Lewis University Adele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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Grove of Trees (Joliet, Illinois)
Grove of Trees (Joliet, Illinois)
TitleGrove of Trees (Joliet, Illinois)
CreatorWilliams, Adele Fay
DescriptionThis drawing by Adele Fay Williams is of a grove of trees where Abraham Lincoln spoke when he was in Joliet campaigning for the Senate seat in the 1850s. - Donated by Katherine Woodruff Barnes
Title of ArticleFinds Lincoln spoke in Joliet October 6, 1866 : old records settle mooted question; addressed meeting.
Date of ArticleNo date
Transcript of the ArticleFrom the Joliet Herald-News November 14, 1926 -- "At last the vexed question settled. After many mooted points of discussion and bootless, fruitless arguments, this interesting subject of some recrimination and dispute has been laid low. It is all true. Lincoln really did speak in Joliet byond the peradventure of a doubt. The time was October 8, 1856. The place was the Demmond pasture on the west side, now thickly settled. This Demmond pasture, nine acres in extent, was an irregular triangular piece, running from Western avenue on the south to Division street at the north, bounded by Pine street on the east and North Center street on the west. In Beautiful Grove But at that time Western avenue was Cross street, Pine Street was Plainfield road. It was low and swampy in parts and owned a beautiful grove of forest trees at the north. It was in this spacious grove that the historic event took place. The authority for these statements is that pioneer historian, the late George H. Woodruff, who wrote several reliable and authentic histories, and whose drug store stood for years in the old stone building at the northeast corner of Bluff and Jefferson streets. Question Is Settled It is not known that Mr. Woodruff mentioned the Lincoln speech in his history of Will county, but it was known that he had written it somewhere. Dr. Harry W. Woodruff, son of the historian, has in his possession several volumes of the fugitive works which had appeared regularly in the early newspapers and magazines of the day. Dr. Woodruff, who is himself vitally interested in questions of history, found the story in a book of clippings made up of the series of his father's stories of early Joliet, and these facts are now offered for the first time in 50 years. It was in the political campaign of 1856 that the historic mass meeting was held in the grove in the north end of what was then called Demmond's pasture, at which Abraham Lincoln and Lyman Trumbull were the speakers. Setting Was Ideal The mass meeting was held for John Charles Fremont, who was the ‘Free Soil' candidate for the presidency. The shady grove of tall trees was a delightful place for a meeting, for there was scarcely a house in sight. Trees also shaded the hill in the background, where the O. Fox mansion, later the Guardian Angel Home, had not yet been built. All was natural beauty and wildness. An enormous crowd gathered to hear the famous speakers, then called the most gifted and prominent men in public life. Long processions of plodding ox carts, chaises, gigs and carriages had been gathering all day, such is the power of a name. Historian Woodruff said there was no doubt that even then both these lights as well as Stephen A. Douglass had fixed their eyes on the presidency. Opposed by Matteson But alas for human hopes. It had come to pass a year before in 1855 that Mr. Lincoln, who had won the preliminary steps of seat in the state legislature and in congress, had been urged to stand for the office of senator. Mr. Lincoln was the choice of the Whig party, while the democrats put forward Joel E. Matteson. Altho Lincoln's prospects looked bright, it was just then that five anti-Nebraska democrats held the balance of power and Lyman Trumbull was brought forward. He had been elected to congress by the combined votes of the Whig and the anti-Nebraska democrats of the Belleville district. The five votes stubbornly refused to turn for Lincoln, so the mountain turned itself. Mr. Lincoln feared that Matteson might be elected, so Lincoln advised the transfer of his own 45 votes to Trumbull. It was a troublous time, but Lincoln insisted on giving up all his hopes for the good of the party. Made Famous Speech That was the explanation of the fact that Lyman Trumbull divided the honors of the meeting in the Demmond pasture in 1826. In the strange decrees of providence it led to the election of Lincoln to the presidency. The masterly speech he made in this classic pasture was the one beginning ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe that this government cannot permanently endure half slave and half free.' Historian Woodruff heard this great speech when he was young. F. E. Marsh owns to some childish memories of the great occasion, the parade. And Levi Doty, another pioneer with a clear memory, has been heard to tell of the crowd of ox carts that brought visitors from far and near. Owned by Demmond In his fugitive memoirs of early Joliet Mr. Woodruff notes that Lincoln showed his greatness of character by giving to one of the adherents of Trumbull, the post of minister to Prussia. The Demmond pasture was, of course, a part of the original purchase when he bought this large tract covering many acres. When Mr. Demmond laid out ‘West Joliet, ' according to Mr. Woodruff's memoir, he left a strip on the west side of his purchase which he did not cut up into lots. ‘As he laid off the streets and lots in conformity with the course of the river and the trend of the bluff, and not parallel with the section line, this strip was much the widest at the north end, ' says Mr. Woodruff, and so it is today. Left as Pasture. Afterwards he subdivided the part of the strip lying south of Cross street, and recorded it as ‘Demmond's addition to West Joliet. The part north of Cross street or Western avenue, he left for a pasture. It was in 1854 that Dr. McArthur and Mr. Woodruff bought the nine acres from Mrs. Demmond for $3, 000. They laid it off as ‘McArthur's and Woodruff's addition to Joliet.' George H. Woodruff was a brother-in-law of Martin H. Demmond, and came with him from the east in 1834. His writings are fluent and versatile and his works are reliable and interesting. A little house or hut stood at the north end of the Demmond pasture, half hidden by trees and bushes for many years. It presented one of the notable contrasts of life at any period. Abode of Hermit. The little hut was the abiding place of John Kaiser, a strange character whose name was used as something to frighten children with to make them behave. Dr. Woodruff retains a distinct memory of the near-hermit, and so also does Mrs. Fred Buettenmuller, who owns property within the once pasture tract not far north of the Mary Walker hotel. John Kaiser came to America from Canton Berne, Switzerland, where he was born in 1857. The pasture tract has the picturesque air of something that expects to change vitally at any minute. It has the remains of many old trees, particularly in the north end, where there are many neat little cottages, somewhat hampered by the fact that the street is raised several feet higher than the level of the ground."
SubjectWilliams, Adele Fay
Joliet (Ill.) -- History
Lockport (Ill.) -- History
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Political career before 1861
SourceClick on this link for more historical information on the Joliet area - http://www.lewisu.edu/imcanal
Publisher (Digital)Lewis University
RightsAll rights held by Lewis University. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection at Lewis University at 815-836-5665.
CollectionAdele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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