Thursday, May 10, 2018


Presentation of Award

This past Saturday, May 5, 2018, The Illinois State Historical Society held their annual awards banquet at the historic state capitol building in downtown Springfield. Having been previously notified that I would be receiving an award for my book "Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln," I attended the banquet despite the fact that they told me I lived so far away they would not be offended if I chose not to go.

ISHS Award

My wife Lane's 50th anniversary class reunion was scheduled for the same night, so she stayed in Lake City to attend that event. We got our daughter Laura to go as her proxy, and the two of us did some sightseeing after the banquet. I met a lot of nice people, including some who had helped me with my research on the book. Most notable among those who helped with the book were two other gentlemen who received literary awards at the banquet: Guy Fraker, author of "Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit," and Professor Brian Dirck, author of "Lincoln the Lawyer."

After the banquet and awards presentation John Alexander, owner of Books on the Square at 427 E. Washington Street just across the way from the capitol, hosted a roundtable and a book signing.  At the roundtable Guy Fraker, Brian Dirck, and I discussed common misconceptions about Lincoln's law practice and then fielded questions from an inquisitive audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the give-and-take of the discussion. At the conclusion of the roundtable, we signed books for patrons.

Signing Books at Books on the Square
Laura and I spent the next day at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Almost all the exhibits had been completely changed in the years since Lane and I visited back when I was researching "Abraham Lincoln's Most Famous Case: The Almanac Trial." While we were browsing in the ALPM bookstore, Laura called my attention to the display of books on sale at the museum. I was quite pleased to see that they had stocked a goodly supply of copies of "Prairie Defender."

"Prairie Defender" on Sale at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

The next day we visited Lincoln's home. This time I was vigilant. I went directly to the book display in the gift shop to see if they were selling "Prairie Defender" there. They were.

"Prairie Defender" on Sale at Lincoln Home Gift Shop
We wanted to go to New Salem, where Lincoln first lived after leaving his father's home, but the park was closed that day, so we ended our tour of  Lincoln sights by visiting Lincoln's tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery. An Egyptian Pharaoh would not be embarrassed to be buried in such a tomb.

The next morning we boarded the United flight to Chicago O'Hare to make our connections--Laura to Columbus and me back to Jacksonville. It was quite a nice trip.