry from July 19, 1861, to July 14, 1862. The day following the mustering out of his regiment and his own release from service, Colonel Marshall wrote to Lincoln from Benton Barracks, offering his suggestions regarding the improvement of officer personnel, the organization of the army, and the raising of troops, based on his own experiences in the service:
First the Army ought to be purged of unworthy officers. Rigid examination should be at once instituted, and no man allowed to receive or retain a commission, unless his qualifications are fair. . . . Next there ought not to be any new regiments received into the service. You have regimental organizations enough already. It is in every way wasteful and wrong to increase the number. There are regiments in the field, with full sets of officers of all kinds & less than 200 men. I presume none are full. . . . But will you dismiss these officers, because their men have been killed in battle or by disease in your service, especially when they understand the business of soldiering so much better than new men can. If you do you make a terrible mistake. Nor will it do to reply that new regiments will be officered by men from old regiments. That is true, but what sort of men will get new Commissions. Often as I know the very meanest & worst. The good ones are not hanging around Governors’ Mansions, for executive favor. They are in the field trying to make the most of the handful of men they have left. It is those who care for nothing but the pay and promotion, & by one false pretext or another have been able to leave their regiment and hang around cities that get promotions in new regiments. Besides it will take six months to raise new regiments & fit them for the field. ... It may be said that you can not fill up old regiments by the volunteer system. Then fill them by draft. You can’t get new regiments by the volunteer system in time to do any good . . . adopt some sure and simple system of drafting, fill your regiments to the maximum in 30 days. Let your conscripts go in with your veterans, and under experienced officers who have staid in the field. . . . Your $25 bounty in advance is well enough but give it to the conscripts. You will be able to get far better material by drafting.3
Marshall’s advice was sound. The conscription which he proposed was authorized in March 1863. The problem of officering and organizing regiments raised by the states was complicated by state control. It was not until the first World War that the entire national military establishment in time of war was placed exclusively under Federal jurisdiction in matters of regimental organization and officer appointments.
Twelve days later, on July 27, 1862, after his return to Charleston, Marshall wrote to Lincoln again. He described the extent of volunteering in Charleston, again urged the use of the draft, and impressed upon Lincoln the advantages which would come from freeing the slaves. Marshall wrote:
Volunteering, if we may believe the papers, is going on finely, it may be so in other places, nothing is being done here. A war meeting at the Court House yesterday was well attended. The house would not hold the people. Fine speeches were made. A band of music as well as the Drum and fife were on hand to kindle enthusiasm. The result was, that besides the self chosen Captain & Lieutenants, three men volunteered. Yet Coles County is not exhausted. There were 500 able bodied men in the Court House yard yesterday after noon & I think there are at least 100 in this town, between the ages of 18 & 30, who are unmarried. Not one of them will volunteer. The right plan is to make a levy en masse, put the young unmarried men into active duty, & organize the others as a reserve. Men with families have no business in the ranks while the country is full of those who have no such charge upon them. I have not read the law. I do not know whether you have technically the power to do these things or not, but I do know that something energetic must be done, to inspire public opinion. . . .
