William Florville

William Florville (HM1312)

Location: Bloomington, IL 61701 McLean County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 29.05', W 88° 59.633'

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"I am in a little trouble here—-I am trying to get a decree for our 'Billy the Barber' for the conveyance of certain town lots sold to him by Allin Gridley and Prickett...." Lincoln explained that "Billy will blame me, if I do not get the thing fixed up this time." Writing from Bloomington, to Springfield attorney Charles Welles, Lincoln began the process of securing Florville's deed to the town lots he had received by gift and purchase in Bloomington. Because Florville had failed to record the deed before losing it, he retained Lincoln to sue for a duplicate deed to prove the claim against the estate of David Prickett. Florville received the deed when the defendants failed to appear in court. Lincoln paid the McLean County court costs. Florville did not finish paying for the lots until 1865. Because Lincoln traveled to Bloomington regularly he had "been paying the taxes for him (Florville) several years." When Lincoln "forgot....Though under promise, when I was at Bloomington last," he asked Bloomington attorney Major W. Packard to pay all the taxes due, and send me the receipt, or receipts."

Bloomington was growing rapidly by 1836 when William Allin, Asahel Gridley, and David Prickett laid out an addition in the northeast section of the city. Among those who obtained 2 lots was William Florville (or de Fleurville), who was briefly a resident of Bloomington before moving to Peoria and then returning to Springfield. According to Prickett's son Thomas, his father gave Florville the lots in return for shaving David Prickett, a Springfield lawyer and politician, for life. Eventually, Florville owned lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 (two at the southwest corner of Main and Locust streets and two at the southeast corner of Locust and Center Street.

Lincoln's best known African-American friend, William Florville (sometimes de Fleurville) was born in Cape Haitian, Haiti, September 7, 1807. He emigrated to Baltimore, Maryland, about 1820, where he learned to become a barber. he emigrated to Illinois where he met Abraham Lincoln in 1831. Settling in Springfield, he quickly became a popular barber and included among his clients Lincoln, almost always referred to by the latter as "Billy the Barber." He lived briefly in Bloomington as attested by the following March 1838 Peoria newspaper advertisement: William Florville, lately from Springfield, Ill., and more recently from Bloomington..." had relocated to Peoria where he invited "strangers and travelers" to allow him "to take them by the nose" at his Temple of Fashion" as he called his barber shop. Florville returned to Springfield in the autumn.

HM NumberHM1312
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 9:33am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 331005 N 4483406
Decimal Degrees40.48416667, -88.99388333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 29.05', W 88° 59.633'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 29' 3.00" N, 88° 59' 37.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)309
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 622 N Main St, Bloomington IL 61701, US
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