Monday, August 03, 2009

Lincoln's Breakfast in Southern Illinois

In the process of cleaning up my office I found a couple of Springhouse magazines I had set aside for the articles inside.

One dealt with "Bloody Herrin", a pro-Klan pamphlet by Rudolph Lasker published in 1925 shortly after the great European Hotel shootout that killed Klan gunman S. Glenn Young, anti-Klan leader Ora Thomas (who was also the chief deputy sheriff at the time), and two of Young's gunmen.

As a journalist you always want to get both sides. The same is true as a historian, but I have to admit it's been a bit strange for me this summer to talk with the grandsons of both men, at least one of whom killed the other (the grandfathers, not the grandsons). As to which one killed whom, that's debatable as both sides published their version of what happened that January night in 1925.

As to what I think happened, you'll have to read my new book coming out this fall, War in Egypt: Southern Illinois in the Days of Bloody Williamson.

As to the second issue of Springhouse I found in my stacks of books and articles, it was Gary DeNeal's, "My Very Own Lincoln Discovery" from the Vol. 2, No. 6 issue in 2005. What I found interesting was a Lincoln in Southern Illinois story Gary thought he'd seen no where else, which I agree with him.

The story came from J. W. Watson, an artist and writer who told his story to the North American Review, the first literary magazine published in the United States back in 1815. Watson's recollections were printed in November 1888 under the headline "With Four Great Men".

...[Lincoln] related how, when he was a young man, after traveling all night, cramped up in a stage, in southern Illinois, he stopped at a small wayside Inn, where he had fried chicken, buckwheat cakes and coffee for breakfast.

"Such coffee, sir I have to say nothing of the buckwheat cakes and chicken, I had never before tasted. It was delicious, and as I found out afterward was simply made from parched rye."

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