09 October 2010

Signs Of Lincoln From Metamora Square

The courthouse in Metamora, Woodford County, Illinois, was frequented by Abraham Lincoln as he practiced law. The picture of the courthouse as well as the signage were found in Metamora Square, directly across from what is now the Historic Metamora Courthouse.


Twenty-Two Years Before The Sixteenth President Died Of
a gunshot wound to the head--after restoring the Union
of our broken country--a disheveled thirty-four-year-old country lawyer named Abraham Lincoln traveled on horseback through the prairie and wilderness among the counties that made up the Eighth Illinois Circuit Court. His journey covered more than four hundred miles and included Hanover, later named Metamora, in Woodford County. Court sessions were held in the spring and the fall and Mr. Lincoln participated in most through 1858. He handled more than seventy cases here, including numerous debts and business suits, eviction, paternity, gambling, perjury, trespass, and rights of way cases, and several guardianships. He was the defense attorney for two abolitionists charged with harboring slaves and for two people accused of murder. Local legend also has Lincoln mediating disputes in the Metamora Square to discourage litigation, as he often considered court a waste of time and money. Many of his cases took place before his friend and future Supreme Court Justice, Judge David Davis.

Lincoln occasionally acted as a judge pro tem when Judge Davis was not able to conduct business (the curator at the Metamora Historic Courthouse speculated that Davis may have suffered from diabetes).

One of Lincoln's clients charged with murder was Melissa Goings (Monica in the 1850 IL census Woodford Co.) was living in Guthrie County, Iowa, in the 1860 census. She is thought to have died in Tehama Co., California, ca 1865.

A biography of Armstrong Goings, son of the murdered Roswell Goings, can be found here.

Lincoln was the plaintiff's attorney in an 1854 lawsuit involving the Goings family. Davis was the judge, Josephus Goings the defendant, and Roswell Goings a surety.

The Lincoln Log is a comprehensive website where Lincoln's cases can be searched and even has a feature "This Day" (in this case September 26th).

No comments: