Lincoln marker unveiled at courthouse

Robert Blackford/Editor
Mercer County Board Chairman Tom Harris, left, and Abraham Lincoln plaque sponsor Bill Ives unveil the Lincoln Marker at the Mercer County Courthouse Sept. 15, 2008.

The Abraham Lincoln historical marker on the grounds of the Mercer County Courthouse was dedicated Monday, Sept. 15, 2008, in a ceremony on the lawn of the courthouse. After several days of rain the weather held off long enough for the marker to be dedicated.

It is the first Illinois State Historical Society marker in the county.

Bill Ives the plaque sponsor spoke briefly prior to the dedication.

"The mighty tides of American history have rarely touched this land that is Mercer County. Yet they did, briefly, some 175 years ago, when Abraham Lincoln led his company of Illinois Militia across the County to the Black Hawk War; to be followed two years later by his survey of a small town on its Mississippi shore. "

"Today we recognize this historical events, and dedicate this marker to the people of Mercer County who may learn from it now and in the years to come. We also dedicate it to the thousands of our predecessors - many whom lie silently among us - first the Native Americans, and since 1827, our ancestors. They enriched the history of this county and thereby our lives as well.," said Ives.

The ceremony began with remarks from Bill Furry from the Illinois State Historical Society. He addressed the crowd of close to 100 people present.

"There are 2,000 members of the Illinois State Historical Society," noted Furry. He also thanked the veterans present which included members of the VFW and the American Legion as well as the Aledo High School students who played Yankee Doodle as well as the National Anthem.

Furry thanked volunteer Dan Buck, an 85-year-old volunteer that came to Mercer County for the dedication ceremony. He also thanked Bill Ives for sponsoring the plaque. Furry and Ives have been communicating by e-mail for the past two years and the two finally met in person for the dedication ceremony.

Furry mentioned that there were two businesses in the county that were more than 100 years old, a funeral home and The Times Record.

Illinois Historical Society volunteer Stu Fliege spoke briefly about the society's marker program noting that there are more than 400 markers in the state. The program started in 1932.

He encouraged the people in attendance to try and stop and see some of the markers when they travel throughout the state. "My wife and I have traveled to more than 300 locations. We are taking GPS readings at the site of the marker." Fliege said some of the markers have been moved from their original sites but many other remain at their original sites.

Fliege noted that while traveling with his wife they find many towns they would like to live in and included Aledo amongst those. "This is a nice town. You have a lot of civic pride."

Fliege said, "This marker will be around for a long time. People will read it."

Judge James Conway spoke about Lincoln's legal history and the legacy he left behind as a lawyer.

State Rep. Pat Verschoore spoke briefly noting his family's ties to the county.

State Rep. Rich Myers stated the plaque was a part of the county's history.

Bob Vickrey, Mercer County board member and property committee chair spoke about Lincoln's background as a public servant who was born poor and who rose up through the ranks. Vickrey noted that Lincoln drew inspiration from the Bible and went to the Bible for strength and encouragement.

Vickrey said that plaque sponsor's father, Dale Ives, served as an attorney for many years. Bill Ives graduated from Aledo High School in 1951, attended Knox College, served in the Army, attended Harvard Law School and practiced law in Chicago.

Mercer County Board chairman Tom Harris closed the ceremony saying he thinks about the burden Lincoln must have carried while in office. Harris noted there were 618,000 casulties during the Civil War. More Americans died in the Civil War than in all the other wars through the Vietnam War.

Harris also thinks of the great change that Lincoln oversaw which led to the abolishment of slavery. "To this day I don't know how he carried that burden."