Lincoln and Herndon in Mount Pulaski for birthday celebration
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[February 12, 2013]
PULASKI -- For those entering the Mount Pulaski Courthouse on
Saturday morning, it was a spectacular start to the day, with
President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln doing the greeting. A large crowd
of visitors and history buffs came out to enjoy the president's
Before heading upstairs to the courtroom, visitors were treated to
Mary Todd's cake and punch.
The featured speaker in the courtroom was historian and
storyteller Brian "Fox" Ellis, who slipped into the first person as
William "Billy" Herndon, Abraham Lincoln's friend and law partner in
Springfield. The two were law partners for 16 years and friends for
much longer. Ellis held the standing-room-only crowd enthralled for
almost an hour as he portrayed Billy Herndon telling stories about
his friend Abraham Lincoln -- stories that answered some of the most
important questions about how Lincoln became a lawyer and his skill
as legal counsel. It was the most entertaining history lesson one
Ellis asked and answered a number of questions about how the
young Lincoln rose from poverty to be one of the most successful
lawyers in the United States, at one time the highest paid lawyer in
Lincoln traveled the 8th Judicial Circuit in central Illinois,
and he and Herndon were involved in over 4,000 cases. Lincoln
represented clients before the Illinois Supreme Court 400 times,
with some of the cases still relevant today.
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Ellis, as Herndon, stated that Lincoln's law career prepared him
for his role as arguably the greatest president of the United
Lincoln was a voracious reader and was interested in everything.
He used his vast knowledge on many subjects and his wonderful talent
for storytelling to win over juries all over central Illinois.
Brian "Fox" Ellis is a full-time storyteller and interpreter of
historic figures. He not only channels Billy Herndon, but Walt
Whitman, Charles Darwin and many others, sometimes spending up to a
year researching a new person so that he can present a seamless
first-person presentation. He rushed to leave Mount Pulaski to catch
a flight in St. Louis for Denver, where he was going to present
Charles Darwin at an event.
Ellis and his wife are currently moving from their Peoria home to
historic Bishop Hill, Ill., to open a bed and breakfast called Twin
[By CURT FOX]