“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pittsfield in Pike County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Printer's Devil

Looking for Lincoln

The Printer's Devil Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Emily Pursley, December 29, 2018
1. The Printer's Devil Marker
Inscription.  When John George Nicolay was sixteen years old, a friend showed him an ad in The Pike County Free Press newspaper dated May 11, 1848. It advertised for "An intelligent boy, 14 to 17 years of age, who can read and write, to learn the Printing Business." Nicolay walked from White Hall to Pittsfield and immediately gained employment as a printer's devil. He met his future wife, Therena Bates, just hours after arriving in Pittsfield. After Zachariah Garbutt, who took him into the newspaper business, retired from the paper, Nicolay eventually became the sole proprietor of the Free Press. Nicolay would live for a period of time here in the Garbutt Home. After he moved to Springfield, it was on a return visit to Pittsfield that he wrote and article believed to be the first to suggest Abraham Lincoln for president on the Republican ticket. When Lincoln was elected sixteenth President of the United States, John Nicolay was asked to served as Lincoln's private secretary.

The Free Press Office was located on the east side of the Public Square in Pittsfield. This Pittsfield building was the first journalistic workplace
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for John George Nicolay, who later became secretary to the sixteenth president. In collaboration with Lincoln's other secretary, John Hay, Nicolay, wrote a famous biography of the slain president. The building was taken down in November, 1914.

According to Dr. Wayne C. Temple, perhaps John George Nicolay's most important contribution to Lincoln's nomination for President was an editorial for The Pike County Journal newspaper, which came out on May 10, 1860 in Pittsfield. In it he outlined the difference between Henry Clay's and Lincoln's stand on slavery and other matters. This piece was intended to win support for Lincoln in southern Illinois, Missouri, and other places where this paper circulated by exchange. Actually, Nicolay had sent it in without signing his name to it. Just six days later, the Republican Nominating Convention met in Chicago (with Nicolay in attendance). Certainly some of the delegates had read Nicolay's concise editorial, and on May 18, 1860, Lincoln was nominated for President. Soon after May 18, Lincoln asked John George Nicolay to be his private secretary in Washington, D.C.
Erected by The Abe Lincoln Project and Looking for Lincoln in Pike County.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications
John Nicolay's House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Emily Pursley, January 7, 2019
2. John Nicolay's House
Government & PoliticsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is May 11, 1848.
Location. 39° 36.413′ N, 90° 48.004′ W. Marker is in Pittsfield, Illinois, in Pike County. Marker is on East Washington Street (Illinois Route 106) east of North Illinois Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pittsfield IL 62363, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Michael J. Noyes House (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Charles Lame House (about 700 feet away); The Shastid House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Site of the Daniel H. Gilmer Home and Law Office. (approx. ¼ mile away); Site Of The Free Press Newspaper (approx. ¼ mile away); Star Hotel (approx. ¼ mile away); In Memoriam (approx. ¼ mile away); Veterans Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pittsfield.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 14, 2019, by Emily Pursley of Pittsfield, Illinois. This page has been viewed 293 times since then and 87 times this year. Last updated on January 17, 2019, by Emily Pursley of Pittsfield, Illinois. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 14, 2019, by Emily Pursley of Pittsfield, Illinois. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jul. 14, 2024