Sometimes history is as close as a short drive away. That is true of this iconic statue The Last Stop created by John McClarey of Abraham Lincoln in nearby Christian County. Who doesn’t love an Honest Abe story? I found one on the Taylorville Illinois square where there is a very lovely yet comical statue of Abraham Lincoln with a piglet at his foot. The young Lincoln looks off balance as the pig rushes by.
Lincoln & Judge David Davis
The story inscription near the statue is all about the pigs. The story first recalls a stay that Circuit Judge David Davis had in Taylorville. I believe this is the same David Davis of the beautiful home in Bloomington that is open for tour! The inscription on the Lincoln statue shares, “I had pleasant accommodations at Taylorville in company with Mr. Lincoln & Mr. Thorton,” Circuit Judge David Davis once wrote from here. He found this town-the last county seat on his circuit route-to be “prettily laid out, & tastefully arranged with trees & shrubs.”
The Herd of Pigs!
The rest of the story though was not quite as lovely and the pig aspect continues! The inscription continued, “But pigs rummaging underneath the floor boards of the courthouse sometimes disrupted the Judge’s courtroom. Once, it was so noisy that attorney Lincoln reportedly rose to his feet to demand a “writ of quietus” to abate the hog nuisance. Pigs seemed to be a theme for Lincoln here in Taylorville. In 1842 he represented James Masterson, whose herd of four hundred pigs escaped when a careless boy allowed the cows he was herding to break down a holding pen fence. Masterson lost seventy pigs worth a total of $350. Lincoln sued the negligent boy’s father on behalf of Masterson. Lincoln lost. A jury (whose members probably had unpredictable children of their own) ruled that the boy’s father was not liable for the son’s negligence.”
Lincoln remembers a piglet
Pigs seem to have found a soft spot in Lincoln’s heart. Lincoln was reminded of his own boyhood where he played with pigs in his Kentucky home. He reminisced about playing hide and seek with the young pig. It was quite traumatic when they slaughtered the pig for dinner. He said, “To this day, whenever I see a little pig…it all comes back to me.”
Like in many local county seats, Lincoln attended court in Taylorville. He served the court for over a decade then it became part of the Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit in 1839. The building he served in was a two-story wood frame courthouse that was erected on the public square in 1840. The Looking for Lincoln sign shares, “It sat on twelve stone pillars that elevated the floor eighteen inches above the ground (permitting pigs to get underneath). A local resident recollected hearing Lincoln “tell many a story on the wood pile on the north side of the court house of an evening after court had adjourned.”
The Courthouse Preservation
They since have built a new courthouse although the old one was preserved. It can still be seen at the Christian County Historical Society where it is open to tour. According to the Historical Society website, “the first Christian County Courthouse sold at public auction on June 24, 1854 to H.M Vandeveer for $276.00; he moved it across the street to the east side of the square. Eventually, it was moved to a farm on the north edge of Taylorville, where it was used as a barn until 1925, when it was moved to the Christian County Fairgrounds. It remained there until it was moved to the present spot.”
At the Christian CountyHistorical Society along with the courthouse there are several buildings to tour and events to celebrate Taylorville’s rich history! If you get a chance, head over to the Taylorville square and check out the Last Stop statue!