Homepage of "Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of Lincoln, IL"

Site Map


A Long-Range Plan to Brand the First Lincoln Namesake City as the Second City of Abraham Lincoln Statues

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville Courthouse,
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse

About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse, the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era


The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn

Introduction to the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois,
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht

"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06

Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in Billie Dyer and Other Stories

Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois

The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois: on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"


Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites, Descriptions, & Photos

The Hensons of Business Route 66

The Wilsons of Business
Route 66
including the Wilson Grocery & Shell Station

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), & the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell

The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past & Present

Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District

The Foley House:  A Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

Agriculture in
the Route 66 Era

Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
including the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the 1950s

Business Heritage

Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era

including the hometown churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

Factories, Past and Present

Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era


Hospitals, Past and Present

Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66 Eras

Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois

Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities


Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight Museum

with Distinction

News Media in the Route 66 Era

The Odd Fellows' Children's Home


Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble fountain of youth

A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of Lincoln, Illinois

Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era

The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois

The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois,
including photos of LCHS Class of 1960 dignitaries & the Blanfords

Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois, on October 11, 1950?

The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)


Pages in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away, revisits, and career:

About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me

A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge)

For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos related to Lincoln, Illinois)

Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001

Leigh Henson's Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography

Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography, Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski

Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois

Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of Lincoln, Illinois

Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life


Pages in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of other Lincolnites:

A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century

A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois

A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine, Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and Correspondent with William Maxwell

Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web Site,
including photos of many churches

Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois

J. Richard
(JR) Fikuart
(LCHS '65):
he Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of family fun at Lincoln Lakes

Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois, Memoirs & Other Stories

Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956

Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route 66 Era

Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era

William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information for His Books About Murders in Lincoln

Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories

Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois

Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht

Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953
including announcements of LCHS class reunions

(Post yours there.)


Highway Sign of
the Times:

The Route 66
Association of Illinois

The Illinois State Historical Society

Illinois Tourism Site:
Enjoy Illinois



   Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.  Your computer's settings may alter the display.

April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical Society  
  "superior achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater public"


Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois

    You can go home again.  Email Leigh Henson at DLHenson@missouristate.edu.

w24. Government

     Note: For information about Lincoln's battle with Dutch elm disease, scroll down the page to "Inside City Hall Today."

Figure 24.1: Sign Mounted on the Corner of City Hall,
Located in the Logan County Courthouse Square Historic District at Broadway and McLean Streets

   (Image adapted from photo in Chamber of Commerce Community Profile, inside front cover. Its use here is courtesy of VillageProfile.com of Elgin, Illinois.)
City Government

     A summary of the history of city government in Lincoln, Illinois, is Chapter 5:  "Government" in Paul Gleason's Lincoln: A Pictorial History (pp. 90-93).  The material emphasizes the administrations of mayors from the 1860s to the 1940s. Local politicians in photos of those pages include Robert Madigan, William Randolph, Joe Sapp (the latter two in Alvey's Drugstore conferring with Homer Alvey), and Judy Morrow.

24.2: 1907 Picture Postcard of City Hall, Constructed in 1886

24.3: Photo of City Hall Taken 10-01 by
Brad Dye, LCHS Class of 1960


     On the homepage, I write that Lincoln, Illinois, may be seen from different angles. The first two sections of this page show different perspectives on City Hall and are titled On Top of City Hall Yesterday and Inside City Hall Today.    
On Top of City Hall

     The first perspective concerns the unusual landmark of the telephone booth on top of City Hall. This phone booth was installed, I would guess, some time in the late 1950s or early 1960s by the Civil Defense folks to allow patriotic citizens to scrutinize the horizon for tornadoes and Russian MIGS. The phone booth is clearly visible in 24.3 above (wind from the west) and 24.4 below (wind from the east). Fortunately, one of the participating patriotic citizens is a contributor to this Web site project and offers his memory of the rigorous Civil Air Patrol activities that his friends and he experienced.

