Sunday, December 7, 2008

8th and Jackson, Springfield, Illinois

The Lincoln home is one place that I have always wanted to visit. For most of my life, even way before Frank Lloyd Wright, I have read presidential biographies. I would have to say that of all of the presidents I find Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington to be the most fascinating.

With the Dana-Thomas House closing in Springfield, last weekend, I knew it was either a "go or regret that I didn't go" kind of decision. I also know that at long last I could see the Lincoln's home town.

This is the view that most people are familiar with.
Looking north east.

Before owning his own home, Lincoln roomed in boarding houses, a tavern, an attic of a store and other peoples houses. Finally a debt was paid from New Salem and he was making some decent money and could afford his own home.
This was originally a 1 1/2 story house that was bought for $1,500 from the Reverend Dresser, the preacher that married the Lincolns. The Lincolns would live here from 1844 - 1860 when they moved to Washington D. C.

Work in progress. The restoration of the formal parlor.

This is the "family room" where the Lincolns spent their evenings. The boys, Willie and Tad were given the stereoscope, that is sitting on the table, so they could look at pictures of places from around the world. That is the equivalent of a Playstation 3 to us.

We touch the hand rail that Lincoln used for the 16 years that he lived here. How cool is that? I was surprised that we could take all the pictures we wanted with and without flash.
So I gladly and giddily took quite a few.

The Lincolns had a bedroom suite sleeping in separate rooms as was the custom.
I believe the small stove belonged to them.

Right behind the ranger's head is Mr. Lincoln's shaving mirror set to his height of 6'4".
They said with his boots and stove pipe hat it put him about 7'.

This is Mr. Lincoln's home desk.
We were told that it broke and his wife threw it out
only to have its owner go out and fetch it back and fix it.

The small table was Mary Lincoln's. I think the chair was too. The wall paper is a reproduction of the French wall paper that Mrs. Lincoln picked out. Even though these rooms were not seen by friends, family or business people, the rooms were very up to the moment in wall coverings, flooring, and furniture.

The boys room. Before Robert, the oldest moved out this was his room.
I'm sure Willie and Tad were happy to move in.

This was an active kitchen. Mary Lincoln and her her servants fixed meals for the constant company and probably friends of the boys.

The window looks over the long back yard. The lot is 50 by 150 feet.

Elizabeth looks at a model of the house as it looked in 1844.

This picture is mounted at the visitor's center. The nomination and election behind Springfield had reason to celebrate. The August Republican rally held at the fairgrounds included whole steers cooked in pits and a parade that took 8 hours to pass by his house. All 4 Lincolns are in the photo. President elect is to the right of the door. Wife, Mary and Willie are in the very left bottom window and Tad in the 2nd from the left 2nd floor window. Robert was off presumably to college.

We had enough time to stop by the new Presidential Museum.

The Lincolns have a daughter at last.

The path from log cabin to the presidency.

Lincoln logs. How fitting. Invented by John Lloyd Wright, Franks son.

The law office sits across from the old capitol. Mr Lincoln took part in over 5500 cases in 24 years.

The old state house.

Such a complicated man both beloved and hatefully scorned. He was the right man at the right time during the most divisive time in our counties history. Perhaps the only one to see the entire purpose of a civil war and how it must end. His House Divided speech was made from this capitol. His friends thought he was committing political suicide and thought the speech to harsh and radical.

One question that was asked on our tour was, " Are there any living ancestors of the Lincolns?" Sadly no. Of the 4 sons only Robert lived to adulthood. He married Mary Harlan, daughter of Senator James Harlan, from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. They had 3 children, Mary, Abraham II (Jack) died in 1890 at 7 years of age, and Jessie. Mary married Charles Isham and they had one son, Lincoln, who died in 1971 having married but fathered no children. Jessie married Warren Beckworth and they had Mary Lincoln (Peggy) died in 1975 and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckworth who died in 1985, Bob married 3 times but never had any children and Peggy never married. When asked during a Civil War centennial regarding insights to her great-grandfather, Peggy replied, " I'm as far away from him as anyone else." Now that is a generation gap.

Books: Abraham Lincoln Self-Made in America, produced for the 200th Anniversary by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, pp 13.

Lincoln, An Illustrated Biography, Phillip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Phillip B. Kunhardt III & Peter Kunhardt. Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1992, pp 70 & 127.

The Lincoln Family Album, Photos from the Personal Collection of a Historic American Family, Mark E Neely, Jr., and Harold Holzer, Doubleday, New York, 1990, pp. flyleaf, 119, 147, 149 & 154.

Words and information by our Park Ranger.

Interesting websites:

Mr. Lincoln and Freedom

Lincoln National Historic Site

New pennies next year to celebrate the bicentennial of his birthday.

U.S. Mint

I have heard there are more books written about Mr. Lincoln than any other person. There are thousands of websites to explore. Only by learning about the past can we know why we are here today and help guide us to the future. I feel sorry for those who think that history has nothing to do with them as it has everything to do with anything which effects everyone.

Take care and take pictures, they are YOUR history,
If there corrections to facts or dates please correct. Thank you.


Lucy said...

My book club has been reading a bio on Lincoln. I found your site and shared it with them. Exciting pictures to bring the book to life. Thanks for posting a little glimpse into history.

Peak Art said...

Thank you for your note. You have made my day. What book are you reading in your book club?

I'm reading The Last Lincolns.