County dedicates Lincoln Courthouse Square
By Jim Hagerty, Staff Writer
A large crowd gathered at the corner of S. Church and Elm streets Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27, to help elected officials, historians and Civil War reenactors dedicate Lincoln Courthouse Square to the people of Winnebago County.
The more than 5,000 square-foot corner features a sitting area, commemorative plaques which chronicle Abraham Lincoln’s ties to Winnebago County and a 5-foot tall bust of the 16th U.S. president.
The bust was donated by noted sculptor, John W. McClarey.
One of the most famous ties President Lincoln had to Winnebago County was his involvement in the “Reaper Trial” of the 1850s, in which he served as co-counsel.
The Reaper Trial involved John Manny, a Rockford businessman and inventor of a wheat reaper, who was unsuccessfully sued for a patent the McCormick Co. of Chicago accused him of stealing.
Impersonators portraying Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, famous statesman, Frederick Douglass, Civil War soldiers, and a host of others, took part in the ceremony, which included a reading of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.
“[This] is the very spot where Lincoln supporters celebrated when he ran for Senate,” Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen said.
Christiansen spearheaded the project.
The Church and Elm Street area is also where Civil War soldiers, including past Rockford mayors and aldermen, marched off to battle after being trained at Camp Fuller.
In addition to Christiansen’s role, the park was made possible by more than 50 donors including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, City of Rockford, Winnebago County Board, Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 11, Awards by Mr. B, Rockford Public Library, Ringland Johnson Construction and the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.
Lincoln Courthouse Square is open to the public.
For more photos of Lincoln Courthouse Square, see the Wednesday, Sept. 30 issue of The Rock River Times.
Photos by Jim Hagerty
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