24.4: A Landmark on Top of Another Landmark:  City Hall with
Famous Telephone Booth on Roof for Civil Defense Surveillance in the Late Route 66 Era

(Photo by Fred Blanford, LCHS Class of 1959, February, 2003)

      In February of 2003, Fred Blanford emailed his short series on present-day homeland security to 160+ alums of Lincoln Community High School. The above photo was included.

     Fred writes,

     "Earlier this year when I received a package of negatives from Mike Hamilton [LCHS, Class of 1958] -- a few stirred some memories that gave rise to what I thought to be a possibly humorous series I could send out. I worried, however, that some might mistake my intent in these tense times in which we live.

     I will preface this all with the statements:  In the '60's I was inducted into the military service, served the prescribed time and when Honorably discharged -- even received a couple of "atta boys" for the record. Any ambivalence I had at the time had more to do with the way the campaign was being conducted than with the necessity for it -- leaving the decision as to the wisdom of the campaign to those with greater knowledge than I. At this time I am again ambivalent but the necessity seems considerably more apparent. With this series of notes + pics -- I do not intend to make a political statement -- only tweak you all to remember what were obviously "better times."

     My initial hesitance was finally overcome when I read yesterday's newspapers. In our youth (the '50's) part of Homeland Security was in learning the RULE--Duck and Cover. This RULE -- with all of the modern hi-tech science improvements that have been added since then IS NOW -- Duct and Cover with Visqueen. With the old rule -- no special equipment was required -- you had everything necessary with you. With the new rule, everyone needs to go to the local purveyors (a boost to the sagging economy no doubt) and purchase the materials necessary. The local merchants here were caught off-guard and thus do not have "emergency packets" made up -- so you must be ready to determine: 1) what grade duct tape you require -- home; utility; contractor's; or industrial and 2) which model visqueen you require -- will the simple "damp protection membrane" be sufficient or should you use the gas barrier or radon barrier models? I think I may (without further instruction) opt for the Zedex Hi-performance or Zedex Housing Grade -- believing you still "get what you pay for" in home protection.

     The city government has not been idle. They had previously upgraded our warning system for alerting the local population as to the danger level. The lanterns were exchanged for flashlights and they recently passed a resolution to seek bids for a six month supply of batteries.  The "warning level system" remains the same -- One if by land -- Two if by sea. See attached pic for "Old North Church" substitute. [Editor's note:  the "Old North Church" tower substitute -- from which Paul Revere got his clue -- is the tower on Lincoln's city hall, clearly visible in the photos above.]

     Civil Defense. Most everyone will remember the yellow and black stickers that advised of a building's suitability for "shelter" purposes -- they had been "hardened" (like the concrete-blocked the basement windows of the courthouse) and provisioned with "emergency supplies."

     The Eisenhower Interstate System incorporated the concept of making  portions of the nationwide highway system suitable for emergency aircraft landings -- or so I have been told.

     One initiative in which I participated was the Civil Air Patrol, which involved volunteers spending time on the roof of City Hall watching for airplanes -- and when one was spotted (with the use of government developed books with silhouettes at various altitudes) calling to an office (told it was in Springfield -- long distance before any of the current unlimited time/distance stuff) and reporting the kind, altitude and heading of each airplane spotted. This was considered a part of "Civil Defense" and the scout troop where I participated, encouraged us to participate in the program. Mike Hamilton was also one of the participants. If I am not mistaken -- the attached pic is of Hank Spellman scouring the skies for "suspect aircraft."

     In all of the time I participated -- we didn't have a phone booth. The phone was located on a shelf inside the door to the stairway by which we accessed the roof. This was not just a summer activity. Note the character of Hank's coat. It got pretty cold up there some days. You may also note his "supplies" bag against the wall. This could include snacks and a thermos.

     Of course, our participation did come in for some criticism when one summer day we "bracketed" the wrong car stopped at the stoplight below -- with water-filled balloons. Hey -- the frontline troops in Homeland Security need a little R&R every now and again too." --Fred Blanford (1941--2008), LCHS Class of 1959.