To me it seems that so long as the Rebellion is sustained by the labor of the slaves & the energy of leaders that are really in earnest, it will make head against such measures & such leaders as are trusted to overthrow it. . . . You must weaken the enemy by depriving him of the service of the negro. This can be easily done – promise them freedom so they will come to you by the 100,000. I saw enough in Arkansas to know that this is true. But the author of Order No. 3 is Commander in Chief.4
This nation can not exist half slave & half free. It is not often that the opportunity is given to a man, to do as much good as you can now do. You can make this nation all free. You can preserve its existence. You can give freedom to 4,000,000 of human beings. You can make yourself the greatest benefactor of the human race, that God ever permitted to walk the earth. But you cant do it, by pursuing a halting policy – you cant do it by listening to the authors of the border state address to you,5 nor can you as I fear do it by entrusting the command of your armies to men who have no sympathies with you on these subjects. If it is necessary to have Halleck & McClellan to command your armies, & so continue to lay month after month digging ditches at least make them open in every camp a recruiting office for niggers, & thus they will do something to weaken the enemy.
You certainly know that no great object good or bad was ever ac- complished except by boldness. Suppose Caesar had stopped to dig a ditch at the Rubicon. Suppose he or Cromwell or Alexander or Moses had consulted the Crittendens & border state men of their day. What would they have accomplished. You have the opportunity to play with the chances in your favor for the greatest prize that fame can bestow, but if you do not play with the utmost boldness, you lose it.6
Such letters as this one were welcome to Lincoln, as they strengthened him in his decision in favor of emancipation – a decision he had announced to his cabinet on July 22, 1862, five days before Marshall wrote. Marshall, of course, did not know that Lincoln was awaiting a propitious moment to issue his proclamation of emancipation for the slaves of those in arms against the United States. The Battle of Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862, followed by Lee’s withdrawal across the Potomac, gave Lincoln the opportunity he needed, and the proclamation was issued on September 22, to become effective on the first of January.
On one occasion President Lincoln received advice from another Charleston friend, Dr. William M. Chambers, brigade surgeon in the army. Chambers’ letter was to W. P. Dole, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and was forwarded by Dole to the President. Chambers wrote from General Hospital No. 15, Nashville, Tennessee, on December 10, 1863 as follows:
You can get the ear of the President.
Tell him to either make a Head to the Medical Dept of the Army or abolish the whole thing. I dont think it fair that we should be denied a head.
Individuals are small affairs now. Let us have right. The Secretary of War is a man, – that is all, and has no right as we all think to sacrifice a noble and time honored profession to passion or because of fancied or real derelictions of one individual.
I ask nothing for Chambers. I am ever for "Father Abraham." I think him a man of more unbending integrity than any man in the country. God bless him!
The reverse of the letter has this undated notation:
Mr. Lincoln
This is from your old friend Dr. Chambers of Charleston, Ill. I know nothing of the controversy. I send you the letter as I rec’d it.
Very truly yours
W. P. Dole7
The writer does not know what effect, if any, this letter had on the medical organization of the army. Probably none.


