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Vandalia in Fayette County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Unorthodox Romance

1834

ó Looking for Lincoln ó

 
 
Unorthodox Romance Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., April 10, 2011
1. Unorthodox Romance Marker
Inscription.  
Not all of Lincolnís time was dedicated to noble causes like opposing slavery and championing internal improvements. In 1833, Mrs. Bennett Abell, a New Salem neighbor of Lincoln, brought her sister Mary Owens to New Salem for an extended visit. During this time, Lincoln became acquainted with Mary and found her “agreeable.” At this time, Lincoln was also romantically attracted to Ann Rutledge, but she died on August 25, 1835. In 1836, Mrs. Abell went to Kentucky to visit her family and in a lighthearted manner told Lincoln she would bring her sister Mary back if Lincoln would promise to marry her. Lincoln, in what he though was an equally lighthearted manner, agreed to marry Mrs. Abellís sister, a certain Mary Owens. The whole “affair” took on serious overtones when she returned to New Salem, with her sister Mary and Lincoln suddenly found himself “engaged.”

During Lincolnís time in Vandalia, Lincoln tried to balance honor with personal feelings. He wrote of his thoughts, “I tried to imagine she was handsome, which but for her unfortunate corpulence, was actually true. I also
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tried to convince myself that the mind was much more to be valued than the person; and in this she was not inferior.” Lincoln also regretted his promise; “I found I was continually repenting the rashness, which had led me to make it.”

After tiptoeing around the issue as long as his honor allowed, Lincoln finally and formally proposed to Mary, and she rejected him cold. Lincoln later wrote, “My vanity was deeply wounded...” His summation of this whole event can be encapsulated in this final statement: “I can never be satisfied with any one who would be block headed enough to have me.”

Upon Mary Owensí return Lincoln and Mary became reacquainted and Lincoln was not pleased. Lincoln wrote of this “interview” as follows: “she did not look as my imagination had pictured her. I knew she was over-size, but now she appeared a fair match for Falstaff.” Apparently, Mary Owens had aged considerably – as well as having put on noticeable weight. Ironically, Lincoln eventually married Mary Todd, who was also somewhat plump.
 
Erected 2008 by Looking For Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsWomen.
Unorthodox Romance Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., April 9, 2011
2. Unorthodox Romance Marker
Looking north, with Old State Capitol in background
In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1833.
 
Location. 38° 57.626′ N, 89° 5.631′ W. Marker is in Vandalia, Illinois, in Fayette County. Marker is on Gallatin Street, on the right when traveling east. Marker is in Lincoln Park, south across Gallatin Street from the Old State Capitol. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Vandalia IL 62471, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sitting with Lincoln (a few steps from this marker); Site of Blackwell's White House (within shouting distance of this marker); Flack's Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Madonna of the Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); Cumberland Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln As A Polished Politician (within shouting distance of this marker); Third State Capitol (within shouting distance of this marker); First Protest Against Slavery (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vandalia.
 
Also see . . .  Looking For Lincoln. Heritage Area Website (Submitted on February 19, 2021, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Unorthodox Romance Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., April 9, 2011
3. Unorthodox Romance Marker
 
 
Mary Owens Photo on Unorthodox Romance Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Unknown, undated
4. Mary Owens Photo on Unorthodox Romance Marker
Courtesy of Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Lincoln Photo on Unorthodox Romance Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Unknown, undated
5. Lincoln Photo on Unorthodox Romance Marker
Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Society
Unorthodox Romance Rubbing Medallion image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., April 10, 2011
6. Unorthodox Romance Rubbing Medallion
Looking For Lincoln Story Trail Logo image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr.
7. Looking For Lincoln Story Trail Logo
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 17, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 834 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 17, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   7. submitted on May 15, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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Apr. 24, 2024