Lincoln's Decatur Ally
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Richard J. Oglesby was born in Kentucky, journeyed to Decatur as a young orphan, and later became one of Decatur's most prominentand best-loved citizens. Oglesby made a small fortune in the California Gold Rush and fought in both the Mexican War and Civil War, eventually becoming a General. Elected three times as Governor of Illinois, he also was selected as a United States Senator. In family life Oglesby was a father and stepfather to nine children. After the death of his first wife, Anna White, he married Emma Gillett Keays whose father was a wealthy cattle farmer. They later moved to their new home in Elkhart, Illinois, where the Governor died in 1899. He is buried near Elkhart. Oglesby was a friend, fellow attorney, and political ally of Abraham Lincoln. Oglesby created the "Railsplitter Candidate" image along with Lincoln's cousin John Hanks. It placed Lincoln in the national spotlight during the 1860 presidential election. In 1865 when Lincoln died, Oglesby was with him and accompanied the body to Springfield, Illinois. As Governor of Illinois, he led the effort to build Lincoln's Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The two photographs show the homes that Richard Oglesby owned while living in Decatur. The first was built in the 1850's, and it was here that Abraham Lincoln would visit Oglesby in Decatur. In this home Oblesby hid the two Lincoln and Hanks fence rails the night before the 1860 State Republican Convention. The second mansion is the one still in existence. Governor Oglesby had the Mansion built around 1875, based partially on plans of the Chicago architect William LeBaron Jenny. The Mansion's history included a visit by Civil War General and former President Ulysses S. Grant in 1880. From a veranda he spoke to a crowd during a veterans' reunion. The photo (right) shows the 1st mansion attached to the 2nd. Oglesby sold it all in 1882, moving to Lincoln, Illinois.
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Location. 39° 50.605′ N, 88° 57.65′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Illinois, in Macon County. Marker is at the intersection of West Williams Street and North Edwards Street on West Williams Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Decatur IL 62522, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Richard J. Oglesby Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Macon County's First Court House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Let Us All Be United (approx. 0.3 miles away); Choosing a President (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lincoln's First Speech (approx. 0.3 miles away); Abraham Lincoln's First Political Speech (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lincoln on the Circuit (approx. 0.3 miles away); Coming to Illinois (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 28, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 610 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 28, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.