1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 9067.
2 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 10315.
3 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 17125.
4 The reference is to General John Pope who was given command of the Army of the Potomac in July 1862, only to be soundly defeated by General Lee at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 30. While in command in northern Missouri in the summer of 1861, Pope had issued on July 31 his "General Order No. 3" which sought to place responsibility for suppressing marauders and guerrillas on the local inhabitants. The order was a failure, and led to the military operations which culminated in the Battle of Lexington and the capture of Colonel Marshall and his regiment. Text of order in Official Records, series I, vol. iii, pp. 417-419.
5 Address of Border States Convention, Frankfort, Ky., June 8, 1861.
6 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 17284.
7 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 28587.
In Conclusion
ABRAHAM LINCOLN was a frequent visitor to Coles County, although after 1831 he did not stay for more than a few days at any one time. In his Coles County associations we see those warm human qualities which have given Lincoln a more intimate place in our traditions than that of any other great national leader.
Lincoln never ignored the humble folk of Goosenest Prairie. His relations with his parents were marked by ready help for his father when it was needed and by thoughtful concern for his stepmother. There was never any note of condescension nor any patronizing air in his simple acts of kindness.
In his Coles County associations we see the many-sided Lincoln. Lincoln the lawyer honoring his professional obligation in the Matson case even though it gave him an unwanted client. Lincoln the politician planning political strategy with his Coles County supporters. Lincoln the story-teller regaling with anecdotes his friends and supporters during an evening at the Marshall home in Charleston. Lincoln the dutiful son making a hurried trip to Goosenest Prairie to see his ailing father when his own interest would have sent him post-haste to Washington to secure a lucrative political appointment. President-elect Lincoln the devoted stepson, embracing his aged and toil-worn stepmother and sitting down to a meal with the village neighbors in the humble home of his stepsister. President Lincoln the merciful, releasing the imprisoned Charleston rioters.
Appendix
Chronology
The Lincolns in Coles County, 1830-1869
Locations in Coles County associated with Abraham Lincoln
1830 March 10 Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party of 13 persons entered Coles County near present-day location of Westfield on way from Indiana to Macon County, Illinois. Spent night near Parker’s Ford.
  March 11 Travelled from near Parker’s Ford to Paradise settlement near Wabash Point. Spent night at home of Ichabod Radley or John Sawyer.
March 12 Visited at home of John Sawyer at Paradise settlement. Left Coles County on way to Macon County. Their route took them near the present village of Coles.
1831 May Thomas Lincoln family with Hankses and Halls re- turned to Coles County from Macon County. Settled on public land at Buck Grove farm. Thomas Lincoln did not buy this land.
July Visit of Abraham Lincoln to Buck Grove farm. Incident of wrestling match with Daniel Needham.
1834 March 14 Thomas Lincoln purchased 40-acre Muddy Point farm from his stepson, John D. Johnston, for $75. Johnston had entered this public land on May 23, 1833.
November 25 Thomas Lincoln purchased 80 acres of public land (the "Plummer Place") . He gave a mortgage for $102 to Charles S. Morton, School Commissioner. Mortgage paid February 23, 1838.
1835 March 4 Thomas Lincoln, John D. Johnston, Squire Hall, Dennis Hanks, and William Moffett signed lease for operation of saw and grist mill on the Embarrass River.
About
December
1 Abraham Lincoln visited his parents before session of legislature at Vandalia, while they were living at the Muddy Point farm.
1836 October 8 Thomas Lincoln, Johnston, Hanks and Hall lost suit to Noel J. Jones over non-payment of rent on mill. Judgment of $138.69 to Jones.
1837 January 14 Thomas Lincoln purchased 80 acres of public land near his later home at Goosenest Prairie.
May 3 Thomas Lincoln sold his Muddy Point farm to Alexander Montgomery for $140. Moved to the 80-acre farm he had purchased in November 1834.
August 4 John D. Johnston purchased 40 acres of public land at Goosenest Prairie. The Thomas Lincoln and Johnston families moved to this farm.
December 27 Thomas Lincoln sold the 80-acre Plummer Place farm to Daniel P. Needham.
