Logan County is uniquely positioned in the center of the rich history of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln moved to the Village of New Salem, Illinois in 1830, at the age of 21. He began work as a store clerk, then later a Postmaster, and soldier, and in 1833, a surveyor. Lincoln surveyed 5 towns in Illinois along with government/road surveys, town lots, and private surveys. He even surveyed the land that would become Middletown, the oldest town in Logan County, and witnessed the first lot being transferred in 1833. He only worked in this field for a few years and then his interests turned to law.
By 1836, he received his license to practice law and by 1839 he was a traveling lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit in addition to his political pursuits. The 8th Judicial Circuit consisted of 14/15 counties. The court wasn't convened daily like it is today. Judges and lawyers were sparse so all the cases would be saved to handle at one time over a period of a week or two, at the County Seat Courthouses. In Logan County, the The Postville Courthouse, the older Logan County Courthouse, and the Mount Pulaski Courthouse were all stops on the circuit at one time. Abraham Lincoln was one of the only lawyers that traveled to all of the county seats.
Abraham Lincoln, sometimes with other lawyers and judges, would spend six months out of the year traveling to different counties. The travel was usually on horseback or horse and buggy and the traveling conditions were often challenging on the dirt roads. They often stayed in local taverns and ate their meals at common tables. Sleeping quarters in the Taverns were poor, primitive, and often limited, so travelers had to share beds or sleep on the floor. A few of the taverns that he stayed at in Logan County were the Deskins Tavern, across from the Postville Courthouse, the Dunlap House in Middletown, and the Mt. Pulaski House in Mt. Pulaski. As Lincoln got to know people along the circuit he also stayed at local farms, including the Hoblit "Halfway House" in Atlanta.
Lincoln became a frequent visitor to Postville, which would later dissolve into the city of Lincoln. On August 27, 1853, 90 lots were sold for the new town and Abraham Lincoln was present. He purchased watermelon from a nearby wagon, cut it open, and christened the new town with the juice of the watermelon. Thus the town became the first town named after Abraham Lincoln prior to his presidency. A visit to the Logan County Visitor Center/Historic Train Station includes seeing the bronze statue of the Christening Scene inside as well as a visit to the south lawn to see the original Christening Site.
Lincoln's political career also brought him back to Logan County in the Summer of 1858, during the Senatorial Debates between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. At this point, the railroad was the active means for the traveling campaign. A large rally was held for Douglas in September, in the town of Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln later came and spoke at the Courthouse to rally the people in October.
Abraham Lincoln also worked as a Railsplitter- splitting logs, clearing land, and building fences for other farmers, when he was younger. This became part of his presidential campaign slogan in 1860, when he became known as "The Railsplitter". This drew in the support for Lincoln from the working class, he would be defined as "a man of the people" coming from humble beginnings. The city of Lincoln developed the Abraham Lincoln National Railsplitter Festival in 1970 in honor of President Lincoln. The people of Atlanta were then one of the first Wide Awakes Chapters (a political party) in Illinois to support Abraham Lincoln in his presidential campaign.
We are thankful to have drawings by artist and Abraham Lincoln Historian, Lloyd Ostendorf, on historical signs throughout the county. The drawings depict many of the Abraham Lincoln historical accounts that happened throughout the county. Learn more of this rich history at the Lincoln Heritage Museum and state historical sites in Logan County: The Postville Courthouse, and the Mount Pulaski Courthouse.
Today this history has been preserved in local historical markers and Abraham Lincoln attractions throughout Logan County. See more information below.
Get the full Abraham Lincoln experience in Illinois! Learn more about other Logan County-based Lincoln attractions and other sites throughout the State of Illinois on the Looking For Lincoln site below.