Lincoln Heritage Museum hosts Trick or Treat with Abe

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[November 01, 2017]  LINCOLN - On Saturday afternoon, the Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College hosted its second annual Trick-or-Treat with Abe event.

The afternoon was spent with children coming into the museum dressed in their Halloween costumes.

They were greeted by exited museum volunteers who marveled at the great disguises. Kids were asked to wait in the main floor lobby until Mr. Lincoln himself arrived to escort them upstairs.

This year, the role of Abraham Lincoln was portrayed by Randy Duncan. Duncan is a season interpreter who may often be found at Lincoln Historic sites such as New Salem State Park.

Many were very excited to see the tall lean man, who spent a good deal of time in Lincoln and other parts of Logan County prior to being elected as our nation’s 16th president. Several sought out the opportunity to have their photo taken with Mr. Lincoln.

Then, Mr. Lincoln escorted the group upstairs to the interactive museum. As the group went from scene to scene in the museum they were greeted with characters from Mr. Lincoln’s history - the history of the town of Lincoln - or from the Civil War.

The first person to greet the children was Marie Kaesebier (interpreter Mary Ellen Martin). Kaesebier lived in the Postville region and actually saw Mr. Lincoln for the first time on the day he christened the city of Lincoln with juice from a watermelon. Kaesebier recalled that she didn’t know Mr. Lincoln, but noted that he was a very tall man who shook her hand and gave her a slice of watermelon.

During the tour each interpreter also demonstrated a specific game that children would have played in the days of Abraham Lincoln’s children. Some of these were also games played by civil war soldiers.

Kaesebier showed the children the card game “Old Maid” and played a quick hand with a few as others watched and learned.

After the children had moved on, Martin stepped out of character long enough to explain that she was a descendant of Marie Kaesebier. The Kaesebier and Shoup (Marie’s direct family) families had both lived in Chicago, but moved to Postville to get away from terrible living conditions in the big city. They lived in Postville to start, and later the Kaesebier’s moved to the Emden area and took up farming. Marie Kaesebier was Mary Ellen Martin's great-grandmother.

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Mr. Lincoln then led the group to the next room where a civil war soldier (interpreter Tom McLaughlin) was playing marbles on the floor. The solider explained to children that during the Civil War not every day was a battle. The soldiers carried small games with them that could be carried or stored away easily in their packs. One such game he said was shooting marbles. He then demonstrated how such a game was played.

McLaughlin, who is the director at the museum, also stepped out of character for a moment after the kids had passed through. He noted this is the second year for the Trick or Treat with Abe and he was hoping for a good turnout. He said last year, there were approximately 100 children and adult companions passed through the museum for the event.

At the next stop, kids found Mary Lincoln (interpreter Anne Moseley) searching for her young sons. She and the boys had been playing hoop and stick when the boys suddenly took off. Spying her husband among the crowd, she quickly asked if he knew where the boys were. He noted that the last he knew they were in her charge, but figured they’d turn up soon enough. In the meantime, Mary Lincoln took the opportunity to play with the children on hand. She demonstrated how to play hoop and stick, then let the kids take turns if they wished, trying their hand at the game. Some were very good at it.

In the President’s office, Noah Brooks, a Civil War journalist who became a close friend and confidant of the President (interpreter Ron Keller) visited with the kids and explained how to play a game using a small bean bag and two tin cans nailed to each end of a small piece of wood. The kids tried their hand at tossing the bags from one tin can to the other, and again some did very well.

The last stop of the day was a visit with John Boy (interpreter Bill Donath). Boy was also a resident of Postville when Lincoln was a regular visitor to the Postville Courthouse. He showed the children how to play jacks, and a few tried their hand at it. Donath noted afterward that he too is a descendant of the character he portrayed.

At each stop the children received candy treats from their hosts. When the upstairs tour was completed, President Lincoln escorted the children back downstairs where they were invited to participate in other activities including writing a letter to President Lincoln that would be placed on the letter wall in the museum gift shop.

At the Saturday afternoon event there was no admission charged, but attendees were encouraged to bring along canned food items that would later be donated to the Logan County Food Pantry.

[Nila Smith]


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