These are just a small handful of the people who shaped Lincoln's life and whose lives, in turn, were shaped by his.
Milton Alexander was born on January 3, 1796 in Elbert County, Georgia and he moved with his
family to Tennessee, where his family settled in, of all places, a town called Lincoln.
Benedict was born on November 25, 1810, in Kent, Connecticut, but he did not attend
Litchfield near where he grew up and the first law school in the American Colonies.
Benedict instead studied law under John Anthony Quitman in Natchez, Tennessee, who
taught him the law, as well as French and Spanish. His knowledge of Spanish served
Kirby Benedict well when he became a Federal judge in New Mexico.
Francis E. Bryant settled in the village of Bement in 1856. His was only the seventh family to
arrive there. Bryant opened the village's first bank and store and began selling grain, coal,
lumber, and salt. The aspiring businessman built his four-room cottage, which was thoroughly
modern in its time, just one hundred feet from Bement's lifeline, the Great Western Railroad
tracks. Francis E. Bryant arrived in the young town of Bement in 1856 with a small capital,
which he quickly reinvested in general business development as a banker and storekeeper. He
bought grain from pioneer farmers, and sold them lumber and coal in return.
David Davis was born to a wealthy family in Cecil County, Maryland, on March 9, 1815, where he
attended the public schools. After graduating from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1832,
he went on to study law at Yale University. Upon his graduation from Yale in 1835, Davis moved
to Bloomington, Illinois, to practice law. He also served as a member of the Illinois House of
Representatives in 1845 and a delegate to the Illinois constitutional convention in McLean
Douglas was born in Brandon, Vermont on April 23, 1813. In 1834, at the age of 21, he was
admitted to the bar of Illinois and one year later in 1835, he was appointed the State's
Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Illinois. In 1836, he was elected to the Illinois
State Legislature and was also made the Register of the Land Office in Springfield, Illinois
all before the age of 24. During this time he argued several cases with and against a young
John Rice Eden was born in Bath County, Kentucky on February 1, 1826 and later moved
with his parents to Indiana where he attended public schools and later studied law.
He was admitted to the Illinois bar in June of 1853 and his examiners, appointed by
Judge Davis, were Abraham Lincoln, Usher F. Linder and Samuel W. Moulton. The
examination was conducted by Linder and Moulton because Lincoln was involved with a
trial that day. However, Lincoln did sign the report of the other two members, and
reportedly heartily congratulated Eden on his admission to practice. After a brief
time spent at Shelbyville Mr. Eden moved to Sullivan in August, 1853. Sullivan was
his home and the center of his enlarging professional business from that time forward
with the exception of two years, 1870-71, spent at Decatur in the interests of his
Ellsworth was a lawyer and soldier, best known as the first reputed casualty of the Civil War.
In 1860, Ellsworth went to Springfield, Illinois, and studied law in Abraham Lincoln's office,
helping Lincoln with his campaign for president. Ellsworth went with Lincoln to Washington, D.C.,
when he was elected. President Lincoln nicknamed Ellsworth "the greatest little man I ever met."
Ellsworth helped recruit soldiers after the secession crisis in 1861, raising the 11th New York
Volunteer Infantry Regiment from among New York City's firefighters. On May 25, 1861, the day
after Virginia seceded, Ellsworth led his men uncontested down the streets of Alexandria,
Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington. He ordered some of his men to take the
railroad station while he and a few other soldiers went to secure the telegraph office. While
doing this, Ellsworth noticed a Confederate flag flying above the Marshall House Inn. He and four
others quickly went up the stairs. Ellsworth cut down the flag and was on the way down the stairs
when the owner, James W. Jackson, killed him with a shotgun blast to the chest. Cpl. Francis
Brownell of Troy, New York, immediately killed the innkeeper. Brownell was later awarded a Medal
of Honor for his actions.