24.5: Patriotic Duty: Civil Air Patrolman Hank Spellman, LCHS Class of 1959, on
City Hall Roof Before Phone Booth Installation

      (Photo by Mike Hamilton)

     "When duty whispers low, 'thou must,' the youth replies, 'I can." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inside City Hall Today

     "The Lincoln City Government has sought to maintain the high quality of life which residents have become accustomed to through cooperation with local organizations, 'chamber of Commerce, Main Street, Logan County Government, businesses and prudent financial and development decisions.

     Lincoln has an alderman/ward type of government with a mayor-council system. The daily operations of the various municipal offices and department, includes Street and Alleys, Wastewater Treatment, Engineering, Building and Safety, Police and Fire Departments" (Chamber of Commerce brochure, p. 1).


24.6: City Council at Work

24.7: Arbor Day Foundation Award

     The photos above are from lincolndailynews.com. The caption of 24.7 reads "Donnie Osborne, Lincolnís street superintendent (left), and Alderman Dave Armbrust, chairman of the forestry committee, present to Mayor Beth Davis an official sign and a plaque naming Lincoln a certified Tree City USA."  [Photo by Joan Crabb].

     Note: Mr. Armbrust is a distinguished member of the LCHS Noble Class of 1960 and a contributor of numerous vintage business ads and picture postcards that appear in this online community history Web site. Many of them are available at http://findinglincolnillinois.com/davearmbrust.html.

     Some historical background for the Arbor Day Foundation Award helps to show its significance. Late in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, Lincoln, Illinois, gained a reputation as being a city of magnificent shade trees (several places in this Web site mention references to this distinction in the writings of William Maxwell). Many lawns and houses in Lincoln were shaded by elm trees, which lined nearly every street. Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach reports that as early as 1913, Lincoln, Illinois, had been nicknamed "The Forest City of Illinois. Her article titled "Pity Our Beautiful Trees" in Our Times, vol. 7, issue 1, spring 2002, pp. 8-9, is the most complete account of the elm trees of Lincoln and the Dutch elm disease that killed them.

24.8: Lincoln, Illinois: the Forest City of the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

(Picture postcard image provided by Mike Hamilton, LCHS Class of 1958)

    The plight of dead elms created two problems: the need for removal and the need for replacing with some hardier species of shade trees. Ms Gehlbach's article says that 1946 and 1947 saw about three dozen dead elms trees removed each year from city property. "In April of 1949 -- with an estimated 400 dead elms on city property and hundreds more on private lots -- Lincoln citizens passed a forestry tax of .05 per cent so the city could remove dead trees and spray uninfected tress with DDT" (p. 8). Treatment, however, generally proved ineffective. From the early 1940s to the 1960s, Lincoln's countless elms disappeared. Elm Park, across from the GM&O railroad depot, was left with unsightly stumps that were removed in 1949 by Eagles lodge members (p. 8). 

     The photo below showing removal of dead elm trees in Lincoln has been provided by J. Richard (JR) Fikuart, LCHS Class of 1965.

     J. Richard (JR) Fikuart writes (August, 2003):

     "Attached is a photo my Grandfather [Joshua] Fikuart took of the crew felling the elm trees around our house. It was probably taken from our back porch [across Ottawa Street from the First Presbyterian Church]; the high school is in the background. There were 7-8 elms around our house at 227 Pekin. All of them were lost. I believe Josh took this picture around 1947 - 1948. I was born in 1947 and never did get to enjoy the big trees, but the large walnut trees in our backyard were unaffected. I think they are still there though my family talked about selling them from time to time because they were so 'messy.'

     Grandfather and I used to watch the chimney swifts from the porch swing.  Each night they circled the yellow chimney on the school and then, one by one, would drop out of sight into the stack.  Grandfather peeled yellow delicious apples with his pocket knife and sliced them for me to eat as we watched. It was quite a ritual. (We also used to collect 'dog turds' from the backyard.  We placed them in a bushel basket with a slotted lid. Grandfather and I had rubber band gun design competitions and used the resultant weapons to shoot the flies that gathered on the lid.)

