Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Abraham Lincoln, Oil on Canvas by John Henry Brown. 1860

President Lincoln and group of civil war officers at Antietam, Maryland, 1862.

President Lincoln with General George B. McClellan (#6) and a group of officers at Antietam, Maryland. Photograph from the main eastern theater of the civil war, Battle of Antietam, September–October 1862.
CLICK FOR FULL-SIZE PICTURE

From Left to Right:

01. Colonel Delos B. Sackett, I.G. 
02. Captain George Monteith. 
03. Lieutenant Colonel Nelson B. Sweitzer. 
04. General George W. Morell. 
05. Colonel Alexander S. Webb, Chief of Staff, 5th Corps. 
06. General George B. McClellan. 
07. Scout Adams. 
08. Dr. Jonathan Letterman, Army Medical Director. 
09. Unknown. 
10. President Lincoln. 
11. General Henry J. Hunt. 
12. General Fitz-John Porter. 
13. Unknown. 
14. Colonel Frederick T. Locke, A.A.G. 
15. General Andrew A. Humphreys. 
16. Captain George Armstrong Custer.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Dried Flower from Abraham Lincoln's Bier Found in Historical Society Attic in 2018.

A single delicate dried flower that lay on Abraham Lincoln’s bier[1] has been discovered in the archives of a historical society in Will County (founded on January 12, 1836) in the city of Lockport, Illinois. At first glance, it appears to be just another dried flower, a carefully preserved memory from a wedding, prom, or similar special occasion.
Abraham Lincoln's casket was placed in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda in Columbus on April 29, 1865, where he laid in state. The president’s coffin rested on a flower-covered catafalque[2] bearing the word “Lincoln” in silver letters.


Sandy Vasko, president of the Will County Historical Society discovered the single white rose in January of 2018 while looking through some old boxes stored in the attic at the Will County Historical Museum and Research Center. 

Beautifully preserved in a modest display case with a glass lid, the rose was identified by a handwritten label on the back as having performed the solemn duty of adorning the slain president’s coffin when it lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., on April 20, 1865. According to the label note, the rose was given to Lincoln’s good friend General Isham Haynie of Illinois who in turn gifted it to Mrs. James Elwood of Joliet.
This rose picture is a visual aid.
James Gavion Elwood (1839-1917) was a Civil War veteran, former Postmaster, and Mayor of Joilet and a prominent citizen. Boxes of his belongings were donated to the Will County Historical Society in the 1970s. The 13 boxes of the Elwood collection were stashed in the building, nine in closets, four in the attic, and remained there for decades before Vasko started going through them. The rose and its all-important label was in one of them.
A pressed flower bouquet from an Abraham Lincoln’s bier on display at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy the Library of Congress.
The discovery of this one precious dried white rose might as well be the holy grail for the Society. “For a museum director to find this kind of incredible artifact, it is so lucky,” Vasko said. “When I was touching it and handling it, it was like electricity. It was just so amazing.”

There are very few pictures of the multiple funerals and public viewings of the coffin that were held along the long, slow, sad journey of Lincoln’s body from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. This was deliberate. Edwin McMasters Stanton, secretary to Lincoln, devastated by President Lincoln’s assassination was adamantly opposed to any hint of commercializing the horrific event. Grieving widow Mary Todd Lincoln agreed with him, and he ordered General Townsend, who was delegated to accompany the cortege, to prohibit all photographs. When he failed to do so in New York, Stanton was enraged and had every negative plate confiscated and destroyed.

The photograph (above) of Lincoln lying in state in the Ohio Statehouse rotunda is the only known picture that escaped General Townsend's watchful eye and that of his staff. The flowers themselves are extremely rare. As far as we know, the only other ones are in the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site in Washington D.C., and it’s not clear whether they came from the funeral in the East Room of the White House, the one in the Rotunda, or from when he lay in state the next day. This find is historically significant because it’s such a rare survival, because of its involvement in an iconic tragedy in American history, and because it’s in Illinois, President Lincoln’s home state.

There are still no public photographs available of the Lincoln funeral rose from the Will County Historical Museum and Research Center.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


[1] Bier: [Pronunciation] A movable frame on which a coffin is placed before burial or on which it is carried to the grave and remains in place during the funeral.

[2] Catafalque: [Pronunciation] A raised bier, box, or similar platform, often movable, that is used to support the casket of the deceased during a Christian funeral or memorial service.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

President Abraham Lincoln and his Horse Statue at the Lincoln Cottage in Washington D.C.

This statue of President Abraham Lincoln and his horse statue by sculptor Ivan Schwartz stands before the cottage where the Lincoln family could frequently be found in Washington, D.C.
Lincoln's Cottage, 140 Rock Creek Church Road, NW, Washington, D.C.

Two First Ladies Visit Hodgenville, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace National Historic Site.

At least two first ladies have visited Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, in Hodgenville, Kentucky.
President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, well-known Lincoln admirers, attended the cornerstone dedication for the Memorial Building on the centennial of Lincoln's birth. Eight thousand people watched President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone, then made a speech on February 12, 1909.

President William Howard Taft dedicated the completed building on November 9, 1911. 
The National Park was established in 1916.
Edith Roosevelt, Hodgenville, Kentucky, February 12, 1909
Laura Bush, Hodgenville, Kentucky, November 18, 2008.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Lincoln Family Bible.

