Near Homer in Champaign County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
On The Bloomington Road / The Clark Neighborhood
Looking for Lincoln
The Fort Clark Road, later known as the Bloomington or State Road, was an important artery for commerce between Danville and Urbana. The road was first approved in 1826 by the Illinois Assembly. It was the first state road into western Vermilion County, which in 1833 became Champaign County. The map at left is the original 1820's survey map from the state line (right) to Big Grove (Urbana). The road was resurveyed by Moses Thomas in 1835, and Prather’s Ford across the Salt Fork was abandoned in favor of Strong’s Ford to the south. In 1849, Strong’s Ford became Kelley’s Ford, the inn becoming a frequent stop for Abraham Lincoln on the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
Abraham Lincoln was a frequent traveler on this road from the late 1840's until 1859, defending clients in the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Illinois. In 1849 the Eighth Judicial Circuit covered an area of 11,000 square miles, later being reduced in size as the population of central Illinois increased. Court sessions were held generally in the spring and fall with terms in regular order allowing the judge and attorneys
The first surveys of this area in 1820 and 1821 revealed the land to be grasslands dotted with groves and ponds. The original trails were made by migratory herds and native peoples. The later Bloomington Road was heavily traveled, and the clay soils of Champaign County sometimes made travel in the spring and fall - by horseback or wagon - impossible. In 1915, the Alliance Chapter of the Daughters of American Revolution began a project to recognize the State Road as a historical trail and later formed the Abraham Lincoln Circuit Marking Association. On October 12, 1923, the Champaign - Vermilion county line marker was dedicated, and Senator William B. McKinley spoke at the dedication. The trail was also marked by the Prairielands Council of the Boy Scouts, and a hiking trail from Homer Lake to Kickapoo
The Clark Neighborhood
The 1847 A New map of Illinois by Samuel Augustus Mitchell (at left) shows the village of Union on the Bloomington Road between Danville and Urbana. Mitchell’s map was published in Philadelphia, and it included proposed canals and roads, as well as distances between points on the stage and steamboat routes. Lincoln’s travels in the late 1840's until 1859 followed the routes shown on this map. The Saline [Salt] F[ork] crossing of the Bloomington Road to the west was known as Strong’s Ford, later Kelley’s Ford.
When Abraham Lincoln traveled through here on the 8th Judicial Circuit, the surrounding area was being settled by Moses Thomas and later by Michael D. Coffeen. Thomas was the first postmaster in the area, building a cabin (just east of this sign) and a mill and dam on the Salt Fork River (further south). He established the Union Post Office in his cabin in 1833. However at the site of his mill, Thomas founded the town of Homer with Michael D. Coffeen. Union would remain a post office until it was moved to Coffeen’s store in 1841 and renamed Homer. While Moses and his son John Thomas were ardent Democrats, Coffeen supported the founding of the Republican Party in Homer. He served as a senatorial delegate to the Republican convention in 1856, and supported not only
By 1856, Abraham Lincoln used the Great Western Railroad for much of his journey, still visiting with his friends at Kelley’s tavern. This same railroad inspired the residents of Homer in February 1855 to move their homes and businesses over a mile, dragging them on skids pulled by oxen, to meet the new tracks. The move was a financial windfall to Michael D. Coffeen who owned much of the land nearby.
Another early landowner, George Ziegler Clark, settled in this vicinity after the post office was moved from Union to Homer in 1841 and worked ambitiously to clear and cultivate the virgin prairie and groves he found here. Today, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District protects the wooded areas and the Salt Fork River while restoring the prairie in its Homer lake Forest Preserve, on land once known as the Clark neighborhood.
Erected 2009 by Homer Hist. Society, Champaign County Forest Preserve, South Homer Township, and the Village and People of Homer.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 40° Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Homer IL 61849, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Beginning of the Lincoln Circuit Trail (a few steps from this marker); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (approx. 2.3 miles away); Lincoln at Kelley's Tavern (approx. 3.7 miles away); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District / A Friend of Lincoln (approx. 4.8 miles away); Potawatomi Trail of Death (approx. 5.3 miles away); a different marker also named Potawatomi Trail of Death (approx. 5½ miles away); Abraham Lincoln Forded Stony Creek (approx. 8.4 miles away); Site of German Lutheran Immanuel Church (approx. 11.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Homer.
Also see . . .
1. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincoln’s buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling Illinois as Circuit Lawyers. See all the Lincoln Circuit Markers (and a surprise or two), in the order of his travels while a member of the Circuit of the Eighth Judicial District (of Illinois) during 1847-1857. (Submitted on October 30, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on October 30, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day...". (Submitted on October 30, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 28, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 30, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,565 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on October 30, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.