     Respond to J. Richard (JR) Fikuart at jfikuart@hughes.net.

24.9: Removing Dead Elm Trees at Mid 20th Century in Lincoln, Illinois

(Photo by Joshua Fikuart @1947? '48? or maybe even '49?)

     Note: The photo shows a piece of machinery improvised by resourceful Lincolnites.  The bed of a truck has been equipped with a crane and winch to hoist logs for loading into a nearby truck bed (at left of photo). I see a crew of indeterminate number. Are the men in front of the truck -- one a walking blur --  members of the crew or curious observers?

     The photo also shows the 1900 yellow-brick Lincoln High School and its parking lot. Beyond the parking lot is the athletic field that was across from the school on Broadway Street.  In the center background is the Immanuel Lutheran Church, and at the far right background is the spire of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.

     With the loss of so many shade trees, Lincolnites Carl Hembreiker and Violet Scully were instrumental in beginning effective tree plantings that continue today and have led to the Arbor Day Foundation Award cited above. The recent award symbolizes Lincoln's city fathers and mothers' commitment to continuing a tradition that has helped to distinguish this community.

     The photo below shows a contemporary view of the same intersection -- College Avenue and Tremont Street -- as seen in the 19th Century view of 24.8 above, when most of the trees were elms:

24.10: Lincoln, Illinois: The Forest City Lives in 2003

(Photo of College Avenue and Tremont Street provided by Fred Blanford, LCHS Class of 1959)

     The photo at right further demonstrates the effectiveness of Lincoln's political leaders.    Second from the left is former state Senator Robert Madigan of Lincoln, LCHS Class of 1960. He also graduated from Millikin Univeristy.

      The caption of the photo at right says, "Sen. Bob Madigan was at the Logan County Safety Complex this morning to distribute new portable defibrillators to 45th District sheriff departments. Pictured: Mason County Sheriff Richard Walker, Sen. Bob Madigan, Woodford Sheriff Bill Myers, Tazewell Sheriff Robert M. Huston, DeWitt County Deputy T.H. Collins and Logan County Sheriff Tony Soloman."

     Senator Madigan had a distinguished career in public service that began with his role as city clerk in Lincoln. He entered the Senate in 1987 and resigned in 2001 to serve on the Illinois Industrial Commission.  He is now retired.

24.11:State Senator Robert Madigan and
County Sheriffs

    (Photo and story from lincolndailynews.com, June 1, 2001)

    Note to Lincolnites:  As a state Senator, Bob Madigan was a key sponsor of legislation in the mid 1990s that gave Illinois public school teachers the opportunity to take early retirement. In 1994, I thus retired from 30 years of teaching English at Pekin Community High School in order to begin a second career teaching technical communication at Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU). My second teaching career created the opportunity for me to teach myself how to design, write, publish, and promote a Web site. At MSU, where the central mission is promoting public affairs, I got the idea to combine my interests in Web site development and public service. The result is this Web site.  Thanks, Bob. 

24.12: City Officer and Assistant

(Photo and text below are adapted from Lincoln/Logan County, Illinois. Use of this content is courtesy of VillageProfile.com of Elgin, Illinois.)

The Lincoln Police Department involves

∑   Community policing activity

∑   A DARE unit and K-9 unit

∑   Participation in multi-county drug task-force

∑   Neighborhood Watch

∑   Citizen Police Academy

∑   Violence Education Gang Awareness (VEGA)

∑   Charitable activity such as "Children Ought to Have Presents at Christmas"


24.13: Central Fire Station at City Hall

(Photo and text below are adapted from Lincoln/Logan County, Illinois. Use of this content is courtesy of VillageProfile.com of Elgin, Illinois.)

The Lincoln Fire Department has

∑   A fire insurance rating of 6 and a 100-foot aerial ladder truck

∑   Three fire engines and a rescue squad

∑   Trained Emergency Medical Technical Service personnel

∑   Two jaws of life

∑   A defibrillator

∑   Safety house education program

∑   Training in hazardous material handling

     Above text adapted from Chamber of Commerce brochure titled Lincoln/Logan County Illinois. Information is courtesy of www.VillageProfile.com of Elgin, Illinois.

