Email a link to this page to someone who might be interested. In
1853, Abraham Lincoln was the attorney for the founders of Lincoln, IL; and
he christened this first
namesake town with watermelon juice in a public
ceremony. The town's colors are
thus red and green.
(Note: Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it
was designed. Your computer's settings may alter the display.)
24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State
"superior achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
Here Lived Major American Writers: Poet Langston Hughes, Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr,
& Creative Writer William Maxwell, Who Wrote Many Stories Set in Lincoln,
Here also have lived
other creative writers whose publications describe aspects of Lincoln,
Illinois: William "Chilly" Childress, Lee Gurga, David
Kindred, Judge James A.
and Robert "Bob" Wilson (also movie critic of December Magazine,
1965-1983). Future editions of this Web site will present
and discuss more of these authors' works. In addition, several
historians have published material about Lincoln: Paul Beaver, Raymond Dooley, Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach, Paul
Gleason, James Hickey, William A. "Bill" Krueger, Judge Lawrence Stringer, and Stan Stringer.
This published literature and history make Lincoln,
Illinois, one of the most extensively written about communities in Illinois
outside Chicago. Moreover,
this Web site contains a lot of memoir written by Lincoln Community High
School alums. Please return occasionally for new information.
as of 4-15-04--"Samuel C. Parks: Distinguished Law Partner and Political
Ally of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln, Illinois."
as of 5-2-04, "Lionel P. Lacey: Abraham Lincoln's Lesser-Known Law Partner
in Lincoln, Illinois." Open Chapter-Page 3, and scroll to "Samuel C. Parks.
. . ." and to "Lionel P. Lacey. . . ."
. . .
with contributions from family, especially Uncle Gib Wilson, Stepmother Judy, and Father Darold
as well as friends,
Judge Bob Goebel, Mike Hamilton, Dave Johnson, Judge Jim Knecht, Mary Baldin Moore, Stan Stringer,
and Leon Zeter (others listed below).
Leigh Henson, a native of Lincoln, is a graduate of Lincoln
Community High School, Class of 1960;
was a teacher of English at Pekin Community High School (1964-1994); and is
now a tenured associate professor of English at Southwest Missouri State
University, Springfield, Missouri. Paradoxically, he lives in
self-imposed exile in the Ozarks, but remains a
"Lincolnite at heart." Email Leigh at
2003 — the Sesquicentennial Year of
Lincoln, Illinois: 1853-2003
150 Years of Living the American Experience
-- The Past Is But the Prelude --
never forget Lincoln, Illinois, because in a sense my writing career began
there in the eighth grade when I was elected class poet."
-- Langston Hughes, letter to Miss Ethel F. Welch, his 8th grade English
teacher, published in the Lincoln Evening Courier, August 31, 1953,
as I was concerned, the town of Lincoln was the Earthly Paradise."
-- William Maxwell, "With
Reference to an Incident at a Bridge" in All the Days and Nights
native Lincolnite; M.A., Harvard University; fiction editor of the New Yorker magazine for 40
years; and distinguished author. Recipient of the Brandeis Creative
Arts Award, the American Book Award, and the Howells Medal of the American
Academy of Arts and Letters.
aware that Sherwood Anderson writing about a similar though smaller place
saw it quite differently. I believe in Winesburg, Ohio, but I also
believe in what I remember."
William Maxwell, Ancestors: A Family History (1971),
"The truth is I feel my real roots are firmly planted
somewhere in Illinois farm ground - probably smack in the middle of a
-- Vic Gibson, LCHS Class of 1959,
metro Atlanta, GA, from an email message of 7-02.
Central Illinois Section of
the Illinois Department of Transportation's Map,
Illinois Historic Route 66: Where the Road Began (names of
cities added in various type sizes).
Office of Public Affairs
Illinois Department of Transportation
2300 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62764
"Dear Leigh, to paraphrase A.E. Housman a bit, 'Terence, this is splendid
stuff.' You don't have to be a history buff -- which I am -- to enjoy the
smooth flow and fascinating tidbits you've come up with. . . . And
just so you know I'm not stretching any truths, I am known as a cold-hearted S.O.B. when it comes to literary stuff. Which is why I loathe anything
having to do with that sappy crap .
. . ."
-- Unsolicited testimonial for this Web site from William Childress,
retired columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, author of three
books, 30+ stories, 200+ published poems, and freelance
writer (from email correspondence, March, 2003). He was nominated for
the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 and 1986 (dust jacket of Out of the Ozarks).
