Historic Carthage Jail

Historic Carthage Jail (HM138Y)

Location: Carthage, IL 62321 Hancock County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 24.906', W 91° 8.358'

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Alexander Sympson knew Lincoln when they were small boys in Kentucky. Like Lincoln, he moved to Illinois in the 1830's, and arrived in Carthage in early 1844, just as contention with the Mormons was peaking. In 1858 Sympson was the most optimistic of local Lincoln enthusiasts during the Senate race. He hosted Lincoln in his home in Carthage on October 22, 1858. The house became a focal point of the grand procession of wagons and carriages that streamed into Carthage from all directions. Multitudes marched by the house, sheering Lincoln in a parade stretching "over three miles long" that "wound all around and through town and around the public square." Sympson was on Lincoln's short list of "confidential friends." Lincoln trusted him with a delicate political task; to quietly encourage local supporters of President James Buchanan in his intraparty feud with Stephen Douglas in hopes of splitting the Democratic Party and weakening Douglas. The strategy failed.

Alexander Sympson was new to Carthage in 1844 when Illinois Governor Thomas Ford paraded Joseph and Hyrum Smith as prisoners before assembled militia troops on the courthouse grounds the morning after the Mormon leaders arrived to answer riot charges. Some troops rebelled at the Mormon prisoners being introduced with military dignities, forcing the Governor to intervene. Later that day, they were released pending trial in the autumn. But Justice of the Peace Robert F. Smith (also militia captain of the Carthage Greys) ordered the Smiths rearrested on new charges of treason. The courthouse was "crowded to suffocation" when the prisoners were escorted there through menacing crowds the next day, June 26, 1944. Their case was postponed again, so the Smiths were returned to this county jail and were murdered here the next day.

HM NumberHM138Y
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 4:09am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 657867 N 4475493
Decimal Degrees40.41510000, -91.13930000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 24.906', W 91° 8.358'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 24' 54.36" N, 91° 8' 21.48" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 305 Walnut St, Carthage IL 62321, US
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