Tracing Lincoln’s Trail

Abraham Lincoln was born in a simple Kentucky cabin 201 years ago. With little formal education but great vision, determination, and integrity he abolished slavery and preserved the Union of the United States. Even 145 years after his death the impact of his leadership lives on. Trace his trail from humble boyhood to the presidency by visiting one of the national or state sites memorializing Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site – Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial – Lincoln City, Indiana

lincoln-memorial2Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site – Petersburg, Illinois

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site – Lerna, Illinois

Lincoln/Douglas Debate Museum – Charleston, Illinois

Lincoln Home National Historic Site – Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln – Hendon Law Offices – Springfield, Illinois

Old State Capitol – Springfield, Illinois

Ford Theater National Historic Site – Washington D.C.

Lincoln Tomb – Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln Memorial National Memorial – Washington D.C.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum – Springfield, Illinois

Meet Mr. Lincoln / Mr. President

alplm_logo

A visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois offers a broad perspective on our 16th president. As we celebrate his 201st birthday, this facility is the best place I’ve seen to meet Mr. Lincoln.

Exhibits and multi-media theaters, entitled “Journeys”,  relate Lincoln’s life and influence. Journey One takes us through the Pre-Presidential Years. Beginning with “Carving a Family Home.” We visit a log cabin symbolic of his early years growing up in Indiana. “Self-Taught” takes us to his teen years and the image of Lincoln reading borrowed books by firelight. “On the River, The Slave Auction, New Salem, Life in Springfield, The Permissive Parent, Campaign 1860, On to Washington” vignettes propel us to the beginning of Lincoln’s presidency.

After completing Journey One, The Union Theater presentation “Lincoln’s Eyes” offers a change of pace and more insight. The state-of-the-art theater presentation immerses the visitor into the dramas and issues facing Lincoln. We come away with a deeper understanding of his vision, courage and integrity. lincoln-museum-plaza

Journey Two spans the White House years as we move from the “White House South Portico’ to “What Are They Wearing in Washington?” and the beginning of the Civil War at ”Fort Sumter.” I found “The Whispering Gallery” one of the most impactful scenes. In a twisted hallway we hear the unkind voices of critics talking about the Lincolns’ first months in Washington. Political cartoons and ugly caricatures cover the walls. We realize that history tells a different story than the views and fears of any political time.

The story continues through more than a dozen scenes – “The Death of Willie, Emancipation Proclamation, The Gettysburg  Gallery, Ford’s Theater,” and “The Funeral Train.” The compelling “Lying in State” is a recreation of Springfield’s Old State Capitol and the lavish trappings of Victorian-era mourning. A hushed reverence settles on visitors as they pass the closed replica casket. I feel as if I am paying my last respects.lincoln-ghost1

A second theater presents “Ghosts of the Library.” The historian/curator host of the dramatic presentation takes us magically into the Presidential Library. He explains the importance of preserving items such as a music box or quill and the history they relate. My husband is still talking about the live actor slowly dissolving into thin air. We later learn about the Holavision® technology used in the show.

Additional permanent exhibits include a Treasures Gallery of actual items that were part of Lincoln’s everyday life and Ask Mr. Lincoln, an interactive theater where you’ll get answers and advice in Lincoln’s own words. Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic is a hands-on room for Lincoln - Measuring  Up kids of any age. Dress up as a Civil War soldier, rearrange the furniture in the Lincoln Home doll house or take pictures with a life-size cutout of young Abe. The Illinois Gallery houses temporary exhibits.

You’ll be amazed at the Lincoln Museum experience – Disneyesque yet relating an important part of our nation’s history. This is not your grandfather’s museum of dusty relics. You’ll spent twice as long as planned and even hard-to-entertain kids will come away with a vivid history lesson they’ll remember.

An extensive gift shop offers more Lincoln related items and books than you can imagine. Across the street The Presidential Library houses a repository of materials relating to Lincoln and the state of Illinois. You’re welcome to enter but facilities primarily serve scholars and researchers.

When You Go: The Museum is open daily 9am-5pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. Check the website for admission fees and visitation details.

