‘A Salute to Mr. Lincoln’ coming to Memorial Hall and Courthouse Square dedication
By Susan Johnson
The traveling exhibit
A Salute to Mr. Lincoln
will be coming to Veterans Memorial Hall the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27. The public is invited to come and visit this tribute to the Prairie State’s favorite son.
Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen and the Winnebago County Board have created a privately-funded Abraham Lincoln Courthouse Square in honor of the Lincoln Bicentennial. Join in the festivities as we dedicate this lasting tribute to the most revered statesman in the history of our state and nation.
Two special events will highlight each day.
Saturday, Sept. 26, the Memorial Hall Lincoln Lyceum will host a
Dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln,
with a social hour at 6 p.m. and dinner served at 7. Historical impersonators Michael Krebs (Abraham Lincoln) and Debra Ann Miller (Mary Todd Lincoln) will delight attendees with stories about the people and events that influenced their lives. The event is sponsored by the Rockford Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Cost is $40 per person, and reservations may be made by calling (815) 969-1999, or e-mail Manager@VeteransMemorialHall.com for more information.
The dedication at Abraham Lincoln Courthouse Square will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 27, at the northwest corner of South Church and Elm streets. At this event, a 5-ft.-high bronze sculpture of Lincoln, called
will be unveiled. Crafted by famed Lincoln sculptor John McClarey, the bust honors our 16th president. The name
comes from a description of Lincoln by Winnebago County pioneer industrialist Ralph Emerson (one of Lincoln’s clients in the Reaper Trial of 1855). During the darkest days of the Civil War, Emerson had gone to the White House to reassure his friend that the people were with him.
Lincoln looked up with a sad smile,
Emerson wrote in his journal,
and his jaws came together wit that firm grip we who knew him best knew well… his iron determination.
The celebration will begin with Civil War re-enactors and the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment band marching up to the square to kick off the festivities.
The 5,500-sq-ft. tract where the Square is located is the same place where the historic Courthouse Square was established in 1844. It was the site of a spontaneous celebration when citizens learned of Lincoln’s nomination for president, and campaign rallies were held there in support of his candidacy during the presidential campaign of 1860. It is believed that Lincoln may have visited the Courthouse Square when he came to Rockford in July 1855 to prepare for the famous Reaper Trial (McCormick vs. Manny).
Other Lincoln Bicentennial events include: Saturday, Sept. 26– the Civil War Tour of Greenwood Cemetery;
World War II Re-enactment
at Midway Village;
Mobile Museum Exhibit at Memorial Hall (Sept. 23-27);
African-Americans in Rockford,
Rockford Public Library (indefinite timecall for hours); and
Abraham Lincoln and the Manny Reaper Trial
at Tinker Swiss Cottage (through Nov. 15, 2009).
Memorial Hall Curator Leah Nelson said,
Lincoln had a tremendous influence on all Americans. But this event highlights the connection that Winnebago County has to Abraham Lincoln, having been here one time during the Black Hawk War period and then for the Manny vs. McCormick trial. Manny had developed a reaper, and McCormick had sued Manny for taking his idea when, in fact, John Manny had developed it before. Lincoln was involved in the research, so he came here. The celebration [includes] that Midway Village has the original sample reaper on display. Tinker Swiss Cottage has a display on the trial itself, that opens next Friday [Sept. 25].
Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen told The Rock River Times,
I just think we’ve got really an exciting number of events for the celebration of the Bicentennial of Lincolnhis birth and the statue that will be unveiled, ‘Iron Determination.’ It’s just magnificent and will serve as a real cornerstone to tell the story of Lincoln’s relationship that was so close to Rockford. This was a very significant base of support for him in all his efforts in his career, going back to the famous ‘reaper’ trial and on to his public service in the Senate and also the presidency. This is the very site where his supporters in that day actually gathered and celebrated on his presidential nomination and ultimate victory. We’ve got quite a history in our area, its ties to Lincoln, and that’s why we thought this would be a very good time to unveil some of this…. On the 27th, we will have the Civil War re-enactors, the 33rd Illinois Regiment, and, of course, we will unveil [the statue] at that time.
We will have the Civil War tour of Greenwood Cemetery. We will meet at Greenwood Chapel at 1:50 p.m. on the 26th, and on the 12th through Nov. 15, the exhibit at Tinker Cottage about Lincoln and the Manny reaper trial. The exhibit at Veterans Memorial Hall [shows] the influence on Winnebago County. We really want to encourage everyone to come down, especially on Sunday, to be here for the unveiling in the Courthouse square.
From the September 23-29, 2009 issue
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