courthouse registration desk. This courthouse served as the
venue for the Logan County seat of the Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit
[1848 - 1854]. Mr. Lincoln re-joined the circuit in 1849,
since he was finishing up his 2-year term in the Federal House of
Representatives in Washington, D.C. Thus, Abraham Lincoln, our
16th President of the United States, attended the Mt. Pulaski court
when it passed through, usually twice a year - in the spring and in
the fall. On one or two occasions, the court by-passed Mt.
Pulaski and other small county-seat venues when there were no cases
listed on the local docket. It has been reported by a local
farmer that his grandfather told him - Emmett Shellhammer, now 90
years of age - that Mr. Lincoln stopped on one occasion at their
farm NE of town to hear a case in their barn or under a tree next to
their barn. Lincoln's initials were carved on that tree -
unfortunately, both the tree and the barn no longer remain.
The circuit court's judge was
a graduated of Yale University, who moved westward to Central
Illinois, settling in Bloomington, Illinois. Judge Davis was
instrumental in both getting his friend, Abraham Lincoln, accepted
as the Republican nominee as well serving as his
campaign manager in the 1859 election.
Mr. Lincoln, to return the favor, asked Judge Davis to join his
cabinet. Davis turned down the offer, but accepted in 1862
President Lincoln's request to join the United States Supreme Court.
One notable Mt. Pulaski court case was the
Cast-Iron Tombstone Trial of 1854
in which Mr. Lincoln represented the defendant, Mr. Reuben Miller,
who was being sued by William Young for misrepresentation of the
patent that he (Young) purchased from the defendant. Mr.
Lincoln & his law partner, William Herndon, lost this case and they
sent it up for appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court. In
1862, the court handed down its verdict - President Lincoln was
informed that he lost the appeal.
the floor that Abe Lincoln and his great-great grandfather (Jabez
Capps) walked on. This courthouse was build in 1847, just 11
years after the founding of Mt. Pulaski by Jabez and his two
friends: George Washington Turley and Dr. Barton Robinson.
Jabez became Mt. Pulaski's first merchant and first post-master. He
had 10 children and lived the rest of his 99 yrs - 7 mo. in Mt.
Pulaski. He is buried along with his 2nd wife and 27 other
Capps in the Mt. Pulaski Cemetery. Many other descendants &
Swain's, etc. - are also buried in the Mt. Pulaski Cemetery.
Mayor Bill Glaze presenting
Roger with a key to the
City of Mt. Pulaski.
Bill also presented a plaque to Roger.
before an evening group at the VFW Hall - sponsored by the Mt.
Pulaski Township Historical Society. Roger revealed that Jabez
was from a large family in London - that Jabez's father was a
"clothier" or tailor for England government members and Royalty
officials - handing over this business to son, Thomas (brother of
Jabez), who retired a multi-millionaire. The London Thomas
house is now a hotel, with TC etched in stone above a doorway. This
tailor business was in Westminster on a street named "Threadneedle".
Two of Roger's brothers have been to London and reported back on
this family history. Roger reported that over a million
dollars was left to various members of the Capps family in America -
in the late 1890's after Jabez had passed away. The New York
Times reported this American inheritance in one of its 1997 issues.
All of the early American Capps settled in Central Illinois.
Roger speaking in
the VFW Hall
Barbara Theobald and Sharon Stone-Cook who are descendants of George
Washington Turley, tri-founder of Mt. Pulaski with Jabez Capps & Dr.
Barton Robinson. As professional genealogist Sharon Stone-Cook
reports: Dr. Robinson had knowledge of the hill ("mount") and Turley
was already settled nearby - had much of the land to the west of the
hill. Capps had the merchandising ability, postmaster and
teaching backgrounds. They all shared the vision of a new town on
the prairie on top a nice hill - with plenty of rich farmland and
without so much of the mud problems offered by the town and
surrounding area of Springfield.
guest speaker at Mt. Pulaski Rotary Club,
which was founded in 1936 - 100 years after the founding of Mt.
Pulaski. Roger was informed that his Rotary speaking
engagement took place on the site of the former Mt. Pulaski House
Hotel, which was built in 1843 by Alexander Morgan and later
purchased & operated by Jabez Capps. This hotel was frequented
by Abraham Lincoln, Judge David Davis, Stephen A. Douglas, William
Herndon and other notable lawyers on the 1840-1850's
Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit, when Mt. Pulaski was the Logan
County Seat (1848 - 1854). In 1900, this hotel was visited by
President William McKinley, Vice President Teddy Roosevelt, former
President Grover Cleveland and campaign financier John D.
Rockefeller for a
Republican Rally attended by several thousand people.
These famous American leaders arrived and departed on the Illinois
Central Railroad, which was extended from Chicago to and through Mt.
Pulaski and onto Springfield and St. Louis in the early 1870's.
Mt. Pulaski had over 2000 residents during the late 1800's and early
1900's. The Mt. Pulaski House Hotel was removed and replaced
by the current buildings in 1902.
Club photo with guest speaker - Roger Capps
Roger next to a cast-iron tombstone
checking off his ancestor's grave sites in the Mt. Pulaski Cemetery,
where he found most of the
29 Capps' grave markers, along with many
other relatives to the Capps' family
Roger posing in front of Samuel Linn Beider's house, built for his
bride - "Prudy" [Prudence Ann Capps Beidler]. Prudy was the
first girl born in Mt. Pulaski and is thought to have been the first
white girl born in Logan County. She was the daughter of Jabez Capps
and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Baker Capps. Jabez had four
children with his first wife, Prudence, and ten more children with
his second wife. Roger is a descendant of Ebenezer Capps, one
of the four sons born to Jabez and Prudence. This house is of
early Federal Style, build in 1860, utilizing brick made from a Mt.
Pulaski tile yard. The house was set at an angle to better
utilize the sun. Several additions and improvements have been
added over the years. This historical home and property was
recognized in 1986 by the Logan County Tourism Committee and the Mt.
Pulaski Chamber of Commerce.