County Seat Almost Moved

County Seat Almost Moved (HMJS7)

Location: Pontiac, IL 61764 Livingston County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 52.777', W 88° 37.744'

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— Looking for Lincoln —

Left Section

Riding the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Lincoln pleaded cases in Livingston County's first courthouse located on this site. But these events almost did not come to pass. The town proprietors had promised a courthouse, which two years later had not materialized. The unrest grew, and on August 30, 1839 an election was held for the purpose of moving the Seat of Justice several miles up the river to the Owego Township farm of Daniel Rockwood. The arguments urged in its favor were numerous: Pontiac was not the most central point; it was an unhealthy locality, being low and marshy; and the proprietors had not made the promised improvements. The proposed fifty-acre site was high and dry; it was in a central location, being the nearest of the center of any on the river, and the courthouse would be built immediately. The result of the election was a huge majority in favor of the move - - 81 for to 56 against - - but not quite the two-thirds majority required to move the county seat. The vote was sufficient enough, though, to move those parties interested in Pontiac real estate to expedite the building of the much-needed and long-awaited courthouse.

Center Section

Livingston County's first courthouse, completed in 1841, was occupied on July 23, 1842. Used for political and social meetings, church services, and Sunday school, the twenty-two by thirty foot, story-and-a-half frame building gave great satisfaction. In 1843, Samuel Ladd taught the area's first public school in it. Hugh Taylor rented the jury room for a store in 1845, and also rented the courtroom for three months. Though Pontiac remained largely uninhabited, the country around gained population, and court sessions offered a most popular entertainment.

Right Section

There was much work in contentious Livingston County for Lincoln, Douglas and other circuit-riding attorneys. Lincoln also appeared in the state Supreme Court in 1843 with an appeal from the circuit court here. Livingston Count Sheriff Garret Blue had been found guilty in circuit court of slandering Eliza Allen by calling her a perjurer. Mrs. Allen and her husband, Moses, sued for $2,000 but won only $250 damages and court cost of $13. (Blue's alleged name-calling, it is thought, grew out of an earlier case in which Blue was found guilty of publicly accusing Mrs. Allen of adultery. The Allens lost and paid $18.75 costs.) The state Supreme Court reversed Blue's conviction of perjury and ordered the Allens to pay $8.50 costs. During one term of court, Lincoln paid his hotel bill here by attending to one of owner John Foster's many pending legal cases.
HM NumberHMJS7
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Year Placed2009
Placed ByThe City of Pontiac
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 11:10pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 362741 N 4526670
Decimal Degrees40.87961667, -88.62906667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 52.777', W 88° 37.744'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 52' 46.62" N, 88° 37' 44.64" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)815
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 101-199 W Washington St, Pontiac IL 61764, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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