PETERSBURG — The New Salem State Historic Site will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the property being deeded to the state with a special program on Wednesday.
New Salem is a reconstruction of the former village where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1831 to 1837. The historic site had a Centennial Open House on Saturday.
In 1906, William Randolph Hearst bought property that included the land where New Salem once stood. It was deeded to the state of Illinois on May 22, 1919.
Optional tours will be given before Wednesday's event, starting at 4 p.m. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m. in the visitors center, with the program beginning at 6:15 p.m.
Guy Fraker of Bloomington, a noted Lincoln historian and co-chair of the Abraham Lincoln Association's New Salem Project said, “New Salem is the place which Lincoln went to as a flatboat man and farmhand and left as a lawyer and politician who saved America."
His time in New Salem and the people and mentors he met there “are what transformed him,” said Fraker, adding, “It was the most significant single period in his life” prior to becoming president."
New Salem is significant to Fraker, too. It was on a family trip to the New Salem site in 1948 where “I got infected with the Lincoln bug,” said Fraker.
Among those who will be speaking Wednesday are Michael Burlingame, a historian and author of “Abraham Lincoln: A Life,” who will talk about New Salem in Lincoln's time, and Mark Pohlad, associate professor of history of art and architecture at DePaul University, who will discuss New Salem's restoration.
Also speaking will be Colleen Callahan, the new director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that oversees the historic site; Kathryn Harris, retired library services director, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; and Richard Adkins, president, New Salem Lincoln League.