"A marvelous job--well written, thoughtful, telling. I will be
re-reading and re-reading it. Other towns should be so lucky. Very
-- Unsolicited testimonial from Curt Johnson, friend and colleague of Lincolnite Author Robert Wilson (LCHS Class of 1946),
editor and publisher of December Magazine and December Press since 1962, novelist (Song for Three
Voices), nonfiction writer (Wicked City Chicago), and editor of
milestone literary publications, including Green Isle in the Sea: An
Informal History of the Alternative Press, 1960-85 (from letters to DLH,
November and December, 2003).
In this central Illinois, historic community of
15,400, American democratic values and institutions have flourished since
its founding in 1853:
Like the statue below of
Lincoln, the Student, on the Lincoln College campus, the city of Lincoln
may be seen from various angles. Both statue and city grow more
distinct with the passing of time.
Merrell Gage's Bronze Statue,
Lincoln, the Student
The picture postcard photo above was taken soon
after the statue's dedication on May 27, 1961 (Lindstrom and Caruthers, Lincoln: The Namesake
College, p. 114).
· A rich
cultural and literary heritage; · Civic pride; · Effective mayoral-city council government; · Excellent public elementary and secondary
schools, private elementary school, and secular and
religious higher education; · Social and religious diversity; ·
Wide range of businesses, agriculture, and small
Dedicated professionals in education, law,
medicine, the ministry, real estate, and social services; ·
Traditional and contemporary neighborhoods; ·
Distinctive memorials, truly unique museums,
tree-shaded parks, and four-seasonal recreation; and ·
Commuting distance to Peoria,
Bloomington-Normal, Decatur, and Springfield (the state capital).
The combination and balance of these elements distinguish this community,
the seat of Logan County.
Lincoln lies about mid
way on I-55 (formerly Route 66) between Chicago and St. Louis and about
mid way between Bloomington to the north and Springfield, the state capital,
to the south.
Three major American
historic and cultural phenomena have enriched Lincoln, Illinois: Abraham
Lincoln, Route 66, and an extensive body of published history and creative
writing about this community.
Lincoln, Illinois, is the only city
named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous. Mr. Lincoln
christened the city, practiced law here, engaged in politics, and owned
property. His clients included the railroad company whose expansion
led to the founding of this town.
Route 66 was formed from the alignments of Illinois Route 4, an early highway
that paralleled the railroad, running between Chicago and St. Louis (see
IDOT map above at the right).
Lincoln is rich in remnants of historic Route 66.
Web site presents four original maps to guide your exploration of historic
A detailed map showing an overview of Route 66 throughout Lincoln,
Illinois, including more than 40 sites;
Another Early View of
Lincoln, the Student
Time and source unknown.
Lincoln, the Student,
· A map showing Routes 4 and
66 through the business district and neighborhoods of Lincoln, Illinois;
detailed map of the Logan County Courthouse Square Historic District,
including 51 additional sites; and
map with 28 locations of the Routes 4 and 66 region south of the city,
where they crossed Salt Creek and crested Cemetery Hill.
These maps may be printed for reference in
exploring the Route 66 remnants and other historic sites of Lincoln.
The photo below shows piers from a 1920s-era Routes 4
and 66 bridge over Salt Creek, just south of town and near Cemetery Hill.
The Statue Captures the
Man's Determination to Succeed
Leigh Henson photo, 6-02
Piers of 1920s Route 66 Bridge
Salt Creek at Lincoln, Illinois
(Leigh Henson photo, 12-01)
more photos and other information about this area, see link in the
left-panel navigation bar: 12.
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
the Highway Bridges, GM&O Bridge, Madigan State Park, the Old Dam, & the
Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell.
Affairs Purpose of This Web Site
This Web site has been created by a native Lincolnite as a
"distance" public service to educate viewers about
the rich heritage and promising future of Lincoln, Illinois. This
project has used the resources of Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU)
for online research. The central mission of this University is to
promote public affairs, and this Web site is intended to foster community
development by strengthening civic pride and increasing heritage tourism.
The Audiences, Content, and Scope of This
This site's audiences range from those who have
never heard of this city to those with a strong interest in it.
Readers include future
residents and tourists as well as former and current Lincolnites, especially
students. The aim of this site is to increase anyone's interest in Lincoln,
Illinois, and so an attempt is made to offer various kinds of content.
material here is serious, some humorous. Some of the content is derived from
dozens of published sources about the life of Abraham Lincoln and the
history of Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois, including railroad and
highway history. As an educational source, this site attempts to
follow fair-use practices and credit sources accurately. Individual
Web pages have citations for online and printed sources used or recommended
for additional information.
choosing and developing the content of this site, I am attempting to be
accurate and fair. Yet I admit to a favorable bias toward Lincoln, Illinois,
because my childhood and adolescent experiences there were essentially
positive. In an effort to provide an honest, balanced account, I speak
candidly about how I worked through some of my own youthful "mixed" views of my hometown
Web Site; & Me); and I quote other
writers who express social criticism (see
the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois).