Lincoln did not have much of a religious life of his own to speak of. His stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, would tell Lincoln’s biographer and law partner William Henry Herndon that “Abe had no particular religion” as a youth, and “didn’t think of that question at that time, if he ever did,” or at least “never talked about it.” It was not from ignorance. The young Lincoln “would hear sermons preached, come home, take the children out, get on a tree stump or log, and almost repeat it word for word,” and do it so convincingly that he could make “the other children, as well as the men, quit their work” to listen to him. But it was all pure mimicry. 
NOTE: "After the Little Pigeon Church (Pigeon Creek [Baptist] Church was founded on June 8, 1816, the year that Thomas Lincoln and his family moved from Kentucky and settled on Little Pigeon Creek in what was then Warwick County, Indiana Territory.) was built Abraham was given a job which required his attendance whenever the church was open. On June 12, 1823, Thomas Lincoln became one of the trustees of the church, along with Reuben Grigsby and William Barker. This put Thomas in a position to recommend someone to take care of the meetinghouse, keep it clean, and provide firewood and candles. Abraham who was fourteen years old at that time was employed as sexton[1]. How long Abraham served as sexton we do not know. His father continued as trustee for several years." —Lincoln's Youth, Indiana Years Seven to Twenty-one, 1816-1830, by Louis A. Warren.

I wouldn't call being a church custodian whose job required them to be present at church during services as "attending church." Abe, a church trustee's son, was employed for sexton services. There is no definitive proof of Abe participating as a parishioner.
Once Lincoln struck out on his own, he not only showed no interest in religion but an actual aversion to it. During his brief years as clerk and storekeeper in New Salem, Illinois, Lincoln preferred the reading of the most famous anti-religious skeptics of the day, Voltaire, Paine, etc., and wrote a short essay which was so scandalous in its contempt for religion that his neighbors morally compelled Mr. Lincoln to burn his essay book, on account of its infamy.
The Bible is an Oxford University Press edition of the King James Bible. Published in 1853, it has 1280 pages and measures approximately 6 inches long by 4 inches wide, and 1.75 inches thick, and is bound in burgundy red velvet with gilt edges. The back flyleaf of the Bible bears the seal of the Supreme Court of the United States along with a record of the 1861 inauguration. The Bible is not a rare edition. Lincoln owning this Bible makes it a priceless, one-of-a-kind Bible.
Abraham Lincoln reached Washington, D.C. for his inauguration in 1861. His belongings, including his Bible, had yet to arrive. William Thomas Carroll, the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, fetched a Bible that he kept for official use. This became the Lincoln Bible. Although the Bible remained with Carroll for a time, the Lincolns acquired it at an unknown time. The Bible later remained with the Lincoln family up until 1928, at which point Mary Eunice Harlan, the widow of Robert Todd Lincoln, donated it to the Library of Congress. When the Bible was donated, it contained markers at the 31st chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy and the fourth chapter of the Book of Hosea. Barack Obama chose this Bible for his inaugurations in 2009 and 2013. The Bible was on display at the Library of Congress from February to May of 2009 in a celebration of the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The Bible was used to swear in Carla Hayden as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. Donald Trump was sworn in on this Bible topped by, what he claimed, was his childhood Bible at his inauguration on January 20, 2017.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] Sexton: Church custodian charged with keeping the church and parish buildings prepared for meetings, caring for church equipment, and performing related minor duties such as ringing the bell and digging graves.

Jus-Fun Amusements, Oakbrook Terrace. (1981-2020)

Jus-Fun Amusements opened on May 1, 1981, with 14 Go-Karts. Four more Go-Karts were added along with 4 Batting Cages in 1983. 
In 1986 kiddie electric bumper boats and the trampoline games known as Hi-Ball was added to the park. In 1988 the kiddie bumper boats were removed and replaced with adult-sized bumper boats in a 50x60 foot pond. Another 20 new Go-Karts were also purchased.
An 18-hole miniature golf course replaced the bumper boats in 1993. A large ticket boot, game room, and repair shop were also added. In 2001 the Titanic was installed, a 33 foot high 2 lane slide with a steep angle allowing people to slide down really fast, but unfortunately, 4 years later, they couldn't obtain insurance for the slide. Water Wars, a water balloon launching game was added in 2007 and doubled the size of Water Wars in 2012.
Jus-Fun Amusements closed October 12, 2020.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.




Thursday, October 15, 2020

Abraham Lincoln’s Early Boyhood in Kentucky.

The ancestors of Abraham Lincoln were of English descent. We find the earliest definite traces of them in Berks County, Pennsylvania, though this was almost certainly not the first place of their residence in this country. Their location, and their adherence to the Quaker faith, make it probable that the original emigration occurred under the auspices of William Penn, or at least in company with those who sympathized and shared in his colonizing movement. It was doubtless a branch of the same family that, leaving England under different religious impulses, but with the same adventurous and independent spirit, settled, at an earlier date, in Old Plymouth Colony. The separation may possibly have taken place this side of the Atlantic, and not beyond. Some of the same traits appear conspicuously in both these family groups. One tradition indeed affirms that the Pennsylvania branch was transplanted from Hingham, Massachusetts, and was derived from a common stock with Colonel Benjamin Lincoln, of Revolutionary fame. There is a noticeable coincidence in the general prevalence, among each American branch, of Scriptural names in christening—the Benjamin, Levi, and Ezra, of Massachusetts, having their counterpart in the Abraham, Thomas, and Josiah, of Virginia and Kentucky. The peculiarity is one to have been equally expected among sober Friends, and among zealous Puritans.

Berks County cannot have been very long the home of Mr. Lincoln's immediate progenitors. There can hardly have been more than a slender pioneer settlement there, up to the time that one or more of the number made another remove, not far from 1750, to what is now Rockingham County, Virginia. Old Berks was first settled about 1734,—then, too, as a German Colony—and was not organized as a county until 1752; before which date, according to family traditions, this removal to Virginia took place.

This, it will be observed, was pre-eminently a pioneer stock, evidently much in love with backwoods adventure, and constantly courting the dangers and hardships of forest-life.

