The Lincoln Landscape

Imagine a bright, crisp autumn day in Central Illinois, September 26, 1852. A party of travelers pauses on a ridge, surveying the sweeping view to the west, miles of prairie grass as far as they can see. The grass is almost as tall as their horses, russet in its fall color, spotted with the yellows of late-season blooms, some as tall as the grass. The long ridge, made of enormous deposits left by ancient glaciers as they retreated ten thousand to fifteen thousand years earlier, will someday be known as the Eureka Moraine. The scene is unbroken but for the track they are following. The riders are on the road from Metamora, the seat of Woodford County, to Bloomington, seat of McLean County. They are in the vicinity of the county line. Other than an occasional farmstead and a rare passing rider, they have seen no other sign of settlement for some time. As they ride, their conversation is accompanied by the whistle of quail, interrupted by the flushing of grouse. They have seen retreating wolves keeping their distance, and they have frequently startled deer from their grassy hiding places. [1]

The group had ascended the ridge from the ford on the Mackinaw River, several miles back. Benign and gently flowing in this drier season, the river could be treacherous when they cross it in the spring. The road descended down the bluffs of open timber with Page  [End Page 76] huge, wide, bur and white oaks, twisted chinquapin oaks, and shagbark hickories, to the firm gravel of the ford. This prairie stream, its waters cleansed and filtered by thousands of acres of wetlands along its course, is teeming with fish, including small-mouth bass, northern pike, and countless species of mussels. The river bottoms are guarded by giant cottonwoods.

The men are lawyers riding from the semi-annual court session in one county to that in the next. The counties of Illinois were organized into circuits by the legislature. As population increased, not only would counties be divided, but the number of counties in each circuit would change to reflect the changes in population. [2] These lawyers were traveling the Eighth Judicial Circuit, consisting of fourteen counties containing an area of over ten thousand square miles—more than twice the size of the state of Connecticut ( Figure 1 ). The population of those counties in the census of 1850 was approximately one hundred thousand. [3] Each spring and fall, court was held in consecutive weeks in each of the fourteen counties, a week or less in each. The exception was Springfield, the state capital and the seat of Sangamon County. The fall term opened there for a period of two weeks. [4] Then the lawyers traveled the fifty-five miles to Pekin, which replaced Tremont as the Tazewell County seat in 18 5 0.[5] After a week, they traveled the thirty-five miles to Metamora, where they spent three days. The next stop, thirty miles to the southeast, was Bloomington, the second-largest town in the circuit. Because of its size, it would generate more business, so they would probably stay there several days longer. From there they would travel to Mt. Pulaski, seat of Logan County, a distance of thirty-five miles; it had replaced Postville as county seat in 1848 and would soon lose out to the new city of Lincoln, to be named for one of the men in this entourage. [6] The travelers would Page  [End Page 77] then continue to another county and then another and another until they had completed the entire circuit, taking a total of eleven weeks and traveling a distance of more than four hundred miles. [7]

Riding in a carriage drawn by two horses was the judge, David Davis of Bloomington. [8] He is said to have weighed three hundred pounds, too heavy to ride a horse.[9] Davis was born in Maryland, matriculating at Kenyon College and the New Haven School of Law. He practiced law briefly in Pekin before moving to Bloomington in 1836, where he practiced until his election as circuit judge in 1848. Prior to that the presiding judges in the circuits had been Illinois supreme court justices, each assigned to a particular circuit. Davis was the only circuit judge for the entire circuit and would hold the position until his appointment to the United States Supreme Court in 1862.

Davis was one of the principal architects of Lincoln's nomination for the presidency in Chicago in 1860. Davis amassed a fortune in land, the "gold" of Illinois at the time, building a huge mansion in Bloomington in 1872 that today stands as a state-operated museum. He was nominated for president by an obscure third party in 1872. In 1877 he resigned from the Supreme Court after Democrats and independents in the Illinois legislature elected him United States senator. There he served as an independent, eventually being elected president pro-tem. [10]

Davis not only ruled the circuit's courtrooms but also its social hierarchy during the numerous evenings in country inns, taverns, and hotels along the route. He was the monarch of this traveling society. [11] Riding along with him was Abraham Lincoln on his horse, "Old Tom."[12] Lincoln had defended a slander case before a jury the preceding day, with Judge Davis presiding. Though Lincoln's client had lost, the verdict was only $13, though the plaintiff had sought $5,000. [13] Suits for slander were fairly common in those days. Lincoln had been riding the Eighth Circuit since his admission to Page  [End Page 78] the bar in 1837, other than his years in Congress in 1847 and 1848, and would continue to do so until his election to the presidency in 1860. Most of the lawyers rode only a portion of the circuit; others went home between sessions. Lincoln, on the other hand, was one of the few who made the entire tour without interruption as a general rule.[14] He was arguably the most prominent lawyer on the circuit, handling a wide variety of cases, mostly civil as opposed to criminal.[15] Many of the local lawyers would refer cases to the visiting Lincoln. He was perhaps the lawyer closest to the Judge; this closeness was apparently not resented by other lawyers. [16]

