The nation celebrates the 200th anniversay of the birth of Abraham Lincoln in 2009. Our state of Illinois is planning events county-by-county to recognize the accomplishments of our favorite son. During his years as a Springfield lawyer and member of the state legislature, Lincoln rode the 8th Judicial Circuit. His route went through the middle of our village of Groveland here in Central Illinois. We claim him as a regular fixture in the area from 1839 to 1854–with 2 years off to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Although he spent most of his time in the court houses, he is purported to have played cards at the Shurtleff farm on Roberts; but the newspaper article reporting this is long gone.
At a meeting of the Tazewell County Lincoln Bicentennial Committee last evening, I learned that we have an actual Lincoln site in the heart of our village. Although Lincoln certainly knew many in our town through handling their legal claims, we have documentation that he argued a case between two heirs of Isaac Roberts–Wright et al. v. Mark et al. The dispute concerned Lot #1 of the Roberts Addition, a lot on which the old Landes house, one of the oldest remaining in the village, still stands and is now owned by the Rick Staker family.
If you are driving through Groveland on the old Springfield Road, know that you are taking the same path Lincoln did between Tremont and later Pekin, the County Seats, and his next stop in Metamora. As you drive through, look across the street from Woody’s Family Restaurant to the SW corner of Springfield Road and Roberts to see the site involved in a Lincoln legal case.
Although we cannot prove that Lincoln slept here, our small community shares with Illinois his touch of greatness.