Rockingham County, Virginia, though intersected by the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah, or rather by two valleys made by its chief forks, not very far from their junction, and inviting, by its natural resources, the advances of civilization, must nevertheless have been, at the time just mentioned, in the very heart of the wilderness. Now, it is one of the most productive counties of Virginia, having exceeded every other county in the State, according to the census of 1850, in its crops of wheat and hay. A branch of the family, it is understood, still remains there, to enjoy the benefits of so judicious a selection, and of the labors and imperfectly requited endurances of these first settlers. It was more than thirty years later than the arrival there of the Lincolns of Pennsylvania, that Rockingham county first had an organized political existence.

From this locality, about the year 1780, perhaps a little later, Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the one who now bears that name, started westward across the Alleghenies, attracted by the accounts which had reached him of the wonderfully fertile and lovely country explored by Daniel Boone, on and near the Kentucky River. During all his lifetime, hitherto, he could have known little of any other kind of existence than that to which he had been educated as an adventurous frontiersman. The severe labor of preparing the heavily timbered lands of the Shenandoah for cultivation, the wild delights of hunting the then abundant game of the woods, and the exciting hazards of uncertain warfare with savage enemies, had been almost the sole occupations of his rough but healthful life. Perhaps the settlements around him had already begun to be too far advanced for the highest enjoyment of his characteristic mode of living: or possibly, with others, he aspired to the possession of more fertile fields, and to an easier subsistence, with new forest-expanses more eligible for the delights of the chase. Whatever the reason, he set out at the time just stated, with his wife and several young children, on his long journey across the mountains, and over the broad valleys intervening between the Shenandoah and the Kentucky Rivers.

At this date, and for ten or twelve years later, the present State of Kentucky formed part of the old Commonwealth of Virginia. "The dark and bloody ground," as afterward named for better reasons than the fiction which assigns this meaning to its Indian appellation, had then been but recently entered upon by the white man. Its first explorer, Daniel Boone, whose very name suggests a whole world of romance and adventure, had removed, when a mere boy, among the earlier emigrants from Eastern Pennsylvania, to Berks county. Here he must have been a contemporary resident and was perhaps an acquaintance, of some of the younger members of the Lincoln family. At all events, as substantially one of their own neighbors, they must have watched his later course with eager interest and sympathy and caught inspiration from his exploits. At eighteen, Boone had again emigrated, with his father as before, to the banks of the Yadkin, a mountain river in the north-west of North Carolina, at just about the same date as the removal of the Lincolns to Virginia. Some years later, Boone, in his hunting excursions, had passed over and admired large tracts of the wilderness north of his home, and especially along a branch of the Cumberland River, within the limits of what is now Kentucky. It was not until 1769, however, that, with five associates, he made the thorough exploration of the Kentucky valley, which resulted in the subsequent settlements there. The glowing descriptions which ultimately got abroad of the incredible richness and beauty of these new and remote forest-climes of Trans-Alleghenian Virginia, and of their alluring hunting-grounds, must have early reached the ears of the boyhood-companions of Daniel Boone and spread through the neighboring country. The stirring adventures of the pioneer hero, during the next five or six years, and the beginnings of substantial settlements in that far-west country, must have suggested new attractions thitherward (toward that place) to the more active and daring spirits, whose ideal of manhood Boone so nearly approached.

From the borders, in various directions, hundreds of miles away, emigration had now begun. These recruits were from that class of hardy frontiersmen most inured to the kind of toils they were to encounter anew in the Kentucky forests. They went forward, fearless of the dangers to be encountered from the numerous bands of Indians already recommencing hostilities, after a temporary pacification. Here was a common territory and place of meeting for the tribes, both of the North and the South, and here, before and after this date, there were many exciting adventures and deadly conflicts with these savages, whose favorite haunts had been thus unceremoniously invaded.

It was not far from the date of the disastrous battle of the Lower Blue Licks, that the grandfather of Mr. Lincoln, with his young family, reached the region which had perhaps long been the promised land of his dreams. This transmigration was certainly sometime later than 1778, and earlier than 1784, as circumstances hereafter to be stated will show. Boone, Kenton, Harrod, Floyd, and their brave associates, were still in the midst of the great struggles which have given them lasting memory in history. Lincoln was ambitious to share their fortunes and to fix his home in this more genial and opulent clime (a region considered with reference to its climate).

The exact place at which he settled is not known. It was somewhere on Floyd's Creek, and probably near its mouth, in what is now Bullitt County. The hopes which led to this change of his home were not destined to be fulfilled. He had made but a mere beginning in his new pioneer labors, when, while at work one day, at a distance from his cabin, unsuspecting of danger, he was killed by an Indian, who had stolen upon him unaware. This took place in the year 1784, or very near that time when he was probably not more than thirty-five years of age. His widow, thus suddenly bereaved in a new and strange land, had now their three sons and two daughters left to her sole protection and care, with probably little means for their support. She soon after removed to what became Washington County, in the same State, not far distant, and there reared her children, all of whom reached a mature age. One of the daughters was married to a Mr. Crume, and the other to a man named Bromfield. The three sons, respectively named Thomas, Mordecai, and Josiah, all remained in Kentucky until after their majority.
Thomas Lincoln, one of these sons, was born in 1778. He was a mere child when his father removed to Kentucky and was but six years old at the time of the latter's death. The date of this event was consequently about 1784. Of the early life of the orphan boy, we have no knowledge, except what can be learned of the general lot of his class, and of the habits and modes of living then prevalent among the hardy pioneers of Kentucky. These backwoodsmen had an unceasing round of hard toils, with no immediate reward but a bare subsistence from year to year, and the cheering promise of better days in the future. But even their lands, as in the case of Boone, they were not always so fortunate as to retain in fees.

