Beheaded, Buried Statue of Abraham Lincoln at Springfield, IL:
by D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D.
Springfield, MO, (October 2014) -- According to a 2007 article in the State Journal-Register titled "Looking for Abe," Abraham Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois, then had nine statues portraying its most famous citizen. The article also identifies a tenth Lincoln statue as "The Disappeared Lincoln." The article describes the 1932 dedication and the 1940 relocation of this statue (the central component of a Civil War monument), but does not reveal its proper name or its disastrous fate. In a follow-up letter to the editor of March 23, 2007, Mr. Howard L. Beagles of Springfield wrote: "Vandals knocked the head off the statue. The park district waited a brief period, hoping the head would be returned, but it wasn't. The headless statue was taken to a gully that ran east to west behind the park maintenance buildings and buried. I personally witnessed this burial. One can now honestly say that a Lincoln is buried in Lincoln Park." In a phone conversation I had with Howard Beagles in September 2014, he told me that the maintenance workers who buried the statue were the only other witnesses to it. Mr. Beagles said it was only a coincidence that he was there to see the burial. Presently, the date of the burial is unknown, and the monument/statue rests in an unmarked grave.
The Civil War monument/Lincoln statue of Lincoln Park was named The President, and it was dedicated in 1932 as a tribute to Union veterans of the Civil War. Shortly before his passing, Carl Volkmann, a leading authority on Lincoln statues, told me of the existence of this obscure monument/statue, and in subsequent research I discovered that the statue of the monument had fallen victim to misfortune even before the vandalism, as explained later in this article.
My research included a phone conversation with Howard Beagles's son, Dave, a fellow history buff. Dave explained that his father had introduced his entire family to the Lincoln statue as one of the attractions of Lincoln Park. Dave told me that as a kid he played around the statue and even climbed up to sit on the book in the figure's lap. During this conversation Dave raised the question of whether there might be enough interest in this desecrated Civil War monument/Lincoln statue to rediscover and restore it, and I am intrigued with that possibility. This artifact is a potential project of "archaeological Lincolniana"and historical restoration. This artifact is much more than just another Lincoln statue: as a Civil War monument, it is worthy of restoration/preservation.
Is there sufficient interest in the possibility of restoring this monument to unearth it enough to determine the feasibility of restoration (limestone is a soft stone, and the elements may have deteriorated the structure)? The missing head could be replaced with one whose design would meet with the approval of those paying for it. That step could reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of the criticism of the original that the statue did not look like Lincoln. A precedent for such a creative design procedure comes from one of the best of Lincoln sculptors, Max Bachman, who fashioned his own Lincoln head and adapted it to the body of one of the world's most celebrated Lincoln statues--Abraham Lincoln: The Man, aka the Standing Lincoln. This twelve-foot bronze statue by the renowned Augustus Saint-Gaudens, dedicated in 1887, is located in the Lincoln Park of Chicago. Lincoln's law partner, William H. Herndon, said it truly resembled him. Today there are accomplished sculptors, including John McClarey of Decatur, Illinois, who specialize in depicting Lincoln and who might be interested in such a creative restoration project. (Under Related Links below, access my article on the Lincoln sculpture of Max Bachman.)
If feasible, such a restoration would strengthen civic pride and be a significant addition to the local Lincoln-lore landmarks. Some of the countless tourists who travel to Lincoln's hometown from around the world like to visit every possible namesake site. Lincoln Park is adjacent to Oak Ridge Cemetery, the site of Abraham Lincoln's Tomb, visited by thousands every year. As indicated by photos below in this article, Lincoln Park is the site of a historic restoration project related to Lincoln's 1865 funeral and its sesquicentennial re-enactment planned for May 2015.
1932 Dedication of the Civil War Monument/Lincoln Statue at the Sangamon County Courthouse
An article titled "Lincoln Statue, 5th, Washington To Be Unveiled" in the Illinois State Journal (September 17, 1932) about the dedication of the monument/statue includes information about its creation and original installation: "A statue of Abraham Lincoln, seated and holding a book in his lap, will be unveiled tomorrow afternoon on the courthouse lawn at Fifth and Washington Streets. It will be dedicated at 2 o'clock Sunday by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War in tribute to their fathers" (emphasis mine).
