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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

Along with many others – and a nation – I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the life and honor our 16th President – Abraham Lincoln.  We all (should) know the story of the child born into poverty in Kentucky and who lost his mother at a young age; that his family moved to Indiana and then to Illinois where the young man, who didn’t have much of an education, went on to become a successful lawyer and a Senator. 

My “Lincoln” path began when I was in adolescence and first read a book called “The Death of Lincoln” by Leroy Hayman, first published in 1968, which I purchased through the school’s Scholastic Book Fair after 1972.  In my 7th grade History class, the students were required to teach a subject for one week culminating in a test given to the class.  My friend and I chose this particular area of history as our subject.  We took pictures of the photos in the book and wrote our “curriculum” for the week.  The instructor returned a slide carousel filled with the pictures we had taken to be used as illustrations.  Our report received an “A” and the teacher sent a note to my mother praising our report. 

I would watch anything on television that had anything even remotely assosciated with Lincoln, his presidency, the Civil War, or his assassination.  I read articles about his life and studied some of his speeches.  In another History class in high school, I had to memorize and then give the Gettysburg Address. 

And I wondered – what would history have said about Abraham Lincoln had he not been killed soon after his second term began?  Would he still be remembered as the Great Emancipator?  The President who had saved the Union?  One of the greatest presidents our nation ever had?  What would his life had been like?  Would Mary Todd Lincoln had been able to maintain her sanity?  What would the reconstruction of our torn Union have been like had Lincoln been around to oversee it?  How would history have been changed?

Answers are speculatory and self-serving.  I would hope that everything would have been better had President Lincoln continued his service to our country.  Would he have remained as melancholy as the States formed one complete Union again as he had been through most of his life?  Would there have been another crisis he would have had to face immediately had he lived?  Would he have remained great in the eyes of a grateful nation?

It has been reported that my great-grandfather, James Emory House, shook hands with President Lincoln; however, I’ve yet to find any documentation that places my great-grandfather’s regiment and Lincoln in the same place. I’ve also heard that one of my great-grandfather’s (or perhaps a 2nd great-grandfather) watched his train go by. I’m unsure if this was the train he took to Washington D.C. to be inaugurated as the 16th President or if it was his funeral train. My maternal great-grandfather, John Lafayette Johnson, who lived in rural Rush County, Indiana near Knightstown, would have been a little over 4 years old as the funeral procession came through.  He would have been with his parents.  His father, James Wilson Johnson, who was an adult at the time Lincoln was elected President, could have seen the inaugural train carrying the President-Elect toward Washington in February 1861 as it made its way through Indiana.

This past summer as our family was on our annual vacation to Missouri and then Ohio, we stopped in Springfield, Illinois to visit the Lincoln home.  As I mentioned in this post we weren’t able to take the tour but I did get photos of the exterior.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. President!  And may you eternally rest in peace.

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Today is the 190th birthday of the state of Illinois.  The “Land of Lincoln” entered the Union on December 3, 1818 and in ten years will celebrate it’s Bicentennial!  The state took its name from an Algonquin word meaning “tribe of superior men”. (Source: Library of Congress)

From Illinois came our 16th President – Abraham Lincoln – and our President-elect, Barack Obama (though neither were born there, they both settled in Illnois as adults and became Illinois statesmen).  Both gave important speeches on the steps of the Old State Capital.  Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech, and Obama kicked off his presidential candidacy there.

I have spent quite a bit of time traveling through Illinois in the last twenty years when we take our normal summer vacation to Missouri and then through Illinois to Ohio.  I also spent time outside Chicago as a child when we went to my Uncle Norman’s house for the annual Amore Sibling reunion.  The summer before my sophomore year in high school our church’s youth group spent a week in Chicago visiting Deaconess hospital, staying at a UCC church (our denomination), and visiting the Museum of Science and History, among other activities.  This summer as we traveled through Illinois we attempted to visit historical sites related to Abraham Lincoln.

Illinois has a very rich and extensive history and I urge to you learn what you can about the 21st state of our Union as well as your own state – especially if you had ancestors that lived there at one time or another.

For more information please go to here (today!) or Google: “Illinois History” to find out more!

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My family really doesn’t take vacations to exotic or even genealogical places.  We go where family is located – the places we called home at one time.  However, along the way we have periodically stopped to see a historical site or be tourists for awhile.

In the summer of 1994, I took a little over three weeks’ vacation back to my mom’s and a few days at my in-laws.  Just me and four kids!  On the way from Ohio back to Missouri, we stopped at Billie Creek Village located in Parke County, Indiana. If you enjoy stepping back into time and covered bridges, this is a wonderful place to see. Motoring on toward Missouri, we stopped in Hannibal (as we normally do to fill up with gas) and decided to see some Mark Twain historical sights. We toured the Haunted House on Hill Street Wax Museum, sort of. The Wax museum part of it was okay for four young children but as soon as we started into the Haunted area, with chains rattling and screams emanating from the dark, three of the four tore out of there. We walked down the street and took pictures of Samuel Clemens’ boyhood home and the Becky Thatcher House among others.

Two years ago when we reached Hannibal, we stopped so the youngest daughter (not so young any more) could go through the Haunted House.  During the Fourth of July Riverfest in Hannibal, the streets are packed with cars and the closest place to park would have been several blocks away.  With a dog traveling with us, one person would have to stay behind with her.  That’s when we stopped to turn around at a service station and noticed the Molly Brown Birthplace and Museum. (Molly Brown was a Titanic survivor.)  Daughter decided that was just as good as the Haunted House.  The home, as expected wasn’t much, but I learned a lot more than I ever thought I could learn about this woman.  We spent at least twenty minutes lingering over all the news clippings, studying the furnishings and listening to the guide explain how the small rooms were used by the family.

On the way from Missouri to Ohio recently, we passed through Springfield, Illinois.  I mentioned to my husband that “sometime we’ll have to stop to see Lincoln’s home”.  Then I began wondering where he was actually buried.  As a Lincoln history buff, I would surely have remembered!  So as we returned from Ohio retracing our path back to Missouri, as we got closer to Springfield, I asked my husband if we could just see how far the house was off the highway.  So we detoured into Springfield through the old part, following the signs until we got there.  Once again, we had the dog with us so our daughter volunteered to stay with her while the rest of us went into the Visitor’s Center to get the information we needed about walking through the house.  It’s a free tour, but not self-guided.  The tour didn’t start for 30 minutes, and I didn’t feel we should take that long with the daughter waiting on us.  The parking is $2 (basically on the honor system) which is a deal when you consider so many historical sights now charge for tours.  So we inquired about the tomb.  It wasn’t that far away – however, it was closed for three days while they did some cement work.  We were allowed to walk to the house, walk around the house, and see two other houses (inside too) that had been restored to their original condition.  It appears that the historical society is restoring several of the surrounding homes and buildings in that area.  You can go to Lincoln Home and Lincoln’s Tomb for more information.

The moral of the story is . . . if you even think you might get to stop at a historic sight or even a courthouse or cemetery on your genealogical quest – call, write or email to make sure it is open when you will be there, if there are any fees for parking or tours, hours of operation, what type of parking you can expect, and if there are any other festivals happening at the same time.

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