Leonard Swett of Bloomington may have been included in the traveling party of attorneys. He was a Mexican War veteran from Maine who found his way to Bloomington in the late 1840s. Younger than Davis and Lincoln, Swett would become a close confidant of Lincoln's from the years of traveling together along these roads. They associated on many cases. He also played a major role in Lincoln's victory at the Republican convention of 1860. [17] He was influential in persuading Lincoln, as president, to appoint Davis to the nation's highest court. [18] After the Civil War, he would move his practice to Chicago where he became a nationally renowned criminal attorney, handling cases that included the appeal of the conviction of the Haymarket anarchists in the late 1880s. Swett generally joined Lincoln in riding the entire circuit.[19]

Usually, David Campbell of Springfield, the state's attorney and prosecutor for all of the circuit, was also along. Campbell, a native of New Jersey and a Democrat, had defeated Davis in seeking this post in 1848. He served in that capacity until his untimely death in 1855. [20] His lively fiddle playing helped pass the long evenings on Page  [End Page 79] the circuit.[21] Campbell frequently engaged the services of private practitioners, including Lincoln, to assist in the prosecution of important cases.[22] No doubt others would have also been part of this cavalcade of talented, colorful, intrepid professionals as they made their way along this ridge, first heading for the village of Oak Grove and then on to Bloomington on that September day.

Imagine a similar September day one hundred and fifty years later in the same area. An automobile traveling U.S. Route 150 enters the village of Carlock, which didn't exist in 1852. On the other hand, the village of Oak Grove is no longer, the former a beneficiary of the coming of a railroad, the latter a victim. Metamora is no longer Woodford's county seat, having been replaced by Eureka in 1896. The nearby Mackinaw River is no longer clear, its waters now muddy with silt from farm fields and lacking the cleansing of the long since converted wetlands. Grouse are no more and quail are unusual. In fact, deer numbers are probably higher because of the extirpation of the predators. The population of those fourteen counties in the 2000 census was more than one million. Each county has its own state's attorney, each with a number of assistants. The total number of circuit judges in all of those counties in 2003 is thirty-nine.[23] Slander suits are rare.

The car turns north and soon is on a lightly traveled county blacktop, the same path that group of lawyers had traveled so long ago. The road ascends the same ridge from the opposite direction the lawyers had been going. The same vista to the west exists, except that the prairies have been replaced with corn and soybeans, and the landscape is dotted with farmhouses, grain elevators, and other outbuildings.

There, at the county line, on the west side of the road, is a rather strange monument that resembles an eight-foot-tall chess piece. It bears an artfully designed bronze plaque on its face with a profile of Lincoln and the legend: "ABRAHAM LINCOLN / Traveled this way as he rode / The circuit of the / Eighth Judicial District / 1847 1859 / Erected 1922." The plaque has the symbol of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in the left lower corner and the symbol of a newly formed organization, the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association, opposite. On the right side of the base is a bronze plate labeled WOODFORD, and on the left side, McLEAN. Page  [End Page 80]

This marker is one of nineteen placed on the county lines of each of the counties of the Eighth Judicial Circuit in 1922 and 1923. In addition, a monument bearing a slightly different profile of Lincoln with the same legend was placed on the face of a rectangle of granite at every county seat of the circuit. The creation of this collective memorial to Lincoln and the circuit's role in his life began in 1914 when the Alliance Chapter of the DAR in Champaign-Urbana invited Judge Joseph O. Cunningham of Urbana to speak.[24] The appearance was apparently sparked by the creation of the proposed Lincoln Highway, a coast-to-coast highway that ultimately became U.S. 30, crossing Illinois further north.

Cunningham was eighty-three years old and reputed to be the last surviving attorney who had practiced with Lincoln. He grew up in Ohio, studying law at Oberlin College. He arrived in Urbana in 1853, first purchasing the Urbana Union, a newspaper, before commencing the practice of law. He practiced in Urbana from his admission in 1856 until his retirement in 1905, including service as county judge from 1861 to 1875. Lincoln spent time with Cunningham in Urbana and in Danville; he was present at Lincoln's "Lost Speech" in Bloomington in 1856. That year, his paper delivered the news to Lincoln during the spring court session in Urbana that he had received votes for vice president at the Republican's national convention in Philadelphia. Lincoln wrote him a lengthy letter about the first Douglas debate from Ottawa. He authored an authoritative history of Champaign County published in 1905. He died three years after the DAR speech. [25]

Cunningham's speech opened with a discussion of the development of early roads in that part of the circuit, which had evolved from Indian and buffalo trails. [26] He urged that "... An additional and historical dignity may attach to what I shall claim and insist had perhaps the highest claim to be designated and treated as 'The Real Lincoln Highway of Illinois.'" Citing Henry C. Whitney's reminiscences of riding the circuit with Lincoln, Cunningham described an incident that occurred on the way to Danville. The muddy, narrow, deeply ditched road passed through timbered river bottoms. Page  [End Page 81] As it became dark, Lincoln and Whitney stepped out of the two-seated carriage they were sharing with Leonard Swett and his wife and piloted the wagon by singing loudly as they proceeded on foot through the dark and melancholy woods.[27] Asked Cunningham, "What other road has been sanctified by his actual touch in performing a disinterested humble act for a friend so marked as a Lincoln characteristic. The answer must be, 'No one.' In conclusion now, let me plead the supreme claims of this road."

