Lincoln in Beardstown

Lincoln in Beardstown (HM134E)

Location: Beardstown, IL 62618 Cass County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 1.074', W 90° 26.094'

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Abraham Lincoln first saw Beardstown in the Spring of 1831 as he, two friends, and Denton Offutt steered Offutt's flatboat laden with merchandise on their way to New Orleans. He returned in 1832, first in March to help get the steamer Talisman up and back down the Sangamon River. In April, Lincoln returned as the captain of a volunteer company in the Black Hawk War. As a surveyor, candidate, state legislator, congressman and lawyer, Lincoln often visited Beardstown and the surrounding region. He proved to be a good friend of the area. As a state legislator, he supported the creation of Cass County. He also wrote the bill that led to the construction of the state road from Beardstown to Petersburg and was unswerving in his efforts to win state financial support for the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal venture. Lincoln was in Beardstown on November 13, 1837, for an historic event. Now a young lawyer, Lincoln traveled to Beardstown—-most likely on horseback—-for the first session of the Cass County Circuit Court. Judge Jesse B. Thomas, Jr., presided over the one-day session. It is unknown whether Lincoln made an appearance before the court.

Although Lincoln was a strong supporter of water transportation, most of his travels to Beardstown and elsewhere in the Eighth Judicial District in Central Illinois were by horse or buggy. If town streets were unpaved, country roads were even more rugged, mere tracks across the prairie, with very few dwellings in between. Winter journeys were especially difficult. The drawing by Beardstown artist William Barnhart shows Lincoln mounted. Because of his height, he was an awkward figure in the saddle; if the horse was not tall, Lincoln's feed nearly dragged the ground.

During his visits to Beardstown and Cass County, Abraham Lincoln most likely became acquainted with Beardstown's founder, Thomas Beard. According to tradition, Lincoln stayed at the inn Beard erected at the northeast corner of State and Main Streets, the site of the present U.S. Post Office. When he crossed the Illinois River, Lincoln would have used Beard's ferry.

The Illinois Lincoln traveled in the 1830's and 1840's was still a rugged frontier state, and Beardstown had the look of a rough frontier town. Most buildings were of wooden frame—-and often flimsy—-construction. Where existent, sidewalks were made of wood and subject to rapid deterioration. Any good rain would turn the dusty streets into nearly impassable quagmires. Horse excrement and urine made crossing the street a challenge and gave the downtown a distinctive aroma, especially during warm weather. Lincoln and his fellow Illinoisans had to be tough.

HM NumberHM134E
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 2:54pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 718911 N 4432896
Decimal Degrees40.01790000, -90.43490000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 1.074', W 90° 26.094'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 1' 4.44" N, 90° 26' 5.64" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 100-198 S State St, Beardstown IL 62618, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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