"human interest" and to suggest the basis for my favorable view of
Lincoln, many pages in this site include brief memoirs and family history. I have created a separate Web site concerning my years at
Lincoln Community High School, and that site is titled For Remembrance,
Understanding, & Fun (link located in the
left-side navigation panel of each page).
"human interest" feature of this Web site is memoir from more than two dozen
mid-20th-Century alums of Lincoln Community High School. For the last
two years, they have used email to exchange stories and photos relating to
their youth in Lincoln, Illinois; and I have placed some of their messages
in appropriate places throughout this site. These contributors are
among those named under
Acknowledgments below. Some of these alums have "always" lived in
Lincoln; others are scattered throughout the United States, as you will see
in this site where I have identified them and their locations.
The writings of
William Maxwell set in Lincoln, Illinois, are essential to an understanding
of this city's place in American life. A significant portion of
Maxwell's writing relates to people, places, and experiences from his
childhood in Lincoln, Illinois. While reporting the history of
Lincoln, Illinois, throughout this Web site, I sometimes quote passages from
Maxwell's work concerned with Lincoln (eleven short-story length works, four novels, and a book-length family history). Additionally, I
supplement with photos and commentary on his Lincoln settings and
characters. A separate page in this Web site discusses Maxwell's
portrayal of society (5.
Social Class, Race, and the Question of Universality in William Maxwell's
Writings Set in Lincoln, Illinois).
The culture of
small-city Midwestern life in the early 20th Century; as well as
Maxwell's artistic methods and development.
front cover of Wilkinson's My Mentor: A Young Man's Friendship with
William Maxwell. Photo credit: Alfred Knopf and the
University of Texas at Austin.
For these reasons, this
site may be of use to students of William Maxwell and American literature. Most
importantly, my hope is that this Web site will encourage more people to
read his stories and novels, especially those set in Lincoln.
As this Web
site attempts to show, William Maxwell's readers
discover and enjoy complex and believable characters, moving scenes, and
perceptive insights into human nature and American life. Maxwell's
works are readily available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
The need for more
recognition of writers associated with Lincoln, Illinois -- Lee Gurga,
Langston Hughes, William Maxwell, and Reinhold Niebuhr -- is
discussed in an article titled "Dream Deferred" by
Maureen Foertsch McKinney published
online by Illinois Issues (December, 2001):
Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of
Lincoln, Illinois, helps to meet that need. Besides
offering information about Maxwell, this site also briefly discusses
Langston Hughes (see
the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois,and
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites, Descriptions, & Photos)
21. Churches). This Web site
also presents other creative writers and historians who published
material using Lincoln, Illinois, as subject matter.
Illinois, has the distinction of being one of the most extensively written
about communities in Illinois outside Chicago. The information about
these writers presented in this Web site will be of interest to students of
American literature.The published creative writing about this
community is significant for various authors' use of local color; realism
vs. romanticism; use of the past; themes of universal significance such as
identity, conformity vs. alienation, love, death, etc.; as well as literary
Audience Participation Invited
sincere wish is that you will find these Web pages worth while and that they
will spark additional interest. If you have lived in Lincoln and
have stories or photos relating to the history of this city, please consider
sharing them to help expand this Web site. Simply use the email link
below to let me know, and we will work out the details.
If you have not spent time in Lincoln and central Illinois, I
hope these Web pages will help persuade you to visit and explore these areas
so you can see firsthand how they help make our country great.
The Organization and
Navigation of This Web Site
The left margin of each page presents various topics that span most of this
community's history. The topics are used as links to their own Web
pages. By placing these topics in a navigation panel on each page, I am
trying to prevent readers from getting lost in this book-length Web site.
In these topics, we see the past living today and offering the promise of
future growth and development -- a central theme of this Web site.