Following the meeting, the local DARs presented the idea to the state organization. To broaden the support and effort beyond the members of the DAR, a separate organization (Under the Auspices of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Illinois) was incorporated in 1916—The Lincoln Circuit Marking Association.[28] The bylaws provided for thirty board members, two honorary presidents, and the usual officers; there was also an executive committee. Each county of the circuit had a local organization with two chairmen—one public and one DAR. Annual dues were two dollars for "governing members" and one dollar for "sustaining members." The board was quickly filled, and it elected officers and solicited members with the aid of a glossy pamphlet produced for that purpose.

The first president was Judge Lawrence Stringer of Lincoln, author of a two-volume history of Logan County published in 1911. Jessie Palmer Weber, longtime librarian of the Illinois State Historical Library, would serve as secretary from that first election in 1916 until her death in 1926. Her persistent, gracious effort was important in the organization's ultimate success. Over the years its honorary presidents included, among others, George Perrin Davis of Bloomington, the son of David Davis who had occasionally accompanied his father on the circuit. They also included Judge Cunningham, U. S. Senator William B. McKinley of Champaign, Joseph G. ("Uncle Joe") Cannon, the long-time congressman from Danville who served sixteen years as Speaker of the House, Joseph W. Fifer of Bloomington, elected governor of Illinois as "Private Joe" in 1888, and Frank Lowden, governor of Illinois from 1916 to 1920 and an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1920. [29] Page  [End Page 82]

However, the most influential and active participant was Lotte Jones of Danville. A member of the DAR, she was selected as the first chairman of the executive committee in 1916 and served until her death in 1933. All titles aside, she was the association's "czar." Jessie Palmer Weber stated in 1917, "It is her pet scheme and she is full of enthusiasm." [30] She dominated every phase of the group. For example, the site of the organization for incorporation purposes was Danville. The bylaws provided that the annual meeting should be held in Danville. Efforts to amend the bylaws to move it to a more central location were defeated by her objections several times over the years. The annual dinner meeting was, therefore, held in Danville every year until 1931. It was finally moved by amendment in 1930, passed in Jones's absence.[31]

Born in 1854 in Covington, Indiana, Jones moved with her family to Danville in 1871, where she lived the rest of her life. Attending several courses at Illinois State Normal University, she became a grade-school teacher, then administrator. She was known and respected throughout the state and was considered an authority on the history and geography of the region. She wrote several books, including a two-volume history of Vermilion County, published in 1911. A bicentennial history of the county described her as "Strong-minded, energetic, but rather eccentric ... She fought for what she believed in. Sometimes it did not make her popular, but she did not care."[32] Correspondence in the records of the organization reflects the intensity with which she pursued its mission and the occasional frustration of those who dealt with her.[33]

At the organizational meeting of October 13, 1916, Jones was already able to report on her work surveying the roads traveled and the appropriate locations for the county-line markers. Acting for the association, she had engaged a young landscape architect from San Diego, Frederich Gordan Lysle. He came to Illinois in 1916, and the two traveled the entire circuit, working on the difficult task of deciphering the old roads, many long since obscured by the settlement and sectioning of rural Illinois. Jones enlisted the help of noted local historians throughout the circuit, such as Judge Stringer, L. C. Freese of Eureka, W. F. Lodge of Monticello, and Judge Cun- Page  [End Page 83] ningham. In 1917 she declared, "I now have the Circuit Road determined without question." She issued a complete but concise report of four pages entitled, "Report of Organization of the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association and location of Roads on the Circuit." In that report she details her repeated travels to various counties of the circuit. The report lists the leadership of the "sub-local" organization in each county and in limited detail describes the historic roads. It contains a list entitled, "WHERE THE EIGHTEEN GUIDE POSTS ARE TO BE PLACED." She concluded that "... The actual compass of the Lincoln Circuit Road has been clearly determined." [34]

She was also the principle force behind the solicitation and selection of the markers' designs. The plan was to mark the circuit in three different ways. First was the marker at each county seat. Second was the marker to be placed at the points where the traveling lawyers traversed each county line. Third was a combination of small, metal markers and stencils to paint the Association's symbol on telephone and telegraph poles along the route. This part of the effort was tried and abandoned fairly early. It became quickly apparent that these markers would not last. Advertising was sometimes stuck or painted over them, and weather quickly obliterated them, making it obvious that maintenance was not practical.[35]

Jones solicited artists, contractors, and architects to submit ideas for suitable monuments. She even wrote to Lorado Taft and Daniel Chester French without success. [36] For the county-seat marker, she ultimately selected a renowned architect, Henry Bacon. A native of Watseka, he grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina. He studied for a year at the University of Illinois before going to work in 1885 for the prestigious firm of McKim, Mead and White in New York as an architect in training. He studied in Europe for several years and finally started his own firm in 1903. He was awarded the commission for the Lincoln Memorial in 1905 at the age of thirty-nine. [37] Jones went to Washington, D.C., and was given a tour of the memorial by him in 1921. His design for the county-seat marker included a specification of the material, Greens Landing granite 5 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 4 inches and 12 inches thick. The face of the granite was recessed for the placement of a plaque ( Figure 2 ). Bacon referred to this mon- Page  [End Page 84]