"The statue is made of Bedford granite [others sources say limestone], a bronze tablet on the back shows a spread American eagle holding a badge of the G.A.R. with the inscription, 'In Memory of Our Fathers, Grand Army of the Republic.' Beneath this is a badge of the Daughters of Union veterans and the inscription, 'In the Hearts of the People for Whom He Saved the Union, the Memory of Abraham Lincoln Is Enshrined Forever' (emphasis mine.) Elmer Baum, head of the Baum Monument works, will erect the statue today. It will be covered until the ceremonies tomorrow. Marian J. Hall, Davenport, Ia., will be in charge of the dedicatory program. Mayor Kapp will accept the statue in behalf of the city. Mrs. Harriett J. Goetz, of Buffalo, national president of the Daughters of Union Veterans, and Samuel P. Town, G.A.R. commander, will also speak."
According to another source, "The monument depicts Lincoln seated with a book on his lap, and is carved from Indiana limestone. The lower portion of the monument is the natural rock finish with the upper portion of the statue merging from the rock work, and the statue which is life size has a total height of about six feet, including a rock foundation which has been placed under the statue proper." Another source refers to the Baum Monument Works as the M.J. Baum Monument and Stone Works, explaining that "the material used in the statue was taken from the hills of southern Indiana, where Lincoln lived as a youth. It also is a coincidence that this work was produced by M.J. Baum's firm, whose plant is within a stone's throw of Lincoln's homestead and who was in business at the time Lincoln lived in Springfield" (Illinois State Journal, September 18, 1932, p. 11). As explained later, the statue became quite controversial in just a few years after the dedication, so the monument was moved to a less-conspicuous site.
Note: the first four images below are courtesy of the Lincoln Library of Springfield, Illinois, from its Sangamon County Collection. I am indebted to Mr. Curtis Mann of the Lincoln Library for his help in locating these photos and other materials about this statue from the Sangamon County Collection.
Dedication Photo from the Illinois State Journal, September 19, 1932 (individuals, unidentified)
Illinois State Journal Register, May 28, 1976
The 1940 Monument/Statue Relocation and the Question of Artistic Attribution
Soon after its dedication The President
received some unkind criticism, and it is worth noting that
Springfieldians had also severely criticized the 1918 Lincoln statue
by Andrew O'Connor named The Lincoln of the Farewell Address that stands at the
east entrance of the Capitol. According to Carl Volkmann, the main
speaker of the dedication ceremony was Lord Charnwood, whose Lincoln
biography was published in 1916. (The high esteem of that biography
endures.) The ceremony included Vachel Lindsay reciting his famous
poem titled "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight." Despite this
auspicious dedication, an undated editorial in the State
Journal-Register condemned the O'Connor statue and expressed a radical
proposal: "Suggestion is made that the Lincoln statue on the
approach to the state house be removed to another location on the
grounds. A more sensible proposal suggests decapitation of the
statue, preservation of the wonderful head, and junking the body
(emphasis mine). The proposal to move the statue is urged because it
is so placed that it breaks the approach and detracts from its
impressiveness. The statue does worse. It affronts visitors.
