Ron Keller, a Lincoln
College instructor, as well as director and curator of the Lincoln
College museum, served as moderator of this lively discussion Monday
professor of history emeritus at LC, presented a lively discussion
on the life of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln and Logan County. Dr.
Beaver spoke for about an hour, outlining the chronology of
Lincoln's life in central Illinois.
In his discussion
about "the greatest man who ever walked in this state," Beaver told
the crowd of nearly 300 how Lincoln began his work as a storekeeper,
a postmaster, a surveyor, a lawyer, a legislator, a senator and
finally became president of the United States.
Beaver informed the
crowd that in 1830, Logan as we know it did not exist, but was part
of a greater Sangamon County. Lincoln had lived with his family in
Harristown, then Charleston, before moving to New Salem as an adult.
Mr. Lincoln was asked
to study surveying in New Salem and eventually took the position of
deputy surveyor for Sangamon County. During this time, he surveyed
several areas for towns, including two in what is now the Logan
County area. The settlements of Albany, near Rocky Ford, and
Musick's Ferry near Middletown, did not ever come into existence.
fact is that Middletown probably got its name from being nearly
midway on the stagecoach route between Springfield and Peoria (aka
Fort Clark). Dr. John L. Deskins took advantage of this location to
establish the Middletown Stagecoach Inn, still in existence today.
This nine-room inn, large for its time, often housed Mr. Lincoln as
he traveled his judicial circuits. Its size probably accommodated
out-of-towners who were attending local horse racing events. It is
the only remaining wooden stagecoach inn still standing in Illinois
Later, Dr. Deskins
shrewdly left Middletown and built the Deskins Inn near the railroad
tracks in Postville. This inn served as a courthouse for Mr. Lincoln
prior to the building of the Postville Courthouse.
During his time as
deputy surveyor, Mr. Lincoln surveyed and established three other
settlements: Middletown in 1832, Postville in 1835 and Mount Pulaski
in 1836. According to Beaver, Mr. Lincoln became chairman on the
committee for establishing new counties in Illinois. It was
determined at that time that every county seat should be within a
day's horseback riding distance. Because Sangamon County was so
large, it was broken down further into Dane (now Christian), Menard
and Logan counties. Mr. Lincoln named Logan County for his friend
Postville was then
named the Logan County seat and became part of the 8th Judicial
Circuit. When Mr. Lincoln became a law partner with John Todd Stuart
in Springfield in the late 1830s, he often traveled this circuit
with other lawyers and the judges. At times, he served as acting
judge in the absence of the circuit judge. Mr. Lincoln often played
"town ball" in Postville Park.
In 1848, the
Postville Courthouse could no longer accommodate the 8th Judicial
Circuit, and court was moved to the Mount Pulaski Courthouse.
Shortly after this, Mr. Lincoln was elected to Congress as a member
of the Whig Party. He served for two years and returned to his law
practice in Springfield in 1850, again riding the 8th Circuit and
hearing cases in Mount Pulaski, the Logan County seat at that time.
As a member of the
Whig Party, Mr. Lincoln opposed the pending Civil War. However, the
specter of war was about to descend upon the country.
In 1853, the city of
Lincoln was founded, largely due to its prime location upon the
railway built between Chicago and St. Louis. Virgil Hickox, a shrewd
businessman as proprietor of the Chicago railroad and head of the
Democratic Party, notified John Gillett about the location of
railroad depots. The land that is now downtown Lincoln was surveyed
in February 1853.
Shortly after that, a
bill was passed to move the Logan County seat from Mount Pulaski to
Lincoln, though it had not yet been named such. The official
purchase of 90 lots was made from a family in Pennsylvania on Aug.
27, 1853, for the sum of $1,300.
Since Mr. Lincoln had
done the legal work to plat the land, Robert Latham and John Gillett
decided to name the city after Lincoln. Beaver stated that, though
Mr. Lincoln was a modest man, he knew that the city of Lincoln would
take off because of its optimal location on the railroad. The 90
lots were sold off individually for a total of $6,000.
christened the new city with the legendary juice of a locally sold
"Mr. Lincoln's world
got a lot darker after that," Beaver went on, mesmerizing the crowd.
With 3.5 million slaves being held in the South, a "fire barrel in
the night" was about to explode.
Compromise, or Clay's Compromise of 1850, ruled that no slavery was
allowed in states north of Missouri. However, it did not mention the
new territories of New Mexico and Arizona. The conflict continued as
the South pushed to take slavery into new territories. Abolitionists
and Underground Railroad helpers were under fire by slave catchers.
Beaver noted an
episode that occurred in Broadwell in which a runaway slave had been
working as a blacksmith. This slave was captured and carried away by
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