 Figure 1. Map of the 8th Judicial Circuit
(1847–1853). The solid line shows the route of the
circuitriding lawyears. The broken line shows changes in the route
as a result of county seat relocations.
Figure 1. Map of the 8th Judicial Circuit (1847–1853). The solid line shows the route of the circuitriding lawyears. The broken line shows changes in the route as a result of county seat relocations. Page  [End Page 85]
ument as "The little brother of the great Memorial." [38] New York sculptor Georg J. Lober designed the plaque and created the markers in 1921. The total cost for all the county-seat markers was $4,950. [39]

The design of the county-line marker was the work of Edgar Martin, supervising state architect for the Department of Public Works and Buildings. The county-line marker's design, chosen from several submitted, is more unique ( Figure 3). It is made of pressed concrete with a bronze plaque on the face. The inscription is the same, and both bear the insignia of the two organizations. The blueprint of the structure of the marker reveals it is of three different pieces, the base, the pillar, and the decorative, rectangular top that bears the plaque. This plaque is of a different profile of Lincoln than that of the county-seat marker. It is not clear who designed this graceful profile. The base holds two plates, each identifying the county of the specific location, so that each county line marker is unique. Apparently the marker was assembled at the site. Before manufacture, there was a question as to which side of the road each marker would be located upon in order to place the county plates on the appropriate side of the base. By making the base separate, it could be turned the proper direction on site before the upper portion was joined. The blueprints reveal a hole in the back of the top for bolting the top onto the pillar, specifying that the hole be filled with matching concrete.[40]

The markers were produced by Joseph Dux of Chicago. While the records of the association do not specifically identify the designer of the plaque, it appears quite likely that it was Dux. A native of Philadelphia, he came to Chicago in 1880, a graduate of Cooper Institute. He was an architectural sculptor. [41] A book of his work is in the collection of the Library of the Art Institute, entitled Illustrations of Clay Models, Casts and Wood Carving Executed in the Establishment of Joseph Dux, Chicago (1894). [42] The work shown there is of a similar nature to the marker plaque. It clearly demonstrates Dux to be capable of work of the quality done on the plaque. Dux died in 1931. The cost of the nineteen Page  [End Page 86]

 Figure 2. County-seat marker.
Figure 2. County-seat marker.

 Figure 3. County-line marker.
Figure 3. County-line marker. Page  [End Page 87]
markers was $2,272 for the concrete work, $425 for nineteen sculptured panels, and $5 each for thirty-eight county name plates. The total cost of the nineteen markers was $2,887. The DAR estimated a total cost per county of both monuments at $800, which included the cost of installation. The DAR requested $600 from each county, with the Circuit Marking Association contributing the remaining $200. [43] While there was considerable suspense as each county considered the appropriation issue, Livingston County was the only one to decline to participate. That county's rationalization was that it was only in the circuit for a short period of time.

The markers were placed in 1921, 1922, and 1923. The placement was generally commemorated by a dedication ceremony of considerable pomp. An official program of one of the dedications survives. The cover is the image of the county-seat plaque; a printed list contains the counties and seats, the officers and directors, and what appears to be the members, pictures of both markers, and dates of all the scheduled dedications around the circuit. The "Official Programme" noted music by two bands, a symposium entitled "I Knew Lincoln," and other speakers of some prominence. Lotte Jones participated in the ceremony. The unveiling featured children of the community public schools, and the ceremony included the ritual of the Grand Army of the Republic.[44]

The dedication of the Woodford/McLean marker was held on July 11, 1923. The ceremony took place at nearby Walnut Grove before moving to the marker site for the unveiling. It included patriotic readings, music, and speeches by several speakers including the association's president, Judge Franklin Boggs of Urbana, Joseph Fifer, and of course, Lotte Jones. The monument was unveiled and presented to the two counties and accepted by the chairman of the board of supervisors of each county.[45]

Other dedication ceremonies featured speakers including Joseph Cannon, Justice Floyd Thompson of the Illinois Supreme Court, Jessie Palmer Weber, and Dr. Otto Schmidt. Attorney H. I. Green spoke at the Urbana dedication. Judge Frances Shonkwiler was the speaker at the dedication of the Piatt/Champaign marker. His grandson, Judge John Shonkwiler, repeated that speech in a rededication of this marker in May 2001. [46] In November 1923, the dedication of the Vermilion/Edgar County marker was attended by a large crowd at Page  [End Page 88] Ridge Farm. The Presbyterian Ladies served fried chicken and oyster dinners. [47]

Once the markers were placed, the momentum of the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association slowly waned. Membership dwindled, with the annual meetings failing to draw quorums starting in 1926. After that year, the organization neglected to elect honorary presidents. Proposals to take on other programs related to the circuit met with little enthusiasm. Efforts to organize an inspection tour were unsuccessful. Lotte Jones's absence for ill health was noted in the minutes of the annual meetings of 1931 and 1932, the last year for which there are minutes. [48] The organization was officially dissolved in 1937.[49]

