Metamora, Illinois is a small town in West Central Woodford County just East of where my ancestors first settled in the county in 1832. Owing to that proximity it is no wonder that my ancestors were involved in about 7 of the 70 cases Lincoln tried during his time on the 8th Judicial Circuit here in Woodford County. If you have an interest in the Lincoln Law Practice you can find more information here and search the various cases Lincoln participated in as a lawyer. Woodford County became a county in 1841 when parts of Tazewell and McLean counties were combined to make the present day Woodford County. In the Past and Present History Of Woodford (1878) a nice description is given of the town of Hanover, now Metamora:
Metamora, the county seat of Woodford County, is situated on the western division of the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, about one hundred and thirty-six miles southwest of Chicago. It was originally called Hanover, and was siirveyed and laid out by the County Surveyor of Tazewell County for the Hanover Company in 1836, who owned the greater portion of the land. The Hanover Company was composed of the following gentlemen, viz.: Dr. Warner, of Bloomington, Rev. Wm. Davenport (agent), Dennis and William Rockwell, William Major, Jacob Cassell, John T. Jones, D. P. Henderson, J. L. James, Joseph Taggert, Israel, and owned 12,000 acres of land in the immediate neighborhood. The village retained the name of Hanover until a year or two after the removal of the county seat to this place in 1843. It having been ascertained, when getting the post office, that there was another Hanover in the State, the question finally came up for a change of name. After much discussion, and the proposal of several names, Peter H. Willard, then a prominent merchant of the place, proposed the name of Metamora. accompanied with the information that the name had been suggested by his wife, and as a compliment to her it was unanimously adopted. The first post office established in the village was called Partridge Point, on account of there being another office in the State called Hanover.
After the name of the village was changed to Metamora, that of the post office was also changed to harmonize with that of the village. As already stated, John W. Page built the first house within the village corporation in 1836, the year the village was laid out. The first house erected purposely for a tavern was built by Samuel S. Parks in 1843,* who had it opened in time to accommodate visit- ors to the first session of Circuit Court held after the removal to this place of the county seat from Versailles. This tavern is still standing, and, with some changes and additions, is known as the Metamora House. Alfred Baker opened a blacksmith shop in 1837, which was the first in the township.
and the court house:
The present Court House of Woodford County was built in 1845, by David Irving. The contract was taken by Rockwell and Parks, two prominent citizens of Hanover, and the former a stockholder in the Hanover Company, which com- pany owned some 12,000 acres of land near the town. Its members had taken an active part in getting the county seat removed to Hanover, and maile, it is said, liberal donations toward the erection of the public buildings. Neither Rockwell nor Parks being mechanics, they sub-let the contract for building the Court House to Mr. Irving, who at once proceeded to work preparing timbers and material for it. Building facilities were not so good nor so complete then as at the present day, and such a contract was looked upon as an undertaking of stupendous magnitude. Railroads in Illinois, as well as in the United States, were in their infancy, and such a transaction as going to Chicago, buying the material for a large building and receiving it on the spot in a day or two after purchase, was an event beyond the wildest imagination of the most visionary individual of the time. Irving burned his own brick, got out the timbers in the neighboring forest, cut logs and hauled them to Parks’ saw-mill, at what was then called Partridge Point, from which the lumber was sawed for the joists and the floors. The finishing lumber was white walnut, from Johnson’s mill, near Spring Bay, where the logs were cut and sawed. It was covered with shingles made of black wal- nut, in the woods near town, and the lime, with the exception of a small quan- tity burned near the work, was hauled in wagons from the Kickapoo bluffs, beyond Peoria.
The contract for building was taken by Irving for .$4,400 and was paid for with the lots donated by the Hanover Company for the purpose, and with the surplus revenues of the county for two years. It is a substantial two story brick, of much better material and workmanship than is usually put into a building at the present day, at that modest price, and is a type of the old court houses of forty years ago, still numerous in Illinois. The house use^ in Versailles, for the sessions of the Honorable Court, has, it is said by .some, passed away -with other relics, and, by others, that it has fallen from its exalted position and been converted into a stock barn. After the removal of the county seat to Hanover (now Metamora), and until the Court Couse was completed, court was held in a little house which stood at the southeast corner of the square, whei-e Plank’s law office now stands. The September session, in 1843, was the first Circuit Court held in- the new- metropolis. In those days there seem to Lave been no blue or red ribbon societies as now, as the records of the court for several years show that most of the indictments were for selling liquors, with a few variations occasionally, for ” harboring slaves.””
As you can see from the picture above, there isn’t a problem finding Lincoln in Metamora. However finding the route Lincoln took out of Metamora has been a bit more challenging as we shall see in my next post.