Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The History of Illinois' Lincoln Trail.

In 1914 plans were made by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to recognized the road that Abraham Lincoln traveled while a circuit lawyer between Springfield and Danville, Illinois (now called Lincoln Trail) by placing markers at each county line.
At this time only a few of the markers still exist, one being on the Champaign-Vermilion County line at the intersection of 1800E & 1350N. The DAR had the existing marker refurbished and it was dedicated in June of 2011.

Finish Plans For Dedication of Lincoln Memorial Marker Urbana Daily Courier (excerpt).
The program for the dedication of the Champaign county memorial marker of the Lincoln Circuit, to be held under the auspices of Alliance chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, May 6, 1922, was completed.

At a meeting of the Alliance chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, November 11, 1914, at the home of Mrs. George W. Busey, Judge J. O. Cunningham gave a very interesting talk on “The Real Lincoln Highway,” or the road traveled by Abraham Lincoln while driving from one courthouse to another of his circuit in 1847.

This address created so much interest that Mrs. G. W. Busey moved that Alliance chapter try to interest Danville, Decatur, and Springfield chapters to unite with Alliance chapter of Urbana and Champaign in marking this historic road. This motion, seconded by Mrs. H. V. Canter, was carried.

Judge Cunningham also addressed this larger gathering on the importance of marking the Lincoln circuit road. After which a committee was appointed to take action. Miss Lottie E. Jones was made chairman and women from each of the chapters represented were appointed members of this committee.

The following spring Garrett H. Baker of Urbana and Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Babb of Homer made several trips across Champaign and adjoining counties, accompanied by Judge and Mrs. Cunningham, Mrs. E. H. Waldo, regent of Alliance chapter, Miss Lottie Jones, and Mrs. George Busey and located the road from Danville to Monticello.

Many attempts were made to find the road from Monticello to Decatur but were unsuccessful. Finally, Mrs. Jessie Palmer Webber and Miss Jones, after much research, found that Lincoln’s circuit extended thru 18 counties and that he went from Clinton to Monticello, then to Urbana, Danville, Paris, Charleston, Shelbyville, Sullivan, Decatur, Taylorville, and Springfield. At different times in the course of Lincoln’s circuit-riding, he traveled thru each of the following counties: Sangamon, Menard, Mason, Tazewell, Woodford, Livingston, McLean, DeWitt, Piatt, Champaign, Vermilion, Edgar, Coles, Shelby, Moultrie, Macon, and Christian. Because several of these counties were without local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, prominent lawyers and other interested friends formed the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association, of which Judge Franklin H. Boggs is president, to assist the DAR in marking the circuit.

The difficulties incident to the world war, which began in 1914, retarded the completion of the project until 1922.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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