Illinois. Dept. of Public Works and Buildings. Div.

Record of the restoration of New Salem, New Salem State Park near Petersburg, Illinois, 1932-1933 online

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Online LibraryIllinois. Dept. of Public Works and Buildings. DivRecord of the restoration of New Salem, New Salem State Park near Petersburg, Illinois, 1932-1933 → online text (page 1 of 9)
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General view looking east, showing left to right,
the two-story home of Samuel Hill, the Hill-
McNamar store, the Berry-Lincoln store and
the home and shop of Peter Lukins and Alex.


of the

Restoration of New Salem

New Salem State Park

Near Petersburg, Illinois

1932—1933 '^

'J iOv^'l-

Second Edition


Supervised hy the


Henry Hornek, Governor

Robert Kingery, Director

AND the

Division of Architecture and Engineering

C. Herrick Hammond, F. A. I. A.,

Supervising Arcliitect.


Joseph F. Booton,
Chief Draftsman.

[Printed by aiitlioiity of tlic State of Illinois.]










The first edition of the "Eecord" was printed in mimeograph form
^ and foi-ty copies were made and distributed to those who contributed to
- the work, to libraries and others deeply interested in the restoration.
Its primary purpose was to record the "available facts and explain the
deductions. The subseipient interest in the book has been sufficient to
wari'ant this second edition in printed form. As the work develops,
future editions will be printed, in which the history of the restoration
will be brought to date.

The restoration work was started during the administration of
Governor Louis L. Emmersbn and carried on to completion after the
inauguration of Governor Henry Horner. Both have taken active parts
in the work of restoring this famous little village.

H. H. Cleveland, former Director of Public Works and Buildings
and Henry H. Kohn, former Director of the Department of Purchases
and Construction, deserve mention for their intense interest in this

It is gratifying to note that the spirit established bv those in charge
at the outset has not been lost or changed but carried forward with
even greater intensity. Governor Horner "and Robert Kingerv, Director
of Pu])lic AVorks and Buildings, have taken up the work where their
pi-edecessors left off and supervised the A\ork to its present state of
pai-tial completion.

This task is a never ending one. Even after the entire town has
been fully restored and the facilities devoted to the public completed, the
problems of maintenance and policies of public control will always
present themselves to those in charge. The restoration wod- should
ahrni/s fake precedence over the public features, and while the latter
ai'e important to the comfort and convenience of the visitors and
employees, under no circumstances should they be allowed to encroach
upon the town itself. At all times this shrine should be encouraged
to return to its former condition and appearance. In walking through
the village one should feel that the clock has been turned back one hun-
dred years. Let us hope that this policy will never be changed 1h rough
the vear^ to come and tiial the spirit already established will iiev^er
(limim'sh oi' change.

J. F. B.

July 17th, 1934.

37323 I




Scope and Purpose 1~>

l-Je-8urvey of the Town Lots 16

Locating the Cahins 18

Cabin Planning 20

Cabin Construction 23

Dr. John Allen's Kesidence 27

The Berry-Lincoln 8tore 30

Clary's Grocery 35

Samuel Hill's Kesidence 37

^rhe Hill-McNamar Store 39

Kobert Johnson's Kesidence 42

Peter Lukins' Residence 41:

'I'he Miller and Kelso J^esidence 46

Denton Offut's Store 49

Henry Onstot's Kesidence o2

Dr. Francis Kegnier's Ofhce 55

Martin Waddell's KesidenOe 5.S

The Rutledge Tavern (iO

Appendix (I^


The restoration of Xew Salem, Abraham Lincohi's home from
1831 to 1837, has been under consideration for the past thirty years.
The first active step was taken in 1906 when the citizens of Petersburg
engaged the interest of William Randolph Hearst, who was lecturing
at the Old Salem Chautauqua in Petersburg. Mr. Hearst at that time
purchased the site and conveyed it in trust to the Chautauqua associa-
tion. Later in 1917 The Old Salem Lincoln League was formed at
Petersburg, to carry on research work and keep alive the interest al-
ready aroused. The Chautauqua association, with Mr. Hearst's con-
sent, conveyed the site to the State of Illinois to be used as a State
, Park, and in 1918 the League, with funds raised by popular subscrip-
tion, erected several cabins on original sites, built a road, marked
other cabin sites and in celebration of the occasion, gave a pageant de-
picting scenes of pioneer days.

