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Part 3

[Click here for Part 2]

[Click here for Part 1]

Crew completes filming
of Abraham Lincoln video

[OCT. 3, 2002]  In the Looking for Lincoln video none of the actors has a speaking part. Instead, narration by six local commentators and one professional will be dubbed in.

[Click here for more photos]

Of the locals, Paul Beaver tells the christening story and Paul Gleason narrates several legal cases. Ron Keller, director of the Lincoln College Museum, describes relevant artifacts in the museum collection. Beaver said he had trouble sounding natural while following the script. Eventually, he, Gleason and Keller all discarded the prepared words and "became teachers again," telling the events in their own words. The script was well-written, Beaver said, but it did not sound like them.

Richard Schachtsiek, site director at Postville Courthouse State Historic Site, narrates the story of the nickname Honest Abe. Susan Hoblit, descendant of Lincoln’s friend John Hoblit, tells about Lincoln’s stay at the carriage house in Atlanta. Finally, Gillette Ransom relates stories about her great-grandfather John D. Gillett. The professional narrator, who will tie the elements of the video together, has not yet been chosen.

The final scene shows longtime Lincoln portrayer Charles Ott at the site of the Lincoln christening welcoming visitors to Logan County.

In addition to narration the sound track will also feature period music. For possible inclusion, cinematographer Dean Williams has several CDs of music by the Prairie Aires, an area band whose instrumentation includes lap and hammered dulcimers, recorders, harp, cello, chimes and bodhran.


[Photo by Bob Frank]
[The Prairie Aires]

Besides the action footage, the director has still photos of three relevant paintings and a poster. The paintings are Billy Morrow Jackson’s young Lincoln from the Lincoln College Museum collection, Lloyd Ostendorf’s town christening painting from the State Bank Annex and an oil of John Dean Gillett from his second home, on Elkhart Hill. The poster, also in the LC Museum collection, lists the stops of the Lincoln funeral train from Washington to Springfield.


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Williams has much more footage than can be included in an 18-minute video, so the task of cutting and splicing will be daunting. Mike Unland is charged with that responsibility. Also, Beaver, Ransom and Cindy McLaughlin have been told that they will be expected to help match footage with narration. McLaughlin, executive director of Main Street Lincoln, was active in coordinating the project.

Williams has expressed interest in putting together a "making of" documentary on the Lincoln video project. Scenes which do not fit in the tourism video can find a home there. These include shots of Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln checking into the Holiday Inn Express and using the hot tub, taken to thank the hotel for its service.

During the filming the actors often ad-libbed so characters seem to be speaking. Some of their quips might be included. For example, at the Mount Pulaski Courthouse Woodard as Lincoln said to the witness, "I have one question and one question only for you: Is it briefs or boxers?"


[Photo by Lynn Shearer Spellman]

One of the most dramatic scenes to occur during the shooting will end up among the outtakes. In the background for the city of Lincoln christening scene was a farm wagon drawn by a pair of mules. Williams staffer Fran Byers had donned period costume to drive the mules. However, something spooked them and they took off, breaking their harness in the process. The mules ran for a quarter of a mile through the pasture before being stopped in true Hollywood fashion by members of the Illinois 7th Cavalry, who grabbed the harness and saved Byers. She was shaken up but not injured.

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Heartland Community College
Your pathway to lifelong learning!

Community Education Class through the Lincoln Center of HCC

For more information or to register, call 735-1731,
stop by HCC at 620 Broadway,
or go online at hcc.cc.il.us/CCE

Classes currently available:

Do's & Don'ts of Landscaping
7:00-9:00 pm, 10/8,
U of I Ext.

Visual Appeal to Power Point
6:00-9:00 pm,
10/21 & 28, HCC

Which Horse Is Best for You?
6:30-8:30 pm, 10/29 & 11/5,
TC Stables

So You Want to Buy a Horse
6:30-8:30 pm, 11/6 & 13,
TC Stables


is the place to advertise

Call (217) 732-7443
or e-mail

Part 2

[Click here for Part 1]

Crew completes filming
of Abraham Lincoln video

[OCT. 2, 2002]  Scenes in the Looking for Lincoln video represent documented activities of Abraham Lincoln in Logan County and take place at either authentic sites or accessible sites that retain the feel of the mid-1800s. In one scene Lincoln rides on horseback over Elkhart Hill, following the old Edward’s Trace. The route was part of the 8th Judicial Circuit that Lincoln traveled.

[Click here for more photos]

Another scene takes place on the Hoblit farm south of Atlanta. Lincoln stayed overnight at the carriage house there, and the building still stands, now used as a shed. Lincoln appears with his friend John Hoblit, played by his great-great-great-grandson Frank Hoblit.

