Christian County Historical Society & Museum-A History Walk Through
I stopped at the Lincoln Statue”The Last Stop” a few weeks ago on the Taylorville, Illinois Square. After that stop, I was left with a desire to see the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln served in Christian County. To do that, a trip to the Christian County Society and Museum was in order. The grounds offered up not only the Courthouse, but an array of marvelous historical buildings to tour and see!
The First Christian County Courthouse
When my husband Keith and I visited, the Society was having a fund raiser and Honest Abe himself was at the Courthouse! This lovely building was The courthouse was built by Jesse Elgan and Marvellous Eastham, Taylorville proprietors. They were contracted to build a courthouse in the center of the public square. The building was to be 36 feet long by 32 feet wide and 20 feet high and out of white oak lumber and the weather boarding to be walnut timber.
This courthouse has a lower and upper floor although we were not able to view the upper floor. The price of this “new” courthouse was $2350.00 and it was completed in September, 1840. Lincoln came here twice a yar for over twenty years!
Story of the Courthouse
This courthouse has had a few uses, it sold at public auction on June 24, 1854 then moved to the east side of the square. The building then was moved to a farm and served as a barn until 1925. Then it went to the the Christian County Fairgrounds. It remained there until it was moved to the present spot.
When we toured a farmhouse on the grounds, the guide said she remembered showing 4H items in this building when it was at the fairgrounds. So glad it was saved, it has such history related to our 16th President!
The Morrison Farmhouse
This was my favorite place at the Historical Society. This lovely home is the farm that set here originally where it was built in 1854-1855. The house was built on the 1700 acre tract of land that James Canty purchased. He came to the area as a young man from North Carolina in 1843. After arriving, he married a native of Christian County, Elizabeth Young.
The lovely brick house he built is now filled with an array of items typical of an 1850’s home. I loved the way they decorated it. We toured the first floor enjoying the lovely dining room, and the decor.
When we first entered the home we saw the beautiful walnut staircase that was built by Mr. Morrison. The website shared a bit about who Mr. Morrison was, “He was commissioned to build the first public building for Christian County, a jail. In addition, he was a farmer and stock breeder and operated a ferry and a tannery. He was an active citizen and well respected in the community; serving as County Superintendent of Schools for three terms, helped establish the county fair, and was the first supervisor for Taylorville Township.”
The rest of the downstairs was lovely and Linda Blakely, a volunteer guide took us around the upstairs. She shared wonderful stories about items like the Lincoln Campaign bed,that came from a hotel in Shawneetown. “Lincoln may have slept here himself,” Linda said.
Some furniture upstairs was donated by the Waddell family and others by Eugenia Vandeveer a Taylorville operatic star. There was a fascinating story where her apartment in Vienna was used by Nazi propaganda. Hitler made his speeches from her music room.
The rest of the home was quite lovely and from the upstairs you can see the one and only Bee Castle that sits nearby.
The Bee Castle
This is a very cool building of which they estimate may be the only one of its kind in Illinois. The Bee Castle was an original outbuilding on the Morrison farm. Built by Mr. Morrison itwas moved to its current location. The website explains how it works. ” It is very unique – has two rows of slots about one inch wide and six inches long running along the sides of the building. A board extends outward forming a runway for the bees. On the inside of the building there were bee hives for each of the entrances; the bees would enter from the outside through the slots, deposit the honey and thereby fill the hives. The hives would be protected from the weather and the bee keeper could walk down the center, extract the honey and repair hive bodies from the center inside the building.”
There is also a school house, and a log cabin that was actually found inside of two-story house. The cabin was found when a home was about to be demolished. The cabin was built within the walls and dates back to 1820!
There is a fun train depot and the Woodall building which houses memorabilia. It is really a mini museum! Then there is the Pence building which is the office and home of the Christian County genealogical records.
The Society has a variety of events. The day we were there, they had a fund raiser with a great meal and vendors set up. Open Thursday – Saturday from 10-3 it is a great walk through history! I got the answers I wanted to the first courthouse and who knows what you may find as well! Check out their Facebook page for up to date events.