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Correspondence

Before telegraph lines connected Central Illinois communities in the early 1850s, most of Lincoln’s correspondence and legal documents were written using a quill or nib pen dipped in ink.

Black and white photo of a dirt street populated with horses and horse-drawn carriages. There are deep ruts in the street from the carriage wheels. The sidewalks are wood planks. In the center foreground of the image is one pole, used to carry telegraph wires.

You can see the poles and wires of Bloomington’s telegraph service in this circa 1856 image of the southeast corner of Front and Center Streets.

Black and white photo of a dirt street populated with horses and horse-drawn carriages. There are deep ruts in the street from the carriage wheels. The sidewalks are wood planks. In the center foreground of the image is one pole, used to carry telegraph wires.
Black and white cartoon of men sitting around a telegraph with ‘telegraph’ written in block letters.

In the latter half of the 1850s, this woodcut was used by the Bloomington Pantagraph as an illustration for news arriving via telegraph.

Black and white cartoon of men sitting around a telegraph with ‘telegraph’ written in block letters.

Letters from Lincoln

Inscription in autograph album of George Perrin Davis, December 21, 1858

December 21, 1858

My young friend George Perrin Davis, has allowed me the honor of being the first to write his name in this book. Bloomington,
Dec, 21. 1858 — A. Lincoln —

Excerpt from letter to Mary Speed, September 27, 1841
Miss Mary Speed
Louisville, Kentucky
Bloomington, Illinois Sept,. 27th,. 1841

...Do you remember my going to the city while I was in Kentucky, to have a tooth extracted, and making a failure of it? Well, that same old tooth got to paining me so much, that about a week since I had it torn out, bringing with it a bit of the jawbone; the consequence of which is that my mouth is now so sore that I can neither talk, nor eat. I am litterally “subsisting on savoury remembrances,” —that is, being, unable to eat, I am living upon the remembrance of the delicious dishes of peaches and cream we used to have at your house...

Your sincere friend, A. Lincoln

Letter to Leonard Swett, December 17, 1854
L. Swett, Esq.
Springfield, Dec: 17. 1854.

Dear Sir,

I can not learn of a single copy of the Revised Code being here for sale. Sorry; but it seems to be so.

Does the Rev,. John S. Barger occasinally cross your path?

— Yours truly A. Lincoln

Letter to C.R. Welles, September 27, 1852
C. R. Welles, Esq.
Bloomington Sept. 27. 1852.

Dear Sir,
I am in a little trouble here. I am trying to get a decree for our “Billy the Barber,” for the conveyance of certain town lots sold to him by Allen, Gridly and Prickett. I made you a party, as administrator of Prickett, but the Clerk omitted to put your name in the writ, and so you are not served. Billy will blame me, if I do not get the thing fixed up this time. If, therefore, you will be so kind as to sign the authority below, and send it to me by return mail, I shall be greatly obliged, and will be careful that you shall not be involved, or your rights invaded by it. Yours as ever

A. Lincoln

Letter to James F. Joy, September 14, 1855
J. F. Joy, Esq.
Chicago, Ills.
Bloomington, Sept. 14. 1855

Dear Sir I have to day drawn on you in favor of the McLean County Bank, or rather it’s cashier, for one hundred and fifty dollars. This is intended as a fee for all services done by me for the Illinois Central Railroad, since last September, within the counties of McLean and DeWitt. Within that term, and in the two counties, I have assisted, for the Road, in at least fifteen cases (I believe, one or two more,) and I have concluded to lump them off at ten dollars a case. With this explanation, I shall be obliged if you will honor the draft.

Yours truly A. Lincoln

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