In May of 2014, we cut the ribbon of our satellite office in Hillsboro to better serve our current and future clients in Montgomery County. As the following excerpt from “Hillsboro Guide” (1940) suggests, Springfield lawyers are not strangers to Montgomery County.
A Tall Gaunt Man
Abraham Lincoln frequently stopped in Hillsboro and vicinity. The old Seward farm, on State 127 south of Butler, was a combination inn and stage stand where travelers refreshed themselves and stage drivers replaced tired horses with fresh ones for the stage run. George Seward used to point out one of the rooms where Lincoln slept. He said Lincoln drive up one evening in an old rattle-trap buggy with a hold in the dashboard through which one of his long legs was sticking, and without saying a word got out and begin to unhitch his horse. Another favorite stopping place was the Blockburger Inn, which stood at the corner of Main and Tillson streets.
John M. Whitehead in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society gives a delightful picture of Lincoln and Douglas in Hillsboro:
In the Lincoln-Douglas campaign both men made speeches in Hillsboro. As I remember, Mr. Lincoln spoke in September. There was a circus in town that day and the committee having charge of the Lincoln meeting chartered the “Big Top” and Mr. Lincoln delivered his speech from the circus wagons. The reason for this was the rain. I remember him standing in the wagon in the circus ring. My father had taken me in the forenoon to the place, the old lyceum, where other citizens had congregated to meet Mr. Lincoln, so I had a very distinct impression of him which has remained with me all my life.
My father used to tell of the first speech he heard Mr. Lincoln make in the old log courthouse at Hillsboro. A political meeting was being held and one of the well known men of the day was talking. At the conclusion of his speech a call for Mr. Lincoln came from the crowd. Presently a tall, awkward, homespun sort of a young man began to make his way to the front. He finally reached the desired position and proceeded to make a speech. The time was “wayback yonder,” perhaps in one of the exciting campaigns of the 40’s.
The Sangamo Journal of July 25, 1844, verifies the courthouse speech of Lincoln with: “delegates from Sangamon county to the mass convention, left this city on Monday morning of last week, were treated with the utmost hospitality going and coming. Delegation escorted into Hillsborough and the citizens assembled at the courthouse. Addresses were made by Judge Robbins, Mr. Lincoln and Dr. Anson G. Henry.”
Writing in the Illinois State Journal of Lincoln’smessage in 1858, a Hillsboro resident who signed his name “Absalom” said: “It continued to rain a perfect torrent during the whole time of the speaking. The seats and pits were packed full of men who hoisted their umbrellas and stood until the last word was heard. At the close, cheer after cheer was given and a thousands hats were thrown into the air in token of the principles and soul of our own Abe Lincoln.”