Lincoln in Beardstown
Looking for Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln first saw Beardstown in the Spring of 1831 as he, two friends, and Denton Offutt steered Offutt's flatboat laden with merchandise on their way to New Orleans. He returned in 1832, first in March to help get the steamer Talisman up and back down the Sangamon River. In April, Lincoln returned as the captain of a volunteer company in the Black Hawk War. As a surveyor, candidate, state legislator, congressman and lawyer, Lincoln often visited Beardstown and the surrounding region. He proved to be a good friend of the area. As a state legislator, he supported the creation of Cass County. He also wrote the bill that led to the construction of the state road from Beardstown to Petersburg and was unswerving in his efforts to win state financial support for the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal venture. Lincoln was in Beardstown on November 13, 1837, for an historic event. Now a young lawyer, Lincoln traveled to Beardstown---most likely on horseback---for the first session of the Cass County Circuit Court. Judge Jesse B. Thomas, Jr., presided over the one-day session. It is unknown whether Lincoln made an appearance
Although Lincoln was a strong supporter of water transportation, most of his travels to Beardstown and elsewhere in the Eighth Judicial District in Central Illinois were by horse or buggy. If town streets were unpaved, country roads were even more rugged, mere tracks across the prairie, with very few dwellings in between. Winter journeys were especially difficult. The drawing by Beardstown artist William Barnhart shows Lincoln mounted. Because of his height, he was an awkward figure in the saddle; if the horse was not tall, Lincoln's feed nearly dragged the ground.
During his visits to Beardstown and Cass County, Abraham Lincoln most likely became acquainted with Beardstown's founder, Thomas Beard. According to tradition, Lincoln stayed at the inn Beard erected at the northeast corner of State and Main Streets, the site of the present U.S. Post Office. When he crossed the Illinois River, Lincoln would have used Beard's ferry.
The Illinois Lincoln traveled in the 1830's and 1840's was still a rugged frontier state, and Beardstown had the look of a rough frontier town. Most buildings were of wooden frame---and often flimsy---construction. Where existent, sidewalks were made of wood and subject to rapid deterioration. Any good rain would turn the dusty streets into nearly impassable quagmires. Horse excrement and urine made crossing thestreet a challenge and gave the downtown a distinctive aroma, especially during warm weather. Lincoln and his fellow Illinoisans had to be tough.
Erected by State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency & Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Looking for Lincoln series list.
Location. 40° 1.074′ N, 90° 26.094′ W. Marker is in Beardstown, Illinois, in Cass County. Marker is at the intersection of State Street and Main Street on State Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Beardstown IL 62618, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lincoln Photograph (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln and the River (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln the Candidate (about 300 feet away); Traveling to Beardstown (about 400 feet away); Site of Abraham Lincoln's Speech (about 400 feet away); Lincoln the Lawyer (about 600 feet away); In Memory of Abraham Lincoln (about 600 feet away); Captain Abraham Lincoln (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Beardstown.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 9, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 21, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 528 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 21, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.