“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Springfield in Sangamon County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Mary Lincoln's Ring

Looking for Lincoln

Mary Lincoln's Ring Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 16, 2011
1. Mary Lincoln's Ring Marker
"Love is Eternal" were the words engraved in the plain gold band that Abraham Lincoln slipped on Mary's finger at their wedding in Springfield on November 4, 1842. The inscription reflected the ideal of "romantic love" that swept America in the 1800s---the sentiment that marriage should be a romantic pairing based on mutual attraction rather than a mere economic partnership. Not everyone in frontier Illinois was married with "ring and book." Many couldn't afford it and some churches forbid "the putting on of gold or costly apparel." Lincoln, however, would have felt compelled to give his bride a ring to help demonstrate that he was worthy to marry into her family's higher social class. Mary's wedding band was still on her finger when she was buried in the Lincoln Tomb in 1882. Abraham Lincoln apparently never had a wedding ring; it was not yet customary. None of his pictures show him wearing a ring.

Close-up from Mary's earliest photograph (1846) showing her wedding band---a rare view since she usually wore gloves for photographs.

Chatterton's Jewelry store was a fixture on the west side of the public square

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in Lincoln's Springfield. Tradition holds this is where Lincoln bought Mary's wedding ring. In 1842 Charles and George Chatterton---natives of Ithaca, New York---were young men in their twenties. They became prosperous merchants. George built a "castle cottage" home with towers and embattlements on "Aristocracy Hill" on the south side of town. A fire destroyed the store in 1853, but George rebuilt it, installing a sundial in the back so that townspeople could correctly set their timepieces. By the time Lincoln was elected president in 1860, Chatterton's was also selling sheet music, pianos, melodeons, and other instruments, as well as jewelry and watches. During the Civil War Lincoln appointed Charles as Indian Agent for the Cherokees.
Erected by State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency & Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsIndustry & CommerceNative Americans. 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 November 1898.
Location. 39° 48.051′ N, 89° 38.965′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker is on 5th Street just north
Mary Lincoln's Ring image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 16, 2011
2. Mary Lincoln's Ring
of E. Adams Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Springfield IL 62701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lincoln's Hat (here, next to this marker); Streetscape 1859 (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Streetscape 1859 (within shouting distance of this marker); Illinois State Register (within shouting distance of this marker); Campaign Poles (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Dentist (within shouting distance of this marker); Curran's Jewelry Shop (within shouting distance of this marker); Soldiers of the War of 1812 (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 7, 2019. It was originally submitted on October 27, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,136 times since then and 199 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 27, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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Dec. 5, 2023