Charles Emerson was born in North Haverhill, New Hampshire on April 15, 1811. Emerson moved to
Jacksonville, Illinois in 1833, where he spent one term in Illinois College; before moving to
Springfield, Illinois, and studied law under the instruction of Judge Keys. He moved to Decatur
in 1834 and was made a Justice of the Peace, County Assessor, Probate Judge and School Commissioner
in addition to maintaining a legal practice. In 1850 he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature.
A Bloomington, Illinois, businessman, Fell helped found Illinois State University,
originally Illinois State Normal University. His friend and fellow attorney Abraham
Lincoln was called upon to draw up the bond of guarantee for the Board of Education
on May 5, 1857.
William H. Fithian was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 7, 1799. Fithian began studying
medicine in 1822 with Dr. Joseph T. Carter in Urbana Ohio and was granted a diploma by
the Board of Censors a short time after and soon settled in the town of Mechanicsburg at
the age of 23, where he met and married his first wife who died within two years of their
nuptials. Moving back to Urbana, Ohio, Fithian was named a sitting judge for the county.
Appointed as a justice by Judge John Reynolds (under whom he was already a sheriff) following the 1830
census, Bowling Green became of the leading citizens of the county. He was County Commissioner from 1826
to 1828; he was for many years a justice of the peace; he was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity,
and a very active and uncompromising Whig. The friendship between him and Lincoln, beginning at a very
early day, continued until his death in 1842.
Ashael Gridley was born on April 21, 1810, in Cazenovia, New York. In October of 1831, Gridley came to
Bloomington, Illinois, where he opened a general store and in the early years he rode on horseback to
St. Louis and purchased all kinds of supplies at the famous Warburton & King House, but later he wagoned
his goods from St. Louis to Bloomington, and at other times his goods were shipped by steamboat from St.
Louis to Pekin, Ill. and then wagoned on to Bloomington. Asahel was in business with Ortogrul Covell
from 1831 - 1838 and for eight years Gridley and Covell sold hardware, queens ware, groceries, medicines,
liquor, salt, iron nails, harness and saddles, and everything farmers needed.
The Economic Panic of 1837 devastated Gridley's business, so he pursued law as a means to recover his fortune.
Gridley served in the state legislature in the 1840s, and, in 1850, he was elected to the state senate where
he served a total of four years. Gridley organized Bloomington's first bank, the McLean County Bank, and soon
became the bank's sole proprietor. He practiced law for a great many years and, despite his reputation for
being exceedingly abrasive of personality, he and Lincoln remained the best of the friends and sat together
and opposed on many cases. In 1857, Gridley became the sole proprietor of the Bloomington Gaslight Company.
Gridley turned over much of his legal practice to Abraham Lincoln so he could pursue banking, real estate,
and railroad construction matters.
Born in 1814 in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Hatch moved to Griggsville, Illinois where he served as the Pike County Circuit Clerk. In 1850, he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature on the Whig ticket. In 1856, he was elected as a member of the newly formed Illinois Republican Party as Secretary of State. His office sat next to the state library, which was a favorite gathering place for local lawyers and politicians, which is where he met and befriended Abraham Lincoln. Following the presidential election of 1860, Hatch recommended the services of his clerk, John Nicolay, which Lincoln accepted. In that year he was re-elected as Secretary of State, but following Lincoln's assassination in 1865, Hatch sought no further political offices and his last act as politician was in aiding in the selection of Lincoln's burial place at Oak Ridge, where he was also buried in 1893.
Herndon's family moved from Kentucky to Springfield when he was five. Herndon attended
Illinois College from 1836-1837. Following college, he returned to Springfield, where
he clerked until 1841, when he went into law practice with Lincoln. Both men were members
of the Whig Party and joined the fledgling Republican Party after the dissolution of the
Whigs. In 1858, Herndon conducted opposition research in the Illinois State Library to be
used against Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 presidential race.
