Lincoln's Real Estate

Lincoln's Real Estate (HM1313)

Location: Bloomington, IL 61701 McLean County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 28.833', W 88° 59.317'

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"His love of wealth was very weak....he said he had no capacity whatever for speculation and never attempted it."
So said attorney friend Joseph Gillespie who once asked Lincoln how much land he owned and why he had never speculated in land. Lincoln had replied, according to Gillespie, that "he had no capacity whatever for speculation and never attempted it." While attorneys in Bloomington and elsewhere—-David Davis and Asahel Gridley of Bloomington; Clifton H. Moore of Clinton; and Stephen A. Logan of Springfield—-accumulated thousands of acres of farmland and town lots, Lincoln acquired very little. In addition to the two lots he owned briefly in Bloomington, and the home in Springfield. Lincoln owned 160 acres in Iowa, using warrants issued as a result of his participation in the Black Hawk War, land acquired in Coles County, Illinois, to protect his parents, and a lot given to him in Lincoln as payment for legal services. According to his long time friend James Matheny of Springfield, "in worldly matters Lincoln was a(s) prudent and careful as the average man, yet he never succeeded in acquiring very much property."

Abraham Lincoln purchased lots 11 and 12, at the northwest corner of Jefferson and McLean, in Bloomington's Evans Addition from David Davis' cousin Levy Davis and his wife Lucy Davis on October 6, 1851, for $325. Lincoln retained the lots for nearly five years. On April 12, 1856, he and Mary Todd Lincoln sold the lots to Francis Thomas for $400. Thomas built a house on the property. Owned by various individuals over the years, the house and property were eventually bought by Dr. Marie Crothers, mother of noted playwright of early twentieth century Broadway fame, Rachel Crothers. Dr. Marie Crothers was the widow of Dr. Eli Crothers of the "Chicken Bone Case" (1856) which Lincoln tried.

Abraham Lincoln and Levi Davis, a cousin of David Davis had served in the Illinois General Assembly together in the 1830's. Over the years, as attorneys, the two had worked together and opposed each other. Although Lincoln was a Whig and Davis a Democrat, Lincoln wrote in 1861, that he considered Davis "a very highly valued friend of mine of long standing." It is not known what Lincoln's purposes were in acquiring the property.

Although some have speculated that Lincoln intended to move to Bloomington, that is unlikely because Springfield was the site of the Illinois State Supreme Court where Lincoln frequently practiced on behalf of clients all across the state. Certainly, speculation may have been a factor, for two weeks before Lincoln purchased the property; David Davis had observed that buyers "are running crazy at Bloomington with property."

HM NumberHM1313
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 28th, 2014 at 6:19am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 331442 N 4482995
Decimal Degrees40.48055000, -88.98861667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 28.833', W 88° 59.317'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 28' 49.98" N, 88° 59' 19.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)309
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 401-499 E Jefferson St, Bloomington IL 61701, US
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