After a week-long stay with Terry’s parents in Ohio, it was time to head home. I had briefly entertained the idea of swinging off our regular route to visit Springfield, Illinois, and the Lincoln Home and Museum, but after almost two weeks on the road, I didn’t think my man would go for it. But, I’m married to a great guy, and that’s exactly what we did! Thus began our journey to the Land of Lincoln.
We left Ohio around 7 AM and arrived in Springfield at noon. (It helped that we gained an hour in Illinois.) We got to eat lunch at a family favorite, Steak ‘n Shake!
After that, we went to see the Lincoln Home. It’s free, but you have to pick up your tickets at the visitor’s center and get a reserved tour time. The visitor’s center had re-creations of the furnishings of the home so you could touch them and feel them. We could feel the horse hair chair cushion and the brass doorknobs. Obviously, the actual items were off limits on the tour, but this was a great idea! All museums should have this feature.
One nice thing about the Lincoln Home, is that photos were allowed! I couldn’t use a flash, but that was not a problem thanks to Photoshop. Here are some of my favorites:
The home is draped with black bunting in honor of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. The curators said they have to be careful because any extra weight – even just this bunting – can damage the structure.
This the front parlor, or formal parlor, where Lincoln decided to accept the *first* Republican nomination for president. Children were never allowed in this room.
More of the parlor. The chairs and sofa actually belonged to the Lincolns!
This is the informal sitting room.
Sorry for the small, poor quality photo. This was the actual hand rail that the Lincolns used! It was the only thing we were allowed to touch that they had touched.
The original “Lincoln Bedroom”.
The Lincoln’s had separate bedrooms, this one belonged to Mary.
The boys’ room.
The kitchen, where Mary Todd Lincoln developed a love of cooking. Growing up in a wealthy family, this was a skill she had not perfected until she married a poor lawyer and moved to Illinois.
Mary Lincoln’s stove!
The dining room.
The back yard.
Laci wanted to make a donation. She was shocked last year when she read a book about Lincoln and heard he had been murdered.
After our Lincoln Home tour, we decided to check out the other Lincoln-related sites in the area. We discovered that there were plenty! We could probably still be there exploring, but we decided that we couldn’t afford a move right now. Our first stop was the Lincoln Museum. It is probably the best all-round presidential museum I’ve seen so far. They had lots of realistic wax figures, like the ones below:
The museum is divided up into his log cabin years, his lawyer years, and his White House years. In the White House section, you can see a huge display of critical cartoons and comments that the newspapers of his day wrote. He is a legend today, but back then, he was a hated President. You can also see several artifacts of Lincoln’s, including books, notes, and blood-stained gloves from the night he was assassinated. The museum also offers two excellent theater presentations: The Ghosts of the Library and Lincoln’s Eyes. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say if you can tour this museum you and your children (or grandchildren) will love it!
My kids’ favorite section of the museum was Mary Lincoln’s Attic, where they could play and dress-up in antebellum attire.
This Lincoln Home dollhouse can be yours for $400! The little ones loved it!
The museum closed at 5 PM, so after picking out a few souvenirs, Terry said he wanted to visit the State Capitol. You see, not only is Illinois the “Land of Lincoln”, but it’s also the “Land of Terry and Ron”. Terry was born in Mattoon, Illinois, and my dad was born in Murphysboro, Illinois. My Grandfather Courtney, who died before my parents’ marriage, was also born in Illinois. My dad would often recall his dad’s words, “Illinois is the greatest state in the union!” Granddad had to move often due to his job as a railroad foreman and they ended up in Conway, Arkansas. But Granddad, and Dad, loved Illinois to the end.
It’s altogether fitting that I learn some history of my dad’s birth state. Dad is the one who sparked my interest in history to begin with. He loved reading books about the Presidents to me when I was young and he would share historical tidbits of his own. I miss him.
We were unable to tour the inside of the capitol because they had closed for the day, so Terry said we’ll just have to go back sometime. I took several photos and couldn’t decide which one to use, so I’m sharing all of them.
Senator Douglas – famous for his debates with Lincoln – is honored right in front of the building.
After the group photo, Matt discovered that the Douglas monument also makes a nice slide!
Betcha didn’t know the Liberty Bell was in Springfield!
After seeing the capitol, we decided to visit Lincoln’s tomb on our way out of town. It’s quite impressive!
The top of the mausoleum.
If there is a statue of Lincoln in the United States, it has a miniature version inside his crypt. This one is located at his birthplace, Hodgenville, Kentucky. It was interesting to see how many statues of Lincoln there are across the nation!
On our way out, we met these reenactors. Across from Lincoln’s tomb, they fire a Civil War cannon and lower a flag to award to a member of the audience each Tuesday evening in the summer. We were unable to stay for that, but if you’re in the area, you might want to go. This man told us all about Civil War weapons and allowed us each to hold his rifle, which was actually used in the Civil War. It was very heavy. I can only imagine what it was like to carry it all day in battle, load it and fire it. I’m thankful those days are history, because they were awful. This lady answered questions about the clothing of that day. I’m glad that that, too, is history!
Here’s to history, and to Dad.