The village of Mount
Pulaski was founded by Jabez Capps, Dr. Barton Robinson and E.W.
Turley in 1836. One of the most prized pieces at the historical
society's museum is a transcribed copy of a letter written by the
daughter of Thomas Lushbaugh,
who married one of Jabez Capps' sons. In the letter she recounts her
father's friendship with "Mister Lincoln" when they lived across the
street from one another in Springfield.
In the 1840s the Lushbaughs moved to Mount Pulaski, and the
friendship with Lincoln continued as he became a resident of the
Lushbaugh home twice a year when he traveled to Mount Pulaski for
And how the society came to have a copy of the letter is an
interesting story in itself. James Hickey, now deceased, was the
curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Springfield Historical
Library. James and Betty Hickey had the privilege of knowing and
visiting the home of the last Abraham Lincoln descendant, Robert
Todd Beckwith. Beckwith and the Hickeys became good friends and
spent time together on several occasions.
Beckwith was the great-grandson of Lincoln and lived in a huge
mansion at Hildene at Manchester, Vt. It was there that James Hickey
found the letter from Elizabeth Lushbaugh Capps and brought it back
to the museum at Springfield.
Betty Hickey recalls her visits to the Beckwith mansion while
accompanying her husband, and she has pictures of the Lincoln
descendant and his home.
In another Lincoln connection, Waneta Stephens told the Mount
Pulaski Historical Society at their August meeting that she has
stories that have been passed down through the generations about her
great-great-grandparents' relationship with the Lincolns.
Stephens family stories include how they were neighbors to the
Lincolns and that their children all played together. Her family
members have also passed down through the generations their
recollections of being present for the arrival of the Lincoln
funeral train as it traveled into Springfield for the burial of the
During this year's fall festival, visitors who stop in at the
Mount Pulaski Historical Museum on Saturday afternoon, after the
parade, may be able to hear Hickey and Stephens recall some of these
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The museum also offers a complete section on the life of Lincoln
from his time spent in Mount Pulaski through his presidency and
assassination. Artifacts include a steel engraving of Lincoln that
was the model for the portrait on the $5 bill, a photograph of
Lincoln taken in 1860, a copy of the Lincoln family tree, documents
concerning the famous Cast Iron Tombstone Trial in Mount Pulaski, an
original photo of the construction of Lincoln's Tomb and several
other items of interest.
In addition to all this, the historical society is sponsoring the
afternoon entertainment at the new bandstand on the courthouse lawn.
Chris Vallilla, who performs every year at Postville Courthouse in
Lincoln during the art and balloon festival, will do a musical
presentation called "Abraham Lincoln in song." The presentation will
begin immediately after the fall parade, around 2:30 in the
afternoon. The public is encouraged to bring their lawn chairs or
blankets, rest a spell, and listen to some wonderful old-time folk
And finally, the society will continue their fundraising efforts
for a lift-chair system to transport disabled visitors to the second
floor of the museum. Outside the museum there will be a stand
selling popcorn, donated by Bo-Jac Seed Co., and tickets for a 50-50
The lift system is expected to cost between $6,000 and $7,000.
The group is applying for some grant funding but still needs to
raise the required matching funds.
This year's festival is packed with tons of things for everyone
of every age, all carefully planned to celebrate a small-town
community with a large love for life and its citizenry.
For a schedule of the weekend events,
[By NILA SMITH]
Postscript notice: Phil Bertoni has also asked that LDN share with
readers that Roger Capps, the great-great-grandson of one of Mount
Pulaski's founding fathers, Jabez Capps, will be in Mount Pulaski in
September and will speak at the historical society meeting on Sept. 28. Anyone interested in hearing him is invited to attend. The
meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the museum, 102-104 E. Cooke St.