Encountering it for the first time and in the absence of
explanations, they get from it an impression that it is a caricature
of Lincoln. Even when it is explained that the misshapen legs and
paralytic arm are but symbols, supposed to suggest Lincoln's
humility or something of the sort, the statue offends" (files of the
Lincoln Financial Foundation, link below). No action was taken
against O'Connor's statue, and over time it has gained iconic
The 1932 Lincoln statue by the Baum company was also criticized for not looking like Lincoln. One source reported that people objected because it "had frightened them at night." By 1940 various officials felt the public had suffered long enough and decided to move the monument. The following article titled "'Little Abe' Lincoln to Disappear" appeared in the Illinois State Journal-Register, May 28, 1940: "In the quiet hours of the night in the near future the statue of Abraham Lincoln located on the northwest corner of the courthouse will disappear. Ladies of the G.A.R. donors and dedicators of the statue eight years ago when the Grand Army of the Republic and its affiliated organizations held their national convention in this city yesterday passed a resolution decreeing the removal of the memorial. The representation of Lincoln in a seated position is not sufficiently dignified and impressive for Illinois' greatest citizen, the Ladies decided. The statue has never done the emancipator justice. Many persons have failed to recognize it was intended to be Lincoln's likeness. Frequently, stray dogs running across the courthouse lawn were startled at the sight of the little bearded man sitting in a big chair, and barked lustily at it" (emphasis mine). Note: the article refers to the figure as "little," but it was life size.
The photo below of The President in Lincoln Park appears in Donald Charles Durman's book titled He Belongs to the Ages (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Press, 1951). The book identifies Thomas A Green as the sculptor, but following the photo below is a letter from Thomas A. Green, Jr., indicating his father was not the sculptor (letter courtesy of the Sangamon Collection of the Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois). A brief article titled "Baum Furnished Lincoln Statue" in the Illinois State Journal (September 18, 1932, p. 11), says, "The design of this memorial, which is original with this firm, was created and executed by their craftsmen at their plant."
Durman's Annotation for His Above Photo:
Note: The preceding reference to the
eyes appearing "to be closed as if he had fallen asleep" makes no
good sense--the eyes are downcast because the figure is reading a
book. The book's title is unknown. The adult Lincoln often read the
Bible and Shakespeare.
Photo Courtesy of Rick Dunham of Springfield, IL
July 8, 2015. Rick Dunham, a professional actor at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, is the grandson of George and Viola Dunham, who lived at Illiiopolis, IL, at the time the photo was taken. The photo is undated. Rick notes his grandfather passed in July 1963. The decapitation of the statue followed at some time yet determined. Rick is also the celebrated Elvis Himselvis. On Rick's Facebook site, where the photo was first published, Springfieldian Larry Stevens commented, "I think your photo must have been printed in reverse. All the other photos show Lincoln's leg crossed the other way."
July 9, 2015. As noted above, Donald Charles Durman's 1951 book He Belongs to the Ages attributed Springfield's Civil War monument/Lincoln statue to sculptor Thomas A. Green, but in an undated letter (above), Green’s son denied it and raised the question of who the sculptor was. Newspaper reports at the time of the monument/statue dedication said that it was the work of the stonecutters of the Arnold Monument Company of Springfield. Yet it is more likely that one person’s hands, not the hands of a crew, designed the work and, at least, sculpted the head and shoulders. Information has surfaced that reveals the Civil War monument/beheaded, buried Lincoln statue in Lincoln Park was created by an Italian immigrant stonecarver named Joseph Petarde, not the Springfield stonecutters. Petarde's home was in Peoria.
How has this information surfaced? And how reliable is it? The answers begin with the above photo that Rick “Elvis Himselvis” Dunham posted on his Facebook site showing his grandparents liking the statue. After I added the photo to the present webpage, I posted a link to it on the Facebook group site “You Know You’re from Springfield, IL . . ." (then with 13,000+ members). Group member L. Dean Partridge responded: “This statue was sculpted by Joseph Petardi of Peoria, Illinois. He was married to my great, great Aunt Hannah Partridge. The material was definitely Indiana limestone, the same material he used to create memorial statues to honor his in-laws, my great, great grandparents, Alexander and Margaret Partridge.” (Note: Sources say Joseph Petardi changed the spelling to Petarde.) On Facebook, Dean Partridge posted photos of the statues commemorating his relatives, noting that “the cemetery at Spring Bay, where the statues are located, is a pioneer-era cemetery named Sandridge Cemetery.”