Also authentic is the John D. Gillett house at Cornland. Lincoln drove himself there to invite Gillett to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., as a member of the president’s honorary bodyguard. Gillette Ransom, a descendant whose name was given the final "e" to make it more feminine, said she possesses a list handwritten by one of Gillett’s daughters of men invited to take part in the honor guard. In the video John D. Gillett is played by Lee Johnson, whose family has farmed for Gillett’s descendants for generations. The scene also includes young actors portraying Gillett’s six children.


[Photos by Mike Unland]
[Lincoln drives himself to the Gillett house.]

The second-floor courtroom of the Mount Pulaski Courthouse was the scene of two notable legal cases Lincoln took part in: the case of the cast-iron tombstone and the horological cradle (a supposed perpetual motion machine). There is "no place more authentic than this," Beaver said of the Mount Pulaski courtroom, adding that most items there, if not the real thing, are close enough to give the effect.

From the volunteers who showed up in period dress, Paul Beaver selected men to play the judge, prosecuting attorney, secretary, witness and jury. No women would have been inside the bar except for witnesses, he explained. And in the cast-iron tombstone case there are no recorded female witnesses. However, women accompanied men to trials, so both sexes occupy the public benches in the taped scene.

The Middletown Stagecoach Inn is an authentic building, although it has been moved from its original site. Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln, played by Joe Woodard and Gillette Ransom, are shown arriving there by stage and being ushered in by the innkeeper, represented by Ed Busch of Lincoln. Other exterior scenes occur in front of the Knapp Library and Museum in Middletown and in the town park, where Lincoln shoots marbles with local boys. The original scene took place in Postville Park.


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In another shot Lincoln socializes outside Postville Courthouse while narrator Richard Schachtsiek tells of the legal case tried at Postville in which Judge Treach called the future president "Honest Abe." Unfortunately, Lincoln’s client had lied to him, and he was later embarrassed by the case.

Lincoln worked as a surveyor in Logan County. Video scenes show him surveying for the town of Albany and for Musick’s Ferry on Salt Creek north of Middletown. Both scenes were filmed at the Paulus-Conrady farm. Beaver said the committee chose the farm because it provides one of the few pastures open enough to accommodate filming apparatus and containing a creek and long-established trees.

The surveying party rides on horseback. Members of the Illinois 7th Cavalry re-enactment team participated and provided their own civilian clothing, tack and three horses. The party also included a Native American flagholder, played by Kent Vincent of Springfield. A woodsman, Vincent teaches Indian lore and outdoorsmanship to Boy Scouts. Though the original flagholder was a Kickapoo, Vincent is an Oneida and as such is not a horseman. As a result he was uncomfortable making the scene in which the party fords the creek. His discomfort was intensified by the fact that his pinto usually works with a martingale, which has no bit. Fitted out with a bit for authenticity, she was visibly uneasy and tried to reject it.


[Lincoln christens the town with watermelon juice.]

The scene of Lincoln christening his namesake city was also shot at the Paulus-Conrady farm. Beaver said Wayne and Lois Conrady and Wilbur Paulus came out to watch and help. They provided railroad ties needed for props. Lee Johnson as Gillett, Ron Keller as Robert B. Latham and Daris Knauer as Virgil Hickox participated in the scene in addition to many others. Beaver said the Lincoln christening and several other scenes occurred in or near September, so the filming date is appropriate.

(To be continued)

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

[Click here for Part 3]

Part 1

Crew completes filming
of Abraham Lincoln video

[OCT. 1, 2002]  On Thursday, Sept. 26, about 35 people in mid-1800s garb and a dozen or so crew members gathered at Mount Pulaski Courthouse for the final day of shooting the Looking for Lincoln video of Abraham Lincoln’s activities in Logan County.

[Click here for more photos]

The video, which will be used to promote tourism, has been over two years in the planning stages as promoters first sought and then awaited funds from an Illinois legislature Member’s Initiative grant. When the check arrived, it took only two weeks for shooting to begin, thanks to prior selection of sites, key actors and cinematographer Dean Williams of Springfield to direct the film. Williams brought an impressive resume. His website, deanwilliams.net, lists 38 movie credits and 48 TV credits, including "Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln" on PBS. The script by Dawn Edwards of Springfield was also virtually complete, needing only final touches to make it fit the voices of the narrators.

Gillette Ransom of Elkhart said the video project brought together many elements of the community. These included individual volunteers and groups interested in history and tourism. She praised Rick Unsbee as an outstanding videographer.

