Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln Slept Here
Looking for Lincoln
When Abraham Lincoln rode into Pontiac that rainy day, he found few cabins, and those were so scattered and hidden among the clumps of bushes that they were rendered almost invisible. Lincoln stayed overnight in a log cabin built on this riverbank site by C. H. Perry to serve as both store and dwelling. Perry hauled the first stock of goods from Pekin to Pontiac by ox team in 1836. In 1837 first merchant Perry, along with James McKee, who was interested in the water privilege at Pontiac, and large landowner Jesse W. Fell, gave bond as sureties that Henry Weed, and Lucius and Seth Young, proprietors of the town, would fulfill their contract with the county in return for Pontiac being named county seat. The proprietors promised to give $3,000, a block of land two hundred feet square on which to erect the Court House, and an acre of land not more than thirty rods distant from the Court House, on which a jail and a pen for stray domestic animals were to be built. Further more, they were to build a good and substantial wagon bridge across the Vermilion River at this point.
'Photo Text' - Upper
Lincoln was in Pontiac May 18 and 19, 1840, for the first term of circuit court in Livingston County. He came on horseback, drenched to the skin by a spring shower. Tall and lanky, with pants too short for his frame, his shawl clipped with a safety pin, Lincoln was a sorry sight. Judge Treat (pictured above), Lincoln, and other attorneys, including David Davis and Stephen A. Douglas, crossed the open prairie from Bloomington in buggies and on horseback, following what later became known as the Pontiac Trail, and much later, Route 66. Weather often posed problems for the circuit-riding attorneys as they encountered heat, cold, storms, prairie fires, flash floods, and even snakes and wild animals.
In 1838, C. H. Perry and James McKee built the first sawmill in Pontiac. Perry also kept court records for a time. Sometime later, S. C. Ladd bought Perry’s store stock and entered into a partnership with Willet Gray and purchased McKee’s interest in the sawmill. C. H. Perry then was acting as the capitalist. He brought to Pontiac the first piano, the first “store-carpet” and the first looking-glass. It is recorded in the 1878 ‘History of Livingston County’ that a horse once walked in the open door of Perry’s cabin and stood surveying himself in Perry’s looking-glass all the while swishing flies with his tail.
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 date for this entry is May 18, 1894.
Location. 40° 52.694′ N, 88° 37.796′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is at the intersection of North Mill Street and Vermilion River Bridge (West Side of Mill Street), on the right when traveling south on North Mill Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: North Mill Street & Vermilion River Bridge, 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. Riverbank Debate (a few steps from this marker); Mill Stones (within shouting distance of this marker); W. W. I War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); W. W. II War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 500 feet away); County Seat Almost Moved (about 600 feet away); Pontiac (about 600 feet away); Desert Storm - War MemorialLivingston County War Memorial (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
Also see . . .
1. Looking for Lincoln::. 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.)
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.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,040 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.