LINCOLN BIRTHDAY WEEKEND EVENTS

AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM

February 12

  • Sandra Fritz will portray "Mrs. Wade" in the Ford’s Theatre exhibit (10:15 am – 1:00 pm)
  • Patricia James Davis will perform "From My Front Porch" in the Union Theatre – afternoon
  • Mike Anderson performs 19th century music in the Plaza – morning
  • Dale C. Evans & Steve Staley perform 19th century music in the Plaza – afternoon

February 13

  • Heartland Brass Band performs Civil War era music in the Plaza – 10:30 am

All Things Lincoln

 Two hundred years ago Abraham Lincoln was born in a simple Kentucky cabin. With little formal education but great vision, determination, and integrity he abolished slavery and preserved the Union of the United States. Even 144 years after his death the impact of his leadership lives on. Honor the 16th President by visiting one of the sites memorializing Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site – Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial – Lincoln City, Indiana

lincoln-memorial2Lincoln’s New SalemState Historic Site – Petersburg, Illinois

Lincoln Log CabinState Historic Site – Lerna, Illinois

Lincoln/Douglas Debate Museum – Charleston, Illinois

Lincoln Home National Historic Site – Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln – Hendon Law Offices – Springfield, Illinois

Old State Capitol – Springfield, Illinois

Ford Theater National Historic Site – Washington D.C.

Lincoln Tomb – Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln Memorial – Washington D.C.

More Shame for the State of Illinois

There are times when I’m embarrassed to admit I’m from Illinois. My ancestors moved westward with the frontier in the early 1800s from Virginia, through Cumberland Gap, stopping in Ohio and Indiana before finally settling on the Illinois prairie. Reality is that Central Illinois was a great place for growing up and gave me a firm basis for the values I hold and who I am today. However, the shameful political history is an embarrassment and against all values learned on Illinois soil.

As if the recent governor debacle isn’t bad enough when I sat down to write about my visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum I made a new discovery. The Governor’s Office under the orders of now – thankfully -ex-governor Rod Blagojevich  has closed 25 historic sites and state parks including four designated National Historic Landmarks. Reviewing the list I see that none are in Chicago or Cook County, the great sinkhole of state funds goes untouched while places like the Carl Sandburg home, Fort Kaskaskia (Illinois’ First Capitol), Kickapoo State Park and the Vandalia Statehouse are shuttered and barricaded. Any member of the public entering the closed parks or sites will be arrested and charged with trespassing. Now, isn’t that a friendly use of taxpayer money?

Sites directly connected with Abraham Lincoln are among those closed. Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. Vandalia Statehouse was the location of most of Lincoln’s time as a member of the Illinois state legislature.

lincoln-log-cabin-2Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site was the location of Thomas Lincoln’s farm from 1840 until his death. While Abe never lived on the site he owned and maintained the farm for his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, after his father died in 1851. He stopped to visit Sarah in early 1861 on his way to his presidential inauguration.

Located eight miles south of Charleston, Illinois the historic site encompasses a replica of Thomas’ log cabin surrounded by a subsistence farm with heirloom crops and cattle breeds. The Stephen Sargent home, reflecting the practices of successful cash crop farming in the 1850s, is also part of the site. Nearby is the Reuben Moore Home where Lincoln and Sarah met for a final time. A living Abraham Lincoln never returned to Illinois.

The need for a replica log cabin holds quite a story. In 1893 the original cabin was disassembled and shipped to Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition. Somehow after the exposition the cabin was lost – perhaps used as firewood. Many photographs existed and a replica was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934.

Before the Blagojevich closing both the Lincoln and Sargent farms supported an active living history program. I’ve visited many such programs around the country and this was absolutely one of the best. The participants weren’t actors or characters, they lived life as the original families would have – growing crops with tools of the period, raising cattle, mucking out the barns, cooking over wood-burning stoves, eating with crude utensils. Authenticity went right down to the hand sewn period underwear worn by the interpreters. This was the only site in the state of Illinois to offer regular first person interpretation.

lincoln-log-cabin-kids1In 2008, volunteers gave over 13,000 hours of their time to ensure that Lincoln Log Cabin was open and accessible to visitors from all 50 states and many other countries. Volunteer support enables the Fifth Grade Live-In and Summer Youth Educational Programs.