Admitted to the bar in 1854, after studying under Judge Willis Allen and serving as deputy
clerk for John M. Cunningham, Williamson County's County Clerk and Circuit Clerk. A county
historian writing 22 years later noted that local residents considered the Ingersolls as a
"very intellectual family; but, being Abolitionists, and the boys being deists, rendered
obnoxious to our people in that respect."
John Albert Jones moved from Georgetown in Washington D.C. to the village of Tremont, Illinois in 1835. A close personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, this fellow circuit lawyer built what became known as the Jones-Menard House in Tremont in1845. Though he lived in Pekin in a rented home in 1850, while he was the Circuit Clerk there after the relocation of the Tazwell County seat Lincoln traveled regularly to Tremont to attend court at the Tazewell County Courthouse, which was located in Tremont at that time. Jones' daughter, Eugenia Jones Hunt, wrote prolifically of her personal recollections of the visits of Lincoln in their home.
Enoch Kingsbury was born in Langdon, New Hampshire on April 21, 1800. He was a graduate of
Amherst College, in 1827. Kingsbury studied theology at Auburn, New York and at Prince Edward,
Virginia. He went South for his health, but on his return he had a call to settle in Granby,
Massachusetts and he then, it was argued, felt the missionary urge to move West. He was married
in Simsbury, Connecticut to Fanny R. Goodwin, and ordained the same month in South-Hadley,
Massachusetts. Moving to Illinois almost immediately, he was in Danville on the second Sabbath
in January, 1831, at which time he began services.
Lamon was born near Winchester, Virginia, on January 6, 1828. Lamon studied medicine for
two years and then moved to Danville, Illinois when he was nineteen to live with relatives.
Giving up on medicine, Lamon attended the University of Louisville to receive his law degree
and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1851. In 1850, he moved back to Virginia, married
Angelina Turner, and then returned to Illinois to practice law.
Stephen T. Logan was born in Franklin County, Kentucky on the 24th of February in 1800. Educated
in Frankfort, Kentucky, Logan was only thirteen years of age when he was employed as a clerk in
the office of the secretary of state. From there he ventured to Glasgow, Kentucky in 1817, studied
law, and was admitted to the bar before the age of twenty-one. Following this he was appointed
commonwealth's attorney and followed his profession for ten years in Barren, Kentucky and the
Clifton Haswell Moore was born on October 26, 1817 in Kirtland, Ohio. At the age of sixteen, in
1833, he left home to teach school in Bedford, Ohio after spending his earlier years working on
his father's farm while attending school at the Painesville Academy and the Western Reserve
Teachers' Seminary. He arrived in Pekin, Illinois in the spring of 1839 and, supporting himself
by teaching, he began reading law and was admitted to the bar in 1841 at the age of twenty-three.
Born in Wenham, Massachusetts in 1821, Wheeler moved to Kentucky as a young man, where he
taught school for several years, thence to Mississippi where he continued to teach. He moved
to Illinois in 1845 and settled in Oakland in Coles County. Following this move, he studied
law and was admitted to the bar in 1847 and commenced practice in Sullivan, Illinois. He
moved to Shelbyville in 1849 and continued the practice of law.
Oglesby was born in Floydsburg, Kentucky on July 25, 1824. Orphaned and moved to live with
his uncle in Decatur, Illinois, in 1832, he later worked as a farmhand, rope maker, and
carpenter. He was commissioned a first lieutenant during the Mexican-American War, but saw
no combat and was mustered out of the volunteer service in May 1847. He studied at
Louisville Law School in 1848, but afterward traveled to California for the gold rush in
1849, where he tried his hand at gold mining. After two years of traveling in Europe, he
settled in Sullivan, Illinois, in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, in order to practice law.
His legal career lasted about a decade in the 1850s arguing some cases with and also some
against Lincoln. He joined the Republican Party at its formation, ran unsuccessfully for
the U.S. Congress in 1858, and was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1860.
William Ward Orme was born in Washington, D.C. in 1832. He moved to Bloomington, Illinois,
in McLean County, prior to 1860 where he practiced law in the law firm of Swett & Orme.