The Marking Association's memorial commemorating Lincoln's Eighth Judicial Circuit remains spread across the old circuit. All of the original seventeen county-seat markers remain, although several have been moved or modified. Most are at the Lincoln courthouse sites. These markers are impressive reminders of Lincoln's connection to these locations, but they tell us what we already know or could readily find out. This is not the case with the county-line markers. The efforts and relative success of Lotte Jones in rediscovering these roads and placing the markers is the real contribution of the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association and all those who aided the effort. Finding the roads then in the 1920s—seventy years after the fact—was a difficult task. Finding them now another eighty years later is almost as difficult. Records of the association refer to maps that were made as the search continued during the site selection process, but the records do not include these maps. They do reveal the difficulty of the task. Judge Cunningham in his initial speech noted the impact of the settlement of central Illinois on the locations of roads. Land ownership and creation of farms often moved the roads from the direct route, frequently diagonal, to following section lines, on the square, erasing some of the original landmarks. [50] Later correspondence in the files about the search, with local knowledgeable authorities, shows how difficult it was.[51] Page  [End Page 89]

The challenge was worthy of the indomitable Lotte Jones and her hired assistant, Frederick Gordan Lysle. They used a map by Peck and Messinger that she dated as 1844. Perusal of the historic map reveals several obvious roads that the lawyers would have used.[52] For the rest of these roads, Jones had to rely on local sources and her own research. It took her several years and repeated trips to each of the counties of the circuit. The original plan was to place nineteen markers; today, fifteen, or parts thereof, remain. Eleven remain intact, four only in part. The Henry Horner Lincoln Collection in the Illinois State Historical Library contains a plaque from one of the missing markers.

Traveling from marker to marker creates a sense of what it was like to travel these roads during the time of Lincoln and his contemporaries. The roads are little traveled, some are not paved. All are rural, removed from the frantic pace of today's world. Each marker's location is so unheralded that it is almost hidden. Though row crops have replaced the prairie, one still feels the seemingly endless miles, the gentle roll of the land, and the serene flow of its streams. It is essentially the same place where Abraham Lincoln grew from a callow, newly initiated attorney to a seasoned professional with the qualities that our nation demanded. The markers and their roads re-create the central Illinois of that day; traveling these roads between markers creates a sense of the place that these men traversed so long ago.

The following list of these markers is in the same order that Lotte Jones listed them in her report of 1919. This list also places the counties in the order that the circuit riders traveled from county to county from 1847 to 1853, and a description of the county-seat markers by city.


The county-seat marker is located on a wall of plaques on the south side of the Old State Capitol square. This is not the original placement of this monument. Before restoration the marker was located at the Sangamon County Courthouse, now restored as the Old State Capitol State Historic Site. The courthouse of Lincoln's day was across the street at the southeast corner of Sixth and Washington.

1. Boundary of Sangamon and Menard counties on the road to Pe- Page  [End Page 90] kin. This marker is located on the county road at the southwest corner of 2250E and 12N. All that is left is the base; the plates for Sangamon and Menard counties were at the site in July of 2002 but now are missing. This route is shown on the Peck and Messinger map.

1A. Boundary of Menard and Logan counties on the road to Pekin. This marker was badly damaged by an automobile in 1924. A committee considered replacing it, and it was determined that the location was not on the original road in any event, and the proximity of marker number 2 (below) makes this marker superfluous. It was not replaced.[53]

2. Boundary of Logan and Tazewell counties on the road to Pekin. This road is known as the Delavan blacktop and went to Tremont, the county seat before Pekin. The marker is located at the southwest corner of 300E and 2800N. This marker is in good condition and is well maintained. The route is shown on the Peck and Messinger map.


The county-seat marker is located as originally set on the north side of the present courthouse. This is the location of the original Lincoln courthouse in Pekin.

3. Boundary of Tazewell and Woodford counties on the road from Pekin to Metamora. This marker is on the diagonal road that runs from Washington to Metamora. It is at the northwest corner of the intersection of roads 2900 N and 28500 E. The marker is well maintained and in good condition. It is set off from the neighboring field by a split-rail fence. This route is shown on the Peck and Messinger map.


The county-seat marker is located on the front of the courthouse as originally set. This is one of only two original Lincoln courthouses still in existence in the circuit. The county seat has been Eureka since 1896.

4. Boundary of Woodford and McLean counties on the road from Metamora to Bloomington. This is the marker described earlier. It is on the county line one-half mile north of County Road 2250N, north of Carlock. Located on the west side of the road, Page  [End Page 91] it is in good condition and well maintained. At some point the pillar and base were modified.


The county-seat marker is located as originally set on the east side of what is now the McLean County History Museum, formerly the McLean County Courthouse. This is the location of the original Lincoln courthouse in Bloomington.