At my request, Dean told how he came to learn about his artistic relative: “My father first took me to Sandridge at Spring Bay about 1968. I was twelve and the sculptures fascinated me. When dad told me they had been done by a relative, I was more curious and asked more questions. We lived in Bloomington and dad showed me the Consistory Building that I'd seen it before but thereafter I actually looked at it. And when we visited the State Fair he told me about the entrance building [to the Grandstand, more below] and the story of the headless statue of Lincoln. Dad’s telling placed the lost statue on the grounds of the old Capitol Building.”
I, Leigh Henson, knew about Joseph Petarde because years ago as I developed a community history website about my hometown of Lincoln, Illinois, I had discovered that Petarde had done stonecarving on a mansion known as Irendean [a “blend word” of Irene and Dean (Gillett)] on Lincoln Avenue. Irendean was built in the 1920s by descendants of John D. Gillett, the “Cattle King” of Elkhart. Gillett was one of the three founders of the first Lincoln namesake town, whose attorney was Abraham Lincoln. I then researched Petarde and found an article about him by Adelaide N. Cooley, "Joseph Petarde, Immigrant Stonecarver," Outdoor Illinois (May, 1977). (The founding editors of Outdoor Illinois were Dan Malkovich and his wife, parents of the actor John Malkovich.) Cooley explains, “A stonecarver was distinguished from a stonecutter in that the former carved designs and figures, while the latter merely shaped blocks for building. Stonecarving was a trade in which only a few apprenticeships were available in America.” Thus a stonecarver could also be described as a commercial sculptor. Cooley wrote that the Petarde family came from Rome and "the little town of Vinchiaturo, Italy, an area where many of the men were stonecarvers as far back as the Middle Ages." In Rome Joseph's father trained his young son in the craft.
Cooley’s article reports that Petarde worked on projects throughout central Illinois, other places in North America, and Paris (see list below), and one of his central Illinois projects was the Civil War monument/Lincoln statue installed at Springfield. She wrote that the women’s G.A.R Auxiliary that commissioned the work was from Peoria (Petarde had worked on the Peoria G.A.R Building, which still stands). A couple of details in her account conflict with Springfield newspaper reports. She wrote that Petarde did the Lincoln statue work at Bloomington, Illinois, where he was employed by the M. Walsh Stone Company. Newspaper reports said the work was done at the Arnold Monument Company at Springfield. Cooley reported that the work was “placed on the old State House grounds” in Springfield, and the project cost $600 (Cooley’s article is the only source I found that gives a cost).
Cooley’s article corroborates and augments the history of the monument/sculpture: “The sculpture was moved to a park and then disappeared. Several family members searched for it periodically until they located it in 1975 in a maintenance shed belonging to the park. Its head was missing. Efforts to get more information from a Springfield newspaper and the State Museum have been unsuccessful. Kingman School [now defunct] in Peoria has a small replica of the Springfield sculpture, which was given to them by Petarde.” (Where is the small replica?)
Joseph Petarde possessed a lively personality. Cooley writes, “He once went out onto the river [probably the Illinois] in a rowboat with his accordion and tipped over. His language difficulties were such that many people could not understand him. He used a liberal sprinkling of profanity in any conversation. When chided about it, he said that swearing was the first language he learned in America.”
Some of the work he did for personal satisfaction was iconoclastic, as Cooley writes: "He might have disappeared from memory except that his house attracted newspaper writers and photographers when it was first completed in 1922. At that time the neighbors were shocked and angry about the semi-nude figures at the porch corners, but gradually they became accustomed to it." After I read that, I located and went to his home on Fairholm Street in the Averyville neighborhood of Peoria (near Springdale Cemetery) and took some photos with the permission of the then-current owner, a Petarde descendant.
Dean Partridge shares this anecdote: Joseph Petarde’s "son Clyde assisted with much of the stonework on the Petardi home [in Peoria]. There is a family story that, after the unveiling of the partially nude statue, Aunt Hannah stamped her foot, and swore never to use the front porch again. And reportedly never did. I visit the house a couple times a year.” The next two images are from Cooley's 1977 article in Outdoors Illinois.