His partner was Leonard Swett. He was a delegate to the Illinois State Constitutional
Convention in 1860. He was a friend of Supreme Court Justice David Davis. When Abraham
Lincoln appointed Davis to the Supreme Court, Davis wrote Orme about the news.
A friend of Abraham Lincoln, Samuel C. Parks was born in 1820, in Middlebury, Vermont and
eventually moved to Springfield, Illinois and then to Mt. Pulaski in Logan County, Illinois,
where he served on the Eighth Judicial Circuit and often came into association with Abraham
William Prather was born in Maryland about the year 1806 and came to Macon County in 1843.
He was appointed was appointed, by Judge Treat, Circuit Clerk of Macon county in 1847.
After the adoption of the constitution of 1848 he was elected to the same office, which he
held for four years, and at the same time was elected Judge of the Probate Court of Macon
county, which office he held some six or seven years. In 1850 he was elected county judge,
and retained that position until 1856. He always had very infirm health and died on the
twenty-ninth day of August, 1870.
Benjamin S. Prettyman was born on November 21, 1819, in Smyrna, Delaware and came to Illinois at the age
of twelve. His formal education was limited to three months' attendance in the district schools. From
1840 to 1844, he served as a deputy surveyor. He began the study of law under Judge Silas W. Robbins of
Springfield, Illinois. About 1841, the county was reduced to its present boundaries, and he was
appointed one of the Commissioners to district the county into towns, which he did, laying it out into
nineteen townships, the present number. From 1840 until 1844 he served as Deputy Surveyor, and then
commenced the study of law under Judge Robbins, of Springfield, Illinois. He went to the office of Logan
& Lincoln, but was crowded with law students, and Logan advised him to get some legal books, adding
that he would loan him such volumes as he desired. In March, 1845, he was admitted to the Bar of Illinois,
at Springfield, and afterward settled in Pekin, which then had a population of four hundred.
Ossian M. Ross was born in New York State Aug. l6, 1790, and was a soldier in the
war of 1812, thus moving to Illinois in order to secure the land given him by
Government as rendered for military service. In 1820 Mr. Ross with his family came
to Alton, IL and in the .spring of the following year of 1821, with his family
and a few men employed by him to make improvements, sailed up the Illinois River
to Otter creek in a keel-boat. It was his intention to locate upon the southeast
quarter of section 29, Isabel Township. He with three companions came up from Alton
the previous year and had explored the area; selecting it because there was a good
mill-seat there. It was his intention to erect a water-mill on this stream at that
point; but after traveling up Otter creek for some distance in their cumbersome
keel-boat they came to a large tree fallen across the stream, which made a barrier
that could not be passed over or around. They finally managed to get upstream and
to the home of the Evelands and there they remained until his teams and stock arrived.
Mr. Ross with his teams then started for his own land, where Lewistown now is.
Abraham Smith, a Quaker, was an outspoken, zealous abolitionist and temperance advocate. Born in 1796, he
came to central Illinois from East Tennessee, eventually settling in 1839 on a ridge just west of the
Vincennes Trace between Paris and Danville. Abraham Smith moved to his farm on the glacial ridge and
proudly called it his Farm on the Ridge or Ridge Farm. He established a Post Office and was the first
Postmaster. He opened a blacksmith shop, an inn and a general store. Since there was no other stopping
place for miles for the stage coach between Danville and Paris, he was obliged to "keep tavern" for the
travelers. Four-horse coaches were put on the route the following spring for daily trips through the village.
The jury awarded Campbell a verdict of $450 thus vindicating him. Smith unsuccessfully appealed this to the Supreme
Court where Lincoln also represented Campbell. Campbell wasn't the only government official Lincoln represented in
Vermilion County. In 1851 the acting sheriff of the county was sued for assaulting a prisoner. The suit was brought
by Benedict and Oliver Davis. Lincoln and John Murphy defended. The case was settled.