The Lincoln-Sargent Farm Foundation is a nonprofit private group that supports the educational programming at Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. Foundation board members are evaluating what potential exists for the foundation to assist the site during the forced closing. Please consider making a donation to help support the efforts of the Foundation in maintaining educational programming and the preservation of rural heritage. Click here to download a form for mailing.

I’m betting the hard working, dedicated volunteers will find a way to overcome the obstacles created by “their” state government. Plus, my check will be in tomorrow’s mail.

 

 

Meet Mr. Lincoln / Mr. President

 alplm_logo 

A visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois offers a broad perspective on our 16th president. As we celebrate his 200th birthday this facility, which opened in 2005, is the best place I’ve seen to meet Mr. Lincoln.

“Journeys,” exhibits and multi-media theaters relate Lincoln’s life and influence. Journey One takes us through the Pre-Presidential Years. Beginning with “Carving a Family Home” we visit a log cabin symbolic of his early years growing up in Indiana. “Self-Taught” take us to his teen years and the image of Lincoln reading borrowed books by firelight. “On the River, The Slave Auction, New Salem, Life in Springfield, The Permissive Parent, Campaign 1860, On to Washington” vignettes propel us to the beginning of Lincoln’s presidency.

After completing Journey One, The Union Theater presentation “Lincoln’s Eyes” offers a change of pace and more insight. The state-of-the-art theater presentation immerses the visitor into the dramas and issues facing Lincoln. We come away with a deeper understanding of his vision, courage and integrity. lincoln-museum-plaza

Journey Two spans the White House years as we move from the “White House South Portico’ to “What Are They Wearing in Washington?” and the beginning of the Civil War at “Fort Sumter.” I found “The Whispering Gallery” one of the most impactful scenes. In a twisted hallway we hear the unkind voices of critics talking about the Lincolns’ first months in Washington. Political cartoons and ugly caricatures cover the walls. We realize that history tells a different story than the views and fears of any political time.

The story continues through more than a dozen scenes – “The Death of Willie, Emancipation Proclamation, The Gettysburg  Gallery, Ford’s Theater,” and “The Funeral Train.” The compelling “Lying in State” is a recreation of Springfield’s Old State Capitol and the lavish trappings of Victorian-era mourning. A hushed reverence settles on visitors as they pass the closed replica casket. I feel as if I am paying my last respects.lincoln-ghost1

A second theater presents “Ghosts of the Library.” The historian/curator host of the dramatic presentation takes us magically into the Presidential Library. He explains the importance of preserving items such as a music box or quill and the history they relate. My husband is still talking about the live actor slowly dissolving into thin air. We later learn about the Holavision® technology used in the show.

Additional permanent exhibits include a Treasures Gallery of actual items that were part of Lincoln’s everyday life and Ask Mr. Lincoln, an interactive theater where you’ll get answers and advice in Lincoln’s own words. Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic is a hands-on room for kids of any age. Dress up as a Civil War soldier, rearrange the furniture in the Lincoln Home doll house or take pictures with a life-size cutout of young Abe. The Illinois Gallery houses temporary exhibits.

You’ll be amazed at the Lincoln Museum experience, this is not your grandfather’s museum of dusty relics, Disneyesque yet relating an important part of our nation’s history. I’m betting you’ll spent twice as long as you planned and that even hard-to-entertain kids will come away with a vivid history lesson they’ll remember.

Of course, there’s an extensive gift shop with more Lincoln related items and books than you can imagine. A cafe offers hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, deserts and beverages, daily 10am-4pm. Across the street The Presidential Library houses a repository for materials relating to Lincoln and the state of Illinois. You’re welcome to enter but facilities primarily serve scholars and researchers.

When You Go: The Museum is open daily 9am-5pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. Check the website for admission fees and visitation details.