By Matt Hopf
Posted: Jul. 6, 2018 10:05 pm Updated: Jul. 7, 2018 1:39 pm
CARTHAGE, Ill. -- A high school class reunion made it possible for the Hancock County Courthouse to be the first in the 9th Judicial Circuit to receive a reproduction of a pre-presidential Abraham Lincoln photograph.
Judge Debra Walker, a Carthage native who presented the high-quality photograph to Hancock County on Friday, said she had to push for an early date if she was going to speak at the ceremony.
"I said it needs to be on July 6 because I'm going to Carthage on July 6 for my reunion," Walker said.
A circuit court judge in Cook County, Walker said the portrait will be in public view "recalling Lincoln -- the lawyer, the leader and the man."
The permanent installation is part of a statewide campaign to place a framed copy of the Lincoln photograph in the courthouse of each of Illinois' 102 counties for the state's bicentennial, the celebration of which officially begins Dec. 3.
The photograph was taken June 3, 1860, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield by photographer Alexander Hesler for Lincoln's presidential campaign, and it is considered one of the best photos taken of Lincoln during his pre-presidential years.
The Illinois State Historical Society owns the glass-plate positive image of Hesler's Lincoln portrait.
The Historical Society partnered with the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Illinois Judges Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation on the project.
Also in attendance at Friday's presentation was Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, who said Lincoln faced many losses throughout his life, both personal and political.
"The fact that he persevered was remarkable, I think, with all the hurdles and challenges he faced," Kilbride said.
Walker noted that Carthage was well-known to Lincoln because his childhood friend Alexander Simpson settled there.
Lincoln spoke in Carthage on Oct. 22, 1858, as he campaigned for the U.S. Senate, which he eventually lost to Stephen Douglas.
"After the speech that he gave 160 years ago, he was followed by a big group of people to his friend's home, so he spoke to them again from the doorway of the Simpson home," Walker said. "And I believe that doorway is one of the items in the Kibbe Museum that's here in Carthage."
Lincoln also was hired to defend William Fraim, who was accused of murder in Schuyler County and was tried in Hancock County. Lincoln lost the case, and Fraim was the only client of Lincoln's who was executed.