During the following years the public interest in the Park increas-
ed, .and visitors from all parts of the United States came annually to
* visit the old town site. Finally, the movement to restore the town
gained such momentum that in 1931 the 57th General Assembly passed
a bill appropriating $50,000 to the Department of Public Works and
Buildings, H. H. Cleaveland, Director, for "Permanent Improvements"
at New Salem State Park.^ In anticipation of the Bill, this Division
had already begun the research work and during the two years follow-
ing its passage every known source throwing light on the project was
examined and investigated. The Bill was approved by Governor Em-
merson July 2, 1931, and the following year, July 16, the Requisition
was signed by the Governor. During the months to follow, the informa-
tion was assembled, checked and analyzed, plans and specifications were
drawn and advertisements for proposals were published October 21,

The general contract for the construction of twelve cabins was
awarded to English Brothers, general contractors of Champaign, Illi-
nois, November 4, 1932 ; a few days later ground was broken and on
November 17, the corner stone, located in the foundation of the Berry-
Lincoln Store, was laid by Governor Louis Lincoln Emnu'rson.

At the present writing, (193-1) the construction work of the twelve
cabins has l)een comi)lotod, and it is hoped that in the near future the
State will find it [jossiljle fo finish the fask and restore the balance of the

As stated previously, every known source was examined and the
purpose of this RECORD is to sliow where the material was found and
how it was used.

'Governor Louis L. Emnierson is.sued a proclamation December 20, 1932, in
which the name of the Park was changed to "New Salem State Park". Previous to
this (late the Park had been known as Old Salem State Park.

We arc indobtod to Paid M. Angle, Librarian of the Illinois State
Historical Library, and Secretary of the Illinois State Historical So-
ciety for his sound advice, lielj) in locating sources of information, and
constructive criticism. We also wish to acknowledge the help received
from Mr. Thomas P. Keep, Author of ''Lincoln at New Salem"\ so
often (juoted on the following pages. He was consulted constantly as this
work progressed, and has given his approval to the restoration work
accomjjlished at this time. We are also indebted to the Board of State
Park Advisors, especially to l^obert Kingery, Secretary, now Director
of the Department of Public Works and Buildings, for valuable sugges-
tions, assistance and cooi)eration ; to Miss Ida Bale of Petersburg, 111.,
for data pertaining to the Rutledge Tavern and Bale Home, the old
roads, and information which helped us to locate the map drawn by
Mrs. Samuel Hill ; to Mrs. Josephine Craven Chandler, of Havana,
Illinois, for her advice and criticism; to Mrs. Ella R. B. Craig for in-
formation pertaining to her grandfather. Dr. Francis Eegnier; to J.
Colby Beekman for information concerning the Hill-McNamar Store ;
to Mr. Charles Holz of Springfield, 111., for information concerning the
restoration of Clary's grocery and to the many others, too numerous to
mention individually, who were consulted and spent considerable time
and effort to help solve the many perplexing problems and to make the
completion of this project possible.

Tlie work thus far accomplished is only a portion of the completed
project. It is hoped that in the near future it will be possible to go on
with the work, and restore the first Grist and Saw Mill, Eow^an Hern-
don house, Onstot's first house and Cooper Shop, and John Camron's
house in the eastern portion of the town. At present the central por-
tion does not include the walls and roof of the Eutledge Tavern, Hern-
don Brothers store : and Hill's Carding Machine and wool house. There
is yet to be built in the western portion the houses of Isaac Burner,
Philemon Morris. Isaac Gollamer and the Trent Brothers.

It is also hoped that tlie old roads may be restored and properly
marked. When the smoke houses, sheds, fences and other minor struc-
tures are built and the cabins are surrounded by appropriate planting,
the old town will really seem to live again.

^ Record of the investigations of the Old Salem Liincoln League.



The history of the restoration will be divided into two main divi-
sions. The first will include general information pertaining to all
cabins, such as the re-survey of the town lot lines, locating the cabin
sites, types of cabin plans and cabin construction. The second will in-
clude a description of each cabin, the information discovered and as-
sembled, and how the restoration was make.

