Lincoln Almanac Courthouse, Beardstown, IL

Original Courthouse in Beardstown, Illinois

     The “Lincoln Almanac Courtroom,” also known as the Beardstown Courthouse, is located in the city of Beardstown, IL, where IL St. Hwy. 125 runs into U. S. Hwy. 67.

     According to , the Beardstown Courthouse, Third and State streets in Beardstown, Illinois, was put on the map, so to speak, by Abraham Lincoln when he tried a murder case two there years before he was elected president.  The town, about 45 miles northwest of Springfield, in the heart of Illinois farm country, was settled around 1820 by Thomas Beard of Ohio.  Lincoln’s association with the town goes back to August, 1832, when he was living in New Salem and piloted a Texas-bound family and their household goods on a raft down the Sangamon River to Beardstown.  The following April he volunteered for service in the Black Hawk War and marched from New Salem to Beardstown, where he was elected captain of his company.  The approximate site is marked in Schmoldt Park.  After his military service, he traveled to Beardstown to pick up supplies for his store.

     The “Almanac Trial” courthouse, built by Beard in 1844, served Cass County nearly 30 years before nearby Virginia became the county seat. The original brick building still stands on the town square. The first floor houses city offices — you must go upstairs to see the courtroom where Lincoln defended 24-year-old William (“Duff”) Armstrong from a murder charge. This is said to be the only courtroom still in use where Lincoln once practiced law. The trial resulted from a nighttime brawl, and the resourceful Lincoln produced an 1857 almanac (the year the incident occurred) to argue that the state’s witness could not have seen Armstrong kill the victim. There was no moonlight at the time and he was a long distance from Armstrong, so theoretically he could not see that far in the dark. Lincoln also produced a witness who helped acquit Armstrong.

     On the wall there is a copy of a Lincoln ambrotype taken on May 7, 1858, the day he won the case. After the acquittal, 22-year-old Abraham Byers stopped him in the street and asked him to pose in his studio. Lincoln protested that his rumpled white linen suit was not fit for a portrait, but the younger Abraham prevailed.  On August 12, 1858, a few months after the trial, Lincoln appeared in Beardstown to speak as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. He spoke on a platform in the city park, a site marked by a plaque across from the courthouse. His opponent, Stephen Douglas, spoke the next day, and later that month they officially began their famous series of debates.

     As one approaches the intersection of routes 67 and 100 southeast of the Illinois River, there is a sign which proclaims Beardstown as the home of Lincoln’s famous “Almanac Trial.” The site may be found by taking route 67 to Sixth Street, which is the last street before the bridge, to State Street, turning left, and proceeding to Third Street.

The Allandale (or Albert Cunningham) House, Virginia, IL

     The “Allandale House Historic Site,” also known as the Cunningham House on the Andrew Cunningham Farm, is located off IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Virginia, IL.

     According to an article in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Vol. 28, No. 2, Jul., 1935) entitled “An Old Adobe House” ( ), “Three miles northeast of Virginia, Illinois, at the edge of Sugar Grove, there stands a beautiful and spacious home built of adobe.  So far as is known this house–“Allandale,” home of the Cunningham family for several generations–is the only adobe house in Illinois; nor is it probable that there is anywhere in the central states another house constructed of this material so commonly used in Mexico and the dry southwest.  In 1834, Andrew Cunningham, a young Scotchman, left his native land to try his fortunes in America….”

     According to , Andrew Cunningham was born near Edinborough, Scotland, December 17, 1806. His parents were James and Marion (Wright) Cunningham, natives of Scotland, where they lived and died. His father was a baker and miller by occupation and owned and operated a flouring mill in the village of Bonnington, a suburb of Edinborough.   Andrew was educated in his own country, where he learned the baker trade, and sailed for America March 14, 1834. He was married in Canada, in 1836, to Ellen Allen, who was also born in Scotland, in 1812. In 1835 he came to Cass County, IL, to look up a location and in the beginning of 1837 settled on his present farm at a place on Job’s Creek called Sugar Grove where he built a small house and established a tannery.   The tannery was soon a thriving project, and as Cunningham’s fortunes rose, it was then he decided to erect a more substantial house.

