Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
County Seat Almost Moved
Looking for Lincoln
Riding the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Lincoln pleaded cases in Livingston County’s first courthouse located on this site. But these events almost did not come to pass. The town proprietors had promised a courthouse, which two years later had not materialized. The unrest grew, and on August 30, 1839 an election was held for the purpose of moving the Seat of Justice several miles up the river to the Owego Township farm of Daniel Rockwood. The arguments urged in its favor were numerous: Pontiac was not the most central point; it was an unhealthy locality, being low and marshy; and the proprietors had not made the promised improvements. The proposed fifty-acre site was high and dry; it was in a central location, being the nearest of the center of any on the river, and the courthouse would be built immediately. The result of the election was a huge majority in favor of the move - - 81 for to 56 against - - but not quite the two-thirds majority required to move the county seat. The vote was sufficient enough, though, to move those parties interested in Pontiac real estate to expedite the building of the much-needed
Livingston County’s first courthouse, completed in 1841, was occupied on July 23, 1842. Used for political and social meetings, church services, and Sunday school, the twenty-two by thirty foot, story-and-a-half frame building gave great satisfaction. In 1843, Samuel Ladd taught the area’s first public school in it. Hugh Taylor rented the jury room for a store in 1845, and also rented the courtroom for three months. Though Pontiac remained largely uninhabited, the country around gained population, and court sessions offered a most popular entertainment.
There was much work in contentious Livingston County for Lincoln, Douglas and other circuit-riding attorneys. Lincoln also appeared in the state Supreme Court in 1843 with an appeal from the circuit court here. Livingston Count Sheriff Garret Blue had been found guilty in circuit court of slandering Eliza Allen by calling her a perjurer. Mrs. Allen and her husband, Moses, sued for $2,000 but won only $250 damages and court cost of $13. (Blue’s alleged name-calling, it is thought, grew out of an earlier case in which Blue was found guilty of publicly accusing Mrs. Allen of adultery. The Allens lost and paid $18.75 costs.) The state Supreme Court reversed Blue’s conviction of perjury and ordered the Allens to
Erected 2009 by The City of Pontiac.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Places. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1837.
Location. 40° 52.777′ N, 88° 37.744′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is on West Washington Street west of North Mill Street, on the left when traveling east. located on the South/East Lawn of the Livingston County Courthouse in Pontiac. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 101 W Washington Street, Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pontiac (a few steps from this marker); W. W. II War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (within shouting distance of this marker); W. W. I War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (within shouting distance of this marker); Desert Storm - War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (within shouting distance of this marker); Livingston County War MemorialMill Stones (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Pontiac, Illinois (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
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 April 11, 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 April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Website:
Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 806 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.