1840 March 5 Thomas Lincoln exchanged with Reuben Moore the 80 acres he purchased on January 14, 1837, for 80 acres joining Johnston’s land on the west. The resulting 120 acres is known as Thomas Lincoln’s Goosenest Prairie farm. The cabin on Johnston’s land was moved to the new purchase and an addition made to it.
September
October
or Abraham Lincoln in Charleston. May have made a political speech at 14th street north of where the railroad now runs.
September 30 Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston won a reversal of a judgment against them secured by Isaac Sears in a justice of the peace court the preceding March. Abraham Lincoln may have represented his father and stepbrother in this case in the circuit court.
December 31 Thomas Lincoln purchased Johnston’s 40 acres for $50, thus completing his Goosenest Prairie farm.
1841 May 24 Abraham Lincoln may have been in Charleston from May 24 through May 29.
May 28 Lincoln for the defendant in Vest vs. Williams et al. Lincoln for the defendant in Moore vs. White. Lincoln for the defendants in Pearson and Anderson vs. Monroe and Easton.
May 29 Lincoln for the plaintiff in Aertson vs. Ashmore and Ashmore.
Lincoln for the defendant in Ewing vs. Goodman.
All of these cases, as well as others listed below, were in the Coles County Circuit Court.
October 25 Lincoln paid his father $200 for the "east forty" purchased from Johnston the preceding December.
Right of use for life reserved for Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was in Charleston at this time.
October 26 Lincoln gave bond to John D. Johnston to sell to him the 40 acres upon the death of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln.
1842 March 13 Thomas Lincoln mortgaged the east 40 of his 80-acre farm for $50 to the School Trustees.
May 23 Abraham Lincoln may have been in Charleston from May 23 through May 28.
May 24 Lincoln for the defendant in Patterson vs. Winkler.
May 27 Lincoln for the defendants in Pearson and Anderson vs. Monroe and Easton.
May 28 Lincoln for the plaintiff in Morris vs. Jones et al. Lincoln for the plaintiff in Turney vs. Craig, who received $300 damages on October 29, 1842.
October 25 Lincoln was in Charleston from October 25 through October 29.
1843 May 24 Lincoln may have represented the plaintiff in Rodgers vs. Stewart.
October 15 Lincoln may have been in Charleston from October 15 through October 20.
October 16 Lincoln for the plaintiff in Bagley vs. Van Meter.
1844 October 21 Lincoln for the defendant in Alexander vs. Affleck. He drove Harriet Hanks to Springfield after this term of court.
1845 May 11 Lincoln probably in Charleston. He may have remained until May 18.
May 12 Lincoln for the plaintiff in McKibben vs. Hart. The fee of $35 was paid to Thomas Lincoln at his son’s request.
May 13 Lincoln for the defendant in Ryan vs. Anderson.
October 8 Lincoln for the defendant in Frost vs. Gillinwater.
Lincoln for the plaintiff in Eccles vs. True et al.
Lincoln may have spent a few days in Charleston at this time.
1846 May 10 Lincoln may have been in Charleston from May 10 through May 17. He attended the Coles County Circuit Court, May 11 - 14. He probably brought Harriet Hanks home from Springfield at this time.
October 14 Lincoln may have been in Charleston for the period October 14-21. Lincoln for the defendant in People vs. Lester. Indictment on October 14.
October 17 Lincoln for the plaintiffs in Pearson and Anderson vs. Monroe.
October 19 Lincoln present when October term of Coles County Circuit Court opened.
1847 May 14 Lincoln may have spent the week-end of May 14 - 16 in Charleston. Lincoln for the defendant in Strader vs. Harris.
October 14 Lincoln for the defendant in Linder vs. Fleenor.
October 15 Hiram Rutherford tried to retain Lincoln in Matson vs. Rutherford, the famous "Matson slave case."
October 16 Lincoln for the plaintiff in Matson vs. Rutherford. Lincoln for the defendant (?) in Watson vs. Gill.
October 22 Lincoln a party in Lincoln vs. Hodges, a suit brought in his father’s behalf. Lincoln probably not in Charleston on this day.
1848 December 7 Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston wrote to Lincoln for assistance.
December 24 Lincoln wrote to his father from Washington, enclosing $20 in response to a request. Lincoln also wrote to John D. Johnston, advising him to go to work and offering to match his earnings.
1849 May 25 Johnston wrote to Lincoln concerning his father’s illness.
May 29 Lincoln in Charleston to visit his father, May 29 - June 2.
1850 February 23 Lincoln wrote to Johnston about a mail contract.
April 28 Lincoln may have been in Charleston, April 28 - May 1.
May 1 Lincoln for the defendant in People vs. Davis.
November 10 Lincoln may have been in Charleston for a few days about this time.
1851 January 12 Lincoln wrote to Johnston concerning his father’s illness.
January 17 Death of Thomas Lincoln at Goosenest Prairie.
May 17 Lincoln probably visited his stepmother at Goosenest Prairie, May 17-18. He made entries in the family Bible.
