KENNEY — If you are driving along Illinois 54 from Clinton to Kenney in rural DeWitt County, take a jog west on County Road 350 from the north edge of Kenney.
After about 1.5 miles, you might think you're someplace close to the middle of nowhere. The truth is, you'll have come across a spot that Abraham Lincoln may have visited while working as a lawyer in the 8th Judicial District between 1847 and 1859.
It was at that location that one of 19 stone markers was placed around 1922 to designate the routes that Lincoln most likely traveled by horse and carriage during his days as an attorney — before he entered Illinois politics.
The marker, which at the time was placed along the Logan and DeWitt county line, eroded over time. But recently — thanks to a project managed through the Illinois Daughters of the American Revolution — it was replaced, said Guy Fraker, a noted Lincoln historian and longtime Bloomington lawyer, now retired.
"These markers are important to me personally because it really relates to how Lincoln traveled through Central Illinois and not just the county seats, but out in the rural areas, too," said Fraker. "They spread the word of Lincoln's presence here and reinforces the message that he traveled to these rural areas on roads that may never have been paved."
The markers project was funded by of the Daughters of the American Revolution that decided to commemorate Lincoln’s circuit by placing a plaque at each of the courthouses on the circuit, and also one at each county line on the actual road Lincoln and his party traveled.
"The beauty of this one is that the DAR had kind of lost track of it and it got ignored and it was so badly damaged and had little hope of being restored. The plaque had come off and it was just an anonymous monument," said Fraker.
Other markers are within 11 miles of the DeWitt County location: in Springfield, Pekin, Metamora, Bloomington, Lincoln, Mount Pulaski, Clinton, Monticello, Urbana, Danville, Paris, Charleston, Shelbyville, Sullivan, Decatur, Taylorville, Petersburg, and Havana.
The markers were originally produced by Joseph Dux of Chicago at a cost of $2,887. At the time, Livingston County was the only county to decline to participate. The county’s rationalization was that it was only in the circuit for a short period of time.
In Bloomington, the county-seat marker is located as originally set on the east side of what is now the McLean County Museum of History, formerly the McLean County Courthouse, the location of the original Lincoln courthouse in Bloomington.
County-seat markers also are placed at both county seats in Logan — at the courthouses in Mount Pulaski and Lincoln, the current county seat. In Clinton, the county-seat marker is on the southeast corner of the Lincoln Courthouse Square.
In Monticello, the county-seat marker is located on the west side of the courthouse, the original Lincoln courthouse.
The courthouse marker is not at the site of the Lincoln courthouse in Decatur, which is different than today's courthouse location. A bronze model of the Lincoln courthouse is at the southwest corner of Lincoln square, marking the location of the Lincoln courthouse.
The courthouse marker is located on North Pine Street in Millikin Park. There also is a log courthouse that includes remnants of the Lincoln building located at the Macon County Historical Museum.