Sirlaugh’s Blog

March 29, 2009

Places to visit in Illinois

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 9:10 pm

Sam Hill's home and store New Salem, Illinois

Sam Hill’s home and store New Salem, Illinois

New Salem Carding Mill and Wool House

New Salem Carding Mill and Wool House

Photo: Porch Row - New Salem, IL

Photo: Porch Row – New Salem, IL

Photo: Rail Fence - New Salem, IL Historic Village 09.10.05

Photo: Rail Fence – New Salem, IL Historic Village 09.10.05

Abe Lincoln’s New Salem Illinois

New Salem is the name of a former village in Menard County (previously Sangamon County), Illinois, United States. It was located northwest of Springfield, approximately 3 mi (4.8 km) south of Petersburg. It was the 1831 homestead of future U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. It is not the same as the present village of New Salem in Pike County, Illinois.

Smoke House ~ New Salem Illinois

Smoke House ~ New Salem Illinois

New Salem was founded in 1828, when James Rutledge and John Camron built a gristmill on the Sangamon River. Over the first few years of its existence, the town grew rapidly, but after the county seat was located in nearby Petersburg, the village began to shrink and by 1840, it was abandoned. The fact that the Sangamon River was not well-suited for steamboat travel was also a reason for the town’s decline.

Lincoln never owned his own cabin in New Salem, but rather continually slept in varying friends' cabins.

Lincoln never owned his own cabin in New Salem, but rather continually slept in varying friends’ cabins.

Lincoln arrived in New Salem by way of flatboat at age 22 and he remained in the village for about 6 years. During his stay, Lincoln earned a living as a shopkeeper, soldier in the Black Hawk War, general store owner, postmaster, land surveyor, rail splitter, as well as doing odd jobs around the village. As far as historians know, Lincoln never owned a home in the village as most single men did not own homes at this time; however, he would often sleep in the tavern or his general store and board (take his meals) with a nearby family.

First Berry-Lincoln Store, U.S. Post Office, New Salem State Park

First Berry-Lincoln Store, U.S. Post Office, New Salem State Park

The village was home to a cooper shop, blacksmith shop, four general stores, a tavern, a grocery, two doctors offices, a shoemaker, a carpenter, a hat maker, a tanner, a schoolhouse/church and several residences. During its short existence, the village was home to anywhere from 20-25 families at a time. It is important to remember that New Salem was not a small farm village, but instead a commercial village full of young businessmen and craftsmen trying to start a new life on the frontier.

New Salem Illinois is gorgeous in the fall.

New Salem Illinois is gorgeous in the fall.

This village was rebuilt on foundations of the original village by the Civilian Conservation Corps, during the Great Depression. The location is presently a historic park, called Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, featuring buildings, mostly log cabins and costumed interpreters, representing the era of Lincoln’s residency. Twenty-two of the buildings are reconstructed; one log cabin, the Onstot Cooper Shop, is original, although it had been previously moved by Henry Onstot to Petersburg in 1840. In 1922, it was returned to New Salem on what archeologists believe was its original foundation.

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Lincoln’s New Salem was visited by approximately 600,000 people in 2006. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

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