Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lincoln Scholar's Collection On Display

In July of 1952, a 14-year-old boy named Ronald Rietveld made the discovery of a lifetime. While searching through papers of Abraham Lincoln's secretaries (John Hay and John Nicolay), he stumbled upon a photo of Abraham Lincoln in death. Lincoln's family felt that any photos of Lincoln in death were in poor taste and ordered them destroyed. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton agreed, but inexplicably kept this one photo, taken in New York City on April 24, 1865. The photo was a sensation when it was first published in Life magazine. It is the only known photo of Lincoln in death. Rietveld was granted special access to the papers thanks to his unusual interest and depth of knowledge of Lincoln. He was known to Lincoln scholars thanks to his writing numerous letters inquiring about the president and his life. A more detailed recounting of his find is located here.

Mr. Rietveld is still living and is now 71 years old. Along the way he achieved his doctorate in History. He has continued his lifelong fascination with everything Lincoln (I can certainly relate) and has collected various Lincoln items through the years. His collection is going on public display for the first time, in his hometown of Pella, Iowa. Some of the items Rietveld has collected include a log cabin lapel pin which Lincoln is said to have worn; a pile of dirt from Lincoln's birthplace; and a piece of a wreath which was on Lincoln's coffin.

The Des Moines (Iowa) Register has a nice article about Rietveld and the exhibit. He's providing a great service by sharing his Lincoln items. The photo below is of Mr. Rietveld with one of his items.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Abraham Lincoln Maze

People have long accused me of getting lost in all things related to Mr. Lincoln, be it in my books, stories, studies, or in my blogging. Now here is everyone's chance to *literally* become lost with Lincoln, or should I say, lost IN Lincoln?

Every year at this time, a farmer in Lexington, Kentucky sets up a maze in his cornfield. This year, John Kelley chose to do his maze with the image of the nation's 16th president. With the publicity associated with the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth next year, Mr. Kelley thought this would be an obvious choice, especially since Lincoln was born in the Bluegrass State.

The maze was professionally designed by a company from Utah, but Mr. Kelley did the work with a large mower. The maze covers an amazing 8.7 acres! In fact, it's so big that the only way to see the entire image is from the air. Note the houses at the top of the photo for some perspective. Very impressive. Visitors are welcome to wind their way through the maze for a small fee. And yes, some folks do get lost and have to be "rescued."

To read more about the maze, you may click here, which is an article from the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader newspaper.

Lincoln Bicentennial Cents Unveiled

Earlier this week, the United States Mint unveiled the final designs for the new one cent coins being released next year to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln. There will be a total of four newly designed coins, the reverse of each showing a different stage of Lincoln's life. The first depicts the famous log cabin of his birth. The second shows a young Lincoln taking a break from log splitting in order to read. The third coin is a representation of Lincoln as an Illinois legislator, showing him standing in front of the State Capitol Building (which still stands) in Springfield, Illinois. The last coin in the series depicts the U.S. Capitol building with an unfinished dome, which is as it appeared during Lincoln's presidency. The obverse (i.e. "front") of each cent will remain the current design of Lincoln's profile.

I'd like to thank my friend, Christy, for alerting me to the news. Christy is also a blogger, and I'd highly recommend her "Mystic Chords Of Memory" blog which may be found here. It's an outstanding first-person account of her travels of historical sites around the U.S. The site also includes reviews and wonderful photos.

Christy also found another design for the new Lincoln cent series. Unfortunately, it didn't make the final cut. Too bad, because I think Lincoln would've made an excellent surfing dude.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Follow Up: Lincoln Letter Thief Sentenced

Back on May 21, 2008 I posted a story about a thief who stole two letters written by George Washington and one letter written by Abraham Lincoln from the association he headed. Edward Renehan, the former head of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, admitted earlier this year that he took the priceless letters and sold them for $97,000 to a gallery. The letters originally belonged to Theodore Roosevelt.

Now Mr. Renehan has been served his justice. According to this article, Renehan was sentenced this past Friday (September 19, 2008) to 18 months in federal prison for his crime. Renehan pleaded for leniency, claiming he is bi-polar and committed his crime while in the midst of a manic episode. Perhaps. He had faced up to 10 years in prison, so the judge did cut him a bit of a break. Renehan has also been ordered to repay the money he received from the sale of the letters.

Fortunately, federal officials have recovered the documents and will be returned to the Theodore Roosevelt Association.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lincoln Flatboat Hits Some Rough Waters

As many of you know, Abraham Lincoln's flatboat trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is being re-enacted, with the official journey under way just this past week. Seems as if the boat and crew encountered some very rough waters over the weekend from the remnants of Hurricane Ike and had to have some emergency repairs.

According to this article, the flatboat was buffeted by seven foot swells and huge waves on the Ohio River as it journeyed from Elizabethtown, Illinois to Paducha, Kentucky. The crew needed to fix some damage to the cabin in order to make the boat safe for continued travel. Thankfully, no one was injured in the storm.

The flatboat is apparently still on schedule. You may find updates to the schedule at the main site for the recreation of Lincoln's journey here.

Buy A Calendar If You Can't Visit Abe

I've posted quite a few stories about how various Lincoln historic sites in Illinois are partially closed thanks to budget cuts. But the sites will be fully open in the spring thanks to money coming from the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Illinois.

In the meantime, you can at least buy a calendar all about Abe from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The calendar consists of reproductions of 12 different portraits of Lincoln. The calendar costs just $7.00 and is available from this website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update: Illinois Lincoln Sites Fully Open In 2009

Recent posts in this blog have strongly criticized the state of Illinois for partially closing some of its most famous sites related to Abraham Lincoln. As of this writing, Lincoln's Tomb, New Salem, The Old State Capitol, and The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices are operating on reduced schedules. A budget battle between the governor and state legislature has caused the closures. This has caused a huge outcry from Lincoln fans and tourists who were angered to find that vacation plans had been ruined.

Some of this will be rectified in the spring of 2009, thanks to funding from the Illinois Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Although I can't find specific dates of the resumption of full schedules, Lincoln's Tomb, New Salem, and The Old State Capitol will be open 7 days a week once more starting in spring 2009. No mention was made of the law offices.

This is welcome news. However, it remains to be seen how long the $300,000 from the Commission will fund the sites. I'll keep my readers updated as I find more information.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Abe Returns to Republican Convention

Is this really a reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln who showed up at this week's Republican National Convention? Perhaps, perhaps not. The Missouri delegate, George Engelbach, looks more like Lincoln than do most Lincoln portrayers. Pretty uncanny resemblance. Even his nose is right.

No profound statements here. Just a photo of a guy who looks like Abe.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lincoln's Favorite Meals

What were some of Abraham Lincoln's favorite foods or meals? One of my fellow bloggers asked me this just a week or two ago, and I had no idea. She likes the more personal side of history and so do I. Facts and dates are fine in and of themselves, but they don't tell us what the person or places were really like.

So, I was happy to find this article in the Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky) newspaper which reports that some Lexington-area restaurants are serving up dishes throughout September that Lincoln was known to enjoy. Some of the recipes being presented at these restaurants are lamb shanks, chicken casserole, and scalloped oysters. Since this is a family-oriented blog, I won't speculate about why Lincoln might have enjoyed the oysters.

The Lexington restaurants are taking the recipes from "Lincoln's Table," a collection of Lincoln's favorite dishes and other meals of the era. The book is currently in the second edition and provides interesting tidbits about the meals, some background on the recipes, and an explanation about some of the out-of-date cooking terms. It's currently out of stock at, but may be found at The Abraham Lincoln Bookshop. I've included a photo of the book in this post.

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