Looking For Lincoln: Woodford County, Illinois – The Washington-Metamora Road

The Washington-Metamora Road looking South towards Washington. The 8th Judicial Circuit County Line marker is seen to the left.

The Washington-Metamora Road looking South towards Washington. The 8th Judicial Circuit County Line marker is seen to the left of center.

We begin our search for Lincoln’s route through Woodford County, Illinois where the Washington-Metamora road enters Woodford County from Tazewell County.  As Lincoln and the other men who rode the 8th Judicial Circuit made the rounds they left Springfield and headed North into Tazewell County.  Tremont was the county seat until 1850 when it was moved to Pekin where it remains to this day.  From Tremont or Pekin, the judge and lawyers of the 8th Judicial Circuit traveled North through Washington and into Metamora.

On the County line sits this 8th Judicial Circuit Marker.

8th Judicial Circuit marker on the Tazewell-Woodford County line.

8th Judicial Circuit marker on the Tazewell-Woodford County line.

And here is an image looking North towards Metamora.

Washington-Metamora Road Looking North towards Metamora.

Washington-Metamora Road Looking North towards Metamora.

This road was not hard to discover since it was already marked but considering it is a major thoroughfare in the county between two important cities is should come as no surprise that the road is still in use today. You can find more details about this historical marker at the Historical Marker Database (HMdb)

Looking For Lincoln: Woodford County, Illinois

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Figure 1. Map of the 8th Judicial Circuit (1847–1853). The solid line shows the route of the circuitriding lawyears. The broken line shows changes in the route as a result of county seat relocations. (Map Courtesy of Guy C. Fracker)

One of the main reasons I returned to blogging was the map above.  It comes from an article on the 8th Judicial Circuit called “The Real Lincoln Highway: The Forgotten Lincoln Circuit Markers” by Guy C. Fraker.  Mr. Fracker is the author of the book in the previous post.  The maps shows the general route the judge and lawyers of the 8th Judicial Circuit in Illinois traveled twice a year from 1847-1853 and includes the location of modern historical markers.  There are two types of markers, ones that mark the county seat on the 8th Judicial Circuit and those that mark the path of the circuit where it crossed county lines.

However the lines on the map are approximate and do not show the exact roads traveled by the men on the circuit.  I want to know the exact line of travel especially in Woodford County, my home county.  So, I set out to try and discover if the roads traveled by men like Judge David Davis and Lawyers Leonard Swett and Abraham Lincoln still existed.

The upcoming posts will tell that story of discovery.