Material for the restoration was assembled from the following
sources: (a) excavating the old sites, (b) books, letters and other data
written by those wlio liad actually lived or visited the town of New Sa-
lem, (c) same material as written by decendents and friends of those
who had lived in New Salem, (d) biographies of Abraham Lincoln and
other material dealing with Lincoln and his life and career at New Sa-
lem, (e) results of the investigations in 1918 by "The Old Salem Lin-
coIh League", admirably recorded by Thomas P. Keep in his book "Lin-
coln at New Salem", (f) books and articles describing the pioneer life
in this and other sections of Illinois.

After reading this history of the restoration, one should be able
to know where the definite information, as gleaned from sources as out-
lined above was used, and where we used our own judgment and imagi-
nation, and worked out details as we thought they might have been.
Along with the technical data dealing with the construction of the cab-
ins, descriptions of the families who occupied them are inserted to pro-
vide the atmosphere and background surrounding each structure.

It should be understood that this work deals primarily with the
restoration and its research, and does not intend to cover thoroughly
the history of the village or its inhabitants. It is hoped that the ref-
erences quoted will create a desire on the part of the reader to study
the sources and learn more of the history of the town and its interesting



The liill was surveyed into lots and streets during the snmmor of
1829 by Eeuben S. Harrison. The survey was filed and recorded Octo-
ber 23, 1829^. The recorded drawing is very brief and gives only a
general idea of how the lot corners were originally laid out. The lot
nmnbors are noted, the width of Main Street is given as sixty (GO)
feet, the lot sizes were determined at 115^ square, the compass direc-
tions of Main Street are established, but the width of the cross streets
were not given, nor the distance between the first and second survey-.
The two surveys were never accurately tied up with section lines and
the task of re-locating the lot corners proved to be a difficult one. There
are deeds and records of land transactions just north of and adjacent
to the town. The description of these transactions tied in with the
town lots, and it was thought at the beginning that this, would solve
the problem, but when an attempt was made to re-survey these parcels
of land, the surveyors found that the descriptions w^ere inaccurate and
impossible to survey. The compass variations were not given, the acre-
age noted as being enclosed by the lines proved to be incorrect, and
many other inaccuracies in the descriptions made it impossible to work
them out. The surveyors were forced to correct the original descrip-
tions as they thought they should have been recorded, and after several
attempts, finally arrived at a possible solution. The results obtained
were not entirely satisfactory, but they did establish the nortli and
soutli lines of the first survey. The east and west lines of the first sur-
vey lots were determined by the existing foundations. The residences
of Dr. Allen and Samuel Hill were located by the excavations and,
since the two buildings came within a lot width (115J4 feet) with
eight feet to spare, the lot lines as established cannot vary with the
original more than three or four feet.

The cross streets running north and south were established at
forty (40) feet, because it seemed to be a logical width, also because
the bluff at the east edge of town established the over-all dimension in
which the lots w'ere contained.

The second survey was re-established in the same manner, and tlie
east and west lines were located so that all excavations came within lot
boundaries. In this direction they cannot vary more than four or five
I'eet. The north and south lines of the second survey were established
more or less parallel with the cabin basements, each side of Main Street

> County Records.

- The crest of the hill curves toward the south as it runs west so the lots were
divided into two groups, the first and second surveys. Tlic space between the two
surveys has been called by some autnorities the "public square", but this space is
too small for a "square", and since a cabin occurred there it does not seem pos-
sible it was intended to serve that purpose.


which was located approximately midway between them, and when the
compass direclion of the street teas checked, it iras found that the varia-
tion hetireen Main Street of the first surveij and Main Street of the
second survey was the same as recorded, taking into account the yearly
variation of the magnetic bearing with the true north, and applying
it to the Ulo years which has elapsed since the original survey was made
hy Harrison.

Several iiiterestinir conditions were discovered. Olfut's store did
not occur on lot 14. north of ]\Iain Street, of the first survey, j)urchased
by him. Tie evidently bought this lot for speculative i)urposes. A
basement was found to lie in the s])ace between the first ami second sur-
veys. This is believed to be the site of the Herndon Brothers Store^.
Onstot's house was found to lie west of the town lot limits as recorded
in IIarrison^s survey, so extra lots were added, with the assumption that
they were sold but never recorded. On the other hand, Onstot may have
purchased a small parcel of land west of town, never having it recorded.
tSince the records are not complete regarding this portion of the town,
no one knows whether extra lots were sold or not.