August 12 Lincoln sold Goosenest Prairie farm which he had inherited to John D. Johnston for one dollar.
August 31 Lincoln wrote to Johnston, enclosing deed to farm.
November 2 Lincoln in Charleston. Learned of stepbrother’s plan to move to Missouri.
November 4 Lincoln wrote to Johnston that he would keep the "Abraham forty" for his stepmother’s benefit.
November 9 Lincoln agreed to bring Abraham Johnston, son of John D. Johnston, to Springfield if his wife agreed. She did not. Lincoln agreed to sale of "Abraham 40" only if he received $300 to use for the benefit of his stepmother.
November 24 Lincoln for Dennis Hanks in Hanks vs. White. Case dismissed at plaintiff’s cost on October 16, 1852. Lincoln was not in Charleston when the case was filed on November 24, 1851.
November 25 Lincoln wrote to Johnston repeating his refusal to sell the "Abraham Forty" except on the terms of his November 9 letter.
November 27 John D. Johnston resold the Goosenest Prairie farm to John J. Hall, his nephew, for $250. About this time Johnston moved to northern Arkansas.
1852 May 22 Lincoln may have, been in Charleston, May 22 and 23.
August 18 Lincoln may have been present at a meeting held in Charleston by the incorporators of the Springfield and Terre Haute Railroad. He signed a call for the meeting.
October 16 Lincoln not in Charleston when the case of Hanks vs. White was dismissed. He may have been in Charleston a few days later, possibly October 23 - 24.
1853 November 5 Lincoln may have been in Charleston November 5 and 6.
1854 Summer There is no record of Lincoln being in Coles County during the year 1854. He may have visited his stepmother during the latter part of July or early in August.
1855 April 12 Lincoln represented the plaintiff in Marshall vs. Laughlin. Lincoln’s friend Thomas A. Marshall won the suit on April 13, 1856. Lincoln not in Charleston on April 12, 1855.
1856 May 17 Lincoln may have been in Charleston on May 17 and 18.
Summer Some time during the summer of 1856 Lincoln secured the release of Thomas L. D. Johnston, son of John D. Johnston, on a charge of theft at Urbana.
August 8 Lincoln spoke in Charleston in behalf of Fremont and Bissell, Republican candidates for president and governor.
1858 April 23 Lincoln wrote to Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston on the political situation.
September 7 Lincoln spoke at Mattoon in the political campaign.
September 17 Lincoln in Mattoon, Stayed overnight at the Pennsylvania House.
September 18 Lincoln in Charleston for the debate with Douglas. He stayed overnight at the home of Thomas A. Marshall.
September 19 Lincoln spent the day in Charleston. He probably spent the night at the home of A. H. Chapman.
1859
1860
There is no record of Lincoln being in Coles County during the years 1859-1860.
1861 January 30 Lincoln went from Springfield to Charleston. Spent the night at the home of Thomas A. Marshall.
January 31 Lincoln visited his stepmother at Farmington and visited the grave of his father at Shiloh cemetery. Spoke in Charleston at Mount and Hill Hall. Spent the night at the home of Augustus H. Chapman.
February 1 Lincoln returned to Springfield from Charleston. This was Lincoln’s last visit to Coles County.
1864 November 4 Lincoln ordered the release of fifteen Charleston Riot prisoners held at Fort Delaware.
1867 December 19 Mrs. Abraham Lincoln (Mary Todd Lincoln) wrote to Mrs. Thomas Lincoln (Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln) sending her a gift.
1869 April 10 Death of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln at Goosenest Prairie farm. Interment in Shiloh cemetery.
Locations in Coles County Associated with Abraham Lincoln
ALTHOUGH NEVER a Coles County resident, Abraham Lincoln was a frequent visitor to the county from 1840 to 1861. Prior to 1840 there are only three probable instances of his being in the county: when he crossed it in March 1830, when he visited his folks at Buck Grove in July 1831, and when Usher F. Linder saw him in Charleston in the late fall of 1835. Following the addition of Shelby County to the eighth judicial circuit in February 1841, Lincoln came to Coles County with some degree of regularity. There were three reasons for this: family, professional, and political. The presence of his father and stepmother in the county was a strong reason for Lincoln to accept legal cases in Charleston, since his professional visits gave him an opportunity to see them. On at least three occasions (1840, 1856, 1858), Lincoln visited the county primarily as a political campaigner.
It is manifestly impossible to list all of the locations in Coles County where Lincoln may have been. The following list includes the places which we know he visited, or for which there is a tradition of such visits. These places are listed by present townships.