For this reason, many (not all) of the photos in this
Web site depict places and things of the past remaining today.
it might seem that writing history is as simple as following chronology, but
chronology is not appropriate as the only organizing principle for the
extensive material that I used. Besides accommodating the Lincoln history
material, I sought to formulate an organization that would encompass links
to external Web sites, including links to Web pages that I composed prior to
my Lincoln history Web site. Thus, I organized the overall material by
dividing it into five categories, each consisting of several Web pages. The
first category concerns topics that are unique to Lincoln, Illinois, for
example, the town's connections to Abraham Lincoln and Route 66. The second
category consists of topics that are common to any community, for example,
factories, government, and museums and parks. The third category consists of
Web sites or pages I have created that relate to my autobiography, for
example, those about my childhood, my high school class, and my professional
life. The fourth category relates to the writing of other Lincolnites. This
category consists of Web pages I created about Lincoln's published writers
and Web sites created by other native Lincolnites about their hometown and
high school classes. The fifth category consists of external Web sites about
Lincoln, for example, those of the chamber of commerce, online newspapers,
and nonprofit tourism organizations.
Web pages in the first
two sections are numbered. Topics 1, 2, and 3 focus on Abraham Lincoln's
activities in this vicinity. Topics 4 and 5 provide overviews of social
history. Topics 6, 7, and 8 relate to the railroads and highways that
were essential to the development of central Illinois. Topics 9 and 10
portray the life of both sets of my grandparents, whose homes were on
Business Route 66 and whose lives were affected by this highway.
Topics 11 and 12 focus on the part of Route 66 immediately southwest
of Lincoln, an area that includes historic bridges, cemeteries, and parks.
Topics 13, 14, and, 15 relate to Business Route 66 near the business
district and the Logan County Courthouse Square Historic District, now on
the National Register of Historic Places. Topic 16 concerns another
building on the National Register of Historic Places in a traditional
neighborhood near the business district. The remaining numbered topics
-- or, chapters -- cover other key facets of the history of Lincoln,
Illinois, and are given roughly in alphabetical order. Chapter 37 depicts the 1953 Centennial Celebration of the
city of Lincoln -- a
touchstone event that lives in the memory of many "Lincolnites at heart" who
have contributed to this Web site.
Henson, June of 2003
Photo by his wife, Pat Hartman
Some pages in this site offer substantial visual
and verbal content, and their loading time requires a little patience.
I suggest reading while the images load.
About external links: I have checked and
re-checked external links, but Web sites change as often as the weather in
the Midwest. External links are keyed to open separate windows so that
when you close a page by clicking the x in the upper-right corner, you will
return to the previous page and not lose the site.
Contemporary Signs on Old Route 66
Greeting Visitors to the Namesake City
a 2001 Tree City
Honored by the National Arbor Day Association & the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources for its ongoing community forestry
Illinois: Member of the
Illinois Main Street Program Since 1994
A national program "to improve all aspects of downtown areas. . .
entrepreneurship, community cooperation, and civic concern"
Community sign photos by Leigh Henson
the Logan County Courthouse
Dome and Sunglow Balloon
in the Heart of Lincoln, Illinois,
the Seat of Logan County
(Courthouse dome photo from 1970 picture postcard
Balloon photo: lincolndailynews.com
Sunglow Sponsor: Graue Inc. Pilot: Jim Ireland
Graphics manipulation in Photoshop to place Sunglow near the dome)
Site publicly announced July 4, 2003.
Latest revision/expansion: June 23, 2004.
Acknowledgments: I am
grateful for the research assistance of my stepmother, Judy Henson; the
historical knowledge and experiences shared by my father, Darold Henson; and
the patient support, advice, and photographic contributions of my wife, Pat Hartman.
At the risk
of errors of omission, I also thank the following: LCHS 1960 classmate the Honorable
Goebel for helping me to discover William Maxwell, to other LCHS alums (many
listed in the directory of
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun) for encouraging me to do this Web site, and
especially to these Lincolnites at heart for their photos, memoirs, and/or
other historical information:
Historian Herb Altman, Postville Historian Willie Aughton,
Professor Paul Beaver, Realtor-Writer Linda (Sparks) Barrick, Counselor-Writer-Sage Fred Blanford,
Poet-Writer William "Chilly" Childress, Teacher Dorothea (Rich) Costa, Entrepreneur-Technologist Brad Dye, Historian
Nancy Hatfield Eichelberger, Historian J. Richard (JR) Fikuart, Humorist Jeff Fults,
Professor Dan Gaydosh, Author Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach, Beloved
Cousin-Writer-Humorist Jerry Gibson, Writer-Thinker Vic Gibson, Author Paul Gleason, Photographer-Canoeist Mike Hamilton,
Postville-Historian Chris Huff, Lincolnite-at-Heart Sylvia (Handlin) Husted,
Archivist-Historian Francine Jereb,
Teacher-Archivist Dave Johnson,
Jazz Musician-Writer Lynn Kavelman, Professor-Museum Curator Ron
Keller, the Honorable Judge-Writer Jim Knecht, Multi-talented Gwen (Lisk) Koda,
Beloved Cousin-Memoirist Keith Leesman, Vintage Picture Postcard Collector
Ron Lessen, the Honorable former state of
Illinois Senator Bob Madigan, Professor Joe Miller, Photographer Mary (Baldin) Moore,
Beloved Sister and Helicopteress Linda
(Henson, Nelson) Perry, Teacher-Technologist Norm Schroeder,
Author Stan Stringer, Journalist John Swingle, Postville Historian-Proponent
of Social Justice Les Van Bibber, Professor Joe Webb,
Innkeepers-Lincolnites D.D. and Bonnie Welch, Beloved Uncle and Writer Gilbert (Gib) Wilson,
Historian-Technologist Stu Wyneken,
and Archivist Leon Zeter. Other contributors and copyrighted sources are credited throughout this site.