24.14: Plaque on the
City of Lincoln Warehouse

24.15: Name Plate above Garage Doors Reads "City of Lincoln Warehouse"

     The above photos were taken by Stan Stringer in the summer of 2002. These photos show the City of Lincoln warehouse, built in 1938 and 1939 by the Work Progress Association (WPA). The building is located on Hamilton Street across from the Logan County jail. This is the kind of curious structure that is somewhat transparent to many past and present Lincolnites because we have seen it countless times and have just taken it for granted as part of the scene. 

     Stan writes, "As a kid of 4 and 5, I watched the building being built from the front window of our house on Pekin Street. I liked the color and thought it quite pretty. Regrettably, the tile bricks are beginning to fragment, and so I think this landmark will end up being razed."

     Respond to Stan Stringer at sstringer@cox.net.

24.16: City Garage Side View

(Photo by Fred Blanford, 2-03)

Edward Madigan Post Office Building

     Before the facility pictured below was constructed in 1910, postal services were housed in various buildings in the courthouse square area. According to Stringer, Congress in 1907 appropriated $75,000 for a post office building in Lincoln. "As a site for the new post office, the government on Nov. 7, 1907, closed a deal for what was known as the Sheer corner, cornering on Broadway and McLean Streets. The work of excavation for the building began in the spring of 1910. The building is a one story structure with a large basement, fronts 65 feet on McLean street and 80 feet on Broadway" (p. 583).

     To honor Lincolnite Edward R. Madigan, former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture under President George Herbert Walker Bush, Congress passed legislation on July 9, 1996, to designate this post office as the "Edward Madigan Post Office Building" (Federal Register Internet Library Services  Web site address in Sources Cited).

24.17: Rare Sepia-Tone Picture Postcard of the 1910 US Post Office, Named the Edward Madigan Post Office Building in 1996



24.18: Edward Madigan Post Office and
IOOF Building in 2002

     (Leigh Henson photo, 6-02, an evening shot, so no cars in the way)

Scene on the Post Office Steps from William Maxwell's Time Will Darken It

     All of Chapter 10 of Time Will Darken It takes place on the Lincoln Post Office steps. There, Nora Potter encounters Attorney Austin King as he emerges from "the revolving door."  She prolongs their conversation because she is in love with him, although he is married. "Though he was glad to see her now, if he had had a chance to choose where they met, it would not have been in so public a place as the steps of the post office."  Several people he knows pass by, and he suggests they talk in his office. She says in his office she would "just rattle on and on," but that is exactly what she does on the steps.

     She had begun the conversation by denying her love for him, but then drifts into a rambling account about "how wonderful you are." She even begins to describe in detail a dream she had of him the night before. Austin stands quietly listening:  "his eyes rigidly on her face, he heard very little of it." He was hoping she would realize he had work to do.

24:19: Steps of the Post Office, Where Nora Potter Prolonged Her Conversation with Attorney Austin King

     (Leigh Henson photo, 12-01; it was a dark and cloudy day during Christmas season when I took this photo.)

     Mrs. Jouette's "shiny black surrey" stops in front of the post office. She asks "the sad-faced girl [sitting] beside her" who is standing on the steps and is told it is Austin King.

     Mrs. Jouette says in disbelief, "It can't be," but is assured it is.

     "Seeing the old lady's lorgnette trained upon him, Austin lifted his hat and bowed. The bow was returned, but without any accompanying smile of pleasure, and old Mrs. Jouette turned her attention to the courthouse lawn" [across the street in the opposite direction] (pp. 208-213).

