In a little more than a week, Vandalia will be host to the 2015 Abraham Lincoln Presenters annual convention. Vandalia’s own “Abe,” Lewis Clymer is this year’s host being joined by his daughter, Joy, in welcoming the Lincoln Presenters. In fact, the entire town is getting in on the action.
The four days of the convention, April 16-19, are chocked full of activities for the participants, which will include a bevy of Mary Todd Lincolns.
Some of the events planned are private; however, there will be plenty of time for residents to mingle with an Abraham Lincoln presenter.
On Friday, a pail lunch will be held on the grounds of the Vandalia Statehouse at noon and those who wish to join in can buy their lunch and join the Lincolns on the lawn. That evening, a dinner will be held at the Methodist Church, beginning at 6:30 p.m., with Baroque Folk performing. Dr. Paul Stroble, a Vandalia native, is the scheduled speaker. Tickets are available for this event.
Following the banquet, folks are invited to the Copper Penny for “Drinkin’ with Lincoln,” suggested by the actions of the Long Nine in celebrating the 1837 vote for removal of the capitol to Springfield. Lincoln, a teetotaler, was one of the hosts.
On Saturday morning, a Lincoln Forum will be held at 9 a.m. at the Vandalia Statehouse, and the public is invited. All are invited to join the Lincoln Presenters at a picnic lunch on the lawn of the old capitol, scheduled to get under way at 11:45 a.m. and last about an hour. The cost is $12. This will be followed by a parade at 1 p.m., with the parade to begin at Eighth and Gallatin streets and end at Kennedy Boulevard.
The parade will be followed by a cemetery walk at the Old State Burial Ground, where local re-enactors, whose characters have a connection to Mr. Lincoln, will tell their stories. The Mary Todd ladies will be guests at a Strawberry Social from 3-4 p.m. at Holy Cross Lutheran Church at Eighth and Fillmore streets.
To round out the day, a social will be held at the Moose Lodge, beginning at 6 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner. The purchase of a ticket to the dinner will also allow entrance to the Civil War Ball scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
For those not attending the dinner who wish to attend the Civil War Ball, a donation of $5 for those in costume and $10 for those not in costumes will be collected at the door.
During the five years that Abraham Lincoln boarded in Vandalia while a member of the House of Representatives, he left his mark on Vandalia and her people.
Dancing with hostess Matilda Flack at one of his first cotillions, he stepped on her dress and tore it. Mrs. Flack, daughter-in-law of Abner Flack, remembered that Mr. Lincoln was quite embarrassed, but handled the mishap with grace.
Asked to go hunting at “Deer Springs” in the northeast part of the city, he told his cronies seated around the fireplace at the Maddox House, “You go and get the deer, bring it back, Maddox here will cook it and I’ll eat it.”
Ewing Doyle recalled chopping wood with Lincoln on several occasions after the legislature had adjourned for the day at James T.B. Stapp’s tavern, and William and Benjamin Lee often spoke of the lodger who boarded at their father’s tavern, “The Sign of the Globe,” on Gallatin Street.
Lincoln’s shingle froe, a cherished Vandalia relic kept at the Fayette County Museum, bears his distinctive initials. It was a farewell gift to Paul Beck from Lincoln when he embarked on his new job as lawmaker. The men had been friends in Petersburg.
When Lincoln complained to a fellow legislator of the wet plaster and drafty corridors of the newly built Vandalia Statehouse, his friend said, “It’s no wonder you are so cold – there is so much of you on the ground,” a humorous reference to Lincoln’s size 14 shoes.
Lincoln walked Vandalia’s streets. He drank water from her streams, lodged in her boarding houses, chopped wood with her citizens and danced with her ladies.
In Vandalia, Lincoln first formulated his thoughts on slavery. From the time he stepped down from the stage on that cold November evening to the last day when he saddled his horse for the return trip to Sangamon County, Lincoln left his mark on Vandalia, and Vandalia left her mark on Abraham Lincoln.
Let us all join in welcoming the Lincoln Presenters to Vandalia and, as in Lincoln’s time, help to create positive lasting memories for them of the 2015 Lincoln Presenters convention.