(Let me know if I've missed your name, so I can add it -- Web publication
allows for easy revision.)
Deep gratitude goes to
several special sources: Fred Blanford (fred) and Stan Stringer for
the rare, prolific stories and photos they have generously contributed;
Mike Hamilton for the remarkable photos he took as a teenager in the 1950s; the
Courier in its various names; the G. Bradley Publishing Co. of St. Louis for permission to use copyrighted
material from Paul Gleason's Lincoln, Illinois: A Pictorial History (1998) and
from Paul Gleason and Paul Beaver's Logan County Pictorial History (2000).
publications of the G. Bradley Publishing Company contain many more photos and
information in captions than I have used from these works in this Web site.
Throughout this Web site, I include information about contacting the G.
Bradley Publishing Company, including its Web site address, so you can see the range of wonderful books
offered, and I encourage you to inquire about obtaining some of these
I am also
most grateful to Village Profile.com, Inc., of Elgin,
IL, for permission to use selected photos and text from the Lincoln/Logan County
Illinois Chamber of Commerce Community Profile & Membership Directory.
Material borrowed from this publication has been credited where used,
and the Web site address of Village Profile.com, Inc., is given in these
Artist-Historian David Alan Badger of 202 S. Plum St., Havana, IL 62644-1318
has generously given
permission for my use of several of his marvelous architectural descriptions
and artistic drawings of houses in Lincoln, Illinois, from his
self-published book titled The Badger Collection Featuring Lincoln of
Illinois (1987). Material borrowed from this publication has been
credited where used, and Mr. Badger's Web site address is given in these
book-length Web site is dedicated to my father, Darold Henson, in his 84th
year (b. September 17, 1918) and to the memory of my mother, Lydia Jane
(Wilson) Henson (1921-1978), both native Lincolnites and proud, life-long
citizens of their hometown. The following link provides biographical information about Darold Henson, including the article written by Ken Goodrich when Darold was
recognized as the Lincoln Evening Courier "Man of the Month" in May,
1977, upon his retirement from Lincoln Community High School:
This Web site
does not attempt to express the policies and positions of any public or private
organization affiliated with Lincoln, Illinois. The author of this Web
site wishes to be accurate and fair and will correct or refine content
according to reasonable requests.
Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois
Collaboration established with Mr. Richard Sumrall, Director of the Lincoln
Public Library (A Carnegie Library) and link to Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, &
Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois, placed (10-15-03) on the Lincoln
Public Library Web site at
Link placed on the Springfield Today page of Princeton Professor William
Howarth's Web site for his Springfield High School, Class of 1958:
http://www.princeton.edu/~howarth/SHS/, thanks to the effort of Dave
Johnson of the LCHS Class of 1956.
Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois,
was created with an education
that began in Lincoln, Illinois;
a curiosity about this hometown; and
the following technology:
Fuji QuickSnap photos;
Adobe Photoshop graphics editing;
IrfanView graphics file management;
FrontPage 2002; &
Ipswitch FTP; and
the Internet for
research of commercial databases for printed information,
email solicitation of information from friends and relatives,
Web site publication, and
Web site promotion
(think locally; act globally).
Viewable in Mozilla,
Netscape (later versions), and Opera;
but Internet Explorer is the recommended browser for this Web site.
Images of Abraham Lincoln as
During the Years of His Visits to the Lincoln, Illinois, Area (1839-1860)
Note: The "slideshow" of Abraham Lincoln that
follows takes a half minute or more to load. To supplement what may be a quirky slideshow, I follow it with a line-up of
its images (minus one). Some versions of Netscape do not display the slideshow
scrolling banner at the bottom.
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln,
(Or, correspond with me at P.O. Box 3127 GSS,
Springfield, MO 65808.)