The Hebard House

Old Hebard House On the afternoon of Oct. 6, 1858, Lincoln traveled from Peoria to Knoxville by train. He spent the night at the Hebard House, a hotel located at what is now the corner of East Main and Hebard streets.

That evening, a crowd gathered in front of the hotel and Lincoln came out to give a brief speech from the upper veranda. When a lantern was hung on the veranda so the crowd could see him, he is reported to have said, "My friends, the less you see of me, the better you will like me."

Knoxville's mayor, Benjamin Hebard, owned the Hebard House. Frank Rogers, Hebard's son-in-law, ran a livery stable, built in back of the hotel in 1844. Lincoln rode in a carriage pulled by four horses from the stable on Oct. 7, 1858 when he went to Galesburg for the debate.

Hebard House Plaque The people of Knoxville escorted Lincoln to the Galesburg city limits. They Broke the Prairie, written by Ernest Elmo Calkins in 1937, states "the procession was a mile and a half long." Both Calkins and Carl Sandburg, in his book, Abraham Lincoln-The Prairie Years, Vol. II, wrote that Benjamin Hebard and James Knox rode in the carriage with Lincoln.

Both authors tell the story of Uncle Benny (Hebard) pointing out the home of Lincoln's old friend Isaac Guliher along the way. Lincoln is said to have stopped the carriage and visited with the Gulihers while the rest of the procession waited. The authors use the story as an example of Lincoln's warmth and friendliness toward the common man.

An unsubstantiated story, told by Knoxville natives, is that Lincoln also stopped the procession to rescue a pig stuck in a fence. The story is probably folklore, but has been passed down verbally over the years.

The New Hebard House The original Hebard House was torn down around 1900 and replaced with a new, brick building. The building is still standing and is now the Lincoln Apartments.

On Oct. 6, 1908, the Lucretia Leffingwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated the 50th anniversary of Lincoln staying at the hotel by placing a bronze plaque on the side of the new building. Students from St. Alban's, St. Mary's and the public schools attended the ceremony. Dr. Charles Leffingwell, the rector of St. Mary's School, unveiled the plaque.

Lincoln Apartments On Oct. 6, 1958, Knoxville citizens celebrated the centennial of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate by reenacting Lincoln's speech at the "New" Hebard House. E. Pierre Marshall, the postmaster of Vermont, portrayed Lincoln and many of those attending wore costumes from the period.

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