5. Boundary of Logan and McLean counties on the road from Bloomington to Lincoln. It is located on the south side of road 2500 N, one-half mile east of 2200 E. It was severely damaged by vandalism in 1977 and was restored through the efforts of local farmers and the Abraham Lincoln Chapter of the DAR. The plaque was newly designed and cast without the Lincolns profile. The restored monument was rededicated in a ceremony on September 18, 1983.[54]

Lincoln and Mt. Pulaski

County-seat markers were placed at both county seats, Mt. Pulaski and Lincoln. In Mt. Pulaski it is located at the southwest corner of the square, and in Lincoln, on the west side of the courthouse, the site of the original Lincoln courthouse in Lincoln. Mt. Pulaski is the other original Lincoln courthouse that remains.

6. Boundary of Logan and DeWitt counties on the road from Lincoln to Clinton. Take Illinois Route 54 to Kenney, then go west on county road 350 from the north edge of Kenney, a distance of approximately 1.5 miles. The marker is located on the north side of the road. The base and the pillar are intact but the top, including the plaque, is missing.


The county-seat marker is located on the southeast corner of the Lincoln courthouse square, which is no longer the site of the courthouse.

7. Boundary of DeWitt and Piatt counties on the road from Clinton to Monticello. Turn south off of Illinois Route 10 on 2400E. It is located at the intersection of 300N and 2400E. It is in good condition and well maintained, having been recently restored and rededicated as noted above. Page  [End Page 92]


The county-seat marker is located on the west side of the courthouse. This is the site of the original Lincoln courthouse.

8. Boundary of Piatt and Champaign counties on the road from Monticello to Urbana. Exit I-72 at Illinois Route 47, go north on 47 to the first left at county blacktop, go west on that road to the intersection of 000E and 1675N. It is located on the southwest corner of the intersection. The plaque bears some grafitti scars, but it is otherwise in good condition and well maintained.


The county courthouse marker is located at the north side of the courthouse, the site of the original Lincoln courthouse.

9. Boundary of Champaign and Vermilion counties on the road from Urbana to Danville. This is located on the old state road between the two cities, which was replaced by U.S. 150, which is now obsolete by virtue of I-74, all three of which parallel each other as they travel through Illinois at this point. It is on the Peck and Messinger map. It is a gravel road. The marker is located at the intersection of 2800E and 1350N, on the north side of 1350N. It is in good condition and well maintained. It is modified in that the pillar is shortened and placed in an additional base.


The courthouse marker is not at the site of the original Lincoln courthouse in Danville, which is the location of the current courthouse. The marker is located to the east on the same street, at the intersection of Route 150 and Logan Street.

10. Boundary of Vermilion and Edgar counties on the road from Danville to Paris. The road from Danville to Paris is Illinois Route 1 and is the only marker located on a highway. This was originally the historic Hubbard Trace, an early trade route that ran from Chicago to Vincennes. The road is shown on the Peck and Messinger map. Lotte Jones noted that it was paved to the southern border of Vermilion County at the time of her work. The marker is located at the southeast corner of 2800N and is in good condition and well maintained. Page  [End Page 93]


The county-seat marker is located on the northwest corner of the courthouse, which is the site of the original Lincoln courthouse.

11. Boundary of Edgar and Coles counties on the road from Paris to Charleston. This is located on the Old State Road from Paris to Charleston, which continues on to Shelbyville. This historic road is shown on the Peck and Messinger map and parallels the current road, Illinois Route 16, which is located several miles to the north. It is on the north side of the road about one-half mile west of county road 1450. The marker is in good condition and well maintained, with recent plantings and landscaping around it.


Though Charleston was never in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Lincoln had a great deal of business in this county during his career in central Illinois. Therefore, the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association considered it appropriate that Coles County be part of the memorial. The courthouse marker is located on the south side of the current courthouse, which is at the location of the original Lincoln courthouse.

12. Boundary of Coles and Shelby counties on the road from Charleston to Danville. This marker was also placed on the Old State Road at its intersection with the County Line Road. Although the marker has not been totally destroyed, all that is left is the base including the county plates. The plaque has been resurrected by placement in a brick marker located on the south side of the same road about one mile east at the intersection with county road 100E. This was rededicated in a ceremony in June 1979. [55]


The county-seat marker is located in a small plaza, known as Lincoln Square, across the street to the south from the present courthouse, which is the location of the Lincoln-era courthouse.

13. Boundary of Shelby and Moultrie counties on the road from Shelbyville to Sullivan. The author has been unable to locate this marker. The Jones list of markers includes one on this county Page  [End Page 94] line, however it is not certain that it was ever installed. At the November 13, 1923, meeting of the Association, it was noted that all of the markers had been placed except this one and the McLean/Logan marker, which is now in place. Minutes of the organization as late as January 5, 1927, show that it still wasn't set.[56] Minutes of the Shelby County Board of Supervisors throughout the 1920s made no reference to it, though they do show placement of the marker at the courthouse on November 2, 1926.[57] There is no trace of the monument today, and a number of knowledgeable people in both Shelby and Moultrie counties have no information that it was ever in place. The same people are aware of the other marker in each of their counties. The records of the LCMA raise questions on December 1, 1926, as to whether it was ever placed.