More comfortable days and a much-improved state of things had come before Thomas arrived at maturity, but in his boyhood and youth, he must have known whatever was worst in the trials and penury of the first generation of Kentucky frontiersmen, with few other enjoyments than an occasional practice with his rifle. His training was suited to develop a strong, muscular frame, and a rugged constitution, with a characteristic quickness of perception and promptness of action. The Kentuckian of that and the succeeding generation had generally a tall, stalwart frame, a frank and courteous heart, and a humorous and slightly quaint turn of speech; a fondness for adventure and for the sports of hunting; a manly self-respect, and a fearless independence of spirit.

This generation began its life with the independent existence of the nation and partook largely of the spirit of exultant self-confidence then abroad through the land.

These were the circumstances and associations under which, in those primeval days in Kentucky, Thomas Lincoln passed through the period of boyhood and youth. At the date of the political separation from Virginia, in 1792, and the formation of a new State, this orphan boy, struggling to aid his mother in the support of the ill-fortuned family, had reached the age of fourteen. The currents of emigration had become enlarged and accelerated, meantime, until the population was swelled, as early as 1790, to more than 73,000; and during the next ten years, it was more than trebled, reaching 220,000. The wilderness that once was around Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Lexington, was now blossoming as the rose. Still, however, there was ample space unoccupied, within the limits of the new State, for those who craved the excitements and the loneliness of a home in the wilderness.

In 1806, Thomas Lincoln, being then twenty-eight years of age, was married to Nancy Hanks, a native of Virginia, and settled in what was then Hardin County, Kentucky. It does not appear that the parents of Miss Hanks ever removed to Kentucky, though others of the family did so. Of the history of her ancestry, we have no definite particulars. Her position in life appears to have been not dissimilar to that of her husband. That she possessed some rare qualities of mind and heart, there is reason to believe; although dying at an early age, and having, from the time of her marriage, passed her days on obscure frontiers, few recollections of her are accessible.

Abraham Lincoln was born of these parents on February 12, 1809. The place where they at this time resided, is in what is now LaRue County, about a mile and a half from Hodgenville, the county seat, and seven miles from Elizabethtown, laid off several years previously, and the county seat of Hardin County.
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace & Boyhood Cabin by Knob Creek, about 7 miles northeast from Hodgenville, Kentucky.
The Rear of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace & Boyhood Cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky.
He had one sister, two years his senior, who grew up to womanhood, married, and died while young. He had a brother, two years younger than himself, who died in early childhood. Mr. Lincoln remembers to have visited the now unmarked grave of this little one, along with his mother, before leaving Kentucky. These were the only children of Thomas Lincoln, either by the present or by a subsequent marriage, hereafter to be noticed. Abraham has thus, for a long time, been the sole immediate representative of this hardy and energetic race.

LaRue County, named from an early settler, John LaRue, was set off and separately organized in 1843, the portion containing Mr. Lincoln's birthplace having been, up to that date, included in Hardin county. It is a rich grazing country in its more rolling or hilly parts, and the level surface produces good crops of corn and tobacco. In the northern borders of the county, on the Rolling Fork of Salt River, is Muldrow's Hill, a noted eminence. Hodgenville, near which Mr. Lincoln was born, is a pleasantly situated town on Nolin Creek, and a place of considerable business. About a mile above this town, on the creek, is a mound, or knoll, thirty feet above the banks of the stream, containing two acres of level ground, at the top of which there is now a house. Some of the early pioneers encamped on this knoll; and but a short distance from it a fort was erected by Philip Phillips, an emigrant from Pennsylvania, about 1780 or 1781, near the time Mr. Lincoln's ancestor arrived from Virginia. John LaRue came from the latter State, with a company of emigrants, and settled, not far from the same date, at Phillips' Fort. Robert Hodgen, LaRue's brother-in-law, purchased and occupied the land on which Hodgenville is built. Both these pioneers were men of sterling integrity and high moral worth. They were consistent and zealous members of the Baptist church, and one of their associates, Benjamin Lynn, was a minister of the same persuasion. Such were the influences under which, more than twenty years before Thomas Lincoln settled there, this kittle (difficult to deal with) colony had been founded, and which went far to give the community its permanent character.

It is needless to rehearse the kind of life in which Abraham Lincoln was here trained. The picture is similar in all such settlements. In his case, there was indeed the advantage of a generation or two of progress, since his grandfather had hazarded and lost his life in the then slightly broken wilderness. The State now numbered some 400,000 inhabitants and had all the benefits of an efficient local administration, the want of which had greatly increased the dangers and difficulties of the first settlers. Henry Clay, it may here be appropriately mentioned, had already, though little more than thirty years of age, begun his brilliant political career, having then served for a year or two in the United States Senate.
Rock Spring Farm, Kentucky, where Abraham Lincoln was born. The cabin in which Abe was born is seen to the right, in the background. This photograph was taken in September 1895.
Yet, with all these changes, the humble laborers, settled near "Hodgen's Mills," on Nolin Creek, had no other lot but incessant toil, and a constant struggle with nature in the still imperfectly reclaimed wilds, for a plain subsistence. 

Here the boy spent the first years of his childhood. With apparently the same frowning fortune which darkened the early days of Robert Burns, it was not destined that young Lincoln's father should succeed in these first endeavors to secure a competency. Even before the date of his earliest distinct recollections, he removed with his father to a place six miles distant from Hodgenville, which was also ere (before in time) long to be surrendered, as we shall presently see, for a home in the far-off wilderness, and for frontier life, in its fullest and most significant meaning.
Young Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky.
The period of Abraham Lincoln's Kentucky life extends through a little more than seven years, terminating with the autumn of 1816. If it is true as a rule (as Horace Mann was wont to maintain), that the experiences and instructions of the first seven years of every person's existence, do more to mold and determine his general character, than all subsequent training, then must we regard Mr. Lincoln as a Kentuckian (of the generation next following that of Clay), by his early impressions and discipline, no less than by birth.

