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LINCOLN - Lincoln Christian Church's announcement last month that Abraham Lincoln practiced law at its first church building is being met with some skepticism.

Leigh Henson, professor emeritus of English at Missouri State University, does not believe the church has made its case. "Absolutely no primary source evidence - the only valid kind - has been produced to prove that Abraham Lincoln practiced law in the Lincoln Christian Church," Henson wrote in an online essay.

Henson does not dispute that Lincoln participated in cases in Logan County Circuit Court in the spring of 1858, but he does not believe there is "primary source evidence to prove that the 1858 spring Logan County Circuit Court was held in the Christian Church - only that these cases were filed in the Logan County Circuit Court."

Lincoln Christian Church Executive Minister Todd Parmenter is grateful Henson has questioned the church's claims. "His research helped us connect some dots that we didn't know existed," Parmenter said.

Among those dots is the possibility that Lincoln was involved in a case tried in the fall of 1857. Parmenter said a volunteer with the Illinois State Historical Society will try to locate those case documents for the church.

The church still plans to apply for a historical marker. Parmenter said the church will ask the Illinois State Historical Society for its input and let it decide if there is sufficient evidence for the marker.

Rural development - U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is realigning the service areas for some of its offices in Illinois. Effective Monday, residents in DeWitt County will be served by the Rural Development office in Champaign. The change is part of a nationwide plan to provide better service, improve efficiency and reduce overhead.

Illinois Rural Development Director Doug Wilson said the realignment will allow the agency to improve program delivery, reduce leasing and administrative costs necessitated by budget constraints, and offer the full range of programs out of every office. No employees will lose their jobs with the changes.

The service center can be reached at (217) 352-3536, Ext. 4.

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