The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 24, 2012

Book describes Lincoln’s time on Eighth Circuit

DANVILLE — Abraham Lincoln’s years in central Illinois helped propel him up the ladder toward the presidency, according to author Guy C. Fraker.

“This is a story that’s never been adequately told,” said Fraker, an attorney in Bloomington.

Fraker will talk about his book, “Lincoln’s Ladder to the Presidency,” from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Vermilion County Museum, 116 N. Gilbert St., and also sign copies.

He also will speak at noon Tuesday to the Vermilion County Bar Association.

The book focuses on the 23-year period during which Lincoln rode central Illinois’ Eighth Judicial Circuit, building his law practice and his political base through relationships with circuit lawyers and their judge, David Davis. It’s the first book written about Lincoln and the circuit, where he spent almost half of his professional life.

Fraker said he’ll also share personal stories about Lincoln’s overnight stays at the McCormick House — including a pillow fight with the judge. “I have some colorful stories,” he said.

Sue Richter, director of the museum, said of the presentation, “Anybody interested in Lincoln and his years in Illinois would really find it fascinating.”

The topic is especially pertinent now, with the release of the historical movie “Lincoln,” she said.

Fraker, 74, said he’s been working on the book since 2001, calling it a “labor of love.” He traveled to Danville several times, and did research at the museum. Don Richter’s book, “Lincoln: 20 Years on the Eastern Prairie,” was a big help, he said, adding, “It was a major source. It’s a wonderful book.”

He also used historical material written by Lottie Jones.

Fraker said Lincoln and Davis traveled through 14 counties in central Illinois — first on horseback and then by railroad, which went from Springfield through Danville.

The local residents, especially Dr. William Fithian, were early supporters of Lincoln. “The Danville connection is really tight,” he said.

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