The county-seat marker is located at the northeast corner of the courthouse square, the site of the Lincoln-era courthouse.

14. Boundary of Moultrie and Macon counties on the road from Sullivan to Decatur. The county-line marker is located on the north side of the Moultrie County Road 2400, two miles west of Lake City on the county line. This stretch of road on the Lincoln Heritage Trail is part of the route of the Lincoln family's move to Macon County in 1831. The entire marker is structurally intact, but badly damaged with chunks knocked off the top, the plaque entirely missing, and the concrete fill of the hole knocked out, leaving a hole in the center. The county-name plates remain.


The courthouse marker is not at the site of the Lincoln courthouse in Decatur, which is different than today's courthouse location. A bronze model of the Lincoln courthouse stands on the southwest corner of Lincoln square, marking the location of the Lincoln courthouse. The courthouse marker is located on North Pine Street in Millikin Park. There is a log courthouse, which includes remnants of the Lincoln building located at the Macon County Historical Museum. Page  [End Page 95]

15. Boundary of Macon and Christian counties on the road from Decatur to Taylorville. This marker is located on the Mount Auburn blacktop between Decatur and Mount Auburn. It demonstrates how Illinois roads have evolved. The logical location is seven miles to the south where the current direct route between the two cities enters Christian County (Illinois Route 48). This marker is in good condition and well maintained. It is at the southwest corner of the intersection of two Macon County roads—Mount Auburn Road (11000) and Meridian Avenue (44000).


The county-seat marker is located on the northwest corner of the courthouse square, which is the site of the original Lincoln courthouse. The Lincoln courthouse, a frame building, has been moved to the County Historical Park in the northwest corner of Taylorville.

16. Boundary of Christian and Sangamon counties on the road from Taylorville to Springfield. This is the most curious of all the county-line markers locations. It is located on a creek bank on the north side of Christian County Road 2300N at its intersection with the marked but non-existent 600E on the county line. There is also a pair of Sangamon County road signs for 8S and the non-existent 12E. The marker is located west of the direct route now existing between the two cities (Illinois Route 29). The pillar and the top including the plaque are in good condition. The original base has been replaced with a new base in which the pillar is inserted. The county nameplates are gone.

17. Boundary of Sangamon and Menard counties on the road from Springfield to Petersburg. The author has been unable to locate this marker, although an old photograph of it exists. Local residents recall its location on the county line on the east side of Route 97, which is consistent with the scene in the photograph. There is an oral account of the marker's destruction several decades ago.


This marker is located at the southwest corner of the courthouse square, site of the original Lincoln courthouse.

18. Boundary of Menard and Mason counties on the road fromPage  [End Page 96]Petersburg to Havana. A 1934 letter from Paul Angle describes the fate of this marker. It had been placed on the Sangamon River at the site of the ferry on the road just northwest of Oakford. The river is the county line. Angle's letter indicates that Etta M. Neer had brought in the marker several days earlier. He states that it had been destroyed by vandals two years earlier.[58]


The county-seat marker is located on the west side of the courthouse. Page  [End Page 97]


