Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln Stranded Here
Looking For Lincoln
In February 1855,Abraham Lincoln was with a group of sixty passengers stranded in Pontiac after a train, bound for Springfield from Chicago, became mired in a snowdrift just this side of where the village of Cayuga was to be platted some two months later. As told in the 1909 “History of Livingston County”,“the storm that was raging at the time was one of the worst in the annals of the county, and the suffering was great. The day was intensely cold, with a strong wind blowing over the prairies from the northwest.” An old newspaper clipping relates that “roads were blockaded, fences entirely covered up and corn shocks in the field did not stand a foot above the drifts. . . and all aboard were in imminent danger of freezing to death or dying of starvation.” When the train crew became convinced that all efforts to proceed were useless, a messenger was sent to Pontiac to secure help. The train agent here at once went to the citizens, and enough volunteers offered their services, together with their teams and sleds, to bring the passengers safely to Pontiac.
The rescue party was made up as quickly as possible and soon was underway. With much difficulty they forced their teams into the frigid winds
In Pontiac, the passengers were distributed among the settlers to be cared for as best they could. Lincoln and ten others were quartered for about two weeks at the home of John McGregor, Pontiacís first resident attorney. He had built his home on this site in 1853 and, at that time, it was Pontiacís finest house. Lincoln, then little known to fame, spent his time, venturing out among the townspeople when weather permitted. When the relief train made it through the drifts from Bloomington, and Lincoln was about to depart for his home in Springfield, he offered Mrs. McGregor “money for his keep,” but this was refused.. As the guests were leaving for the depot, they were accompanied to the gate by the McGregorsí two young daughters, Emma and Elizabeth. Lincoln gave each little girl a gold dollar, which they did not refuse.
Erected 2009 by The City of Pontiac.
Marker series. This marker is included Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 40° 52.81′ N, 88° 37.929′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is on North Oak Street south of West Madison Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lincoln Visits Strevell (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Livingston County War Memorial (about 700 feet away); W. W. I War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 700 feet away); Desert Storm - War Memorial (about 700 feet away); W. W. II War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 700 feet away); County Seat Almost Moved (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln Speaks at Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Civil War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
Also see . . .
1. Visit Pontiac::. This web link has a number of links to other historic items in Pontiac, Illinois. Informative and very helpful. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincolnís buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
4. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Categories. • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 562 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.