Sunday, April 5, 2020

Two poems from new edition of "Stark County Poems" appear in Illinois Heritage

Two poems from the new enlarged edition of Stark County Poems have appeared in the latest issue of Illinois Heritage, which is the magazine of the Illinois State Historical Society.  The poems are "The Proverb of the Three Hotels" and "The Boy Who Climbed a Tree," both of which concern the visit of Abraham Lincoln to Toulon, Illinois in October of 1858

Both poems are based on true minor details of Lincoln's visit.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Proverb of the Three Hotels               

There was a time in Toulon, long ago,
when the number of wayfarers passing through
was so large it required three hotels
to accommodate them. Jeffrey Cooley,
a loyal Republican through and through,
was the owner of The Virginia House
which, on a chilly October day
in 1858, was favored
by a country lawyer named Abe Lincoln
and his entourage. Across the street,
the hotel of Democrat, B.G. Hall,
found favor with Senator Douglas and
his entourage. The remaining hotel,
Elias Stockner’s The Toulon House,
with no party loyalties either way
but a first-rate saloon in the basement,
found favor with both political camps
and prospered for many a year, long after
each of its rivals had bitten the dust.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Boy Who Climbed a Tree

When eight-year-old Thomas Shallenberger
was introduced by his old grandmother
to a big homely man on the courthouse square
in Toulon on a cold October day
in 1858, the big man
invited the boy to sit on his knee
and helped him up and, in a grave voice
(playing to his audience), asked the lad
if, come November, he could count on his vote.
“I’m a Douglas man,” retorted the boy.
Abe Lincoln guffawed and put the boy down
and said if his own supporters all knew
their own minds as well as this youngster did,
he’d be sure to win. Then, leaning way down
until he was eye to eye with the boy,
he said in a kindly whisper that he
should be a good lad and run along home.




"The Proverb of the Three Hotels" and "The Boy Who Climbed a Tree" from Stark County Poems (Monongahela Books, new enlarged edition, 2020).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out for Illinois Heritage, and thanks for your thoughtful and engaging poetry. There is no better balm for COVID19 cabin fever than "Stark County Poems." I am still engaged with your images, language, and stories, and probably will be for some time.