Refer to appendix for complete description of the re-survey pre-
pared by Ray V. Tilly, of Wood, Walraven and Tilly, Surveyors.
Springfield, Illinois.

' Later this stoie became the first "Bero'-Lincoln Store" and was the store
building' which housed this famous enterprise before it moved across the street to
the sheathed structure known to us now as the Berry-Lincoln store. It is thought
that the builders of the Herndon Bi'others' store meant to locate it on the west
half of lot 1 South of Main Street, first suiA^ey. Evidently a mistake was made,
for now its site lies just west of this lot and in the open space between the two



DOCTOR ALLEN'S KESIDEXCE site was identified by Mrs. Louisa
Clarv in 1918, lor the Old Salem Lincoln League. (See descriptions
of Dr. Allen's house and Kutledge Tavern, p. 27 to 29 and 60 to 66 inch)
Since the records show Dr. Allen purchased the lot which contained the
basement, it is certain that this cabin is located correctly.

PETER LUKINS' RESIDENCE, according to some maps, was erected
just west of Dr. Allen's residence. Other maps show Alexander Fergu-
son as having lived in the first cabin west of Dr. Allen. Since Lukins left
New Salem early, it is logical to assume they both lived in the same
house. The fact that both were shoemakers seems to make the assump-
tion more logical. So the first basement west of Dr. Allen's residence
was assumed to be that of Peter Lukins' cabin. There are no deeds or
transactions whieli sliow that Lukins or Ferguson bought the property.

THE HILL RESIDEXCE lie in the order named, from east to west,
on the north side of Main Street, first survey. These cabins are noted
in this order on all maps, and their sites were identified in 1918 by Mrs.
Clary and others for the Old Salem Lincoln League. Since Samuel
Hill owned the lot which contained both his house and store, we are
cert^iin that these two are correctly located. The Berry-Lincoln store
lies on lot 1, which at one time, according to records, belonged to William
G. Green, who rented the store to Berry & Lincoln. This site was
identified by many authorities for the Old Salem Lincoln League.

DR. FRAXCIS REGXIER bought the west portion of lot 1 north of
Main Street, first survey, from Henry Sinco.* Sinco evidently sold the
house and lot to the doctor. The old basement on this portion of lot 1
marked the site of the house owned and occupied by Henry Sinco and
Doctor Regnier.

fied by old settlers and the sites were known many years prior to 1918.
when the Old Salem Lincoln League made its investigations. They
occur in the eastern portion of town, are isolated and are close together.
All agree that they have been located correctly.

RESIDEXCE were established by remains of old basements which
occurred where the maps indicated they were. All maps agree as to
their location with reference to other cabins, so it is very probable they
have been located correctlv.

* County records.


llEXJiY ONSTOT'S COOPEIJ SliUP was located in 11)18 by the Old
Salem Lincoln League when the shop was purchased and moved from
Petersburg to Xew Salem. Just west of the Cooper shop as it is now
located, were remains of an old basement, wliich probably was the site
of Onstot's house. Plans of the house were drawn according to informa-
tion furnished by the excavation and the supposed dimensions of the
house \\Q\e com])ared with the remains of the original house now in
Petersburg."' The comparison showed that the two compared favorably
and that undoul)t(HlIy the Cooper's house was correctly located.

the lot Miller bought'". A search was made for remains of a basement
or foundation, but nothing was found. Maps show their houses in this
end of town, and since Miller bought property there, it is logical to
assume their houses were on one of his lots.

^ See desci'iption of Henry Onstot's Residence — Pa^c 53.

•Records show he bought lots 9 and 10, and a small tract of land adjacent to
tlie nortli — noitli of .Main Street, second suivey. See l'ap:es 68 and 70.