The above historical record of the Petarde stonecarvings indicates that he created and donated a replica of his The President to Peoria's Kingman Primary School. This school was in the same historic Averyville neighborhood where Petarde made his home and where he also did work on the St. Peter's Church. In 2009 the 106-year-old Kingman Primary School was closed. In November 2015 Peoria history buff Patricia Goitein emailed me to say the school building remains and that it may yet house the replica. Google search links relating to Kingman Primary School: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=peoria+%22kingman+primary+school%22.
Springfield, MO, (March 2, 2017) -- In pursuing the question of Petarde's replica of The President, I emailed Mr. Dave Meyers, superintendent of buildings, grounds, and maintenance of the Peoria School District, to ask if he knew the whereabouts of the replica. He kindly responded to confirm that the replica had been in the shuttered Kingman School but is now located in Peoria's Lincoln School, 700 Mary St. Peoria, IL 61603. Mr. Meyers had attended Kingman and recalled seeing the replica. At my request he generously sent photos of the replica with permission to publish them online. The third photo below shows a date of 1935 on the replica, and the original was dedicated in 1932. Comparing photos of the replica and the original statue shows that the replica is a scaled-down version of the original and that there are several design differences between them.
Several years before I discovered the story of Petarde's Lincoln statue, The President, I had discovered that he had done work on houses in my hometown of Lincoln, Illinois, whose history interested me. Out of curiosity I researched and visited the site of his Peoria home to take photos of its sculpture. Link to webpage with those photos: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/residentialheritage.html#petardeinpeoria.
The projects below the Petarde family photo (above) says he worked on the Illinois State Fair Grandstand entrance. I have long been interested in the architecture of the historic buildings on the grounds of the Illinois State Fair, and the following is a crop of a photo I took of the front of the Grandstand showing what I believe is the part that Petarde had worked on. This Petarde work is less than two miles from his beheaded, buried Lincoln statue--inconspicuous and mostly out of the reach of vandals.
Next is a link to my 2003 photos of Joseph Petarde's
sculpture on his Peoria home, including the controversial ones of
the porch. Note that the semi-nude
female figure is on a corner of the porch facing away from the
front sidewalk and street:
Joseph Petarde's gravesite at Find a Grave. This site
describes him as "Peoria's forgotten sculptor":
2014 Photos of Lincoln Park (photos by the author unless noted otherwise)
Entrance to Lincoln Park from North Fifth Street
Lincoln Park Pavilion in Background
A Ravine Behind the Lincoln Park Maintenance Building, Area of the Unmarked Grave of The President
Debris Behind the Maintenance Building in the Area of the Ravine Burial Site
Entrance to Storage Area Behind Maintenance Building (photo by Dave Beagles)
Dave Beagles's father, Howard, recalls the statue burial was several yards beyond the gate. The photo below shows the area just outside/beyond the fence seen at the back of the above photo, so that area just beyond the back fence could be within the distance of the burial as Mr. Beagles recalls.
Suspicious Flush-Ground-Level, White Structure Just Beyond the Chain-Link Fence Behind Maintenance Building
The theme of the preceding narrative is that preserving history is tricky, but before history can be preserved, it must be determined--and that, too, can be tricky. As of 12-14, the only people I can find who have ideas about the specific location of the Civil War Monument/Lincoln Statue in Lincoln Park are Howard Beagles and his son, Dave, who provides information and photos from the field trip they took in search of the location. Dave reports: "On December 8, 2014, my dad and I shot some pics in Lincoln Park where we respectively think the President Lincoln statue sat. He and I agree on the general location just west of the pavilion/preschool sign and distinctive flagpole, but he thinks the spot was closer to the flagpole, while I think the spot was several yards further west. Leigh, this general spot is where I initially told you it was: across from what is now a playground/picnic area." The venerable man featured in some of the photos below is Dave's father, Howard, whose 2007 letter to the Springfield State Journal-Register made this entire story possible.
Sign Encountered a Short Distance Beyond the Main Park Entrance
Howard Beagles Standing Where His Son, Dave, Recalls the Location of the Monument/Statue
Closer View of the Same Location
(pavilion in background)
Maintenance Building in the Background, Near Where the Monument/Statue Is Buried
Dave took the above photo from the same spot where he took the preceding two photos. This building is west of the pavilion area.