     According to Old Illinois Houses by John Drury reprinted by The University of Chicago Press , Chicago and London, 1977 (*.html ), the Andrew Cunningham House was built in 1852. Said to have been still in a fairly good state of preservation after almost a century of existence, this two‑story house is one of the most unusual dwellings in the state due to its adobe construction. In the years following, it attracted widespread attention because of the unusual building material.  When he died in 1895 Andrew Cunningham left his heirs the diary of his trip the Illinois in 1835, his library, household articles, art objects, and one other reminder of him, a circular plot of ground in front of the adobe house which he ordered should never be touched as it contained original prairie grass, the six- to eight-foot high grass which covered the great, wide prairies of Illinois before the coming of the white man.

      According to Wikipedia, the Andrew Cunningham Farm is located near the Cass County, Illinois, city of Virginia. The Cunningham Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only two such sites in Cass County. The farm is about two and a half miles east of Virginia. It has been listed on the Register since May 12, 1975.  I do not know if the house is open for public tours, and I really could not find too much online about its present status or condition, but there is a sign on IL Hwy. 125 saying, “Historic Site: Allandale House,” so someone is trying to call attention to it.

Clayville Historic Site, Pleasant Plains, IL

     I didn’t get a chance to post anything yesterday, so we’ll start today instead.

     The “Historic Clayville Stagecoach Stop,” also known as the Clayville Historic Site, is located on IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Pleasant Plains, IL.

     The Broadwell Tavern at Claysville, IL, just outside of Pleasant Plains, was built in 1834 by John Broadwell, whose family came to Illinois in the 1820’s from New Jersey.   During the mid-19th century, the tavern and inn was a frequent stop for travelers on the bustling stagecoach route from Beardstown to Springfield.  The two-story structure Broadwell built closely resembled a country inn in England, where his ancestors had come from; downstairs was a kitchen, a commons area, and a bar, with rooms upstairs for travelers to rest. Through the 1860s, the tavern thrived on a steady influx of cattle drivers, merchants, and stagecoach passengers, but as railroads rerouted traffic away from the stagecoach road, business went into an inevitable decline.

     In 1961 Springfield physician Emmet Pearson bought the site and built other period buildings around the old tavern to form a sort of pseudo-frontier village.   In 1973 Pearson gave the property to what was then Sangamon State University, which turned it into the Clayville Rural Life Center and Museum, a rural history center run by SSU.   The University discontinued operating the site in 1992 due to the cost of operating;  it was leased  to a private party and later sold.  With raccoons as its only occupants of, thick vines of ivy covering almost an entire side of the structure, and surrounded by empty liquor bottles and large downed tree branches, the condition of the tavern deteriorated to the point that the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois named the oldest brick building in Sangamon County one of the state’s 10 most endangered historic places for 2007.  LPCI president David Bahlman said “the former tavern is an extraordinarily important structure.  The building marks a turning point in the state’s early architecture, when rugged pioneer dwellings began evolving into more comfortable and sophistcated residences.”

     In May, 2009, volunteers, led by Jim Verkuilen, formed the Pleasant Plains Historical Society. Soon after they began raising funds to acquire and restore the Clayville Historic Site. In June of 2009 a purchase agreement was reached and on July 11, 2009, work at the site began.  Over 50 volunteers came and by lunch time, for the first time in over 10 years, the Broadwell Tavern was visible from the road. Over the next several weeks over a thousand scrub trees and shrubs were cleared away. Dumpster loads of trash were picked up and hauled away. Buildings were secured and new electric panels replaced old unsafe panels.  The site now hosts a Halloween haunted house, “ A Clayville Christmas” celebration, the Annual Clayville Cruise-in car show, a fall festival, and other special events.

     The Clayville Historic Site is now owned, maintained, and operated by  The Pleasant Plains Historical Society, P.O. Box 125, Pleasant Plains, IL 62677; .  The website ( ) implies that there is still a lot of work to be done, but when I passed it the other day it looked in fine shape, at least outside.  I do not know whether it is generally open to the public for tours or not, but it looks like a fascinating place with a lot of wonderful history.

historic sites in Illinois

     This past week, while driving from Salem, IL, where we live, to pick up our older son in Macomb, IL, where he was visiting some friends, I passed three locations, all just northwest of Springfield, which had some things which I thought would be interesting to see, since we enjoy visiting historic sites, especially those smaller ones that are somewhat out of the way.  I didn’t have time to stop and investigate them, but I did some searching on the Internet to find more information about them.

     The first is the “Historic Clayville Stagecoach Stop,” also known as the Clayville Historic Site, on IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Pleasant Plains, IL.

     The second is the “Allandale House Historic Site,” also known as the Cunningham House on the Andrew Cunningham Farm, off IL St. Hwy. 125, just outside of Virginia, IL.

     The third is the “Lincoln Almanac Courtroom” in the city of Beardstown, IL, where IL St. Hwy. 125 runs into U. S. Hwy. 67.

     I’ll start telling you more about them beginning tomorrow.

Derry Church School, Hershey, PA

Derry Church School Hershey Pennsylvania

     The Derry Church School, Hershey, PA. 

     The Township of Derry in Pennsylvania was incorporated August 1, 1729, when Lancaster County divided the territory for tax purposes. Derry became a part of Dauphin County when it was established in 1785.  Public education began in Derry Township with the Pennsylvania Free School Act of 1834. The Township’s first school was the Derry Church One-room School, built in 1844 and located on Mansion Road. Over the next few decades, twelve more one-room schools were constructed in the Township.  Born in Derry Township, Milton S. Hershey (1857-1945) attended this one-room schoolhouse during the winter of 1863-1864.  This was the first of seven schools he attended before apprenticing to a Lancaster, PA. candy maker at age 14.   Hershey was originally named Derry Church, Pennsylvania. It was renamed Hershey in 1906 after the growing popularity of Hershey’s Chocolate.   Prior to its 1961 restoration by Milton Hershey School students, the schoolhouse served as the Hershey Country Club caddy house.

Biblical Homeschooling Newsletter

     I publish a free e-mail homeschooling newsletter known as Biblical Homeschooling.   It is a nonthly newsletter of general interest, encouragement, and information for homeschooling Christians which is divided into four parts, one of which is mailed each week of the month.  The articles in the Oct., 2011, issue were as follows:
1. POLARIZATION OF CREATION/EVOLUTION WORSENS By John N. Clayton of Does God Exist? Ministry
8. STEPPING OUTSIDE THE GRADE-LEVEL BOX by Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home (July 1, 2011)
10. EDUCATING KIDS IS UP TO PARENTS, SANTORUM SAYS William Petroski, Des Moines Register (Wednesday, August 3, 2011)
11. DON’T LET THEM BRING YOU DOWN By David Diestelkamp
12. THE INTOLERANT, COERCIVE ATHEISTS From WallBuilders (Fri., Aug. 12, 2011)
14. PLEASE STOP SEXUALIZING OUR CHILDREN (Part 2) Dr. Michael L. Brown (8/19/2011)
15. HOMESCHOOLING IN ILLINOIS From Home School Legal Defense Association
16. F IS FOR VALEDICTORIAN By Joanne Jacobs (Sunday, August 17, 2003)
18. GROWN-UP HOMESCHOOLERS: ARE THEY SUCCEEDING? The Proof’s in the Kids by Carleton Kendrick
19. ARE YOUR THOUGHTS FUTILE? by Wayne S. Walker
20. THE END OF JUDAH (2 Kings chapters 25-26, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) By Wayne S. Walker
     By way of example, here is the “monthly meditation” from the Oct. issue (#19 in the list above):

Monthly Meditation


by Wayne S. Walker

      “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile” (Psalm 94:11). Psalm 94 is given the heading in the New King James Version of “God the Refuge of the Righteous.” The Psalmist begins by saying, “O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs–O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!” (v. 1). The next few verses asks the Lord to the wicked. It is in this context that he says, “the thoughts of man…they are futile.” 