It is (litlicult to uiidiTstaiiil how the pioneers wore able to carry on
thoir nunierons family activities within their limited quarters. Their
cabins were small and crowded. 'I'heir mode of liviiiij: was simple and
in proportion to their wealth and tastes. Poorer families pnt up with
the bare necessities of life, while the ambitions who became well-to-do,
built surprisingly splendid bomes, considering the obstacles encountered.
It seems that the pioneers who settled in New Salem, were ex-
ceedingly energetic and made an attempt to build according to the best
standards. Research has proven that the details of cabin construction
in this town as well as in this section of Illinois, were more workman-
like, and carried to a greater degree of refinement than in southern
Illinois, southern Indiana and Kentucky. This may be due to the fact
that, having built other earlier cabins on former homesteads, the pio-
neers in central Illinois had become more proficient in cabin building.
Experience was a good teacher. Most cabins in central Illinois, es-
pecially those in Xew Salem, were neat and tidy, well built and were
more than just a> shelter from the elements. As a rule, the wall logs
were adzed both sides, and both inside and outside surfaces were clean
and smooth. After the spaces between the logs were "chinked" with
split pieces of wood, wedged in place and "plastered" with clay or lime
the cabins were extremely weatherproof and trim. The log corners were
fitted together by means of neatly chopped or sawn notches and the logs
were cut off at the corners, leaving no ugly j^rotruding ends.

New Salem builders made use of the Eutledge and Camron saw-
mill, and those who could afford it, used sawn material in the construc-
tion of their cabins. One structure was completely sheathed with sawn

or course, the early cabins of New Salem were simple in construc-
tion aiid found their parallel in those erected elsewhere, on newly cleared
land. But as the town grew, and the citizens acquired wealth, ex-
pert help was hired. Standards rose and cabins erected just prior to
the exodus to Petersburg, were fine examples of pioneer architecture.
Nails gradually replaced wood pegs; the latch string was replaced by
the wrought iron handle, and the saw-mill saved many hours of labor
with the axe. Contact with St. Louis and Springfield, during trading
visits, made it |)ossil)l',^ for them to ])ui'chase window glass, nails and
other refinements not within the reach of the early settler who located
far from settlements.

Stone was found in great abundance near by and was us(>d for
foundations and fireplaces. Excellent clay and shale were also close at

' Berry-Lincoln Store, built in 1830 by George Warburton.


hand, and hand moulded bricks were used extensively for fireplace man-
tels and hearlhs"". The surrounding" country was wooded and furnished
the logs for walls, tloors, rafters and "'clapboards" (shingles). lied
and white oak and black walnut were principally used. Construction
details will be completely described on the following pages.

The cabins of Xew Salem, as well as those erected elsewhere on
homesteads, consisted usually of one room, measuring about fourteen to
sixteen feet in width, and eighteen to twenty feet in length, containing
one fireplace, and covered by a hipi)ed-roof. Extra rooms were often
added. Sometimes these extra rooms were frame "lean-to" additions
with a shed roof. Larger families found it necessary to erect two-room
cabins. These were larger and constructed with a log dividing parti-
tion. This type was usually built eighteen to twenty feet wide and
thirty to forty feet long. The liii)ped roof ran across both rooms, and
a fireplace was built at each end of the structure. A "lean-to" was
often added to this type also, mostly on a side wall, and rarely on the
end walls unless the fireplace was built of stone''.

Another type commonly built especially in the "'country" was the
"two room and open porch type". It might be described as being two
one-room cabins, bviilt ten to fifteen feet apart. Their roofs were joined
together, covering the open space between. The floor also was con-
tinuous and the covered space between served as a dining room and a
sleeping and sitting porch during the hot weather. As the needs of
the family grew, lean-to additions were also added to this type.^"

There was another crude type of shelter commonly built by the
pioneer. Even though no record exists of one having been erected in
Xew Salem, a short description of it might be inserted here. This
"three-faced camp", as the name implies, was a temporary structure
and served as a shelter until they moved on again, or when on their
homestead, until their permanent cabin was completed. It consisted
of three log walls, roughly fitted together, un])ierced by doors or win-
dows, and a roof of poles and clapboards. The fourth side was. open

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Online LibraryIllinois. Dept. of Public Works and Buildings. DivRecord of the restoration of New Salem, New Salem State Park near Petersburg, Illinois, 1932-1933 → online text (page 1 of 9)