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Celebrating Illinois' French roots at Lincoln Log Cabin

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[January 09, 2013]  LERNA -- Louisiana isn't the only state with French heritage to celebrate. Illinois has French roots of its own, and they're being celebrated Jan. 19 at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site near Charleston.

Musician Dennis Stroughmatt will present a program at 1 p.m. on Illinois French Creole heritage, using ancient French folktales, haunting ballads and foot-stomping fiddle tunes. The Albion native takes the audience on a fascinating trip through the region known as the Illinois Country and discusses the importance of preserving the language and music of the Illinois-Missouri French.

Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette, French missionaries and explorers, arrived in Illinois in 1673, nearly 150 years before the region became a state. Their arrival ushered in the French Colonial period of Illinois history with forts and settlements along the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio and Wabash rivers. Early French and French-Canadian colonists intermarried with Native Americans to create a unique Creole culture different from the populations of Louisiana and Canada.

The Jan. 19 program is co-sponsored by the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site and the Lincoln-Sargent Farm Foundation. It's produced in part by the Illinois Humanities Council's Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, a program that provides organizations statewide with affordable, entertaining and thought-provoking humanities events for their communities.

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The Road Scholars program features topics in history, literature, music, politics, science and many more.

"The contagious passion our speakers have for their topics is what makes this program so dynamic and appealing. We don't need to change lives; we just want audiences to feel curious again," said Mallory Laurel, the Humanities Council coordinator for the program.

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is an 86-acre pioneer farmstead that was the last home of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's father and stepmother. It is located eight miles south of Charleston and is open Wednesday through Sunday for free public tours.

For more information about Lincoln Log Cabin, its programs or volunteer opportunities, call 217-345-1845, visit the Facebook page at or the website at

[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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