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Central Illinois celebrates Lincoln's 197th birthday

Central Illinois celebrates Lincoln's 197th birthday

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and Phyllis Coulter

Abraham Lincoln's legacy provided a couple of perfect spots Saturday for Central Illinois residents to celebrate the birthday of the nation's 16th president.

At the Postville Courthouse in Lincoln, which Lincoln visited on his travels as lawyer in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, visitors saw Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln impersonators, heard period music and storytelling, ate birthday cake and took tours. Computer presentations about the circuit were given by Guy Fraker, a Bloomington attorney and author with a lifelong interest in Lincoln's life.

At the David Davis Mansion state historic site in Bloomington, Megan Mondi, an Illinois Wesleyan student who took fifth-graders on tours when she interned in 2004, saw things she had never seen before.

She and friend Jennifer Losavio, a student at the University of Illinois, saw an open baking oven, the icebox, and even a secret drawer in a bedroom dresser.

"We do (the special viewings) once a year," said Marcia Young, the mansion's superintendent.

The Davis celebration continues today with hands-on activities including trying on fashions from Lincoln's era.

Guests can model corsets and bustles or try a replica Lincoln hat and one similar to that worn by Davis in the same era.

"The two men were doing the same thing at the same time," Young said. They were involved in the law, interested in politics, and were friends with each other's families.

"Davis just didn't become president," Young said.

Postville Courthouse

Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Claver attended the Postville celebration. The high school winner of the Abe Lincoln Story Contest received her award during the celebration.

Claver has always had an interest in Lincoln. She had to do quite a bit of research for her essay on Lincoln in New Orleans, but she now knows a lot more about his life.

"I live in Lincoln, so he's obviously a big part of the town here," said Claver. "Even all the little ones in my family enjoyed coming to the courthouse today for Lincoln's birthday."

Darlene Crider of Lincoln hadn't visited the courthouse for several years and looked forward to touring the replicated 1840 courthouse.

"I love to look around and this is a perfect day to do so, to celebrate Lincoln's birthday," said Crider.

Mary Todd Lincoln impersonator Carol Simpkins has portrayed Mary Todd at events with her husband for almost seven years; husband Gary has been impersonating Abe for 26 years.


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