     Thus, the passage does not mean that all thoughts of all men are always futile. Rather, the Psalmist is talking about “all the workers of iniquity” who “break in pieces” the Lord’s people (vs. 4-5). What the passage is saying is that when our thoughts are on those things to which the Lord is opposed, they are futile. That is why we are told, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

     However, when our thoughts are consistent with that which is right in God’s sight, then they are not futile. How can we know if our thoughts are acceptable to the Lord? “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–mediate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Our thoughts can be either futile or godly. We make the choice.  Much of what is available in our culture and being taught in our public schools is futile.  However, homeschooling parents can help their children refrain from futile thoughts by basing their curriculum on Biblical teaching.

     The articles planned for the November issue are as follows:

1. THE LOST LESSON OF THANKSGIVING By John Stossel (November 24, 2010)
2. WHAT ABOUT CHICAGO KIDS By W. C. (Bill) Augustine
3. WHO ARE THE REAL GAY BIGOTS AND BULLIES? By Frank Turek (8/26/2011)
4. THREE BIG POLICEMAN POUNDING ON YOUR DOOR From Home School Legal Defense Association (August 25, 2011)
6. SCHOOLING MATT DAMON by Michelle Malkin (8/5/2011)
7. CONGRESS TO MANDATE PRO-HOMOSEXUAL EDUCATION? By Eugene Delgaudio (Wednesday, August 3, 2011)
8. DISTRICT BACKS OFF SECRET SEX SURVEYS FOR CHILDREN: ‘Parents should decide whether children should be questioned about personal beliefs’ By Bob Unruh, (August 27, 2011)
9. LIFE CHANGED THIS YEAR By Marguerite Tustan
10. GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE INCLUDES HOMESCHOOLING From Home School Legal Defense Association (August 29, 2011)
12. SCHOOL BOARD MUST REVISIT ISSUE OF PARENTAL NOTIFICATION By Sheree Brown-Kaplan, Fairfax (VA) Times, (Friday, Jul. 29, 2011)
14. US GOVERNMENT NOW CALLS ITSELF “YOUR FAMILY” From Consent Of The Governed blog (Friday, September 2, 2011)
15. A CULTURE GONE COARSE By Marcia Segelstein, OneNewsNow Columnist (9/6/2011)
16. “GAY” ACTIVISTS TO BEGIN “KIDNAPPING” YOUNG MINDS IN 2012 By Becky Yeh, OneNewsNow California correspondent (9/8/2011)
17. TWO NEWS ITEMS From different sources
18. HEARING THE HOMESCHOOLING CALL by Elena from My Domestic Church (Wednesday, October 12, 2011)
19. ON SHELTERING, ALSO KNOWN AS OVERPROTECTING Or, Why I don’t send my Kid to Public School
Kelly Mine (Friday, December 30, 2005)
21. DANIEL IN BABYLON (Daniel chs.1-2) By Wayne S. Walker
23. PUBLIC SCHOOLS “A MAD IDEA”–New documentary features whistleblowers, and raises question: Is it time to pull children out? From World Net Daily
24. MY DAD GAVE ME ONE DOLLAR BILL By Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends
     Anyone interested in receiving this free e-mail newsletter can send a blank e-mail to and then follow the instructions e-mailed back to you or you can subscribe from the web at if you have a Yahoogroups ID.