Hutton Township

The Sargent homestead near Saulsbury, located on what was the "old York and Charleston trail" in ihe 1830’s and 1840’s. It is a tradition in the Sargent family that Lincoln stopped here on two or more occasions. About three miles east of the "Five Mile House" (which is on State route 130) , and a little north, near the Charleston-Westfied road, was the location of the James Rennels cabin, built in 1832 by a recent arrival from Kentucky. In 1926 this cabin, in an excellent state of preservation, was donated by Joel R. Rennels, son of James Rennels, to the Sally Lincoln Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It was moved to Morton Park in Charleston, where it serves as the Chapter House of the Sally Lincoln Chapter. A porch, a new chimney and a "lean-to" room on one side have been added to the original rectangular cabin. According to Rennels family tradition, Abraham Lincoln visited the cabin more than once. A century ago its location was near the old York-Charleston road, the route between Charleston and Marshall in Clark County. Traveling along this road, Lincoln may well have stopped at the Rennels home as well as that of Stephen Sargent. Local tradition in Hutton Township has the Thomas Lincoln party using the York-Charleston route in the 1830 migration, rather than the route as marked by the Lincoln National Memorial Highway in its eastern Coles County section.

Charleston Township and City (Street names were changed in 1895. Present names are used)

Parker’s Ford and Mill (Blakeman’s Ford) , near the present bridge on route 130 over the Embarrass River. March 10, 1830.
A site north of the Big Four tracks, at about 14th street, in the city, where Lincoln may have made a political speech in 1840, and possibly again in 1856. The Courthouse at Charleston. Present building erected 1898-1899. Lincoln was in the earlier building many times in connection with his legal practice. Capitol House or Johnson Tavern, at 6th and Monroe streets, Linder building now on the site. Lincoln visited here on various occasions, including the day of the debate with Douglas, when the Capitol House served as Republican headquarters. Across the street, where the Charleston National Bank now stands, was the Union House or Bunnell Tavern, used by Douglas and his friends on the day of the debate. Lincoln visited the Union House at times. Mount and Hill Hall, at 5th and Monroe streets, now the location of the Charleston Daily News. Lincoln spoke here at least once, at a reception on January 31, 1861.
The offices of local attorneys with whom Lincoln practiced law. That of Usher F. Linder was located in the rear of a building where the Panas Building now stands at the northeast corner of the square at 7th and Monroe streets.
The homes of various Charleston friends, including Thomas A. Marshall, on Monroe between 4th and 5th streets. Lincoln was a guest here on various occasions, including the evening following the debate. When Lincoln visited Charleston in 1861, the Marshall home was near 10th and Harrison streets. Lincoln spent the night of January 30 with the Marshalls. Augustus H. Chapman, according to tradition resided on Jackson street between 4th and 5th streets. Here Lincoln was a frequent visitor, and spent his last night in Charleston, January 31, 1861, with the Chapmans. Chapman did not own this property. Deed records show that the only property Chapman owned in Charleston prior to the Civil War was at the corner of 8th and Monroe streets, which he owned from 1852 to 1857.
Dennis Hanks lived in Charleston for many years, beginning in 1834, when he built a house on the south side of Jackson street, five lots west of 4th street. Hanks lived there for at least ten years. In 1861 Hanks was living on the west side of the square, on the second floor, about where the King Bros, store is now located. Lincoln visited Hanks at this location on January 31, 1861.

Pleasant Grove Township

Buck Grove home of Thomas Lincoln, 1831-1834, near the northwest corner of the township. Here Abraham Lincoln visited in July 1831. Muddy Point home of Thomas Lincoln, 1834-1837, about one mile southwest of Lerna. Probably visited by Abraham Lincoln in the late fall of 1835. Goosenest Prairie farm of Thomas Lincoln, including the eastern forty acres owned by Abraham Lincoln after 1841. Abraham Lincoln visited here frequently from 1840 to 1861.
Moore House in Farmington (or Campbell) . Home of Lincoln’s step-sister, the widowed Mrs. Reuben Moore, where Abraham Lincoln visited his stepmother on January 31, 1861.
Isaac Rodgers home, east of the Shiloh cemetery. Lincoln may have stopped here on his way to the cemetery on January 31, 1861. Shiloh Cemetery, where Lincoln visited his father’s grave on January 31, 1861.

Paradise Township

Ichabod Radley home. It may have been near the northeast corner of this township. The Lincoln party probably spent the night of March 11 here on their way across the county in March 1830.

Mattoon Township and City

John Sawyer home near Wabash Point. Visited by Lincoln in 1830 and 1831 and probably on later occasions.
Wabash Point, southwest of the city of Mattoon. Visited by Lincoln in 1830 and 1831 and on numerous other occasions when going from or to Charleston and Shelbyville.
Waddill’s Tavern and Relay House, formerly the Langston Relay Station, on the Shelbyville Road, a short distance west of Wabash Point, and 300 yards east of Old Paradise, most important westside settlement before the founding of Mattoon in 1855. Probably visited by Lincoln on numerous occasions while on this road. He may have stayed overnight there on more than one occasion.
Elisha Linder home, about one mile north of Wabash Point. Linder was a relative of the Sawyers and a cousin of Usher F. Linder, with whom Lincoln practiced law. Probably visited by Lincoln on more than one occasion. Essex House in the city, near the crossing of the two railroads. Lincoln was here on more than one occasion during the years 1856-1861.
Pennsylvania House in the city, on site now occupied by Bergner’s store. Lincoln spent the night of September 17, 1858, here.

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