     To suggest the implications of this scene, let me cite some passages in the first chapter of Part V: The Province of Jurisprudence," which is a few chapters after the one summarized above.  Nora and Austin become subjects of local "history" -- meaning gossip (p. 247). In addition to townspeople's conversations in the backyard, church, and bedroom, on the front porch, and over the telephone, there were the bridge club meetings:

     "With their hats on and their shoes pushed off under the card table, their voices rising higher and higher, their short-range view of human events becoming crueler and more malicious as they doubled and redoubled one another's bids, made grand slams, and quarreled over the scoring. No reputation was safe with them, and only by being present every time could they hope to preserve their own. The innocent were thrown to the wolves, the kind made fun of, the old stripped of the dignity that belonged to their years. . . . They say was the phrase invariably used when a good name was about to be auctioned off the block. They say that before Dr. Seymour married her she was running around with. . . .," etc. (p. 248).

     "By December the historians had gathered together all the relevant facts about Austin King's young cousin from Mississippi, knew that she was madly in love with him, and were not surprised when he took her into his office" [to study law] (p. 249).

     "When they met as a group, they slipped all pity off under the table with their too-tight shoes, and became destroyers, enemies of society and of their neighbours, bent on finding out what went on behind the blinds that were drawn to the window-sill" (p. 249).

     This passage shows explicit, even harsh, satire --  curiously untypical of its author, who is often described as sympathetic to his characters.

     To what extent will the historians' work affect Nora, Austin, and their families? All of Maxwell's novels are worthy of being made into film, but none have  been. The author was opposed to his novels being made into movies. So, the alternative is to read them, and your local library probably has some. Or, buy them at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

24.20: Rare, Colorized Picture Postcard of the
Courthouse Square from the Post Office Steps

     I was amazed and delighted when I found the picture postcard above. It shows, by a happy coincidence, a view very similar to that Austin would have had of the courthouse square as he stood on the post office steps and looked past Nora. The cars in the photo suggest the scene is from just a few years after the scene in the novel in which horses and buggies are mentioned. Time Will Darken It is set in 1912; the above scene is apparently later in the 1910s. The three-story, red-brick Gillett Building appears in the center background.

A Former County Government Service and Its Lost Facilities

     In September of 2002, the State of Illinois closed the Lincoln Developmental Center, and this loss was a shock to Lincoln and all of Logan County. Perhaps this closing shows less willingness of American society to finance social services or perhaps it shows that social change involves finding new ways to meet the needs of special groups of people who are less fortunate than most or perhaps it is both.

     One of the social services whose responsibility traditionally fell to county governments was taking care of destitute people. These institutions were called "poor houses" or "poor farms," and Logan County had one, as the following photos show. 

     Fred Blanford first called our attention to this institution, as he sent two photos and text. I present the photo below before the two photos and text supplied by Fred because I believe the first photo predates the others.

24.21: The Main House of the Logan County Farm

(Photo from Lincoln Evening Courier, Centennial Edition, August 26, 1953, p. 10)

The Same Building Some Years Later

24.22: Logan County Poor Farm Main House in 1905

(Photo provided by Fred Blanford)

     Fred wrote in May of 2003:    

     Shooting in the dark here. Logan County still owns some farm ground that is commonly referred to as the "County Farm." My recollections of the thing do not include any buildings. If I had to use a shorthand phrase to denote how my fuzzy memory recalls just what it was -- I would probably call it the "Poor House." To make clear a point another had confused when I was discussing this with them -- this is not the "farm" that was a part of  LSS&C. If I am not mistaken, this [poor farm] is down the road (West) of the Scully Home out North of town.

     It apparently existed then (and the farm rent may be used for a similar purpose today??) to provide some "aid" and "meaningful employment" for persons in the community that had fallen on hard times. In my lifetime, I do not recall it as being a residential program -- however one of the "outbuildings" that is not shown in this clip would have had little utility for a farm -- looking more like a dormitory facility. The attached [24.22] I have characterized as the "Main Building" which may or may not have held administrative offices, kitchen, and dining hall.  If you have never heard of the County Farm -- that indicates good fortune for you -- as those who have may have had relatives that once needed the service it existed to provide.  As recent news has advised all of us, there are still places in the world where potable water is not as near as the kitchen tap and dinner is more problematic than just deciding what and how soon. This "farm" was what they today call "infrastructure" for providing for those in need.

