Abraham Lincoln letter returns to McLean County

McLean County Museum executive director Adam Lovell (left) and Lincoln historian Guy Fraker unveil the letter written by Abraham Lincoln in 1859. (Neil Doyle/WJBC)


By Neil Doyle

BLOOMINGTON – A letter written by the 16th president has found its way back to Bloomington.

The McLean County Museum of History has acquired a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to Kersey Fell, the brother of Jesse Fell.

The letter was purchased by the Merwin Foundation on behalf of the museum. The purchase price was undisclosed.

The 24-word letter pertained to a legal case and Lincoln writes he’s unsure when he’ll be back in Bloomington.  It was sent to Fell’s office located at 106 W. Washington Street and is dated November 1, 1859.

Museum executive director Adam Lovell explained the significance of Kersey’s office located directly across the street from the old courthouse.

“At that office Jesse Fell was able to convince Lincoln to write an autobiography about himself and publish it in the east to really make a name for himself and become a viable candidate for the presidency in the 1860s,” said Lovell.

“Other than living in Springfield, Lincoln spent a lot of his time in McLean County,” said local author and Lincoln historian Guy Fraker.  “It’s a thrilling event for me personally to receive this letter but more importantly for the residents of this County.”

The letter is one of the documents formally associated with the Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln Project.

It will be unveiled to the public February 18.

Neil Doyle can be reached at neil.doyle@cumulus.com


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