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

Historic Carthage Jail

Looking for Lincoln

 
 
Historic Carthage Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 10, 2012
1. Historic Carthage Jail Marker
Inscription.  
Alexander Sympson knew Lincoln when they were small boys in Kentucky. Like Lincoln, he moved to Illinois in the 1830's, and arrived in Carthage in early 1844, just as contention with the Mormons was peaking. In 1858 Sympson was the most optimistic of local Lincoln enthusiasts during the Senate race. He hosted Lincoln in his home in Carthage on October 22, 1858. The house became a focal point of the grand procession of wagons and carriages that streamed into Carthage from all directions. Multitudes marched by the house, sheering Lincoln in a parade stretching "over three miles long" that "wound all around and through town and around the public square." Sympson was on Lincoln's short list of "confidential friends." Lincoln trusted him with a delicate political task; to quietly encourage local supporters of President James Buchanan in his intraparty feud with Stephen Douglas in hopes of splitting the Democratic Party and weakening Douglas. The strategy failed.

Alexander Sympson was new to Carthage in 1844 when Illinois Governor Thomas Ford paraded Joseph and Hyrum Smith as prisoners before assembled

Historic Carthage Jail image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 10, 2012
2. Historic Carthage Jail
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militia troops on the courthouse grounds the morning after the Mormon leaders arrived to answer riot charges. Some troops rebelled at the Mormon prisoners being introduced with military dignities, forcing the Governor to intervene. Later that day, they were released pending trial in the autumn. But Justice of the Peace Robert F. Smith (also militia captain of the Carthage Greys) ordered the Smiths rearrested on new charges of treason. The courthouse was "crowded to suffocation" when the prisoners were escorted there through menacing crowds the next day, June 26, 1944. Their case was postponed again, so the Smiths were returned to this county jail and were murdered here the next day.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionGovernment & PoliticsNotable Events. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #15 James Buchanan, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1800.
 
Location. 40° 24.906′ N, 91° 8.358′ W. Marker is in Carthage, Illinois, in Hancock County. Marker is on Walnut Street near Fayette 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 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lincoln in Hancock County (within shouting distance of this marker);
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The "Old Jail" (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln's Failed Murder Case (approx. ¼ mile away); Lincoln's Carthage Speech (approx. ¼ mile away); Masonic Lodge Building of 1887 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lincoln and Agriculture (approx. 0.3 miles away); Hamilton House (approx. 0.3 miles away); St. Simon Cemetery (approx. 10.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Carthage.
 
Additional keywords. Joseph Smith, Mormon
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 26, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 402 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 26, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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Sep. 17, 2021