     Should Leigh decide to include some information in his soon to be opened site, I will see that he is provided further and more authoritative information on this subject. I may or may not send along other crops from the larger photo -- partially dependent on whether Leigh is interested in further info.

     The pic attached is from the center portion of a panoramic photo that is displayed in the Logan County Treasurer's Office. Mary Ellen Bruns (the Treasurer) was kind enough to allow me to scan the photo.  It was provided to the County courtesy of Betty Verderber (I believe), and my understanding is she or someone who helped see to its display is relative to one of the Committee Members (James Burns) listed on the matting for the photo.

     I recently found a postcard that was dear in my memory. Whether or not I email it soon may depend on how soon the "thunderbumper" that roused me this morning allows me to resume my night's sleep.

24.23: Another Building of the Logan County Poor Farm

(Photo provided by Fred Blanford)

     A little more information/speculation to go along with another segment of the panoramic picture of the County Farm. The caption on the matting indicates the picture was taken in 1905. From other information I have gathered, the Committee Member listed on the caption, James Burns, was also a County Board Member on or about that time. The caption further identifies Edward F. Spellman (not our former modern-times mayor Edward L. Spellman) as the "Supt."

     In my (probably I could safely say "our") lifetime(s) I have seen residential housing "progress" (?) through the post WWII "built to govt. specs. -- VA financed" minimalist abodes -- on to the urban sprawl "3 bdrm ranch" -- to the current seemingly outsized homes in modern developments. Even by current standards, the building pictured in the first crop is very large. Much larger than the "four up/four down" larger homes of the time -- it was a substantially built brick two and a half stories. Rather bodacious for a farmer. The crop attached will show a portion of the main building on the right to help visualize the cluster of buildings that made up the farm. While not quite as clear, the right wall of this building gives me the impression of being another brick structure. A two story building with basement -- it would appear to be unnecessary for operation of an ordinary farm. I have opined it may have been residential quarters for the participants. It is the mid-sized building of the three two story structures that make up this cluster.

  Some feedback.

     I am told the rental from the tenant that currently farms the ground for the landlord/county -- goes into the county aviation fund -- or whatever takes care of airport expenses -- with aid of the sort provided then -- now being provided by federal/state government grants and individual donations.

     A remarkably similar structure (today some refer to these as "cookie cutter" buildings done for the govt. and to govt. specs.) exists in Menard County and is on ground formerly constituted as their County Farm. Additionally -- a relative of the informant had "gone there" to reside in her later years (after that one had been converted for nursing home use) and had indeed lamented "going to the poor house." That structure apparently still exists today although other uses have been found for it -- believed to be sometimes used as housing for "Summer Stock" actors employed at the nearby New Salem for their summer presentations.

     I am reliably informed (at least the main building) still existed down to relatively recent times. One source recalls seeing it while on "road trips." I might discount this report because of the beer consumed on these trips and the age of the tripees -- but a further source has informed me of the identity of the last tenant (definitely not an aid case -- they were farming the ground and occupying the building -- a common practice in Logan County) and I will rely on Linda Barrick to get further information on this aspect from her co-worker.

     I appreciate hearing from all. The anecdotes add to the lore -- as I know it, but I believe there may be a wider audience that would also appreciate the individual remembrances. I would encourage responders to address their comments to "all." I would liken my experience with recollections to an item I purchased for our kid many years ago. It was called the Mouse Trap Game or some such thing. In any case, you started a ball rolling and it would "trip" subsequent actions/reactions in a rather Rube Goldberg sort of  progression. One remembrance uttered may well "trip" another in others -- and on and on.

     Again --feedback -- I am informed one participant tried to respond "to all" and had the mailing refused by her server for "too many addressees." I am also aware that some servers (or programs) don't accept the initial mailings -- deemed "not business mail." I suspect these are "anti-spam" efforts in some instances -- and applaud same. However -- I do correspond with many on the "master list" on a one-to-one or one-to-some basis -- and suspect that you folks do too. Having trouble with responding to all -- then select a few you are closer with -- and respond to those only. This is an "opt-in" group. Folks don't want your email or mine -- they can fix it. As for all the others -- some are shy -- some may think (mistakenly so) their remembrances are not relevant or that they are wrong or weird or who knows. Pass on your thoughts or remembrances -- and let the recipients sort it out.

