Lincoln Tomb

While we were in Springfield last week, we stopped to visited the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery. It was a somber moment in our fun day, and the rain clouds rolling in as we arrived were very fitting.




There is something deeply moving about seeing the final resting place of a president, especially one who was assassinated. It’s an experience I was glad to be able to share with my children.

Almost Like Cake Hunting!

When we were in Springfield, we came across a few pieces from the “Hats Off to You, Mr. Lincoln!” art project Springfield hosted in 2009, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Honest Abe:

We only saw three hats, but it was kind of like being back on our Cakeway to the West cake hunt last year, and the children loved it!


Lincoln’s Law Office

We kind of just stumbled across the home of Abraham Lincoln’s Law Office when we were in Springfield. It’s currently closed for renovation, but it was still a fun thing to see!

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

While we were in Springfield, we visited Abraham Lincoln’s home, which still looks pretty much the way it did when he lived there (although when he first moved in with his young family, it was a smaller house…they added on over the years as he became more successful).


The tours are free, although you do need tickets. They keep them running frequently, and the way they lead you through the home is a very efficient process.

The first room we saw was the formal parlor…very pretty, and filled with breakables!


We briefly passed by the dining room:


And made our way to the more informal family room. Check out the wallpaper!


If the wallpaper in that room isn’t bold enough for you, perhaps the carpet is:


We then went upstairs (holding onto the same railing Lincoln himself used), and saw the guest room at the top of the stairs:


Then on to Lincoln’s bedroom, which contains his actual desk:

I don’t know how he ever got to sleep with this wallpaper surrounding him…and it is the original pattern…no best guess in this room as is the case in some of the others!


Mrs. Lincoln had her own bedroom adjoining her husband’s. Apparently that was a reflection of their status, not their marital happiness. She enjoyed the same crazy wallpaper as her husband!


After peeking into the boys’ bedroom, as well as the very simple room that belonged to the hired girl, we went back down to the kitchen, where we saw the stove that was the pride and joy of Mrs. Lincoln:

That was the end of the house tour. But we also walked around the neighborhood, which is a museum of its own. There are also two additional houses you can enter and look around.


The visitors’ center also has some displays, and two different Lincoln movies you can watch:

There’s something thrilling about visiting the home and neighborhood of a former president, and the park ranger who led our tour was very knowledgeable, and really made the house come alive for us! If you ever find yourself in Springfield, I highly recommend stopping by!


The Old State Capitol

Yesterday, we visited Vandalia, IL, which was the second capital of our state. While we were there, we toured the Capitol building, which was the third such building in Vandalia alone, and the fourth total for the state of Illinois (the first having been in Kaskaskia).

Of course, the capital moved to Springfield not long after that building was completed, and a new Capitol was built (conveniently just across the street from Abraham Lincoln’s law office)…the fifth for the state. We had the chance to tour that building today.


Although it’s laid out in a similar fashion to the Vandalia Capitol, with two main floors for business, and a third-floor gallery, it’s a much, much bigger building. And unbelievably, even it wasn’t large enough, which is why it’s the “Old Capitol Building!”



It is a beautiful building, and it’s dripping with history…this is the place from which Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech. We were lucky enough to get to meet “Lincoln” himself while we were there!



It’s amazing to think that he actually walked the streets around this building!

It’s a shame that it served the state for a relatively brief period of time, but at least it’s still around for us to enjoy and learn from!


The Second Illinois State Capital

Last week, we visited Kaskaskia, home of the “Liberty Bell of the West” and site of the first Illinois state capital. Today, we visited the second Illinois state capital (and fourth Capitol building), the Vandalia State House, which was built in only 89 days in 1836. That town boasts the oldest existing capitol building in the state (even though that building was the third Capitol building in Vandalia, and was only the seat of state government for a few short years after it was built).



There are three floors to the old Capitol building. The first floor had offices for the Secretary of State, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Treasurer, and the Auditor. (Interestingly, the governor was given no office in this building.) Among the notable things that happened on this floor were the chartering of the city of Chicago, and the awarding of Abraham Lincoln’s law degree.

The second floor was home to the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. Lincoln and Stephen Douglas both spoke from this floor, where they each earned $4 a day as representatives. This is also the place from which Lincoln made his first public comment regarding slavery.


The third floor, which is not accessible to the public, was home to the galleries, from which the constituents could watch the proceedings in the House and Senate.


As far as I understand, the building was renovated pretty extensively after it ceased being the Capitol building…originally, it was a simple red brick structure; the Greek influence was added for the building’s tenure as a courthouse.



This was another interesting piece of Illinois history. Next up…Springfield!

Third Grade: Week Twenty-Seven Wrap-Up

This week, we began our studies of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. We learned a lot about Lincoln’s early life this week; next week, we’ll get more in-depth about the war. This is one of my favorite periods of American History to study/teach, possibly because I’ve read Gone With the Wind so many times!

Since we were learning about the Civil War this week and next, we went on a field trip to see a an exhibit entitled “Civil War in the West,” which is currently housed in the Old Ordnance Room at Jefferson Barracks National Park. It was interesting to see the different displays showcasing different aspects of life during the Civil War, including a woman rolling bandages, a doctor performing an amputation, (the children had a morbid curiosity about that one!), and soldiers sitting by a campfire.

The children were also interested in a display which showed the kinds of entertainment that were popular back then. They were quite surprised to discover that playing cards and dominoes haven’t changed much!

While we were at the park, we also stopped in the Powder Magazine to see the World War II exhibit. We got to see a local display, which included an airman’s uniform, and a “victory blanket” his family had made.

We also talked about rationing, especially as we’re looking forward to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. We discussed how even the royal family had to use ration books, and how people just couldn’t go out and buy whatever they wanted, when they wanted it. I don’t think the children could quite wrap their minds around that concept!

Outside the Powder Magazine is a Battle of the Bulge Memorial. It was nice to stop and look at this, especially as this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend.

Also to honor Memorial Day, we stopped at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, which is adjacent to the park. The children have been there once before, but they were still amazed at the number of graves that are there…to be honest, so am I! It was a good opportunity to talk about how many people have served in the Armed Forces, and how many of them died defending our country.

Only two more weeks of school to go!