Mahomet in Champaign County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln's Mahomet / Mahomet's Lincoln
Looking for Lincoln
The village of Middletown-Mahomet was platted by Daniel Porter in 1832 on the west bank of the Sangamon River near its headwaters. The main street of the village was actually a new road, made necessary by the location of the county seat at Urbana. The state road was moved to the south of the old Fort Clark Road. This change made Newcomís Ford (on the northeast) obsolete and, thus, created a new ford near where the old railroad bridge stands today. The main street of Mahomet was once part of the Bloomington Road, reflected in its diagonal orientation, which would have made it align with the river and its ford.
Middletown or Mahomet? The young lawyer Abraham Lincoln in his travels on the Eighth Judicial Circuit actually visited both places. Lincoln arrived here when the town was called Middletown and visited later as it became Mahomet. Middletown, founded in 1832, was so named because it was the half-way point on the new Danville-Bloomington Road. However, by 1840, when a post office was granted to the growing community, “Mahomet”
For many years the town did, in fact, use both names. Middletown-Mahomet became a convenient stopping point for Abraham Lincoln and his colleagues on the Eighth Judicial Circuit. Lincoln typically came from the direction of the west, in the early years from DeWitt County, and later from Piatt County, on his way toward Urbana, the Champaign County seat. In an era with no bridges, Lincolnís horse-drawn cart or buggy found the Sangamon River easiest to cross at Bryanís Ford.
The Bryans, in-laws to the landholding Busey family, opened their home to travelers on the east side of the ford. That home would later become the Ohio or Nine Gal Tavern under the proprietorship of Thomas Davidson. So named for Davidsonís nine red-headed daughters, the Nine Gal also hosted Abraham Lincoln between 1853 to 1856.
Legend has it that, when Abraham Lincoln passed through, he liked to bounce little Jimmy Davidson on his knee. Another Mahomet inn, the Bloomfield or Rea Tavern (north and west of Mahomet proper) was operated by Sarah Rea. The Rea tavern had two floors and its ceiling was so low that, when Lincoln went up to sleep in the second story, he had to duck his head to pass through the narrow overhead
B. F. Harris brought the first mower, reaper, carriage, organ, and cooking stove to Champaign County. When Middletown-Mahomet needed a doctor, he traveled to Ohio to learn a bit of the physicianís art and bring home medicines. He also introduced the first sawmill - - and brought the necessary workers to run it - - in order to build his frame house, in which Lincoln visited from 1852 to 1854.
When B. F. Harris went to Washington in 1861, it was to encourage his longtime friend Abraham Lincoln in his war efforts. Harris also visited with Mary Todd Lincoln and the boys and attended a cabinet meeting during his visit to the nationís capital. When in Middletown-Mahomet, Lincoln dined at the Harris home, situated south and west of the town. Lincoln undoubtedly banked at the Cattle Bank (in Champaign), a bank in which B. F. Harris was a silent partner. Later, Harris would begin the First National Bank of Champaign.
B.F. Harris arrived in Champaign County before the tall-grass prairie could easily be plowed. Harrisí fortune was made by profitably grazing cattle on the same unyielding prairie. He accumulated large landholdings in Piatt and Champaign Counties and was know throughout the country for his prize steers, which he himself drove on foot from
B. F. Harris was not the only early Middletown-Mahomet resident that Abraham Lincoln personally knew. B. F. Harris, along with Thomas Davidson, Hezekiah Phillippe, Wiley Davis, John C. Kilgore, and James Fisher helped to start the first Methodist Church in Middletown-Mahomet, the Bethel Church, on Harrisí farm. Some of these early church founders had heard the evangelist Peter Cartwright speak “at the headwaters of the Sangamon” in the 1830s. Peter Cartwright vehemently opposed Lincolnís bid for the United States House of Representatives because Lincoln was not a churchgoer. By way of defense, Lincoln replied that he “never denied the truth of the Scriptures.”
Erected 2008 by Village of Mahomet.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Looking for Lincoln series list.
Location. 40° 11.219′ Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1403 East Oak Street, Mahomet IL 61853, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Champaign County's Lincoln (approx. 1.4 miles away); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (approx. 6 miles away); Champaign's Lincoln (approx. 9.1 miles away); The First Congregational Church (approx. 9.1 miles away); Anthropology and Society (approx. 10 miles away); Illini Supersweet Corn (approx. 10 miles away); Lincoln & Photography (approx. 10.6 miles away); Urbana's Lincoln (approx. 10.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mahomet.
Also see . . .
1. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincolnís 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 November 11, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. (Submitted on November 11, 2009, 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 November 11, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 30, 2019. It was originally submitted on November 11, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,937 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on November 11, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.