Local courthouses getting Lincoln portraits; public invited to unveilings

September 21, 2018

What stands out are his amazing cheekbones, and his ever-somber gaze.

Each county courthouse in Illinois is getting a high-quality reproduction of the famous Alexander Hesler photograph of a beardless Abraham Lincoln, taken June 3, 1860, for his presidential campaign.

Historians consider it one of the best portraits taken of Lincoln during his pre-presidential years.

Carroll County’s portrait will be presented at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the courthouse at 301 N. Main St. in Mount Carroll.

Lee County’s will be unveiled at 8:45 a.m. Thursday in the Circuit Courts building at 309 S. Galena Ave. in Dixon.

Ogle County’s ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Oct. 3 in the law enforcement center at 105 S. Fifth St.

Whiteside County’s presentation is at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the courthouse at 200 E. Knox St. in Morrison.

The public is invited to all events.

The permanent installation is made possible by donations from the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and their respective foundations. Those four organizations are partnering with the Illinois State Historical Society, which owns the glass-plate positives of the Hesler portrait, and is leading the campaign to hang a 30-by-40-inch canvas print in all 102 county courthouses to celebrate Illinois’ bicentennial.

Lincoln has several ties to the Sauk Valley. Among them:

He was stationed in Dixon in 1832 while serving in the Army during the Black Hawk War. A bronze statue in President’s Park along the Rock River that commemorates his service is a state historic site.

Whiteside County is named for Samuel Whiteside, who was Lincoln’s commanding officer during that war.

In Carroll County, a historical marker on U.S. Route 52/state Route 64, between the Ogle County line and Lanark, describes a stone arch bridge across the road, near where Lincoln camped during the war, on June 8 and 12, 1832, while he and his fellow soldiers were looking for Indians.

Many years later, Lincoln spent the night in the home of Sheriff William Manahan during a visit to Sterling on July 18, 1856, as he was campaigning for the Republican Party’s first presidential candidate, John C. Freemont. The home at 607 E. Third St. now is a the Lincoln-Manahan Home Museum and Lincoln Learning Center.

On that visit, Lincoln gave a speech at what is now Propheter Park, 506 E. Sixth St. A statue there commemorates that event.

In Ogle County, Haldane Township was renamed Lincoln Township in December 1873.

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