In those days there were no common schools in that country. The principal reliance on acquiring the rudiments of learning was the same as that to which the peasant-poet of Ayrshire was indebted. Education was by no means disregarded, nor did young Lincoln, poor as were his opportunities, grow up an illiterate boy, as some have supposed. Competent teachers were accustomed to offering themselves then, as in later years, who opened private schools for a neighborhood, being supported by tuition or subscription. During his boyhood days in Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln attended, at different times, at least two schools of this description, of which he has clear recollections. One of these was kept by Zachariah Riney, a Roman Catholic, whose peculiarities have not been wholly effaced from the memory of his since so distinguished pupil. But although this teacher was himself an ardent Catholic, he made no proselyting efforts in his school, and when any little religious ceremonies, or perhaps mere catechizing and the like, were to be gone through with, all Protestant children, of whom, it is needless to say that young "Abe" was one, were accustomed to retire, by permission or command. Riney was probably in some way connected with the movement of the "Trappists"[1] who came to Kentucky in the autumn of 1805 and founded an establishment (abandoned some years later) under Urban Guillet, as superior, on Pottinger's Creek. They were active in promoting education, especially among the poorer classes, and had a school for boys under their immediate supervision. This, however, had been abandoned before the date of Lincoln's first school-days, and it is not improbable that the private schools under Catholic teachers were an offshoot of the original system adopted by these Trappists, who subsequently removed to Illinois.

Another teacher, on whose instructions the boy afterward attended, while living in Kentucky, was named Caleb Hazel. His was also a neighborhood school, sustained by private patronage.

With the aid of these two schools, and with such further assistance as he received at home, there is no doubt that he had become able to read well, though without having made any great literary progress, at the age of seven. That he was not a dull or inapt scholar, is manifest from his subsequent attainments. With the allurements of the rifle and the wild game which then abounded in the country, however, and with the meager advantages he had, in regard to books, it is certain that his perceptive faculties, and his muscular powers, were much more fully developed by exercise than his scholastic talents.

While he lived in Kentucky, he never saw even the exterior of what was properly a church edifice. The religious services he attended were held either at a private dwelling, or in some log school-house, or in the open grove:

"Fit shrine for humble worshiper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults, 
These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride 
Report not. No fantastic carvings show 
The boast of our vain race, to change the form 
Of Thy fair works. But Thou art here, Thou fill'st 
The solitude."

Unsatisfactory results of these many years' toil on the lands of Nolin Creek or a restless spirit of adventure and fondness for more genuine pioneer excitements than this region continued to afford, led Thomas Lincoln, now verging upon the age of forty, and his son beginning to be of essential service in manual labor, to seek a new place of abode, far to the west, beyond the Ohio River.

By Joseph H. Barrett (1865)
Punctuation edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


[1] Trappists - The order takes its name from La Trappe Abbey or La Grande Trappe, located in the French province of Normandy. A reform movement began there in 1664, in reaction to the relaxation of practices in many Cistercian monasteries. Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé, originally the commendatory abbot of La Trappe, led the reform. As commendatory abbot, de Rancé was a layman who obtained income from the monastery but had no religious obligations. After a conversion of life between 1660 and 1662, de Rancé formally joined the abbey and became its regular abbot in 1663. In 1892 the reformed "Trappists" broke away from the Cistercian order and formed an independent monastic order with the approval of the Pope.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Abraham Lincoln: True Crime Author of "A Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder."

In June 1841 Lincoln wrote to his friend Joshua Speed a letter that began, “We have had the highest state of excitement here for a week past that our community has ever witnessed... and the curious affair that aroused it, is very far from being, even yet, cleared of mystery.” 

Five years later, he wrote his account of the affair as a front-page narrative for the tri-weekly local newspaper, the Quincy Illinois Whig. At the trial, Lincoln stood as the defense attorney for William Trailor, a man accused of the murder of Archibald Fisher. Lincoln’s only true-crime story is regarded by many readers as an early example of the genre and, more than a century later, it enjoyed wider prominence when it was reprinted in the March 1952 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

I present the complete story, as printed in the Quincy, Illinois Whig, below.



A Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder
aka The Trailor Murder Mystery, from an 1841 case.
by Abraham Lincoln

In the year 1841, there resided, at different points in the State of Illinois, three brothers by the name of Trailor. Their Christian names were William, Henry, and Archibald. Archibald resided at Springfield, then as now the seat of Government of the State. He was a sober, retiring, and industrious man, of about thirty years of age; a carpenter by trade, and a bachelor, boarding with his partner in business–a Mr. Myers. Henry, a year or two older, was a man of like retiring and industrious habits; had a family, and resided with them on a farm, at Clary’s Grove, about twenty miles distant from Springfield in a North-westerly direction.

William, still older, and with similar habits, resided on a farm in Warren county, distant from Springfield something more than a hundred miles in the same North-westerly direction. He was a widower, with several children.

In the neighborhood of William’s residence, there was, and had been for several years, a man by the name of Fisher, who was somewhat above the age of fifty; had no family, and no settled home; but who boarded and lodged a while here and a while there, with persons for whom he did little jobs of work. His habits were remarkably economical so that an impression got about that he had accumulated a considerable amount of money.

In the latter part of May, in the year mentioned, William formed the purpose of visiting his brothers at Clary’s Grove and Springfield; and Fisher, at the time having his temporary residence at his house, resolved to accompany him. They set out together in a buggy with a single horse. On Sunday evening they reached Henry’s residence and stayed overnight. On Monday morning, being the first Monday of June, they started on to Springfield, Henry accompanying them on horseback. They reached town about noon, met Archibald, went with him to his boarding house, and there took up their lodgings for the time they should remain.

After dinner, the three Trailors and Fisher left the boarding house in the company, for the avowed purpose of spending the evening together in looking about the town. At supper, the Trailors had all returned, but Fisher was missing, and some inquiry was made about him. After supper, the Trailors went out professedly in search of him. One by one they returned, the last coming in after late tea time, and each stating that he had been unable to discover anything of Fisher.

The next day, both before and after breakfast, they went professedly in search again and returned at noon, still unsuccessful. Dinner again being had, William and Henry expressed a determination to give up the search, and start for their homes. This was remonstrated against by some of the boarders about the house, on the ground that Fisher was somewhere in the vicinity, and would be left without any conveyance, as he and William had come in the same buggy. The remonstrance was disregarded, and they departed for their homes respectively.

Up to this time, the knowledge of Fisher’s mysterious disappearance had spread very little beyond the few boarders at Myers’ and excited no considerable interest. After the lapse of three or four days, Henry returned to Springfield, for the ostensible purpose of makings further search for Fisher. Procuring some of the borders, he, together with them and Archibald, spent another day in ineffectual search, when it was again abandoned, and he returned home. No general interest was yet excited.

On Friday, a week after Fisher’s disappearance, the Postmaster at Springfield received a letter from the Postmaster nearest William’s residence, in Warren county, stating that William had returned home without Fisher, and was saying, rather boastfully, that Fisher was dead, and had willed him his money, and that he had got about fifteen hundred dollars by it. The letter further stated that William’s story and conduct seemed strange, and desired the Postmaster at Springfield to ascertain and write what was the truth in the matter.

The Postmaster at Springfield made the letter public, and at once, the excitement became universal and intense. Springfield, at that time, had a population of about 3,500, with a city organization. The Attorney General of the State resided there. A purpose was forthwith formed to ferret out the mystery, in putting which into execution, the Mayor of the city and the Attorney General took the lead. To make a search for, and, if possible, find the body of the man supposed to be murdered, was resolved on as the first step.

In pursuance of this, men were formed into large parties, and marched abreast, in all directions, so as to let no inch of ground in the vicinity remain unsearched. Examinations were made of cellars, wells, and pits of all descriptions, where it was thought possible the body might be concealed. All the fresh, or tolerably fresh graves in the graveyard, were pried into, and dead horses and dead dogs were disinterred, where, in some instances, they had been buried by their partial masters.

This search, as has appeared, commenced on Friday. It continued until Saturday afternoon without success, when it was determined to despatch officers to arrest William and Henry, at their residences, respectively. The officers started on Sunday morning, meanwhile, the search for the body was continued, and rumors got afloat of the Trailors having passed, at different times and places, several gold pieces, which were readily supposed to have belonged to Fisher.

On Monday, the officers sent for Henry, having arrested him, arrived with him. The Mayor and Attorney Gen’l took charge of him and set their wits to work to elicit a discovery from him. He denied, and denied, and persisted in denying. They still plied him in every conceivable way, till Wednesday, when, protesting his own innocence, he stated that his brothers, William and Archibald, had murdered Fisher; that they had killed him, without his (Henry’s) knowledge at the time, and made a temporary concealment of his body; that, immediately preceding his and William’s departure from Springfield for home, on Tuesday, the day after Fisher’s disappearance, William and Archibald communicated the fact to him, and engaged his assistance in making a permanent concealment of the body; that, at the time he and William left professedly for home, they did not take the road directly, but, meandering their way through the streets, entered the woods at the North West of the city, two or three hundred yards to the right of where the road they should have travelled, entered them; that, penetrating the woods some few hundred yards, they halted and Archibald came a somewhat different route, on foot, and joined them; that William and Archibald then stationed him (Henry) on an old and disused road that ran nearby, as a sentinel, to give warning of the approach of any intruder; that William and Archibald then removed the buggy to the edge of a dense brush thicket, about forty yards distant from his (Henry’s) position, where, leaving the buggy, they entered the thicket, and in a few minutes returned with the body, and placed it in the buggy; that from his station he could and did distinctly see that the object placed in the buggy was a dead man, of the general appearance and size of Fisher; that William and Archibald then moved off with the buggy in the direction of Hickox’s mill pond, and after an absence of half an hour, returned, saying they had put him in a safe place; that Archibald then left for town, and he and William found their way to the road, and made for their homes.

At this disclosure, all lingering credulity was broken down, and excitement rose to an almost inconceivable height. Up to this time, the well-known character of Archibald had repelled and put down all suspicions as to him. Till then, those who were ready to swear that a murder had been committed, were almost as confident that Archibald had had no part in it. But now, he was seized and thrown into jail; and indeed, his personal security rendered it by no means objectionable to him.

And now came the search for the brush thicket, and the search of the mill pond. The thicket was found, and the buggy tracks at the point indicated. At a point within the thicket, the signs of a struggle were discovered, and a trail from thence to the buggy track was traced. In attempting to follow the track of the buggy from the thicket, it was found to proceed in the direction of the mill pond, but could not be traced all the way. At the pond, however, it was found that a buggy had been backed down to, and partially into the water’s edge.

The search was now to be made in the pond; and it was made in every imaginable way. Hundreds and hundreds were engaged in raking, fishing, and draining. After much fruitless effort in this way, on Thursday morning the mill dam was cut down, and the water of the pond partially drawn off, and the same processes of search again gone through with.

About noon of this day, the officer sent for William, returned having him in custody; and a man calling himself Dr. Gilmore came in company with them. It seems that the officer arrested William at his own house, early in the day on Tuesday, and started to Springfield with him; that after dark awhile, they reached Lewiston, in Fulton county, where they stopped for the night; that late in the night this Dr. Gilmore arrived, stating that Fisher was alive at his house and that he had followed on to give the information so that William might be released without further trouble; that the officer, distrusting Dr. Gilmore, refused to release William but brought him on to Springfield, and the Dr. accompanied them.

