Looking for Lincoln

Follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln! Jacksonville is proud to be home of many Lincoln sites, and two interconnected tours: The Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibits, and the Voices of Jacksonville Audio Tour.


Each site listed below noted with an audio symbol dramatizes a Lincoln story with an entertaining and educational audio interpretation. These are an informative and fun way to learn the local stories of Jacksonville’s Lincoln connections. MP3 file downloads are available on this page, and at lincolninjacksonville.com, and can be played on your mobile device, or by using your vehicle’s bluetooth connectivity. Some of the sites have a radio broadcast of the audio interpretation. When you arrive at each destination, tune your radio to the noted frequency on the sign at the site. Compact discs of the recordings are also available at the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 310 East State Street, the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, and at area hotels.


A series of exhibits highlighting Lincoln’s ties to the community are noted with a Lincoln hat symbol. Each exhibit discusses Lincoln’s connection to the site where it is installed, and has a rubbing medallion to collect an impression, which will provide a memory for each stop. These exhibits are part of a larger state Lincoln initiative, with information at lookingforlincoln.com.
On the Illinois College campus walkway at the east end of Mound Avenue, you will find a life-size statue of a seated Lincoln and his dog. This location is a great place to begin or end your Lincoln tour, and take a commemorative photo.

Beecher Hall

Illinois College Campus

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Beecher Hall is on the south side of the McGaw Fine Arts Center parking lot. The wayside exhibit is located directly north of Beecher Hall on College Avenue.

Beecher Hall, which was built in 1829-30, is one of the few structures remaining on the Illinois College campus that would have been familiar to New Salem friends of Abraham Lincoln, several of whom, including David Rutledge, William Berry, Harvey Ross, and William and Lynn Greene, attended Illinois College in the 1830s. In its early history, the building contained a classroom, library, chapel, and dormitory. In 1888, Beecher Hall was named after Edward Beecher, the first president of Illinois College.

David A. Smith House

1061 Grove Street, SE Corner of Grove and Park

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David A. Smith, a Jacksonville attorney and colleague of Abraham Lincoln, had this two-story, Federal-style house built between 1852 and 1854. When Lincoln had legal business in Jacksonville, he used Smith’s law office as his headquarters. Records indicate that Lincoln and Smith were associated with 68 cases as either co-counselors or opposing attorneys.

Governor Duncan Mansion

4 Duncan Place, Centrally located in Duncan Park

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Governor Joseph Duncan, who served as governor of Illinois from 1834 to 1838, had this two-and one-half-story house constructed between 1833 and 1835. Tradition says that Lincoln visited the Duncan home, given the fact that Lincoln lived in nearby New Salem and Springfield during the time both men were members of the Whig Party. Lincoln served his first two terms as a state representative while Duncan was governor. Tours available.

Newton Bateman House

907 West State Street

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Newton Bateman, a well-known educator in Illinois in the 1800s and friend of Abraham Lincoln, lived in this Gothic Revival-style house in the 1850s. He was principal of what is believed to be the first free public high school in Illinois -– West Jacksonville District School – in the 1850s. Bateman, while serving as state superintendent of schools, had an office next to President-elect Lincoln in the Illinois Capitol in Springfield, and the two men became friends in the months prior to Lincoln’s departure for Washington, D.C.

Lincoln and Slavery Mural

on South Sandy Street

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The mural is painted on the side of the building on Sandy Street, at the southwest corner of Central Park. The wayside exhibit is located on the edge of the park in the southwest corner of Central Park. In 1856 Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech in the Morgan County Courthouse park, now known as Central Park, sharing his views about one of the hotly debated topics of the day – the extension of slavery into newly organized territories of the United States. Joseph O. King, a local merchant, later recalled Lincoln’s stirring oratory. “He spoke in the courthouse park, and when he came out sharp and strong against slavery, I threw up my hat and shouted, ‘Hurray for Abe Lincoln for president of the United States.’”

1858 Senate Race

Northeast Side of Square

On Monday September 27th Lincoln arrived in Jacksonville by train from Springfield and was met by large delegations from Morgan, Cass, and Scott Counties. They moved from the depot to the square where Lincoln made one of his sixty-three speeches he had done across the state, contesting for the U.S. Senate. Lincoln was said to have spoken for two and a half hours.

James Jaquess House

339 East State Street

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James Jaquess, the first president of the Illinois Conference Female Academy, now MacMurray College, once lived in this house. Jaquess, a Methodist minister, first met Lincoln when he was preaching and Lincoln was practicing law in central Illinois. During the Civil War Lincoln entrusted Jaquess with important missions. In 1863 Jaquess met with Confederate officials to discuss ending the war. The following year, Jaquess met with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who declared that the South would accept peace only if it could remain independent.

The Civil War Governor

East State Street

Richard Yates, the first graduate of Illinois College, shared strong views with Abraham Lincoln; they both supported the Whig Party and strongly opposed Stephen A. Douglas. Yates was the Radical Republican Governor of Illinois during the Civil War. He made trips to visit and encourage troops by supporting the sick and wounded. This is why he became known as the “Soldier’s Friend.” As the war was ending, Yates became a member of the U.S. Senate.

Whig Rivals and Friends

500 East State Street

In 1831 John J. Hardin moved to Jacksonville. Hardin and Lincoln served in the Black Hawk War and they both were lawyers and Whig politicians who became rivals for leadership of the party. It is said that Hardin may have saved Lincoln’s life by rushing to an island near Alton to stop a duel between Lincoln and General James Shields, at whom Lincoln poked fun in a published letter. Hardin persuaded the men to come to a compromise.

General Benjamin Grierson Mansion

852 East State Street

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Civil War hero General Benjamin Grierson once called this large brick house home. In the mid-1850s, while living in Meredosia, Grierson joined the new Republican Party and became friends with one of its leaders, Abraham Lincoln. In 1860 Grierson, an accomplished musician, wrote campaign music for Lincoln’s first presidential campaign. The following year found Grierson answering President Lincoln’s call to service in the Civil War.