“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Carthage in Hancock County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Hamilton House

Hamilton House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 10, 2012
1. Hamilton House Marker
Abraham Lincoln probably stayed at the Hamilton House when he came to Carthage in 1839 to serve as the defendant's counsel in the Fraim murder trial. There are no other known Lincoln court cases in Hancock County. But he did handle several local cases on appeal in the Illinois State Supreme Court---including an 1845 case where the owner of the Hamilton House, Artois Hamilton, sued a debtor for payment. In Moore v. Hamilton, Lincoln persuaded the Supreme Court to throw out a Hancock County jury's verdict favoring Hamilton (though Hamilton ended up winning when the case was retried here in Carthage in 1846 with different lawyers). Lincoln apparently didn't visit Carthage again until the 1858 Senate race against Stephen A. Douglas. Artois Hamilton most likely didn't vote for Lincoln in 1858---not because he was sore about an old court case, but because he was a Democrat and his son, William R. Hamilton, ran for Hancock County sheriff that year on the Democratic ticket headed by Douglas. Both Douglas and young Hamilton won.

Artois Hamilton established Carthage's first inn, the Hamilton House, at this location

Hamilton House image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 10, 2012
2. Hamilton House
in 1835. He ran it until 1851 when his wife, two children, and two sisters died in a local cholera epidemic. Many Lincoln-era dignitaries stayed here, including young John Hay from nearby Warsaw, who later became a confidential secretary to President Lincoln during the Civil War and was Secretary of War under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay also wrote a famous account of the assassination of Joseph Smith for Atlantic Monthly.

"Those are the boys that will settle you Mormons," Artois Hamilton warned a Mormon acquaintance while pointing at the Carthage Grays---who were prominent among the local militia units that excitedly pressed for a glimpse of Joseph Smith when he arrived here with his party just before midnight on June 24, 1844. Governor Thomas Ford was already quartered here---as were many of the prophet's apostate Mormon enemies. The Mormon company spent the night in the Hamilton House and most of the next day until they were confined in the Carthage Jail on the evening of June 25th. Two days later, Hamilton brought the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith back to the Hamilton House after they were murdered at the jail. He prepared pine board boxes for the corpses and helped transport them in wagons to Nauvoo the next morning.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion

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Industry & CommerceNotable Events. In addition, it is included in the Looking for Lincoln series list.
Location. 40° 24.834′ N, 91° 7.974′ W. Marker is in Carthage, Illinois, in Hancock County. Marker is at the intersection of Washington Street and Main Street on Washington Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Carthage IL 62321, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Masonic Lodge Building of 1887 (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln's Carthage Speech (about 700 feet away); Lincoln's Failed Murder Case (about 800 feet away); Lincoln and Agriculture (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln in Hancock County (approx. 0.3 miles away); Historic Carthage Jail (approx. 0.3 miles away); The "Old Jail" (approx. 0.4 miles away).
Additional keywords. Joseph Smith, Mormon, Nauvoo
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 26, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 408 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 26, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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Jul. 9, 2020