Shelbyville in Shelby County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Traveling the Circuit
—Looking for Lincoln —
Taverns - - or Inns - - were the primary accommodation for the circuit traveler. Before arriving in Shelbyville, the judge and lawyers had a two-day journey from Paris, usually with an overnight stay in Charleston. Abraham Lincoln was one of the few attorneys who traveled the entire circuit; most lawyers practiced law in their home and neighboring counties. Judge David Davis often wrote his wife while traveling the circuit and complained about the road between Charleston and Shelbyville, noting that his “horses were very tired & Mr. Lincoln’s old horse nearly gave out.” Judge Davis frequently commented on conditions in Shelbyville. Davis wrote that Tackett’s “Tavern is good & eating first rate.” He was less kind, however, about another Shelbyville tavern: “The tavern in this place is kept by Woodward & is horrid.” While Davis often complained about the living conditions and food in many taverns across the Eighth Judicial Circuit, he thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie. The lawyers, state’s attorney, and circuit judge often stayed in the same rooms, sleeping several to a bed. Davis once noted that the Shelbyville tavern was “crowded desperately, and really I have not until this moment, had elbow room to write.”
The life of the itinerant circuit traveler was both lonely and enjoyable. At times, travel could be treacherous. During heavy spring rains, circuit travelers had to cross swollen streams and rivers and take shelter in farmhouses along the way. During one rainy period, Judge Davis passed the time in a Shelbyville tavern by playing Whist, a card game similar to bridge, with several others. Another time, he accompanied others in a fishing trip at a mill dam on the Kaskaskia River, and everyone participated in a fish dinner later. Commenting on Lincoln, Davis wrote that Lincoln “has not heard from his wife, since he left Springfield, but has no doubt they are all well, or he would have heard.” In another letter, he wrote “Lincoln speaks very affectionately of his wife & children. He is a very warm hearted man.”
Erected 2009 by Shelby County Office of Tourism, Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 39° 24.415′ N, 88° 47.401′ W. Marker is in Shelbyville, Illinois, in Shelby County. Marker is on East Main Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is East of the Shelby County Courthouse in Shelbyville, Illinois at the "Shelby County Visitors Center". Marker is at or near this postal address: 315 East Main Street, Shelbyville IL 62565, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Anthony Thornton (a few steps from this marker); First Commercial Pick-up Baler (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln-Thornton Debate / Lincoln Circuit (within shouting distance of this marker); Freedom Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Soldiers and Sailors Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln - Thornton Debate (within shouting distance of this marker); " Let's Debate " by John McClarey (within shouting distance of this marker); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shelbyville.
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. Use the “First >>” button in the upper right to see these markers in sequence, starting from Springfield. (Submitted on May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. 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 May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Categories. • Notable Events •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 911 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on May 17, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.