Logan County Looking for Lincoln chair Paul Beaver acted as both producer and historical consultant for the video. When former Illinois Sen. Bob Madigan agreed to support the grant application, he secured Beaver’s promise to take responsibility for the film’s historical accuracy.


[Photo by Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Beaver’s area of responsibility included seeing that costumes and props looked authentic. Many participants, among them volunteers from New Salem Village, wore their own costumes. Other clothing was obtained by Ransom. "Are all costumes going to be 100 percent?" Beaver asked. "No. We don’t have that kind of money." But he took care that the look was authentic. One example was removing hats from jury members in the court scene but allowing spectators to wear them.


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Props included various types of wheeled vehicles and even a building. Landon Vannoy of Atlanta supplied a buggy, and the Joe Hinkle family of New Holland provided a two-seat doctor’s buggy for the Cornland scene. Irwin Conklen brought a wagon, and Don Leonard of Mount Pulaski supplied a stagecoach for the Lincolns to alight from. On the largest scale, the Railsplitter Association allowed its small wooden building, formerly used as the festival office, to be moved from the area by the horse barns at the Logan County Fairgrounds. Beaver selected the building as the closest thing available to what the temporary building constructed by the railroad in 1853 must have looked like.

Gillette Ransom secured most of the horses for the video. They included Royal M. Cody, a "magnificent Morgan horse" who will also star in a film to be shot at the Lincoln Home in Springfield this November. Carolyn and Kathy Firch of Rocking Horse Morgans in Springfield own the animal.

Outstanding among the actors, Joe Woodard of Villa Grove, near Effingham, played the crucial role of the young, unbearded Abraham Lincoln. "He’s made the movie," Beaver said. "He looks so much like Lincoln and has so much presence." Woodard won an Abe Lincoln look-alike contest at the Elkhart Chautauqua. A clerk at Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln exclaimed when she saw him in costume, "Oh my God, you do look like him!"


[Photo by Mike Unland]

The hotel provided Woodard with a free room and also offered their coffee shop when an on-location picnic was rained out. These are two examples of the generosity and kindness the crew said they experienced throughout the county. Beaver praised Irwin Conklen and his son for stopping their farm work to bring a wagon and Jim Britsch for welding a tongue onto the wooden Railsplitter building so it could be hauled to the site. "Nobody has said no," Beaver affirmed. The crew and cast even received some free lunches.

(To be continued)

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

[Click here for Part 2]

Sites to See

‘Walking on the Path of Abraham Lincoln’

A walking tour of historic Lincoln, Ill.

Note: The following material is from a brochure produced as a high school project by J.R. Glenn and Angie Couch for Main Street Lincoln. The Main Street Lincoln office and local tourist information center is on the second floor of Union Planter’s Bank at 303 S. Kickapoo.

[Click here for larger map]

1. Town christening site

Broadway and Chicago streets

In August 1853 the first sale of lots in the new town of Lincoln took place near this spot. Abraham Lincoln, in whose honor the town was named, was in attendance. When asked on the day of the land sale to officially "christen the town," Lincoln obliged. Lifting the cover off a pile of watermelons stacked on the ground by a local farmer, Lincoln picked up a melon and conducted a brief ceremony using its juice. Lincoln, Ill., is the only town named for Lincoln before he became president.

2. Lincoln railroad depot

101 N. Chicago St.

Abraham Lincoln frequented this city by train after its founding. As president-elect, Lincoln came hereon Nov. 21, 1860. He stopped near this spot to make a few remarks from the rear of his train. This was his last speech in Logan County and the last time Lincoln would visit his namesake city. His funeral train stopped here on May 3, 1865. The current depot was built several decades later, in 1911.

3. State Bank of Lincoln

111 N. Sangamon St.

Abraham Lincoln met sculptor Leonard Volk for the first time on the boardwalk in front of the Lincoln House Hotel. Volk asked Lincoln to pose for a bust and life mask of his face and hands. Signed copies of the life masks by Volk, as well as original artwork by Lloyd Ostendorf of Lincoln in Logan County, are on display in this bank building’s lobby.

4. Site of the Lincoln House Hotel

501 Broadway St.

The Lincoln House, one of the grandest hotels between St. Louis and Chicago, stood on this spot from 1854 to 1870. All the political luminaries of the day, including Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, David Davis and Richard Oglesby, crossed its threshold at one time or another The Lincoln House was a two-story frame structure that fronted the railroad tracks and featured a large veranda.

5. Robert Latham home site

400 N. Kickapoo St.

Robert B. Latham joined John D. Gillett and Virgil Hickox in founding the town of Lincoln in 1853. Abraham Lincoln, other lawyers and judges were often guests at his house.

6. Logan County Courthouse

When Lincoln became the county seat in 1853, a courthouse was built on this spot. A second courthouse was built in 1858 and remained in use until the early 20th century, when it was replaced with the current building. Abraham Lincoln practiced law and attended political functions in the first two courthouses built on the square. A statue of Lincoln stands in this courthouse. A Civil War monument and cannon sit on the north side of the courthouse grounds.

7. Lincoln lot site

523 Pulaski St.

A plaque located on the right-hand side of this store identifies the location as a lot Lincoln once owned. James Primm, in need of money, approached former Illinois Gov. Joel Matteson for a $400 advance. Matteson directed him to have Lincoln sign a note as Primm's guarantor. Lincoln co-signed the note. Later Primm defaulted and Lincoln had to pay the note. Eventually Primm deeded Lincoln this property in recompense.


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8. Rustic Inn

412 Pulaski St.

In 1876 members of a counterfeiting gang met here to hatch a plot to steal Lincoln's corpse from its burial vault in Springfield. The gang had planned to hide Lincoln's body in the Indiana sand dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan and negotiate with the governor of Illinois for $200,000 in cash and the release of Ben Boyd. The bartender at the Rustic Inn overheard the plot and reported it to the authorities. The Secret Service later apprehended the gang members. Robert Todd Lincoln had his father's coffin encased in several tons of cement to prevent future attempts to steal the body.

Other Lincoln sites in Lincoln

9. Stephen A. Douglas speech site

Comer of Fourth and Logan streets

Stephen Douglas visited this city during the famous 1858 Illinois senatorial campaign. Douglas paraded with all his supporters through the decorated streets to the tent that was pitched on this site. Lincoln, who was also in town, listened to his opponent from the back of the crowd. In the end, a majority of Logan County voters favored Lincoln, but Douglas won the 1858 election.

10. Postville Courthouse

914 Fifth St.

This state historic site is a replica of an 1840 courthouse where Lincoln argued, won and lost cases while he traveled the 8th Judicial Circuit.

11. Site of Deskins Tavern

915 Fifth St.

Lincoln often stayed at Deskins Tavern when he traveled to Postville. A well where he quenched his thirst is also at this site.

12. Postville Park

1300 Fifth St.

Abraham Lincoln was well-known for his athletic abilities, and he frequently joined in games of "town ball" at this village park.

13. Lincoln College and Museum

300 Keokuk St.

A nationally registered landmark, Lincoln College was founded and named for President Lincoln on Feb. 12, 1865. The museum houses an extensive collection of memorabilia on the life of Abraham Lincoln.

[See "LC Museum named one of 10 best Lincoln-related sites in Illinois"]


Other sites of interest in downtown Lincoln 

Lincoln Public Library (a Carnegie building)

725 Pekin St.

Logan County Genealogical
& Historical Society

114 N. Chicago St.

Lincoln City Hall

700 Broadway St.

U.S. Post Office

102 S. McLean St.

Courthouse Square Historic District

including historic sites, restaurants and shops

[Click here for larger map]

Logan County historical landmarks


J. H. Hawes wooden country elevator. Open Sunday afternoons June through August. Free.

Atlanta Public Library and Museum. On National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1908. Comer of Race and Arch. Phone (217) 648-2112. Free.


Monument proclaims the geographic center of the state of Illinois. Town was laid out in 1872.


Elkhart Cemetery. Richard J. Oglesby, who was elected governor of Illinois in 1864, 1872 and 1884, is buried here; also John Dean Gillett, known as the "Cattle King of the World," and Capt. Adam Bogardus, wing shot champion of the world. For tours of the cemetery and John Dean Gillett Chapel, please phone (217) 947-2238.


Bethel Church. Built in 1854. Three miles from Route 136 between Emden and Atlanta on County Road 20.


Site of Deskins Tavern. Across the street from Postville Courthouse, 915 Fifth St. Signage. Free.

Site of well Abraham Lincoln drank from. Across the street from Postville Courthouse, 915 Fifth St. Free.

Site of town christening by Abraham Lincoln on Aug. 27, 1853. Lincoln was the first community in the United States to be named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous. Also, Lincoln's funeral train stopped here on May 3,1865. Located at the south side of the Lincoln Depot, Broadway and Chicago streets. Official Looking for Lincoln signage. Free.

Logan County Courthouse. Contains second-largest courtroom in Illinois. Built in 1905. Located on the courthouse square, downtown Lincoln. Open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; Saturday until noon. Phone (217) 732-6400. Free.

Lincoln College Museum. Over 3,000 historic items. Lincoln College was founded and named for President Lincoln on Feb. 12, 1865. Keokuk and Ottawa streets. Summer hours: 9 to 4 Monday through Friday; 1 to 4 Saturday and Sunday; closed May 28 and July 4. Free.

Heritage In Flight Museum. Museum is filled with memorabilia from all U.S. military conflicts back to World War I. Located at the Logan County Airport. Phone ahead (217) 732-3333 to confirm hours. Free but donations accepted.

Lincoln Public Library. Original Carnegie library built in 1902. Tiffany-style glass inner dome. 725 Pekin St. Open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 to 6; Saturday, 9 to 3. Phone (217) 732-8878. Free.

Postville Courthouse State Historic Site. Guided tours. 914 Fifth St. Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Ph. (217) 732-8930 for additional information. Free but donations accepted.


Stagecoach Inn. The inn was on the old stage route from Springfield to Peoria. Built mid-1800s. Village is also famous for its aeronautical history. Free.

Mount Pulaski

Mount Pulaski Courthouse. This building is one of only two original 8th Judicial Circuit courthouses in Illinois. On National Register of Historic Places. Was Logan County Courthouse from 1847 to 1855. Guided tours. Open 12 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday. Phone (217) 732-8930. Free.

[Link to historical information on communities in Logan County]

Heritage In Flight Museum open on weekends

A little-known historical site full of large and small treasures sits on the outskirts of town on the Logan County Airport property. The Heritage In Flight Museum building itself is a part of history. It is a remnant of Camp Ellis, located west of Havana, which was the largest military training and prisoner-of-war camp in the United States during World War II. After the war the camp was closed and the buildings were sold. Logan County Airport is fortunate to have one of the few remaining structures from Camp Ellis.

A little-known historical site full of large and small treasures sits on the outskirts of town on the Logan County Airport property. The Heritage In Flight Museum building itself is a part of history. It is a remnant of Camp Ellis, located west of Havana, which was the largest military training and prisoner-of-war camp in the United States during World War II. After the war the camp was closed and the buildings were sold. Logan County Airport is fortunate to have one of the few remaining structures from Camp Ellis.

Several historic items are found outside at the airport, including the rotating beacon, the green-and-white light that identifies the airport location to pilots flying at night. Before being moved to Logan County Airport, it was part of the lighted airway system that the airmail pilots in the 1920s used to navigate at night. The one that now resides here was originally located between Lincoln and Atlanta and provided a bright signal for Charles Lindbergh when he flew the airmail route between St. Louis and Chicago.

While outside you can also view a number of aircraft that are on display from various time periods.

Moving to the inside, you find that the Heritage in Flight Museum is filled with items of aviation history from the military and civilian branches of flying and from the earliest days of open-cockpit biplanes to the latest jets. Veterans who reside in Logan County have donated much of what the museum has. Families from the community have donated items that belonged to our war heroes, revealing special sentiments, symbolism and forgotten practices that held a community together in war times. Other items offer a look at early technology such as the airplane and ship radios. Of the thousands of items in the museum, each can be said to teach us something about our past. Visitors can relive history through the numerous displays, mostly grouped in wartime periods, and gain a strong sense of patriotism while studying military displays throughout the building.


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A guided tour is recommended to get the most from these displays. The volunteers are both knowledgeable and passionate about their subject matter and will bring to light little-known nuances that make the displays fascinating.

The museum is always interested in adding items of aviation history. Its greatest need, however, is for more volunteers to help in the guardianship of this important gateway to Lincoln and Logan County.

The museum requires lots of care and maintenance. Members are always looking for interested people of all ages to help care for it, share their interests and preserve a bit of aviation history.

Heritage In Flight Museum is operated by an all-volunteer, non-profit organization: Heritage-In-Flight, Inc. You are invited to come meet the members and sit in on their meetings anytime. Meetings take place at 1 p.m. the first Saturday of each month in the terminal meeting room.

The museum is a great resource to educate our youth about our aeronautical and military past and shares the wealth of military traditions from a community and national perspective. Schools, youth groups and families are welcome.

Heritage in Flight Museum

1351 Airport Road, Lincoln

Open Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Phone: (217) 732-3333

Call the airport and leave a message to request a guided tour, schedule a time during the week or ask for more information.


You can read more about HIF from the archives of LDN. Go to: http://archives.lincolndailynews.com/2001/Feb/15/comunity/business.shtml#Logan County is host to a unique museum rich in special military stories and treasures



  • Lincoln Park District, 732-8770



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111 S. Sangamon
Monday 11-2
Tuesday-Thursday 11-10
Friday & Saturday 11-11

2815 Woodlawn Road




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