     I think Leigh is trying to put together a "community" of folks from Lincoln that like to chat about . . . . I just deleted a line and half of what I can only describe as "stream of consciousness" words. How do you succinctly describe a chat? I will leave it at that. Until later--the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise--do take care. fred

Mary L. (May) Wilson, LCHS Class of 1948, Remembers the Logan County Farm

     In June of 2007, my Aunt Mary emailed me her recollection of the Logan County Farm:

     "My aunt and uncle were Sam and Ethel Hasenmyer. They were administrators of the County Farm when I was about 12 years old. I spent a lot of time there as a kid. The grounds were beautiful. There was a long lane leading up to the main grounds. The grass was kept well manicured, and the white fences on either side were kept painted. The farm was huge. They still had work horses, and I loved to watch them.

     The main house was where my aunt and uncle lived. The two upper rooms were for the family. None of the residents lived there. They lived in the other two houses. They usually had only one room.

     The men who worked the farm with my uncle ate in the basement of the main house.  There was a huge kitchen, and I helped serve one day. When you went in the side door of the main house, you had about two or three steps to go down, and then you were in a huge kitchen. There were huge stoves and sinks and always someone washing dishes. Going right thru the kitchen was a large room with a large table for the men who came in. To the left was the serving area, with serving windows. The men came thru and picked up their food. I was scared to death of all these old men. (I faintly recall having to take an elevator up to the third floor, but some in my family said I was imaging it.) We would take meals to the residents who could not come to the dining hall.

     In the summer of 1941 or '42, we had a picnic in honor of the graduation of my cousin from the Air Force Academy. It was held at the County Farm. My cousin and I hid in the grass at the end of the lane waiting for him to come. We had a huge gathering of family that day. Good memories."

     Respond to Mary L. Wilson at mlw1930@verizon.net.


Sources Cited

     Arbor Day Foundation Award story and photo at

     Federal Register contains databases to search for documentation on the naming of the Madigan Post Office: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html

     Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence.  "Pity Our Beautiful Trees." Our Times, vol. 7, issue 1, spring, 2002.

     Gleason, Paul. Lincoln, Illinois:  A Pictorial History. St. Louis, MO:  G. Bradley Publishing Co., 1998. Material from Mr. Gleason's books is copyrighted with all rights reserved.  Mr. Gleason's material used in this Web site is with permission from the G. Bradley Publishing Company, 461 Des Peres Road, St. Louis, MO 63131. Call 1-800-966-5120 to inquire about purchasing Lincoln, Illinois:  A Pictorial History (1998) (200 pages of rare photos and text) or Logan County Pictorial History (2000) (also 200 pages of rare photos and text).  Please visit http://gbradleypublishing.com/.

     Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce Community Profile and Membership Directory.  No date or place of publication.   Photo and textual information courtesy of Village Profile.com, Inc., 33 N. Geneva Street, Elgin, IL 60120.  Please visit the Web site of this remarkable company at http://www.villageprofile.com.

     Madigan presentation of defibrillators at http://archives.lincolndailynews.com/2001/Jun/01/index.shtml

     Maxwell, William.  Time Will Darken It.  NY:  Vintage Books, Inc., 1948.  William Maxwell's
     books are available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

     Stringer, Lawrence B. History of Logan County Illinois (1911). Reprinted by UNIGRAPHIC, INC., Evansville, IN:  1978.

     Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions. 
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln, Illinois:

"The Past Is But the Prelude"

The founding fathers of this town asked their attorney, Abraham Lincoln, for permission to name this new community after him, and he agreed.  On the first day lots were publicly sold--August 27, 1853--, Abraham Lincoln, near the site of the train depot, used watermelon juice to christen the town as Lincoln, Illinois.  It thus became the first town named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous.