Urbana in Champaign County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Looking for Lincoln
Murder, larceny, and even rape- - -the young circuit lawyer Abraham Lincoln, practicing in Urbana, handled cases involving all of these in the courthouse which stood on this city block. Lincoln unsuccessfully defended William Weaver, the first man accused of murder in Champaign County. Lincoln appeared in court here from 1841 to 1860. The cases weren’t all felonies: Lincoln more often represented ordinary citizens with their divorces, land title disputes, and contested debts. He worked with local attorneys like J. O. Cunningham (later a Champaign County Judge, county benefactor, and historian) and Henry Clay Whitney (a Lincoln biographer). Each court visit required working through the entire docket of cases until they were settled, tried, or continued. Sometimes Lincoln presided as judge pro tem, when the standing judge, David Davis could not be present. Lincoln might serve as counsel for the plaintiff- - -or the defendant. In the document pictured below, Lincoln is signing for himself and local lawyer William Coler, pleading for Vannata, who was being sued for improper care of Burgess’ sheep.
Abraham Lincoln was reputed never to “touch whiskey or play cards.” During an 1848 court session, he also admitted that he had never played billiards. J. C. Sheldon, another young attorney who, in his physical appearance, was the direct opposite of the lanky Lincoln, was also new to the game. Lincoln and Sheldon met for a match.
H. M. Russell, a local hotelier’s nephew, reported: “No matter where the balls lay, Mr. Lincoln would lean his whole body over the rail and with his long arms reach anywhere on the table. Mr. Sheldon’s large prominence came in contact with the rail for nearly every shot. He could not lean over, but would try to lie on the table with his feet off the floor.” The game (for 100 points) lasted well into the night, and no one remembered who won.
Erected 2008 by Friends of the Courthouse.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment Government & Politics. 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 May 1728.
Location. 40° 6.734′ N, 88° 12.414′ W. Marker is in Urbana, Illinois, in Champaign County. Marker is on East Main Street east of South Broadway Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located at the North/West section of the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana, Illinois. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Urbana IL 61801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln & Photography (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Anthropology and Society (approx. 1.1 miles away); Illini Supersweet Corn (approx. 1.1 miles away); The First Congregational Church (approx. 1.7 miles away); Champaign's Lincoln (approx. 1.7 miles away); Lincoln at Kelley's Tavern (approx. 8˝ miles away); Lincoln in Tolono (approx. 9.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Urbana.
Also see . . .
1. Travel with Lincoln. Related HMDb marker entries:
Climb into Lincoln’s buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers (Submitted on May 24, 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 24, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area website homepage:
Many resources for tracking Lincoln through History and Illinois, for all ages. (Submitted on May 24, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 24, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,302 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on May 24, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.