“Comes an echo on the breeze, Rustling through the leafy trees, and its mellow tones are these, Illinois, Illinois,”*
Tomorrow my intrepid church buddies and I will embark on an overnight field trip to Springfield, Illinois. Why, you ask? Because we haven’t been there! And because we are belatedly celebrating Carla’s birthday!
We are going to check out the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (designed by hometowner Gyo Obata at HOK)
and the Lincoln home
and who knows what else.
Since we’ll be there on Sunday morning, perhaps we’ll check out the Cathedral Church of St. Paul while we’re in the neighborhood.
The current Cathedral was built between 1912 and 1913 to replace an older building located at Third and Adams Streets to house its congregation which was founded in 1835. Its early members included, Ninian W. Edwards, son of Illinois’ first governor and husband of one of Mary Todd Lincoln’s sisters. Four Todd sisters attended the early church and were married there, including Frances Todd Wallace, Ann Todd Smith and Elizabeth Todd. Mary Todd was married to Abraham Lincoln by the first Rector, Charles Dresser. A marriage registery in which the marriage was recorded is preserved in the Canterbury House. (I had forgotten that the Todds were Episcopalians.)
Since tomorrow is the feast day of John Bunyan, it is appropriate to note that the ubiquitous Pilgrim’s Progress was one of the few books Lincoln could get his hands on to read as a boy. He was much influenced by it, as was another great U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote that
Great-Heart is my favorite character in allegory…just as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is to my mind one of the greatest books that was ever written; and I think Abraham Lincoln is the ideal Great-Heart of public life.
Having lived my whole life a few hours away from Lincoln-land, I am very happy to be finally making this pilgrimage.
And, oh yeah, this is pretty funny.
*from the Illinois state song, creatively named “Illinois” by Charles H. Chamberlain (1841–1894, also spelled Chamberlin)