Stevenson was admitted to the bar in 1858, at age 23, and commenced practice in Metamora, in Woodford County,
Illinois. As a young lawyer, Stevenson encountered such celebrated Illinois attorneys as Stephen A. Douglas
and Abraham Lincoln, campaigning for Douglas in his 1858 Senate race against Lincoln. Stevenson also made
speeches against the "Know-Nothing" movement, a nativist group opposed to immigrants and Catholics. That
stand helped cement his support in Illinois' large German and Irish communities. In a predominantly
Republican area, the Democratic Stevenson won friends through his storytelling and his warm and engaging
Stevenson served as first assistant postmaster general under Grover Cleveland in 1885. During that time he fired
over 40,000 Republican workers and replaced them with Democrats from the South. The Republican-controlled U.S.
Congress did not forget this: when Stevenson was nominated for a federal judgeship, he was defeated for
confirmation by the same people who never forgot his 1885 purge.
Jason W. Strevell was born in Albany, New York in the 1830's and received his education at
Rensaller's Academy in New York before entering the office of Peckham and Tremain, a noted
firm of Albany lawyers. After being admitted to the practice of law in 1856, Strevell moved
to Pontiac, Illinois and opened an office there after receiving admittance to the bar of
Born near Lexington, Kentucky on November 10, 1807, Stuart graduated from Centre College,
Danville, Kentucky, in 1826. Having then studied law, he was admitted to the bar in 1828,
and commenced practice in Springfield, Illinois.
Leonard Swett was born near Turner, Maine, 11 August, 1825 and was educated at North
Yarmouth academy and Waterville (now Colby university), but amazingly did not receive
a degree. Having read law in Portland, Swett enlisted as a soldier in the Mexican
War and then settled in Bloomington, Illinois in 1848.
Born near Paris, Kentucky in 1814, Thornton attended the common schools and Centre College, Danville, Kentucky.
He graduated from Miami University, Ohio, in 1834, studied law under his uncle, John R. Thornton, and was
admitted to the bar. Shortly thereafter, he commenced practice in Shelbyville, Illinois, in 1836.
Samuel Hubbel Treat was born on June 21, 1811, in Otsego County, New York, near Plainfield.
Treat studied law in New York and was admitted to the bar after spending his formative years
working his father's farm and attending local schools. With the westward migration of so
many of the greatest minds of that generation, 1834, he moved to Illinois and settled in
Horatio M. Vandeveer was born on March 1, 1816, in Washington County, Indiana and moved
to Sangamon County with his family to farm near Clear Creek in 1829. Making the
acquaintance of John T. Stuart, who would later become Lincoln's first law partner,
Vandeveer studied law using books from Stuart's library and in the meantime taught school
from 1836 until 1839, when he was admitted to the bar.
Born in North Carolina, Warnick was among the first settlers of Macon County in 1825 by way
of Tennessee. He Founded the Macon County Sheriff's Office and was the first county sheriff,
holding the job from 1825 until 1839 and then again in 1840 for two more years. When
Lincoln's family came to Macon County to live in 1830, Lincoln split fence rails and plowed
fields as a hired hand for Warnick. During this time Lincoln recovered for three weeks from
frostbite on his feet at the Warnick Home and is said to have read his first law books there.
In 1839 and again in 1849-1852 Warnick would either hire Lincoln as his attorney or be
involved with him in 3 legal cases.
In 1854, at age 23, Henry C. Whitney relocated to Urbana and entered the practice of law. "I became acquainted with Lincoln," Whitney wrote over three decades later. "It was about the time of my first appearance at the bar. I did not feel the slightest delicacy in approaching him for assistance; for it seemed as if he invited me to familiarity if not close intimacy at once; and this from no selfish motive at all - nothing but pure philanthropy and goodness of heart to a young lawyer just beginning his career." Whitney became a friend and political ally of Mr. Lincoln and lawyer from Urbana with whom he worked on Illinois circuit.