If you could travel in time, to what time, person and place would you go? We have all speculated on this fun question, yes? It’s fun because we begin to imagine something that is impossible, of course, but wonderful if somehow it could be true.
Of those three—time, person and place—one of them, the place, can still be touched. That’s why we will subject ourselves to the melancholy of re-visiting places we shared with departed loved ones, like where Dad liked to camp or the beach where we spent that vacation. Sure it’s not the same without them, but we still go, to touch something they touched.
Time and persons have moved on, but place remains.
Days 8, 9 and 10 of this trip had this in common, that we touched places where at another time, a past time, important people had walked, worked, lived and loved. From the hard-to-find grave of Nancy’s great-grandfather in Nebraska to the hard-to-miss grave of President Abraham Lincoln in Illinois, gravestones provided memorials and information, though we thought more about where these people lived than where they died.
The prior post gave a taste of Day 8 with our visits to places where my Dad lived and to where Nancy’s Swedish ancestors settled in Nebraska. Then the first half of our 9th day (Sept 9) was spent in the company of a wonderful new friend who showed us the little town of Mount Pleasant (IA) which figures in my family’s story. A huge thank you to Pat Ryan White of the Henry County Heritage Trust who showed us great kindness by taking us to the Presley Saunders sites in Mount Pleasant. My 3rd Great-Grandfather did well by establishing a town that could produce the likes of Pat.
The second half of that day we avoided interstates and zig-zagged on small roads through parts of Illinois where Lincoln did his early lawyering. Day 10 (Sep 10) was great for rest, a visit to the Lincoln Museum, and his gravesite, as well as a drive-by sighting of the old statehouse where Lincoln served and his first home.
The Lincoln Museum is an absolute marvel. The figures of the Lincoln, his family, Grant, McClellan, Booth, Douglas seemed to make history leap off the page. The displays were emotional, shaped creatively by the curators to engage the visitors. A tableau showing a slave auction made me understand how the young Lincoln, on seeing this, would come to detest the practice. The comically displayed row of the printed insults that he endured, the maligning cartoons, were shown with a background of muttering voices throughout that hallway, then you step
into another room displaying aspects of his children’s deaths, and then details on the war. A map showing how the casualties mounted over 4 years held me by the heart.
For all of this, from people important just to us, to people important to the world, we have come closer to each of them because we touched the places where they were.