On reaching Springfield, the Dr. re-asserted that Fisher was alive, and at his house. At this, the multitude for a time was utterly confounded. Gilmore’s story was communicated to Henry Trailor, who without faltering, reaffirmed his own story about Fisher’s murder. Henry’s adherence to his own story was communicated to the crowd, and at once the idea started, and became nearly, if not quite universal, that Gilmore was a confederate of the Trailors, and had invented the tale he was telling, to secure their release and escape.

The excitement was again at its zenith.

About three o’clock the same evening, Myers, Archibald’s partner, started with a two-horse carriage, for the purpose of ascertaining whether Fisher was alive, as stated by Gilmore, and if so, of bringing him back to Springfield with him.

On Friday a legal examination was gone into before two Justices, on the charge of murder against William and Archibald. Henry was introduced as a witness by the prosecution, and on oath re-affirmed his statements, as heretofore detailed, and at the end of which he bore a thorough and rigid cross-examination without faltering or exposure. The prosecution also proved, by a respectable lady, that on the Monday evening of Fisher’s disappearance, she saw Archibald, whom she well knew, and another man whom she did not then know, but whom she believed at the time of testifying to be William, (then present,) and still another, answering the description of Fisher, all enter the timber at the North West of town, (the point indicated by Henry,) and after one or two hours, saw William and Archibald return without Fisher.

Several other witnesses testified, that on Tuesday, at the time William and Henry professedly gave up the search for Fisher's body, and started for home, they did not take the road directly but did go into the woods, as stated by Henry. By others, also, it was proved, that since Fisher’s disappearance, William and Archibald had passed rather an unusual number of gold pieces. The statements heretofore made about the thicket, the signs of a struggle, the buggy tracks, were fully proven by numerous witnesses.

At this, the prosecution rested.

Dr. Gilmore was then introduced by the defendants. He stated that he resided in Warren County, about seven miles distant from William’s residence; that on the morning of William’s arrest, he was out from home, and heard of the arrest, and of its being on a charge of the murder of Fisher; that on returning to his own house, he found Fisher there; that Fisher was in very feeble health, and could give no rational account as to where he had been during his absence; that he (Gilmore) then started in pursuit of the officer, as before stated; and that he should have taken Fisher with him, only that the state of his health did not permit. Gilmore also stated that he had known Fisher for several years and that he had understood he was subject to temporary derangement of mind, owing to an injury about his head received in early life.

There was about Dr. Gilmore so much of the air and manner of truth, that his statement prevailed in the minds of the audience and of the court, and the Trailors were discharged, although they attempted no explanation of the circumstances proven by the other witnesses.

On the next Monday, Myers arrived in Springfield, bringing him the now famed Fisher, in full-life and proper person.

Thus ended this strange affair and while it is readily conceived that a writer of novels could bring a story to a more perfect climax, it may well be doubted whether a stranger affair ever really occurred. Much of the matter remains in mystery to this day. The going into the woods with Fisher, and returning without him, by the Trailors; their going into the woods at the same place the next day, after they professed to have given up the search; the signs of a struggle in the thicket, the buggy tracks at the edge of it; and the location of the thicket, and the signs about it, corresponding precisely with Henry’s story, are circumstances that have never been explained. William and Archibald have both died since—William in less than a year, and Archibald in about two years after the supposed murder. Henry is still living, but never speaks of the subject.

It is not the object of the writer of this to enter into the many curious speculations that might be indulged upon the facts of this narrative; yet he can scarcely forbear a remark upon what would, almost certainly, have been the fate of William and Archibald, had Fisher not been found alive. It seems he had wandered away in mental derangement, and, had he died in this condition, and his body been found in the vicinity, it is difficult to conceive what could have saved the Trailors from the consequence of having murdered him. Or, if he had died, and his body never found, the case against them would have been quite as bad, for, although it is a principle of law that a conviction for murder shall not be had unless the body of the deceased is discovered, it is to be remembered, that Henry testified that he saw Fisher’s dead body.

Punctuation edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


Abraham Lincoln's Poem - "My Childhood Home I See Again."
Abraham Lincoln's Poem - "The Bear Hunt." 
Abraham Lincoln's Novelette - "How I Twice Eloped." 

Abraham Lincoln's Poem - "The Bear Hunt."

In the spring of 1846, Abraham Lincoln sent some poetry to his friend Andrew Johnston. At Lincoln's request, Johnston published this poem anonymously in the Quincy, Illinois Whig on May 5, 1847.

The Bear Hunt
by Abraham Lincoln
Published in 1847

A wild-bear chace[1], didst never see?
Then hast thou lived in vain.
Thy richest bump of glorious glee,
Lies desert in thy brain.
When first my father settled here,
'Twas then the frontier line:
The panther's scream, filled night with fear
And bears preyed on the swine.

But wo for Bruin's short lived fun,
When rose the squealing cry;
Now man and horse, with dog and gun,
For vengeance, at him fly.

A sound of danger strikes his ear;
He gives the breeze a snuff;
Away he bounds, with little fear,
And seeks the tangled rough.

On press his foes, and reach the ground,
Where's left his half munched meal;
The dogs, in circles, scent around,
And find his fresh made trail.

With instant cry, away they dash,
And men as fast pursue;
O'er logs they leap, through water splash,
And shout the brisk halloo.

Now to elude the eager pack,
Bear shuns the open ground;
Th[r]ough matted vines, he shapes his track
And runs it, round and round.

The tall fleet cur, with deep-mouthed voice,
Now speeds him, as the wind;
While half-grown pup, and short-legged fice,
Are yelping far behind.

And fresh recruits are dropping in
To join the merry corps:
With yelp and yell,--a mingled din--
The woods are in a roar.

And round, and round the chace now goes,
The world's alive with fun;
Nick Carter's horse, his rider throws,
And more, Hill drops his gun.