Howard's Recollection of the
Location of the Monument/Statue
Marker and Bench at Base of Flag
My Grandfather (a civil war vet), whom I was named after, has a headstone across the street from the Lincoln Tomb hill. Last time I was in Springfield his stone was the whitest stone in the burial area. As a child I witnessed many Decoration (Memorial) Day parades that ended at that sight.
Contrary to the ugly statue concept, many girls sat on Lincoln's lap (yes on the book) and kissed the statue. The statue reminded me of Abe reading to his son Tad. It was a peaceful and serene setting. If one looked down the valley toward Oak Ridge and up the hill to the right toward the old wiener roasting area one felt at ease with the world. A few yards north of the statue and across the road was the picnic area. The park was literally my playground and back yard. I constantly gave directions to visitors to the tomb and the park. From my house you walked by the old wading pool, down the first hill on the east end of the ponds, across the street and up the hill on the east side of the pavilion down the slight hill to the valley and the statue was on your right.
I miss the thought of Lincoln Park without a statue of Lincoln in it."
Restoration of the Original Entrance to Oak Ridge Cemetery
The photos below relate to the restoration of the original entrance to Oak Ridge Cemetery. That entrance is on a road between Oak Ridge Cemetery and Lincoln Park--originally North First Street. Lincoln's 1865 funeral procession followed that road alignment through the cemetery entrance. The entrance restoration plan calls for its completion in time for the re-enactment of the Lincoln funeral process early in May 2015 on the sesquicentennial of that historic event
Source: For the People: A
Newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association, ed. Richard E.
Hart, 16.3 (Fall 2014), 3.
The Abraham Lincoln Association,
Andrew O'Connor's statue of President-elect Abraham Lincoln at the east entrance of the Illinois Capitol: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/art/capstat.htm.
Author's community history website of Lincoln, Illinois: http://findinglincolnillinois.com/.
Author on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leigh.henson.
Author on LinkedIn: http://la.linkedin.com/pub/d-leigh-henson/16/1a5/923.
Author's article, "Max Bachman's Lincolns," including photos of his various Lincoln statues and busts, http://findinglincolnillinois.com/abestatueplan/bachmanslincolns12-12.pdf.
Carl Volkmann's Lincoln in Sculpture: http://books.google.com/books/about/Lincoln_in_Sculpture.html?id=h-VvQwAACAAJ.
Dave Bakke's column titled
"Should the Ugly Abe Buried in Lincoln Park Be Dug Up?":
Jamie Munks, "Oak Ridge Cemetery archway restoration benefits from donated labor, materials": http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140629/NEWS/140629393.
Lincoln Financial Foundation, "Lincoln Statue at the State House Draws Paper's Attack": https://archive.org/stream/statuesofabrahmlinc/statuesofabrahmlinc_djvu.txt.
Lincoln Park website of the
Springfield Park District:
http://www.springfieldparks.org/parks/lincoln/. From the Lincoln
Park website: "Lincoln Park on the north side of Springfield is an
88-acre site added to the park district in 1905. This is one of the
historic parks, developed as a terminus of the urban trolley line in
use at the time. Its design and many features date back to its
original development. This park is bounded by black Avenue on the
south, 5th Street on the east, Sangamon Avenue on the north, 1st
Street then Oak Ridge and Calvary cemeteries on the west.
Surrounding the park are established residential neighborhoods as
well as the State Fairgrounds to the northeast and Springfield
College and Ursuline Academy High School to the southeast."
Note: Springfield College is now Benedictine University:
The 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition website: http://lincolnfuneraltrain.org/ and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lincolnfuneral2015. (Plan to re-enact the Lincoln funeral on its sesquicentennial anniversary.)
"The Lincoln Statues of His First Namesake City and a Long-Range Plan to Brand It as the Second City of Lincoln Statues": http://findinglincolnillinois.com/lincolnstatueplan.html.