  1. This is a description of an imagined event in a locale that the circuit-riding lawyers would have encountered. September 26, 1852, was the day between court sessions in Metamora and Bloomington, so it was a travel day. Earl Schenk Miers, ed. Lincoln Day by Day, a Chronology 1809–65, 3 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission 1960), 2: 84. The lawyers here often did travel together. Leonard Swett, David Davis, Address before the Bar Association of the State of Illinois (n.p., 1886). return to text
  2. The number of counties varied over the years. The Eighth as described here from 1847 to 1853, encompassed the most counties it would include. The only county in the Eighth throughout Lincoln's career was McLean; even Sangamon was moved to a different circuit in 1857. Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis, eds. The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Complete Documentary Edition (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999). (Hereafter cited as Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln). return to text
  3. John Moses, Illinois Historical and Statistical, 2 vols. (Chicago: Fergus Printing, 1895), 2: 1137. return to text
  4. Lincoln drafted legislation reducing the size of the circuit to eight counties in 1853, at the request of Judge Davis. Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, ID N05293. return to text
  5. Susan Krause, From Log Cabins to Temples of Justice, Courthouses in Lincoln's Illinois (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2000). return to text
  6. Ibid., 28. return to text
  7. John J. Duff, A. Lincoln: Prairie Lawyer (New York: Rinehart, 1960), 2. return to text
  8. Swett, David Davis, 4. return to text
  9. Henry Clay Whitney, Life on the Circuit with Lincoln (Caldwell, Ida.: Caxton, 1892), 65. return to text
  10. Susan Krause, Judging Lincoln: The Bench in Lincoln's Illinois (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2002); Willard L. King, Lincoln's Manager, David Davis (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960). return to text
  11. Frederick Trevor Hill, Lincoln the Lawyer (New York: Century, 1906). return to text
  12. David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1995), 104. return to text
  13. Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Ramsey v. Marteny, ID L01812. return to text
  14. Whitney, Life on the Circuit, 62. return to text
  15. Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln; Paul M. Angle, Abraham Lincoln: Circuit Lawyer (Springfield, Ill.: Lincoln Centennial Association Papers, 1928), 33. return to text
  16. Hill, Lincoln the Lawyer, 180. return to text
  17. Robert S. Eckley, "Leonard Swett: Lincoln's Legacy to the Chicago Bar," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 92 (Autumn 1999): 274–88. return to text
  18. Letter of Henry C. Whitney to William H. Herndon, Aug. 27, 1887, and letter of Leonard Swett to Herndon, Aug. 29, 1887, both in Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds. Herndon's Informants, Letters, Interviews, & Statements about Abraham Lincoln (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 627–34, 636–37. return to text
  19. Swett, David Davis, 4. return to text
  20. Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Biography section; John Palmer, The Bench and Bar of Illinois, Historical and Reminiscent, 2 vols. (Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1899), 1: 174. return to text
  21. Duff, A. Lincoln: Prairie Lawyer, 71. return to text
  22. Ibid., 302. return to text
  23. The Illinois Legal Directory 2002 (Dallas, Tex.: Legal Directories Publishing, 2002). return to text
  24. Rose Moss Scott, ed. Daughters of the American Revolution (Danville, Ill.: Illinois Printing, 1929), 102. return to text
  25. Dorothy Miller O'Donnell, Joseph Oscar Cunningham (Champaign, Ill.: Champaign County Historical Museum) 1976; Willis C. Baker and Patricia L. Miller, A Commemorative History of Champaign County, Illinois, 1833–1983 ( Illinois Heritage Association 1984). return to text
  26. Urbana Courier-Herald, Nov. 14, 1914. return to text
  27. Whitney, Life on the Circuit with Lincoln, 436. return to text
  28. Certificate of Incorporation, Aug. 29, 1916, Records of the Lincoln Circuit Marking Association, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Ill. (hereafter cited as Records of the LCMA). return to text
  29. Records of the LCMA. return to text
  30. Ibid., Weber to Lee Boland, Jan. 19, 1917. return to text
  31. Ibid., Minutes of the annual meetings from Oct. 13, 1916, to Dec. 2, 1932. return to text
  32. Katherine Stapp, Footprints in the Sands; Founders and Builders of Vermilion County, Illinois (Danville, Ill.: Interstate Printers, 1975). return to text
  33. Records of the LCMA, W. F. Lodge (Monticello) to Jessie Palmer Weber, June 4, 1921. return to text
  34. Ibid., See full report. return to text
  35. Ibid., Minutes of Nov. 14, 1922, meeting. return to text
  36. Ibid., Jones correspondence, 1916–1918. return to text
  37. American National Biography Online, "Bacon, Henry Jr." (by Christopher A. Thomas), (accessed Feb. 2000). return to text
  38. Records of the LCMA, Lotte Jones to Jessie Palmer Weber, Jan. 21, 1921. return to text
  39. Ibid., Contract between Lober and LCMA, May 23, 1921. return to text
  40. Ibid., blueprints of marker. return to text
  41. Albert Nelson Marquis, ed. Who's Who in Chicago, The Book of Chicagoans, 1926 (Chicago: Marquis, 1926). return to text
  42. Joseph Dux, Illustrations of Clay Models, Casts, and Wood Carving Executed in the Establishment of Joseph Dux, Chicago (n.p., 1894). return to text
  43. Records of the LCMA, Invoice certificate from State Department of Public Works and Buildings, Edgar Martin, dated May 25, 1923, reflecting contract with Joseph Dux, dated Oct. 15, 1921. return to text
  44. Ibid. return to text
  45. William B. Carlock, A Compilation of the Historical and Biographical Writings of William B. Carlock (Bloomington, Ill.: Self published, 1923). return to text
  46. Champaign News-Gazette, May 18, 2001. return to text
  47. Ridge Farm: 100 Years on the Ridge; 1874–1974 (Newport, Ky.: Bluegrass Printing, 1974). return to text
  48. Records of the LCMA, Minutes, 1926–1932. return to text
  49. Illinois Secretary of State, Corporation Records, Springfield, Ill. return to text
  50. Urbana Courier-Herald, Nov. 14, 1914. return to text
  51. Records of the LCMA, Minutes of Nov. 15, 1921, Nov. 16, 1921; Thomas B. Shoaff to Jessie Palmer Weber, Oct. 7, 1922; Lawrence B. Stringer to Jessie Palmer Weber, 11/28/[?]; W. F. Lodge to Jessie Palmer Weber, June 4, 1921. return to text
  52. Peck and Messinger Map (1836), Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Ill. return to text
  53. Records of the LCMA, Report of David F. Nelson, July 7, 1929[?]. return to text
  54. Lincoln Courier, Sept. 8, 1983. return to text
  55. Mattoon Journal Gazette, June 7, 1979. return to text
  56. Records of LCMA, Minutes of Nov. 13, 1923, Nov. 2, 1926. return to text
  57. Shelby County Board, minutes of Nov. 2, 1926, meeting, County Clerk's Office, Shelbyville, Ill. return to text
  58. Records of the LCMA, Paul Angle to David Nelson, Jan. 15, 1934. return to text