Now sorely pressed, bear glances back,
And lolls his tired tongue;
When as, to force him from his track,
An ambush on him sprung.

Across the glade he sweeps for flight,
And fully is in view.
The dogs, new-fired, by the sight,
Their cry, and speed, renew.

The foremost ones, now reach his rear,
He turns, they dash away;
And circling now, the wrathful bear,
They have him full at bay.

At top of speed, the horse-men come,
All screaming in a row,
"Whoop! Take him Tiger. Seize him Drum."
Bang,--bang--the rifles go.

And furious now, the dogs he tears,
And crushes in his ire,
Wheels right and left, and upward rears,
With eyes of burning fire.

But leaden death is at his heart,
Vain all the strength he plies.
And, spouting blood from every part,
He reels, and sinks, and dies.

And now a dinsome clamor rose,
'Bout who should have his skin;
Who first draws blood, each hunter knows,
This prize must always win.

But who did this, and how to trace
What's true from what's a lie,
Like lawyers, in a murder case
They stoutly argufy.

Aforesaid fice, of blustering mood,
Behind, and quite forgot,
Just now emerging from the wood,
Arrives upon the spot.

With grinning teeth, and up-turned hair--
Brim full of spunk and wrath,
He growls, and seizes on dead bear,
And shakes for life and death.

And swells as if his skin would tear,
And growls and shakes again;
And swears, as plain as dog can swear,
That he has won the skin.

Conceited whelp! we laugh at thee--
Nor mind, that now a few
Of pompous, two-legged dogs there be,
Conceited quite as you.


Abraham Lincoln: True Crime Author of "A Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder."
Abraham Lincoln's Poem - "My Childhood Home I See Again." 
Abraham Lincoln's Novelette - "How I Twice Eloped."


[1] The name Chace is a boy's name meaning "to hunt."

Abraham Lincoln's Poem - "My Childhood Home I See Again."

Abraham Lincoln, a third-term representative and leader of the Whig Party statewide. Andrew Johnston, Lincoln's friend, published the Quincy [Illinois] Whig Newspaper and was a member of the Whig Party in the 1840s. Although politics was their first bond, Johnston and Lincoln shared an interest in poetry and corresponded about it.

In the spring of 1846, Abraham Lincoln completed the composition of one of his most serious poems, which dealt with his emotions upon visiting his childhood home. It is divided into two cantos. The first section was mailed to Lincoln's friend and fellow politician, Andrew Johnston, on April 18, 1846. The second was mailed on September 6, 1846. On May 5, 1847, Johnston published Lincoln's poem anonymously both cantos in the Quincy Whig Newspaper (The Herald-Whig, today) and titled it as "The Return." The first canto was dubbed "Part I – Reflection," and the second, "Part II – The Maniac."
This undated photo shows the office of the Quincy Whig Newspaper when it was on Hampshire Street. Andrew Johnston was an editor there who published Lincoln’s poem "My Childhood Home I See Again" titled as "The Return" in the paper on May 5, 1847.
Lincoln offered Johnston an explanation of the poem, "My Childhood Home I See Again," saying he had visited his boyhood neighborhood in southern Indiana in the fall of 1844 while campaigning for presidential hopeful Henry Clay. He commented that the region was "as unpoetical as any spot of the earth," but it brought back memories of loved ones such as his mother and sister who lay buried there.



My Childhood Home I See Again
by Abraham Lincoln
Published as "The Return" in 1847

— Part I – Reflection 

My childhood's home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar--
So memory will hallow all
We've known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I'm living in the tombs.
Lincoln made Matthew Gentry the subject of Part II, telling Andrew Johnston: "He is three years older than I, and when we were boys we went to school together. He was rather a bright lad and the son of the rich man of our poor neighborhood. At the age of nineteen, he unaccountably became furiously mad, from which condition he gradually settled down into harmless insanity. When, as I told you in my other letter I visited my old home in the fall of 1844, I found him still lingering in this wretched condition. In my poetizing mood, I could not forget the impression his case made upon me."
— Part II – The Maniac 

But here's an object more of dread
Than ought the grave contains--
A human form with reason fled,
While wretched life remains.

Poor Matthew! Once of genius bright,
A fortune-favored child--
Now locked for aye, in mental night,
A haggard mad-man wild.

Poor Matthew! I have ne'er forgot,
When first, with maddened will,
Yourself you maimed, your father fought,
And mother strove to kill;

When terror spread, and neighbors ran,
Your dange'rous strength to bind;
And soon, a howling crazy man
Your limbs were fast confined.

How then you strove and shrieked aloud,
Your bones and sinews bared;
And fiendish on the gazing crowd,
With burning eye-balls glared--

And begged, and swore, and wept and prayed
With maniac laught[ter?] joined--
How fearful were those signs displayed
By pangs that killed thy mind!

And when at length, tho' drear and long,
Time smoothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song
Upon the still night rose.

I've heard it oft, as if I dreamed,
Far distant, sweet, and lone--
The funeral dirge, it ever seemed
Of reason dead and gone.

To drink it's strains, I've stole away,
All stealthily and still,
Ere yet the rising God of day
Had streaked the Eastern hill.

Air held his breath; trees, with the spell,
Seemed sorrowing angels round,
Whose swelling tears in dew-drops fell
Upon the listening ground.

But this is past; and nought remains,
That raised thee o'er the brute.
Thy piercing shrieks, and soothing strains,
Are like, forever mute.

Now fare thee well--more thou the cause,
Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs, by time's kind laws,
Hast lost the power to know.

O death! Thou awe-inspiring prince,
That keepst the world in fear;
Why dost thos tear more blest ones hence,
And leave him ling'ring here?


Abraham Lincoln: True Crime Author of "A Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder."
Abraham Lincoln's Poem - "The Bear Hunt." 
Abraham Lincoln's Novelette - "How I Twice Eloped."