Lincoln in Petersburg

Lincoln in Petersburg (HM12W9)

Location: Petersburg, IL 62675 Menard County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 0.623', W 89° 50.895'

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After moving to Springfield, Abraham Lincoln would visit the Petersburg area and stay overnight at the Menard House.
When Lincoln was on the Judicial Circuit, he traveled from court to court, often sleeping at the local hotel or tavern. With his original stories, he could "make a cat laugh," according to Bernhardt Wall. At the end of a day of platform speeches on the Menard County Courthouse lawn, numerous well-known lawyers, politicians and local citizens would retire to the Menard House, located across the street, where they would continue their "Platforming" according to historian Henry B. Rankin. The Menard House was "the Great Equalizer" allowing all parties to voice their opinions. As R.D. Miller has stated, "If the old 'Menard House' had the power of speech it could entertain for days and weeks, repeating the unnumbered 'good Ones' that were told when Lincoln, Engle,and other home and imported talent spent an evening at that old time hostelry."

The Menard House was a hotel, barbershop, and bathhouse, built around 1845 across from the Menard County Courthouse. The establishment was originally built by John Bennett and was later sold to Isaac White, the hotel manager. He was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln and helped Lincoln survey the town of Petersburg in 1835 and 1836. After the death of his wife Sarah, White sold the Menard House and built a new home at 521 West Jackson Street in Petersburg. As of 2008, that house was still in the Isaac White family. The Menard House was torn down in 1919.

Edward Laning, grandson of Senator Edward Laning, tells how at the age of twelve the future senator would sneak into the Menard House. Sometimes the proprietor would chase him away, saying, "Ed, you run along. Abe Lincoln's here, and I don't want you to hear the stories he's got to tell." Ed Laning came to Petersburg around 1836. After his wife died in 1897, he married Bertha White, the daughter of Isaac White, the former proprietor of the Menard House. Laning was elected to the State Legislature in 1868 and to the State Senate in 1870. Isaac White was born in Ithaca, New York in 1819. He married and settled in Chandlerville. In 1849 he took a drove of cattle to California, returning with $6,000 in gold. He came to Petersburg and entered business on the west side of the square.

HM NumberHM12W9
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 2:06am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 256893 N 4432796
Decimal Degrees40.01038333, -89.84825000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 0.623', W 89° 50.895'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 0' 37.38" N, 89° 50' 53.70" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 100-198 S 6th St, Petersburg IL 62675, US
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